2 Esdras 11 Revised Standard Version (RSV)
The Vision of the Eagle
11 On the second night I had a dream, and behold, there came up from the sea an eagle that had twelve feathered wings and three heads. 2 And I looked, and behold, he spread his wings over[a] all the earth, and all the winds of heaven blew upon him, and the clouds were gathered about him.[b] 3 And I looked, and out of his wings there grew opposing wings; but they became little, puny wings. 4 But his heads were at rest; the middle head was larger than the other heads, but it also was at rest with them. 5 And I looked, and behold, the eagle flew with his wings, to reign over the earth and over those who dwell in it. 6 And I saw how all things under heaven were subjected to him, and no one spoke against him, not even one creature that was on the earth. 7 And I looked, and behold, the eagle rose upon his talons, and uttered a cry to his wings, saying, 8 “Do not all watch at the same time; let each sleep in his own place, and watch in his turn; 9 but let the heads be reserved for the last.”
10 And I looked, and behold, the voice did not come from his heads, but from the midst of his body. 11 And I counted his opposing wings, and behold, there were eight of them. 12 And I looked, and behold, on the right side one wing arose, and it reigned over all the earth. 13 And while it was reigning it came to its end and disappeared, so that its place was not seen. Then the next wing arose and reigned, and it continued to reign a long time. 14 And while it was reigning its end came also, so that it disappeared like the first. 15 And behold, a voice sounded, saying to it. 16 “Hear me, you who have ruled the earth all this time; I announce this to you before you disappear. 17 After you no one shall rule as long as you, or even half as long.”
18 Then the third wing raised itself up, and held the rule like the former ones, and it also disappeared. 19 And so it went with all the wings; they wielded power one after another and then were never seen again. 20 And I looked, and behold, in due course the wings that followed[c] also rose up on the right[d] side, in order to rule. There were some of them that ruled, yet disappeared suddenly; 21 and others of them rose up, but did not hold the rule.
22 And after this I looked, and behold, the twelve wings and the two little wings disappeared; 23 and nothing remained on the eagle’s body except the three heads that were at rest and six little wings. 24 And I looked, and behold, two little wings separated from the six and remained under the head that was on the right side; but four remained in their place. 25 And I looked, and behold, these little wings[e] planned to set themselves up and hold the rule. 26 And I looked, and behold, one was set up, but suddenly disappeared; 27 a second also, and this disappeared more quickly than the first. 28 And I looked, and behold, the two that remained were planning between themselves to reign together; 29 and while they were planning, behold, one of the heads that were at rest (the one which was in the middle) awoke; for it was greater than the other two heads. 30 And I saw how it allied the two heads with itself, 31 and behold, the head turned with those that were with it, and it devoured the two little wings[f] which were planning to reign. 32 Moreover this head gained control of the whole earth, and with much oppression dominated its inhabitants; and it had greater power over the world than all the wings that had gone before.
33 And after this I looked, and behold, the middle head also suddenly disappeared, just as the wings had done. 34 But the two heads remained, which also ruled over the earth and its inhabitants. 35 And I looked, and behold, the head on the right side devoured the one on the left.
A Lion Roused from the Forest
36 Then I heard a voice saying to me, “Look before you and consider what you see.” 37 And I looked, and behold, a creature like a lion was aroused out of the forest, roaring; and I heard how he uttered a man’s voice to the eagle, and spoke, saying, 38 “Listen and I will speak to you. The Most High says to you, 39 ‘Are you not the one that remains of the four beasts which I had made to reign in my world, so that the end of my times might come through them? 40 You, the fourth that has come, have conquered all the beasts that have gone before; and you have held sway over the world with much terror, and over all the earth with grievous oppression; and for so long you have dwelt on the earth with deceit.[g] 41 And you have judged the earth, but not with truth; 42 for you have afflicted the meek and injured the peaceable; you have hated those who tell the truth, and have loved liars; you have destroyed the dwellings of those who brought forth fruit, and have laid low the walls of those who did you no harm. 43 And so your insolence has come up before the Most High, and your pride to the Mighty One. 44 And the Most High has looked upon his times, and behold, they are ended, and his ages are completed! 45 Therefore you will surely disappear, you eagle, and your terrifying wings, and your most evil little wings, and your malicious heads, and your most evil talons, and your whole worthless body, 46 so that the whole earth, freed from your violence, may be refreshed and relieved, and may hope for the judgment and mercy of him who made it.’”