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The Fourth Book of Esdras

“help” from the Hebrew

(Part Four)


The 14th Chapter
     Upon the third day I sat under an oak tree, then came there a voice unto me out of the bush, and said: Esdras, Esdras? And I said: here am I Lord, and stood up on my feet. Then spoke he unto me: In the bush did I appear unto Moses, and talked with him, when my people served in Egypt, and I sent him, and led my people out of Egypt, and brought him upon mount Sion, where I held him by me a long season, and told him my wondrous works, and showed him the secrets of the times and the end, and commanded him, saying: These words shall you declare, and not hide them. And now I say unto you, that you lay up in your heart the dreams that you have seen, and the interpretations which I have showed you: for you shall be received of all, you shall be turned and remain in my counsel, and with such as be like you, until the times be ended. For the world has lost his youth, and the time is divided into twelve parts, and ten parts of it are gone already, and half of the tenth part: yet remains there that, which is after the half of the tenth part.
     Therefore prepare and order your house, and reform your people: comfort such of them as be in trouble: and tell now of the destruction: let go from you all mortal thoughts: cast away the berthens of man: put off the weak nature: lay up in some places the thoughts that are most heavy unto you, and have you to flight from these times: for such evil and wickedness as you have now seen happen, shall they do yet much worse. For the weaker that the world and the times is, the more shall sin and wickedness increase, in them that dwell upon the earth: For the truth is fled far away, and the leasing is hard at hand. For now hastens the vision to come, that you have seen.
     Then answered I and said: Behold Lord, I will go as you have commanded me, and reform the people which are present. But they that shall be born afterward, who will exhort or rebuke them? Thus the world is set in darkness, and they that dwell therein, are without light: for your law is kindled, because no man knows the things that are done of you, or that shall be done. If I have found grace before you, send the holy ghost into me, and I shall write all that has been done in the world since the beginning, which was written in your law, that men may find the path, and that they which will live in the latter days, may live.
     And he answered me, saying: Go your way, gather your people together, and say unto them, that they seek you not for forty days, but look you gather the many box trees, and take with you Sarea, Dabria, Selemia, Echanus and Asiall, these five, which are ready to write swiftly, and come hither, and I shall light a candle of understanding in your heart which shall not be put out, till the things be performed which you shall begin to write. Then shall you declare some things openly unto the perfect, and some things you shall show secretly to the wise. Tomorrow this hour you shall begin to write.
     Then went I forth (as he commanded me) and gathered all the people together, and said: Hear these words O' Israel: Our fathers from the beginning were strangers in Egypt, from where they were delivered, and received the law of life, which they kept not, which you have also transgressed after them. Then was this land and the land of Sion parted among you by lot to possess. But your fathers and you yourselves also have done unrighteousness, and have not kept the ways which the Highest commanded you. And for so much as he is a righteous judge, he took from you in time the thing that he had given you. And now are you here and your brethren among you. Therefore if so be that you will subdue your own understanding, and reform your heart, you shall be kept alive, and after death you shall obtain mercy. For after death shall the judgement come, when we shall live again: and then shall the names of the righteous be manifest, and the names of the ungodly with their works shall be declared. Let no man therefore come now unto me, nor ask any question at me these forty days.
     So I took the five men (as he commanded me) and we went into the field, and remained there. The next days a voice called me saying: Esdras, open your mouth, and behold, he reached me a full cup, which was full a water, but the color of it was like fire. And I took it and drank. And when I had drunk it , my heart had understanding, and wisdom grew in my breast: for my spirit was kept in remembrance, and my mouth was opened and shut no more. The Highest gave understanding to the five men, that they wrote the high things of the night, which they understood not. But in the night they ate bread: as for me, I spoke in the day, and held not my tongue by night. In forty days, they wrote two hundred and four books.
     And it happened when the forty days were fulfilled, that the Highest spoke, saying: The first that you have written, speak openly, that the worthy and the unworthy may read it. But keep the seventy last that you may show it only to such as be wise among your people. For in them is the spring of understanding, the fountain of wisdom, and the stream of knowledge. And I did so.

