Table of Contents
The Fourth Book of Esdrashelp from the Hebrew
The 6th Chapter
And he said unto me: In the beginning when the ground was made: before the world stood, or ever the winds blew, before it thundered and lightened, or ever the foundations of paradise were laid, before the fair flowers were seen, or ever the moveable powers were established, before the innumerable multitude of angels were gathered together, or ever the highness of the air was lifted up, before the measures of the firmament were named, or ever the chimneys of Sion were hot, and the present years were sought out, and or ever the inventions of those that now sin, were put aside, before they were sealed that now gather faith for a treasure: then did I consider and ponder all these things, and they all were made through me, and through none other: Then answered I and said: which shall be the parting asunder of the times? Or when shall the end of the first, and the beginning of it that follows? And he said unto me: From Abraham unto Isaac, when Jacob and Esau were born of him, Jacobs hand held first the heel of Esau: for Esau is the end of this world, and Jacob is the beginning of it that follows. The hand of man between the heel and the hand. Other question (Esdras) ask you not.
I answered then, and said: O' Lord, Lord, if I have found favor in your sight, I beseech you, show your servant the end of the tokens, whereof you show me part the last night. So he answered and said unto me: Stand up upon your feet, and hear the perfect voice and sound. There shall come great motion, but the place where you stand will not be moved. And therefore when you hear the words be not afraid: for of the end shall the word and the foundation of the earth be understand. And why? the word thereof trembles and quaketh, for it knows, that it must be changed at the end. And it happened, that when I heard it, I stood up upon my feet, and harkened: And behold there was a voice that spoke, and the sound of it was like the sound of many waters, and it said. Behold, the days come, that I will begin to draw near, and to visit them that dwell upon the earth, and will begin to make inquisition of them, what they be that have hurt equity with unrighteousness, and when the low estate of Sion shall be fulfilled: and when the world, that shall vanish away, shall be oversealed, then will I do these tokens.
The books shall be opened before the firmament, and they shall see altogether, and the children of a year old shall speak with their voices: the women with child shall bring forth untimely children of three or four months old, and they shall live, and be raised up: and suddenly shall the sown places appear as the unsewn, the full store houses shall suddenly be found empty, and the trumpet shall give a sound, which when every man hears, they shall be hastily afraid. At that time shall friends fight against one another like enemies, and the earth shall stand in fear with them.
The springs of the wells shall stand still, and in three hours they shall not run. Whosoever remains from all these things that I have told you, shall escape, and see my salvation, and the end of your world. And the men that are received, shall see it, they that have not tasted death from their birth: and the heart of the indwellers shall be changed, and turned into another meaning: for evil shall be put out, and deceit shall be quenched. As for faith, it shall flourish, corruption shall be over come: and the truth, which has so long been without fruit, shall be declared. And it happened when he talked with me, that I looked demurely upon him, before whom I stood, and these words said he unto me: I am come to show you, the time of the night for to come.
If you will pray yet more, and fast seven days again, I shall tell you more things, and greater than before: for your voice is heard before the Highest: for why? the Mighty has seen the righteous dealing, he has seen also your chastity, which you have had ever since your youth: and therefore has he sent me to show you all these things, and to say unto you: Be of good comfort, and fear not, and haste not with the times that are past to think vain things, and make not haste of the latter times.
And it happened after this, that I wept again, and fasted seven days in like manner, that I might fulfill the three weeks, which he told me. In the eighth night was my heart vexed within me again, and I began to speak before the Highest: for my spirit was greatly set on fire, and my soul was in distress, and I said: O' Lord, you speak unto your creature from the beginning (even the first day) and say: Let heaven and earth be made, and your word was a perfect work. And then was there the spirit, and the darkness was yet on every side, and silence: there was no mans voice yet from you. Then commanded you a fair light to come forth out of your treasures, that your work might appear and be seen.
vUpon the second day you made the spirit of the firmament, and commanded it to part asunder, and to make a division between the waters, that the one part might remain above, and the other beneath. Upon the third day you brought to pass, that the waters were gathered unto the seventh part of the earth: Six parts have you dried up, and kept them, to the intent that men might sew and occupy husbandry therein. As soon as your word went forth, the work was made. For immediately there was great innumerable fruit, and many diverse pleasures and desires of temptation, flowers of changeable color and smell, and this was done the third day.
