Table of Contents
The Fourth Book of Esdrashelp from the Hebrew
The 1st Chapter
also see eagle!The second book of the prophet Esdras (the son of Saraias, the son of Azarias the son of Neichia, the son of Sallum, the son of Sadoc, the son of Achitou, the son of *Amerias, the son of Azarias, the son of Maraioth, the son of Sahias, the son of Uzi, the son of Boccus, the son of Abisu, the son of Phineas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, of the tribe of Levi) which was prisoner in the land of the Meedes, in the reign of Artaxerses king of Persia. *Amerias: note. RN
And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying : go your way, and show my people their sinful deeds, and their children their wickednesses, which they have done against me, that they may tell their childerns children the same: for the sins of their fathers are increased in them. And why they have forgotten me, and have offered unto strange gods. Am not I even he, that brought them out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage: But they have provoked me unto wrath, and despised my counsels. Pull you out then the heart of your head, and call all evil over them, for they have not been obedient to my law.
This is a people with out learning and nurture. How long shall I forebear them, unto whom I have done so much good: Many kings have I destroyed for their sakes: Pharo with his servants and all his power have I smitten down and slayen: All the nations have I destroyed and rooted out before them, and in the East I brought two lands and people to nought, even Tyre and Sidon, and have slayen all their enemies. Speak you therefore unto them, saying: Thus says the Lord: I lead you through the sea, and have given you sure streets since the beginning. I gave you Moses to be your captain, and Arron to be the priest: I gave you light in a pillar of fire, and great wonders have I done among you: yet have you forgotten me, says the Lord.
Thus says the almighty Lord: I gave you quails to eat, and tents for your succor: Nevertheless you murmured, and ascribed not the victory of your enemies unto my name: yes this same day do you murmur. Where are the benefits, that I have done for you: when you were hungry in the wilderness, did you not cry unto me: Why have you brought us unto this wilderness, to kill us: It had been better for us, to have served the Egyptians, then to die in this wilderness. Then had I pity upon your mournings, and gave you manna to eat. you are angels food. When you were thirsty, did not I hew the hard stone, and cause water to flow thereout? For the heat I covered you with the leaves of the trees. And good pleasant fat land gave I you: I cast out the Canaanites, the Pheresites, and the Philistines before you. What shall I do more for you, says the Lord?
Thus says the almighty Lord: When you were in the wilderness, in the water of the Amorites, being a thirst, and blaspheming my name, I gave you not fire for your blasphemes, but cast a tree into the water, and made the river sweet. What shall I do unto you, O' Jacob? You Juda would not obey me: I will turn me to another people, and unto those I will give my name, that they may keep my statutes. Seeing you have forsaken me, I will forsake you also. When you desire me to be gracious unto you, I shall have not mercy upon you. When you call upon me, I will not hear you. For you have defiled your hands with blood, and your feet are swift to commit manslaughter. you have not forsaken me (in a manner) but your own selves, says the Lord.
Thus says the almighty Lord: have I not prayed you, as a father his sons, as a mother her daughters, and as a nurse her young babes, that you would be my people, and I should be your God: that you would be my children, and I should be your own father: I gathered you together, as an hen gathers her chickens under her wings. But now what shall I do unto you? I shall cast you out from my face: When you offer unto me, I shall turn my face from you: for your solemn feast days, your new moons, and your circumcisions have I forsaken. I sent unto you my servants the Prophets, whom you have taken and slayen, and torn their bodies in pieces, whose blood I will require of your hands, says the Lord.
Thus says the almighty Lord: your house must be desolate. I will cast you out as the wind does the straw: your children shall not be fruitful, for they have despised my commandment, and done the thing that is evil before me. Your houses will I give unto a people that shall come, and they that never heard me shall believe in me: and they unto whom I never showed token, shall do the thing that I command them. They have seen no Prophets, yet shall they call their sin to remembrance, and knowledge them. I report me unto the grace, that I will do for that people which is to come, whose childern rejoice in gladness: and though they have not seen me with bodily eyes, yet in spirit they believe: the things that I say. And now brother, behold what great worship, and see the people that comes from the East, unto whom I will give the dukedom of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, of Dseas, Amos, and Micheas, of Joel, Abdy, Jonas, Naum, and Abacuc, of Sophony, Aggeus, Zachary, and Malachi; which is called also an angel (or messenger) of the Lord.