The 15th Chapter
     Behold speak you in the ears of my people the words of the prophecy, which I will put in your mouth, says the Lord: and cause this to be written in a letter, for it is the truth. Fear not the imaginations against you, let not the unfaithfulness of them trouble you, that speak against you. For all the unfaithful shall die in their unfaithfulness. Behold says the Lord, I will bring plagues upon the world, the sword hunger, death and destruction: for wickedness has the upper hand in all the earth, and their shameful works are fulfilled.
     Therefore says the Lord: I will hold my tongue no more unto their wickedness, which they do so ungodly: neither will I suffer them in the things, that they deal with all so wickedly. Behold the innocent blood of the troubled crys unto me, and the souls of the righteous complain continually: And therefore (says the Lord) I will surely avenge and recause unto me all the innocent blood from among them.
     Behold, my people, is led as a flock of sheep to be slain, I will not suffer (allow) them now to dwell in Egypt, but will bring them out with a mighty hand and a stretched out arm, and smite it with plagues as before, and will destroy all the land of it. Egypt will mourn, and the foundations of it shall be smitten with the plague and punishment, that God shall bring upon it.
     They that till the ground, shall mourn: for their feeds shall be destroyed through the blasting and hail, and an horrible star Do warns the world and them that dwell therin, for the sword and their destruction draws nigh, and one people shall stand up to fight against another, and swords in their hands. For men shall be unsteadfast, and some shall do violence unto the other: they shall not regard their king and princes, the ways of their doings and the handlings in their power. A man shall desire to go into the city, and shall not be able. For because of their pride the cities shall be brought in fear, the houses shall shake, and men shall be afraid. A man shall have no pity upon his neighbor, but one shall provoke another unto battle to spoil their goods because of the hunger of bread, and because of the great trouble.
     Behold, I gather together and call together all the kings of the earth which are from the uprising, from the South, from the East and Libanus to turn unto them, and restore the things they have given them. Like as they do yet this day unto my chosen, so will I do also, and recompense them in their bosom. Thus says the Lord God: My right hand shall not spare the sinners, and my sword shall not cease over them, that shed the innocent blood upon the earth. The fear has gone out from his wrath, and the sinners like the straw that is kindled. Do warn them that sin, and keep not my commandments, says the Lord. I will not spare them. Go your way you children from violence, defile not my sanctuary: for the Lord knows all them that sin against him, and therefore delivers he them unto death and destruction: for now are the plagues come upon the world, and you shall remain in them. For God shall not deliver you, because you have sinned against him.
     Behold, an horrible vision comes from the East, where generations of Dragons shall come out, and the people of the Arabes with many chariots, and the multitude of them shall be as the wind upon the earth, that all that hear them raging in their wrath, may fear and be afraid: and as the wild boars out of the wood, so shall they go out, and with great power shall they come, and stand fighting with them, and shall waste the portion of the land of the Assirians.
     And then shall the Dragons have the upper hand, not remembering their birth, and shall turn about swearing together in great power, to persecute them. But these shall be afraid, and keep silence at their power, and shall flee: and one out of the land of the Assirians shall besiege them, and consume one of them, and in their host shall be fear and dread, and strife among their kings.
     Behold clouds from the East, and from the North unto the South, and they are very horrible to look upon, full of wrath and storm. They shall smite one upon another, and they shall smite at the great star upon earth and their star, and the blood shall be from the sword unto the belly, and the smoke of man unto the camels litter: And there shall be great fearfulness and trembling upon the earth, and they that see wrath shall be afraid, and a trembling shall come upon them.
     And then shall there come great rains from the South and from the North, and part from the West, and from the stormy wind from the East, and shall shut them up again, and the cloud which he raised up in wrath, and the star to cause fear toward the East and West wind, shall be destroyed: and the great clouds shall be lift up, and the mighty clouds full of wrath, and the star, that they may make all the earth afraid and them that dwell therin, and that they may pour out over all places an horrible star, fire and hail and flying swords, and many waters: that all fields may be full, and all rivers, and they shall break down the cities and walls, mountains and hills, all trees, wood, and the grass of the meadows, and all their fruit. And they shall go steadfast into Babylon, and make her afraid, they shall come to her and besiege her: the star and all wrath shall they pour out upon her.
     Then shall the dust and smoke go up unto heaven, and all they that be about her, shall bewail her: and they that remain under her, shall do service unto them that have put her in fear: And you Asia that comfort yourself also upon the hope of Babylon, and are a worshipper of her person: Woe be unto you wretch, because you have made yourself like unto her, and have decked your daughters in whoredom, that they might triumph and please your lovers, which have always desired to commit whoredom with you: you have followed the abominable city in all her works and inventions.
     Therefore says God: I will send plagues upon you, widowhood, poverty, hunger, wars, and pestilence, to waste your houses with destruction and death, and the glory of your power shall be dried up as a flower, when the heat arises that is sent over you. You shall *bespeck as a poor wife that is plagued and beaten of women:
so that the mighty and lover shall not be able to receive you. Would I so hate you says the Lord? If you had not always slain my chosen, exalting the stoke of your hands, and said over their death, when you was drunken: set forth the beauty of your countenance. *bespeck= speaking; to give grounds for believing
     The reward of your whoredom shall be recompensed you in your bosom, therefore shall you receive reward.
     Like as you have done unto my chosen (says the Lord) even so shall God do unto you, and shall deliver you into the plague. your children shall die of hunger, and you shall fall through the sword. your cities shall be broken down, and all your shall perish with the sword in the field. They that be in the mountains shall die of hunger, and eat their own flesh, and drink their own blood for very hunger of bread and thirst of water. You unhappy shall come through the sea, and receive plagues again.
     In the passage they shall cast down the slain city, and shall root out one part of your land, and consume the portion of your glory. They shall tread the down like stubble, and they shall be your fire and shall consume you: your cities and your land, your wood and your fruitful trees shall they burn up with the fire. your children shall they carry away captive, and look what you hast, they shall spoil it, and mar the beauty of your face.