Upon the fourth day you commanded that the Sun should gives his shine, and the moon her light: the stars did you set in order, and gave them a change to do serve even unto man, that was for to be made. Upon the fifth day, you say unto the seventh part (where the waters were gathered) that they should bring forth diverse beasts, souls and fishes. And so it came to pass, that the dumb water and without soul, brought forth living beasts, at the commandment of God, that all people might praise his wondrous works. Then did you preserve two souls, the one you call *Enoch and the other Leviathan, and did separate the one from the other: for the seventh part (namely where the water was gathered together) might not hold them both. Unto Enoch you gave one part, which was dried up the third day, that he should dwell in the same part, wherein are a thousand hills. But unto Leviathan you gave the seventh part, namely the most, and have kept him to devour what you will, and when. Upon the sixth day you gave commandment unto the earth, that before you it should bring forth beasts, cattle, and all that creep, and (besides this) Adam also, who you made of all the creatures: Of him come we all, and the people also, whom you have chosen specially unto your self. All this have I said now and spoken before you, that I might show, how that the world was made for our sakes. As for the other people which also come of Adam you have said that they are nothing, but be like spittle, and have likened the abundance of them unto a drop (that falls) from the roof of the house. * Enoch = "dedicated" in root Hebrew
And now, O Lord, the Heathen which have ever been reputed as nothing, have gone to be lords over us, and to devour us: but we your people (whom you have called the first born, your only begotten, and your fervent lover) are given into their hands and power. If the world be made now for our sakes, why have we not the inheritance in the possession with the world? How long shall this endure?
The 7th Chapter
And it happened after that I had spoke out these words, that there was sent unto me an angel, which had been by me also the nights before, and he said unto me: Up Esdras, and hear the words that I am come to tell you. And I said: speak on Lord my God. Then said he unto me: The sea is set in a wide place, that it might be deep and great: but the entrance is narrow and small like a river. For who would go into the sea, to look upon it, and rule it? If he went not through the narrow, how might he come into the broad?
Item another: A city is builded and set upon a broad field, and is full of all goods: the entrance is narrow and sodden, like as there were a fire at the right hand, and a deep water at the left, and as it were only one straight path between them both, so small that there could be but one man go there.
If this city were now given to an Liar and he never went through the perilous way, how would he receive his inheritance? And I said: It is so Lord. Then said he: Even so is Israel also a portion. And why? for their sakes I have made the world: And when Adam transgressed my statutes, then was the thing judged that was done. Then were the entrances of the world made narrow, full of sorrow and travail: They are but few and evil, full of perils and labor. For the entrances of the fore world were wide and sure, and brought immortal fruit.
If they now which are entered into this world, may not comprehend these straight and vain things, much less they comprehend and understand the secrete things: Why disquiet your self then, seeing you are but a corruptible man: And what would you know, where as you are but mortal? And why have you not received in your heart the thing that is for to come, but that is present?
Then said I: O' Lord, Lord, you have ordered in your law, that the righteous should inherit these things, but that the unfaithful and ungodly shall perish. Nevertheless the righteous shall suffer straight things, and hope for wide: for they that have lived ungodly and suffered (allowed) straight things, shall not see the wide.
And he said unto me: There is no judge above God, and none that have understanding above the Highest. For there be many that perish, because they despise the law of God that is set before them. For God has given straight commandment to such as come, that they know what they do, and how they should live: and if they keep this they should not be punished.
Nevertheless they were not obedient unto him, but spoke against him: and said moreover that there was no God, and that God regarded it not. His ways they have not known, his law they have despised, and denied his promises: in his statutes and ordinances they have not been faithful and steadfast, and have not performed his works.
And therefore Esdras unto the full, plenty: and to the empty, emptiness. Behold the time shall come, that those tokens which I have told you, shall come to pass, and the bride shall appear: and the earth that is now passes away, shall be showed: and whosoever is delivered from the before said evils, shall see my wonders. For my son Jesus shall be openly declared, with those that be with him: and they that remain, shall be merry in four hundred years.
After these same years shall my son Christ die, and all men that have life, and the world will be turned into the old silence, seven days, like as in the fore judgements, so that no man shall remain. And after seven days, the world that yet awakes not, shall be raised up, and shall die corrupt. And the earth shall restore those that have slept in her, and so shall the dust those that dwell in silence, and the secrete places shall deliver those that be committed unto them. And the most highest shall be openly declared upon the seat of judgement, and all mystery shall vanish away, and long suffering shall be gathered together. But the judgement shall continue, the truth shall remain, and faith shall wax strong, the works shall follow, and the reward shall be showed, the righteousness shall watch, and the unrighteous shall bear no rule.
