2 Esdras 10 Revised Standard Version (RSV)
10 “But it happened that when my son entered his wedding chamber, he fell down and died. 2 Then we all put out the lamps, and all my neighbors[a] attempted to console me; and I remained quiet until evening of the second day. 3 But when they all had stopped consoling me, that I might be quiet, I got up in the night and fled, and came to this field, as you see. 4 And now I intend not to return to the city, but to stay here, and I will neither eat nor drink, but without ceasing mourn and fast until I die.”
5 Then I broke off the reflections with which I was still engaged, and answered her in anger and said, 6 “You most foolish of women, do you not see our mourning, and what has happened to us? 7 For Zion, the mother of us all, is in deep grief and great affliction. 8 It is most appropriate to mourn now, because we are all mourning, and to be sorrowful, because we are all sorrowing; you are sorrowing for one son, but we, the whole world, for our mother.[b] 9 Now ask the earth, and she will tell you that it is she who ought to mourn over so many who have come into being upon her. 10 And from the beginning all have been born of her, and others will come; and behold, almost all go to perdition, and a multitude of them are destined for destruction. 11 Who then ought to mourn the more, she[c] who lost so great a multitude, or you who are grieving for one? 12 But if you say to me, ‘My lamentation is not like the earth’s, for I have lost the fruit of my womb, which I brought forth in pain and bore in sorrow; 13 but it is with the earth according to the way of the earth—the multitude that is now in it goes as it came’; 14 then I say to you, ‘As you brought forth in sorrow, so the earth also has from the beginning given her fruit, that is, man, to him who made her.’ 15 Now, therefore, keep your sorrow to yourself, and bear bravely the troubles that have come upon you. 16 For if you acknowledge the decree of God to be just, you will receive your son back in due time, and will be praised among women. 17 Therefore go into the city to your husband.”
18 She said to me, “I will not do so; I will not go into the city, but I will die here.”
19 So I spoke again to her, and said, 20 “Do not say that, but let yourself be persuaded because of the troubles of Zion, and be consoled because of the sorrow of Jerusalem. 21 For you see that our sanctuary has been laid waste, our altar thrown down, our temple destroyed; 22 our harp has been laid low, our song has been silenced, and our rejoicing has been ended; the light of our lampstand has been put out, the ark of our covenant has been plundered, our holy things have been polluted, and the name by which we are called has been profaned; our free men[d] have suffered abuse, our priests have been burned to death, our Levites have gone into captivity, our virgins have been defiled, and our wives have been ravished; our righteous men have been carried off, our little ones have been cast out, our young men have been enslaved and our strong men made powerless. 23 And, what is more than all, the seal of Zion—for she has now lost the seal of her glory, and has been given over into the hands of those that hate us. 24 Therefore shake off your great sadness and lay aside your many sorrows, so that the Mighty One may be merciful to you again, and the Most High may give you rest, a relief from your troubles.”
25 While I was talking to her, behold, her face suddenly shone exceedingly, and her countenance flashed like lightning, so that I was too frightened to approach her, and my heart was terrified. While[e] I was wondering what this meant, 26 behold, she suddenly uttered a loud and fearful cry, so that the earth shook at the sound. 27 And I looked, and behold, the woman was no longer visible to me, but there was an established city,[f] and a place of huge foundations showed itself. Then I was afraid, and cried with a loud voice and said, 28 “Where is the angel U′riel, who came to me at first? For it was he who brought me into this overpowering bewilderment; my end has become corruption, and my prayer a reproach.”
Uriel’s Interpretation of the Vision
29 As I was speaking these words, behold, the angel who had come to me at first came to me, and he looked upon me; 30 and behold, I lay there like a corpse and I was deprived of my understanding. Then he grasped my right hand and strengthened me and set me on my feet, and said to me, 31 “What is the matter with you? And why are you troubled? And why are your understanding and the thoughts of your mind troubled?”
32 I said, “Because you have forsaken me! I did as you directed, and went out into the field, and behold, I saw, and still see, what I am unable to explain.”
33 He said to me, “Stand up like a man, and I will instruct you.”
34 I said, “Speak, my lord; only do not forsake me, lest I die before my time.[g] 35 For I have seen what I did not know, and I have heard what I do not understand. 36 Or is my mind deceived, and my soul dreaming? 37 Now therefore I entreat you to give your servant an explanation of this bewildering vision.”
38 He answered me and said, “Listen to me and I will inform you, and tell you about the things which you fear, for the Most High has revealed many secrets to you. 39 For he has seen your righteous conduct, that you have sorrowed continually for your people, and mourned greatly over Zion. 40 This therefore is the meaning of the vision. 41 The woman who appeared to you a little while ago, whom you saw mourning and began to console— 42 but you do not now see the form of a woman, but an established city[h] has appeared to you— 43 and as for her telling you about the misfortune of her son, this is the interpretation: 44 This woman whom you saw, whom you now behold as an established city, is Zion.[i] 45 And as for her telling you that she was barren for thirty years, it is because there were three thousand[j] years in the world before any offering was offered in it.[k] 46 And after three thousand[l] years Solomon built the city, and offered offerings; then it was that the barren woman bore a son. 47 And as for her telling you that she brought him up with much care, that was the period of residence in Jerusalem. 48 And as for her saying to you, ‘When my son entered his wedding chamber he died,’ and that misfortune had overtaken her,[m] that was the destruction which befell Jerusalem. 49 And behold, you saw her likeness, how she mourned for her son, and you began to console her for what had happened.[n] 50 For now the Most High, seeing that you are sincerely grieved and profoundly distressed for her, has shown you the brilliance of her glory, and the loveliness of her beauty. 51 Therefore I told you to remain in the field where no house had been built, 52 for I knew that the Most High would reveal these things to you. 53 Therefore I told you to go into the field where there was no foundation of any building, 54 for no work of man’s building could endure in a place where the city of the Most High was to be revealed.
55 “Therefore do not be afraid, and do not let your heart be terrified; but go in and see the splendor and vastness of the building, as far as it is possible for your eyes to see it, 56 and afterward you will hear as much as your ears can hear. 57 For you are more blessed than many, and you have been called before the Most High, as but few have been. 58 But tomorrow night you shall remain here, 59 and the Most High will show you in those dream visions what the Most High will do to those who dwell on earth in the last days.”
So I slept that night and the following one, as he had commanded me.