Dseas =Hosea, Micheas =Micah, Abdy =Obadiah, Jonas = Jonah, Naum =Nahum, Abacuc =Habakkuk, Sophony = Zephanaih, Aggeus = Haggai, Zachary =Zechariah
The 2nd Chapter
Thus says the Lord: I brought this people out of bondage, I gave them my commandments by my servants the Prophets, whom you would not hear, but despised my counsels. The mother that bear them, says unto them: Go your way you children, for I am a widow and forsaken: I brought you up with gladness, but with sorrow and heaviness have I lost you: for you have sinned before the Lord your God, and done the thing that is evil before him. But what shall I now do unto you? I am a widow and forsaken: go your way, O my children, and ask mercy of the Lord. As for me, O' father, I call upon you for a witness over the mother of these children, which would not keep my covenant: that you bring them to confusion, and their mother to a spoil, that she bear no more. Let their names be scattered abroad among the heathen, let them be put out of the earth, for they have thought scorn of my covenant.
Woe be unto the Assur, you that hide the unrighteous by you. You wicked people, remember what I did unto Sodom and Gomorha, whos land is turned to pitch and ashes. Even so also I will do unto all them, that hear me not, says the almighty Lord. Thus says the Lord unto Esdras: Tell my people, that I will give them the Kingdom of Jerusalem, which I would have given unto Israel. Their glory also will I take unto me, and give them the everlasting tabernacles, which I had prepared for those.
The tree of life shall be unto them a sweet smelling ointment: they shall neither labor or be weary. Go you your way, and you shall receive it. Pray for yourselves a few days, that they may dwell therein. Now is the Kingdom prepared for you, therefore watch. Take heaven and earth to witness for I have broken the evil in pieces, and created the good, for I live says the Lord. Mother embrace your children, and bring them up with gladness: make their feet as fast as a piler, for I have chosen them, says the Lord.
And those that he dead will I raise up again from their places, and bring them out of their graves, for I have known my name in Israel. Fear not you mother of the children, for I have chosen you, says the Lord. And for your help I will send you my servants Isaie and Jeremy, after whos counsel I have sanctioned and prepared for the twelve trees with diverse fruits, and as many wells, flowing with milk and honey, and seven mountains, where upon there grow roses and lilies, wherein I will fill my children with joy. Execute justice for the widow, be judge for the fatherless: give to the poor: heal the wounded and the sick: laugh not a lame man to scorn: defend the cripple, and let the blind come into the light of my clearness. Keep the old and the young within your walls: wheresoever you find the dead, take them, and bury them, and I shall give you, the first place in my resurrection. Hold still (O' my people) and take your rest, for your quietness is come. Feed your children O' you good nurse, establish their feet: As for the servants whom I have given you, there shall not be one of them perish, for I will seek them from your number, vex not your self.
For when the day of trouble and heaviness comes, others shall weep and be sorrowful, but you shall be merry and plenteous. The heathen shall be jealous, but they shall be able to do nothing against you, says the Lord. My hands shall cover you, so that your children shall not see the fire everlasting. Be joyful O' you mother with your children, for I will deliver you, says the Lord. Remember your dead children, for I shall bring them out of the earth, and show mercy unto them, for I am merciful, says the Lord almighty.
Embrace your children, until I come, and show mercy unto them, for my wells run over, and my grace shall not fail.
I Esdras received a charge of the Lord upon the mount Oreb, that I should go unto Israel. But when I came unto Israel they set me at naught, and destroyed the commandment of the Lord. And therefore I say unto you, O' you Heathen that hear and understand: Look for your shepherd, he shall give you everlasting rest: for he is near at hand, that shall come in the end of the world. Be ready to the reward of the Kingdom, for the everlasting light shall shine upon you for evermore. Flee the shadows of this world, receive the joyfulness of your glory. I testify my favor openly: O' receive the gift that is given you, and be glad, giving thanks unto him, that has called you to the heavenly Kingdom.