Then said I: Abraham prayed first for the sodomites, and Moses for the fathers that sinned in the wilderness, and he that came after him for Israel, in the time of Achas and Samuel: and David for the destruction, and Solomon for them that came into the Sanctuary, and Oseas for those that received rain, and for the dead, that he might live: and Ezechias for the people in the time of Sennacherib: and diverse other in like manner, which have prayed for many.
Even so now seeing the corrupt is grown up, and wickedness increased, and the righteous have prayed for the ungodly, wherefore shall it not be so now also?
He answered me, and said: This present world is not the end, there remains much honor in it, therefore they have prayed for the weak. But the day of dumb shall be the end of this time, and the beginning of the immortality for to come, wherein all corruption vanishes all voluptuousness is loused and misbelief taken away, righteousness grown, and the verity spring up. Then shall no man be able to save him that is destroyed, nor to oppress him that has gotten the victory. I answered then, and said: This is my first and last saying: that it had been better, not to have given the earth unto Adam: or else when it was given him, to keep him that he should not sin. For what profit is it for men now in this present time to live in heaviness, and after death to look for punishment? O' you Adam, what have you done? For though it was you that sinned, you are not fallen alone, but we all that come of you. For what profit is it unto us, if there be promised us immortal time, where as we meddle with deadly works? And that there is promised us an everlasting hope, where as we ourselves are evil and vain? And that there are laid up for us dwellings of health and freedom, where as we have lived evil? and that the worship of the Highest is kept to defend them, which have led a patient life, where as we have walked in the most wicked ways of all? And that there shall be showed a paradise, whose fruit endures forever, wherein is freedom and medicine, where as we shall not go in? for we have walked in unpleasant places: And that the faces of them which have abstained, shall shine above the stars, where as our faces shall be black and dark? For while we lived and died unrighteously, we considered not, that we should suffer therefore after death!
Then answered he me, and said: This is the consideration and thought of the battle, which man has upon the earth: That if he be overcome, he shall suffer as you have said. But if he get victory, he shall receive the thing that I say. For this is the life, whereof Moses spoke unto the people, while he lived, saying: Choose the life, that you may live. Nevertheless they believed him not neither the Prophets after him. No nor me which have spoken unto them, that heaviness should not reach unto them to their destruction like a joy is for to come over those, that have suffered themselves to be informed in salvation.
I answered then and said: I know Lord, that the Highest is merciful, in that he has mercy upon them, which are not yet in the world, and upon those also that walk in his law: and that he is patient and long suffering toward those that have sinned in their works: and that he is liberal to give where as it requires: and that he is of great mercy, for he multiplies his loving kindness toward those that are present, and that are past, and to them which are for to come. For if he multiplied not his mercies, the world shall not be made living, with those that dwell therein: He gives also, for if he gave not of his goodness, that they which have done evil, might be eased, the ten thousand part of men should not be living. And if the judge forgave not those that be healed with his word, and if he would destroy the multitude that strives, there should be very few left in an innumerable multitude.
The 8th Chapter
And he answered me, saying: The most Highest made this world for many, but the world to come for few. I will tell you a similitude, Esdras: As when you asks the earth, it shall say unto you, that it gives much mould, where earthen vessels are made, but little of it that gold comes of. Even so is it with the works of this world. There be many created, but few shall be preserved. Then answered I and said: Then swallow up the wit (you soul) and devour the understanding, for you are agreed to harken and to give ear, and willingly to prophesy: for you have no longer space given you, but only to live. O' Lord, will you not give your servant leaven, that we may pray before you, and that you may give seed unto our heart, and build our understanding, that there may come fruit of it: and that everyone which is corrupt, and bears the state and place of man, may live?
For you are alone, and we all are one workmanship of your hands, like as you have said, and like as the body is fashioned now in the childbed, and you give the members, and your creature is preserved in fire and water: and nine months does your work suffer your creature, which is fashioned in her: but the thing that is present and the thing that is preserved, shall both be kept together: and when time is, the childbed deliver the thing, that is kept and grown in her.
For you have commanded the breasts to give milk unto the fruit, that the thing that is created and fashioned, may be nourished for a time: and then you dispose and order it with your mercy, bring it up with your righteousness; nurture it in your law, and reform it with your understanding, mortify it as your creature, and make it living as your work. Seeing then that you destroyed him, which with so great labors is created and fashioned through your commandment, you could lightly order, also that the thing which is made, might be preserved.