The 16th Chapter
     Woe be unto you Babylon and Asia, woe be unto you Egypt and Syria: gird yourselves with clothes of sack and hear, and mourn for your childern, be sorry, for your destruction is at hand. A sword is sent upon you, and who will turn it back? A fire is kindled among you, and who will quench it: Plagues are sent unto you, and what is he that will drive them away? May any man drive away an hungry lion in the woods? Or may any man quench the fire in the stubble, when it has gone to burn? May one turn again the arrow, that is shot of a strong archer? The mighty Lord sends the plagues, and what is he that will drive them away? The fire is kindled and gone forth in his wrath, and what is he that will quench it? He shall cast lightings, and who shall no fear? He shall thunder, and who shall not be afraid: The Lord shall threaten and who shall not utterly be beaten to powder at his presence? The earth quaketh, and the foundations thereof: the sea arises up with waves from the deep, and the floods of it are unquiet and the fishes thereof also before the Lord, and before the glory of his power. For strong is his right hand that holds the bow, his arrows that he shoots, are sharp, and shall not miss, when they begin to be shot to the ends of the world.
     Behold, the plagues are sent, and shall not turn again, till they come upon the earth. The fire is kindled, and shall not be put out, till it consume the foundations of the earth. Like as an arrow shot of a mighty archer, returns not backward: even so the plagues that shall be sent upon the earth, shall not turn again. Woe is me, woe is me, who will deliver me in those days? The beginning of sorrows and great mourning: the beginning of *darth and great death: the beginning of wars, and the powers shall stand in fear: the beginning of evils, and they shall tremble everyone. What shall I do in these things, when the plagues come? Behold, hunger, and plague, trouble and anguish are sent, as scourging for amendment. But for all these things they shall not turn from their wickedness, nor be always mindful of the scourging.
     Behold, vitals shall be so good cheap upon the earth, that they shall think them selves to be in good case? And even then shall mischief grow up upon the earth, wars, darth and great disquietness. For many of them that dwell upon the earth shall perish of hunger, and the other that escape the hunger, shall the sword destroy: And the dead shall be cast out as dung, and there should be no man to comfort them. For the earth shall be wasted, and the cities shall be cast down: there shall be no man left to till the earth and to sew it. The trees shall give fruit, and who shall pluck them of and gather them? The grapes shall be ripe, and who shall tread them: for all the places shall be desolate of men, so that one man shall desire to see another, or to hear his voice. For of one whole city there shall be ten left, and two in the field, which shall hide themselves in the thick bushes, and in the cliffs of stones: like as when there remain three or four olives upon the tree, or as when a vineyard is gathered there are left some grapes, of them that diligently sought through the vineyard.
     Even so, in those days there shall be three or four left, for them that search their houses with the sword. And the earth shall be left waste, and the fields thereof shall wear old: and her ways and her paths shall grow full of thorns, because no man shall travel there through. The daughters shall mourn, having no bridegrooms: the women shall make lamentation, having no husbands, their daughters shall mourn, having no help of their bride groom. In the wars shall they be destroyed, and their husbands shall perish of hunger. O' you servants of the Lord, hear these things, and mark them. Behold, the word of the Lord, O' receive it: behold the plagues draw near, and are not slack in tarrying. Like as a travailing woman, which after nine months brings forth a son, when the hour of the birth is come, an hour two or three before that the pains come upon her body, and when the child comes to the birth, they tarry not the twinkling of an lie: Even so shall not the plagues be slack to come upon the earth, and the world shall mourn, and sorrows shall come upon it on every side.