Arise up! and stand fast: behold the number of those that be sealed in the feast of the Lord, which are departed from the shadow of the world, and have received glorious garments of the Lord. Take your number O' Sion, and shut up your purified, which have fulfilled the law of the Lord. The number of your children that you longest for, is fulfilled: beseech the power of the Lord, that your people which have been called from the beginning, may be hallowed.
I Esdras saw upon the mount Sion a great people, whom I could not number, and they all praised the Lord with songs of thanksgiving. And in the mist of them was a young man of high stature, more excellent that all they, and on every one of their heads he set a crown, and was ever higher and higher, which I marveled at greatly. So I asked the angel, and said: Sir, what are these? He answered and said unto me: These be they that have put off the mortal clothing and put on the immortal, and have testified and knowledged the name of God. Now are they crowned and receive the reward.
Then said I unto the angel: what young person is it, that crowns them, and gives them the palms in their hands? So he answered and said unto me: It is the son of God, whom they have knowledged in the world. Then began I greatly to commend them, that stood so stiffly for the name of the Lord. And so the angel said unto me: Go your way, and tell my people, what manner of things and how great wonders of the Lord your God, you have seen!
The 3rd Chapter
In the third year of the fall of the city, I was at Babylon, and lay troubled upon my bed, and my thoughts came up over my heart: for I saw the desolation of Sion, and the plenteous wealth of them that dwelt at Babylon: and my spirit was sore moved, so that I began to speak fearful words to the most highest, and said: O' Lord, Lord, you spoke at the beginning, when you planted the earth (and that yourself alone) and gave commandment unto the people, and a body unto Adam, which was a creature of your hands, and have breathed in him the breath of life: and so he lived before you, and you lead him into paradise, which garden of pleasure your right hand had planted, or ever the earth was made. And unto him you gave the commandment to love your ways, which he transgressed, and immediately you appointed death in him, and in his generations. Of him came nations, tribes, people and kindreds out of number. And every people walked after their own will, and did nice things before you: and as for your commandments, they despised them.
But in process of time you brought the water flood, upon those that dwelt in the world, and destroyed them. And like as the death was in Adam, so was the water flood also in these. Nevertheless one of them you left: namely Noe with his household, of whom came all righteous men. And it happened that when they that dwell upon the earth, began to multiply, and had gotten many children, and where a great people, they began to be more ungodly than the first.
Now when they all lived so wickedly before you, you chose you a man from among them, whos name was Abraham. Him you love, and unto him only you show your will, and made an everlasting covenant with him, promising him, that you would never forsake his seed. And unto him you gave Isaac, unto Isaac also you gave Jacob and Esau. As for Jacob you did choose him, and put back Esau. And so Jacob became a great multitude.
And it happened that when you lead his feet out of Egypt, you brought them up to the mount Sion, bowing down the heavens, setting fast the earth, moving the ground, making the depths to shake, and troubling the world: And your glory went through four ports of fire, and earthquakes, and winds, and cold: that you may give the law unto the seed of Jacob, and diligence unto the generation of Israel.
And yet took you not away from them that wicked heart, that your law might bring forth fruit in them. For the first Adam bear a wicked heart, transgressed, and was overcome, and so be all that were born of him. Thus remained weakness with the law in the heart of the people, with the wickedness of the root: so that the good departed away, and the evil abode still. So the times past and fled away, and the years were brought to an end. Then did you raise up a servant called David, whom you commanded to build a city unto your name, and to offer up incense and sacrifice unto you therein. This was done now many years. Then the inhabitors of the city forsook you, and in all things did even as Adam and all his generations had done: for they also had a wicked heart.
And so you gave the city over into the hands of your enemies. Are they of Babylon then better and more righteous then your people, that they shall therefore have the dominion of Sion: For when I came there, and saw their ungodliness, and so great wickedness, that it could not be numbered: yes when my soul saw so many evil doers (in the thirty year) my heart failed me, for I saw, how you suffer them in such ungodliness, and spares the wicked doers: but your own people you have routed out, and preserved your enemies, and this you have not showed me.