And this now I speak of all men in general, as you know: but of your people, for whose sake I am sorry: and of your inheritance: for whose cause I mourn: and of Israel, for whom I am woeful: and for Jacob, for whos sake I am grieved: therefore begin I to pray before you, for myself and for them, for I see the fall of us even of us, that dwell upon earth. But I have heard the swiftness of the judge, which is to come: therefore hear my voice, and understand my words, and I shall speak before you.
This is the beginning of the words of Esdras before he was received: O' Lord, you that dwell in everlastingness, whose eyes are lifted up in the air, whose stool is exceedingly high, whose glory and majesty may not be comprehended, before whom the Host of heaven stand with trembling, whose keeping is turned in wind and fire, whose word is true, whose talking is steadfast, whose commandment is strong, whose ordinance is fearful, whose look drys up the depths, whose wrath makes the mountains to melt away, and whose truth bears witness: O' hear the prayer of your servant, and mark with your ears the petition of your creature.
For while I live, I will speak, and so long as I have understanding, I will answer. O' look not upon the sins of your people, which serve in the truth. Have no respect for the wicked studies of the Heathen, but to the desire of those that keep your testimonies with sorrows. Think not upon those that have walked *feintly before you, but upon them, which with will have known your fear. *feintly =dodge, maneuver, pose, pretend
Let it not be your will to destroy them, which have had beastly manners, but to look upon them that have clearly taught your law. Take you no indignation at them, which are worse then beasts: but love them, that always put their trust in your righteousness and glory: for we and our fathers have all the same sickness and disease, but because of our sins you shall be called merciful.
For you have mercy upon us you shall be called merciful, where as we have no works of righteousness: for the righteous which have laid up many good works together, shall out of their deeds receive reward. For what is a man, that you should displeasure at him? Or what is the corruptible generation, that you should be so rough toward him?
For of truth there is no man among them that be born, but he has dealt wickedly: and among the faithful there is none, which has not done amiss. For in this (O' Lord) your righteousness and your goodness shall be praised and declared, if you be merciful unto them, which are not rich in good works.
Then answered he me and said: Some things have you spoken right and according unto your words it shall be. For I will not verily consider the works of them, which have sinned before death, before the judgement, before destruction, but I will rejoice over the work and thought of the righteous, the holy making and the reward. Like as I have spoken now, so shall it come to pass. For as the husband man sows much seed upon the ground, and plants many trees, and yet always the thing that is sown or planted is not all kept safe, neither does it all take root: Even so is it of them that are sown in the world, they shall not all be preserved.
I answered then and said: If I have found grace, then let me speak. Like as the husband man seed perishes, if it not receive rain in due season, or if there come to much rain upon it: Even so perishes a man also, which is created with your hands, and is like unto your own image and to your self, for whos sake you have made all things, and likened him unto the husband mans seed. Be not wroth at us, O' Lord, but spare your people, and have mercy upon your own inheritance: O' be merciful unto your creature.
Then answered he me and said: Things present are for the present, and things to come for as such as be to come. For you want yet much, seeing you may love my creature above me: I have often times drawn near unto you, but never to the unrighteous. In this also you are marvelous before the Highest, in that you has humbled your self, as it becomes you, and have not regarded your own self, that you are had in such honor among the righteous. Therefore shall great wretchedness and misery come upon them, that in the later time shall dwell in the world, for they have walked in great pride.
But understand you for yourself, and seek out glory for such as be like you: for unto you paradise is opened, the tree of life is planted, the time to come is prepared, plenteousness is made ready: a city is builded for you, and a rest is prepared, yes perfect goodness and wisdom. The root of evil is marked from you, the weakness and moth is hid from you, and into hell flys corruption in forgetfulness. Sorrows are vanished away, and in that end is shown the treasure of immortality. And therefore ask no more questions, concerning the multitude of them that perish. For they have taken liberty, despised the Highest, thought scorn of his law, and forsaken his ways.
Moreover they have trodden down his righteousness, and said in their heart, that their is no God, yes and that wittingly, for they die. For like as the thing that I have spoken of, is made ready for you: Even so is thirst and pain prepared for them. For it was not his will that man should come to naught: but they which be created have defiled the name of him that made them, and are unthankful unto him, which prepared life for them. And therefore is my judgement now at hand. These things have I not showed unto all men, but unto few: namely unto you, and such as be like you.
Then answered I and said: Behold O' Lord, now have you showed me the multitude of your tokens, which you will begin to do at the last but at what time and when you have not showed me.