     O' my people, hear my word, make you ready to the battle: and in all evil be as pilgrims upon the earth He that sells, let him be as he that flys his way: and he that buys, as one that will lease. Who so occupies merchandise, as he that wins not: and he that builds, as he that shall not dwell therin: he that sows, as one that shall not reap: he that twists the vineyard, as he that shall not gather the grapes: they that marry, as they that shall get no children: and they that marry not, as the widows: and therefore they that labor, labor in vain. For strangers shall reap their fruits, and spoil their goods, overthrow their houses, and take their children captive, for in captivity and hunger shall they get children. And they that occupy their merchandise with robbery, how long deck they their cities, their houses, their possessions, their persons? the more will I punish them for their sins, says the Lord. Like as an whore envies an honest woman, so shall righteousness hate iniquity, when she decks herself, and shall accuse her to her face, when he comes that defends, which shall make inquisition for all sin upon the earth. And therefore be not you like thereunto, near to the works thereof: for or ever it be long, iniquity shall be taken away out of the earth, and righteousness shall reign among you.
     Let not the sinner say, that he has not sinned: for coals of fire shall burn upon his head, which says before the Lord God and his glory: I have not sinned. Behold, the Lord knows all the works of men, their imaginations, their thoughts and their hearts. For he spoke but the word: let the earth be made, and it was made: let the heaven be made, and it was made. In his word were the stars made, and he knows the number of them. He searches the ground of the deep, and the treasures thereof: he has measured the sea, and what it containeth. He has shut the sea in the midst of the waters, and with his word has he hanged the earth upon the waters. He spreads out the heaven like a *vawte,(vault ; from Mid Eng vaute: meaning an arched overhead covering) upon the waters has he founded it. In the desert a dry wilderness has he made springs of water, and poles upon the tops of mountains, that the floods might pour down from the stony rocks to water the earth. He made man, and put his heart in the midst of the body, and gave him birth, life and understanding, yes and the spirit of the Almighty God, which made all things, and has searched the ground of all the secrets of the earth.
     He knows your imaginations and inventions, and what you think when you sin, and would hide your sins. Therefore has the Lord searched and sought out all your works, and he shall *bewray (disclose, reveal, uncover) you all. And when your sins are brought forth, you shall be ashamed before men, and your own sins shall be your accusers in that day. What will you do? Or how will you hide your sins before God and his Angels? Behold, God himself is the judge, fear him, leave off from your sins, and forget your unrighteousness, and meddle no more with them: so shall God lead you forth, and deliver you from all trouble. For behold, the heat of the great multitude is kindled over you, and they shall take away certain of you, and feed the idle with Idols: and they that consent unto them, shall be had in *derision. *laughed to scorn, and trod under foot contempt
     For unto the places there shall be a place, and in the next cities a great insurrection upon those that fear the Lord. They shall be like madmen, they shall spare no man: they shall spoil and waste such as fear the Lord, their goods shall they take from them, and shut them out of their houses. Then shall it be known who are my chosen, and they shall be tried as the gold in the fire. Hear O' you my beloved, says the Lord: behold, the days of trouble are at hand, but I will deliver you from the same. Be not afraid, despair not, for God is your captain.
     Who so keeps my commandments and precepts (says the Lord God) let not your sins weigh you down, and let not your unrighteousness be lift up. Woe be unto to those that are subdued unto their own sins, and tangled in their wickednesses: like as a field is hedged in with bushes, and the path thereof covered with thorns, that no man may travel through: and so is he taken, and cast in the fire, and burnt.

The end of the fourth book of Esdras


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