I cannot perceive how this happens. Do they of Babylon then better, then they of Sion: Or is there any other people, that knows you, saving the people of Israel? Or what generation has so believed your covenants, as Jacob? And yet their reward appears not, and their labor has no fruit. For I have gone here and there through the Heathen, and I see that they be rich and wealthy, and think not upon your commandments. Weigh you therefore our wickedness in the balance, and theirs also that dwell in the world, and so shall your name be no where found but in Israel. Or where is there a people upon earth, that has not sinned before you? Or what people has so kept your commandments? You shall find, that Israel by name has kept your precepts, but not the other people and the Heathen.
The 4th Chapter
And the angel that was sent unto me (whos name was Uriel) gave me an answer, and said: your heart has taken to much upon it in this world, and you think to comprehend the way of the Highest. Then said I: Yes my Lord: And he answered me, and said: I am sent to show you these ways, and to set forth these similitudes, before you: whereof if you can declare me one , I will show you also the way, that you desire to see: and I shall show you from where the wicked heart comes. And I said: Tell on my Lord. Then said he unto me: Go your way, weigh me the weight of the fire, or measure me the blast of the wind, or call me again the day that is past. Then answered I and said: What man born is able to do that? Why require you such of me? And he said unto me: If I should ask you, how deep dwellings are in the sea? Or how great water springs are upon the firmament: Or how great water springs are in the firmament of the deep? Or which are the out goings of paradise? Peradventure you would say unto me: I never went down into the deep nor hell, neither did I ever climb up in to heaven. Nevertheless now have I asked you but only of fire and wind and of the day, where through you have traveled, and from the which you can not be separated: and yet can you give me no answer of them.
He said moreover unto me: your own things, and such as are grown up with you, can you not know: how should your vessel then be able to comprehend the way of the Highest, and now outwardly in the corrupt world, to understand the corruption that is evident in my sight: Then said I unto him: It were better that we were not at all, then that we should live in wickedness, and to suffer, and not to know wherefore. He answered me, and said: I went in a wood, and the trees took such a device and said: Come let us go, and fight against the sea, that it may depart away from us, and that we may make us yet more woods.
The floods of the sea in like manner took this device, and said: Come, let us go up, and fight against the trees of the wood, that we may make our land wider. The thought of the wood was but vain and nothing worth, for the fire came and consumed the wood: The thought of the floods of the sea came likewise to naught also, for the sand stood up and stopped them.
If you were judge now between these two, whom would you justify, or whom would you condemn? I answered and said: Shurly it is a foolish thought that they both devised. For the ground is given unto the wood, and the sea also has his place to bare his floods. Then answered he me, and said: You have given a right judgement, why judge your self also? For like as the ground is given unto the wood, and the sea to his flood: even so they that dwell upon the earth, may understand nothing, but that which is upon the earth: and he that dwells above the heavens, may only understand the things that are above the heavens. Then answered I, and said: I beseech you, O' Lord, let me have understanding: for it was not my mind to be curious of your high things, but of such as we meddle (have to deal with) with all, namely, wherefore that Israel is blasphemed of the Heathen, and for what cause the people (whom you ever have loved) is given over, to be punished of ungodly nations: and why the law of our fathers is brought to nought, and the written covenants come to none effect, and we pass away out of the world as the grasshoppers, and our life is very fear, and we are not worthy to obtain mercy. What will he do unto his name, which is called upon over us? Of these things have I asked question.
Then answered he me, and said: The more you search, the more you shall marvel, for the world hastens fast to pass away, and can not comprehend the things, that are promised for the righteous in time to come, for this world is full of unrighteousness and weakness.
But as concerning the things whereof you asked me, I will tell you. The evil is sown, but the destruction thereof is not yet come. If the evil now that is sown, be not turned upside down, and the place where the evil is sown, pass not away, then can not the thing come that is sown with good. For the corn of evil seed has been sown in the heart of man from the beginning, and how much ungodliness has he brought up unto this time? and how much shall he yet bring forth, until he come into the barn?