The 9th Chapter
He answered me then and said: Measure you the time diligently in it self, when you see that one part of the tokens come to pass, which I have told you before: so shall you understand, that it is the very same time, wherein the Highest will begin to visit the world, which he made. And when there shall be seen earthquake and uproar of the people in the world, then shall you well understand, that the most Highest spoke of these things, from the days that were before you, even from the beginning.
For like as all that is made in the world, has a beginning and end, and the end is manifest: Even so the times also of the Highest have plain beginnings in wonders and signs, and the end in working and in tokens. And every one that shall be saved, and shall be able to escape by his works and by faith, wherein you have believed, shall be preserved from the said perils, and shall see my favor in my land and within my borders, for I have hallowed me from the world. Then shall they be in carefulness, which now have abused my ways: and they that have cast them out despitefully, shall dwell in pains.
For such as in their life have received benefits and have not known me, and they that have abhorred my law, while they had yet freedom, and when they had yet open room of amendment and consideration, and understood not, but despised it: that same must know it after death is pain. And therefore be you no more careful, how the ungodly shall be punished, and how the righteous shall be saved, and whose the world is, and for whom the world, and when it is. Then answered I and said: I have talked before and now I speak, and will speak also here after, that there be many more of them which perish, then shall be saved, like as the flood is greater then the drops.
And he answered me, saying: as the field is, so is also the seed: as the flowers be, so are the colors also: such as the workman is, such is also the work: and as the husband man is himself, so is his husbandry also, for it was the time of the world. And when I prepared for them that are now, or ever the world was made, wherein they should dwell, then was there no man that withstood me. Now when every one was , and the maker also in the world which is now prepared, and the month that ceased not, and the law which is unsearchable, their manners were corrupt. So I considered the world, and behold there was peril, because of the thoughts that were come into it. And I saw, and spared them greatly, and have kept me a wineberry of the grapes, and a plant from among many generations. Let the multitude perish then, which are grown up in vain, and let my grape and wineberry be kept: even my plant: for with great labor I have made it up.
Nevertheless if you will take upon you yet seven days more (but you shall not fast in them) go your way then into the field of flowers, where no house is builded, and eat only of the flowers of the field, taste not flesh, drink no wine, but eat flowers only. Pray unto the Highest continually, so will I come, and talk with you.
So I went my way and came in to the field which is called *Ardath (like as he commanded me) and there I sat among the flowers, and ate of the herbs of the field, and the meat of the same satisfied me. After seven days I sat upon the grass, and my heart was vexed within me like before: and I opened my mouth, and began to talk before the Highest, and said: O' Lord, you that show your self to us, you have declared and opened your self unto our fathers in the wilderness, in a place where no man dwells, in a barren place, when they came out of Egypt, and you speak saying: Hear me O Israel, and mark my words you seed of Jacob. Behold, I saw my law in you, and it shall bring fruit in you, and you shall be honored in it forever. For our fathers which received the law, kept it not, and observed not your ordinances and statutes, and the fruit of your law was not declared: for it might not, for why? it was yours. For they that received it, perished, because they kept not the thing that was sown in them. * Ard = "I shall subdue" & ah= ah!, alas!
It is a custom when the ground receives seed, or the sea a ship, or a vessel meat and drink, that when it perishes or is broken wherein a thing is sown, or where any thing is put: the things also perish and are broken, which are sown or put therein. But unto us it has not happened so: for we that have received the law, perish in sin, and sure heart which also received the law: not withstanding the law perishes not, but remains in his labor.
And when I considered these things in my heart after this manner, I looked about me with mine eyes, and upon the right side I saw a woman, which mourned sore, made great lamentation, and wept with loud voice: her clothes were rent in pieces, and she had ashes on her head.
Then let I my thoughts go, that I was in, and turned me unto her, and said: wherefore weep you? why are you so sorry and discomforted? And she said unto me: Sir, let me bewail myself and take yet more sorrow: for I am sore vexed in my mind, and brought very low. And I said unto her: what ails you? Or who has done anything to you? tell me. She said: I have been unfruitful and barren, and have had a husband thirty years. And these thirty years I do nothing else day and night and all hours, but make my prayer to the Highest. After thirty years God heard me your handmaiden, looked upon my misery, considered my trouble, and gave me a son, and I was glad of him, so was my husband also and all my neighbors, and we gave great honor unto the Mighty. And I nourished him with great travail. So when he grew up, and came to the time, that he should have a wife, I made a feast.
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