Ponder now by your self, when the corn of the evil seed is cut down, how great a barn it shall fill: I answered and said: How and when shall these things come to pass? Wherefore are our years few from evil? And he answered me, saying: Ask not you too much upon the Highest, for your hastiness to be above him is but vain, you make to much a do. Did not the souls also of the righteous ask question of these things in their holiness:* How long shall I hope of this fashion? (marginal note Revelation 6) When comes the fruit of my barn, and my reward? And upon this Jeremiel the Archangel gave them answer, and said: Even when the number of the seeds is filled in you: for he has weighed the world in the balance: in measure and number has he measured the time, and moves it not, until the same measure be fulfilled. Then answered I and said: O' Lord, Lord, now are we all full of sin, and for our sake peradventure is it not, that the barn of the righteous shall not be filled, because of the sins of them that dwell upon the earth.
So he answered me., and said: Go your way to a woman with children, and ask of her, when she has fulfilled her nine months, if her childbed may keep the birth any longer within her. Then said I: No Lord, that can she not. And he said unto me: In hell the secret places of souls are like the privy chamber of a woman. For like as a woman that travails, makes haste, when the time and necessity of the birth is at hand: Even so does she have to deliver it that is committed unto her. Look what you desire to see, it shall be shown you from the beginning. Then answered I, and said: If I have found favor in your sight, and if it be possible, and if I be meet (worthy) therefore, show me then, whether there be more to come than is past, or more past then there is for to come. What is past, I know: but what is for to come, I know not.
And he said unto me: Stand up upon the right side, and I shall expound the similitude unto you. So I stood, and behold, an hot burning oven went over before me: and it happened when the flame was gone by, the smoke had the upper hand. After this there went over before me a watery cloud, and sent down much rain with a storm: and when the stormy rain was past the drops remained still. Then said he unto me: like as the rain is more than the drops, and as the fire exceeds the smoke, even so the measure of the things that are past, has the upper hand. Then went the drops and the smoke above: and I prayed and said: May I live (think you) until that time? Or what shall happen in those days? He answered me, and said: As for the tokens whereof you ask me, I may tell you of them in a part: but as touching your life, I may not show you, for I am not sent therefore.
The 5th Chapter
Nevertheless, as concerning the tokens, mark this: Behold, the days shall come, that they which dwell upon the earth, shall be taken in a great number, and the way of the truth shall be hid, and the land shall be barren from faith: but iniquity will have the upper hand, like as you have seen now, and as you have heard long ago. And the land that you see now to have rule, shall you shortly see waste. But if God grant you to live, you shall see after the third trumpet, that the sun shall suddenly shine again in the night, and the moon three times in the day, and blood shall drop out of wood, and the stone shall give his voice, and the people shall be unquiet: and even shall rule, whom they hope not that dwell upon the earth, and the fowls shall flight, and the *Sodomitish sea (*note RN) shall cast out his fish, and make a noise in the night, which many shall not know, but they shall all hear the voice thereof.
There shall be a confusion also in many places, and the fire shall be often sent again, and the wild beasts shall go their way, and menstruous women shall bear monsters, and salt waters will be found in the sweat: one friend shall fight against another: then shall all wit and understanding be hid and put into their secret places, and shall be sought of many, and yet not be found: then shall unrighteousness and voluptuousness have the upper hand upon the earth. One land shall also ask another, and say: Is righteousness gone through you? And it shall say: No, at the same time shall men hope, but nothing obtain: they shall labor but their wages shall not prosper. To show you such tokens I have leave, and if you will pray again, and weep as now, and fast seven days, you shall hear yet greater things. Then I awakened, and a fearfulness went through all my body, and my mind was feeble and careful, so that I almost sounded withal. So the angel that was come to talk with me, held me, comforted me, and set me up upon my feet.
And in the second night it happened, that Salathielthe Captain of the people came unto me, saying: Where have you been? and why is your countenance so heavy? Know you not, that Israel is committed unto you, in the land of their captivity? Up then, and eat and forsake us not, as the shepherd that leaves his flock in the hands of the wicked wolves. Then said I unto him: Go your way from me, and come not near me: and he heard it, and as I said, so went he his way from me. And so I fasted seven days, mourning and weeping, like as Uriel the angel commanded me. And after seven days it happened, that the thoughts of my heart were very grievous unto me again, and my soul received the spirit of understanding, and I began to talk with the most highest again, and said: O' Lord, Lord, of every wood of the earth and all the trees thereof, you have chosen the one only vineyard: and of all the lands of the whole world you have chosen the one pit: and of all the flowers of the ground you have chosen the one lily: and of all the depths of the sea you have filled the one river: and of all the builded cities you have hallowed Sion unto your self: and of all the fowls that are created, you have named the one dove: and of all the cattle that are made you have provided the one sheep: and among all the multitudes of flocks you have gotten the one people, and unto this people whom you love, you gave the law, that is proved of all.
And now, O' Lord, why have you given this one people over unto many? And upon the one root you have prepared other, and why have you scattered your one only people among many? which tread them down, yes which have ever withstand your promises, and never believed your commandments? And though you were enemy unto your people, yet should you punish them with your own hands. Now when I had spoke these words, the angel that came to me the night before, was sent unto me, and said unto me : Hear me, and harken unto the things that I say, and I shall tell you more. And I said: Speak on my Lord. Then said he unto me: You are sore vexed and troubled for Israels sake. *Love you the people better than him that made you? And I said: No Lord, but of very grief and compassion have I spoken. For my reigns pain me every hour, because I would have experience of the way of the most highest, and to seek out part of his judgement. And he said unto me: that you may not. And I said: wherefore Lord? Where unto was I born then? Or why was not my mothers childbed then my grave? So I had not seen the misery and trouble of Jacob, and the travail of my people of Israel. * see John 21 RN.
And he said unto me: Number me the things that are not yet come : gather me together the drops, that are scattered abroad: make me the flowers green again, that are withered: open me the thing that is closed: and bring me forth the winds, that are shut up: Show me the image of a voice, and then I shall declare the thing, that you labor to know. And I said: O' Lord, Lord, who may know these things, but he that has not his dwelling with men? As for me I am unwise: how may I then speak of these things whereof you asks me? Then said he unto me: like as you can do none of these things that I have spoken of, even so can you not find out my judgement, or in the end the love that I have promised unto my people. And I said: Behold O' Lord, yet are you near unto them that have no end: and what shall they do that have been before me, or we that be now, or they that should come after us ? And he said unto me: I will liken my judgement unto a ring. Like as there is no slackness of the last, even so there is no swiftness of the first. So I answered and said: could you not make those (that have been made, and that be now, and that are for to come) in one, that you might show your judgement the sooner? Then answered he me, and said: The creature may not hasten above the maker, nether my the world hold them at once, that shall be created.
And I said: Now have you said unto your servant, that you living maker have made the creature living at once, and the creature bear it? even so might it now also bear them that be present, at once. And he said unto me: Ask the childbed of a woman, and say unto her: If you bring forth children, why do you not together, but one after another? Pray her therefore, to bring forth ten children at once. And I said: she can not, but must do it one after the other.
Then said he unto me: Even so have I given a childbed unto the earth, for those that be sown upon it by process of time. For like as a young child may not bring forth the things that belong to the aged, even so have I ordered the world which I have made.
And I asked and said: Seeing you have now given me the way, I will speak before you: for our mother whom you have told me, is yet young, and now she draws near unto age. He answered, me and said: Ask a woman that bears children, and she shall tell you. Say unto her: wherefore are not they (whom you have now brought forth) like those that were before you, but less of stature? And she shall answer you: They that were born in the youth of strength, are of one fashion : and they that are born in the time of age (when the childbed fails) are otherwise. Consider now yourself, how that yee are less of stature, then those that were before you, and so are they that come after you, less then you, as the creatures that now begin to be old, and have passed over the strength of youth. Then said I: Lord I beseech you, if I have found favor in your sight, show your servant, by whom do you visit your creature?
Table of Contents