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2 Esdras 12 Revised Standard Version (RSV)

12 While the lion was saying these words to the eagle, I looked, and behold, the remaining head disappeared. And the two wings that had gone over to it arose[a] and set themselves up to reign, and their reign was brief and full of tumult. And I looked, and behold, they also disappeared, and the whole body of the eagle was burned, and the earth was exceedingly terrified.

Then I awoke in great perplexity of mind and great fear, and I said to my spirit, “Behold, you have brought this upon me, because you search out the ways of the Most High. Behold, I am still weary in mind and very weak in my spirit, and not even a little strength is left in me, because of the great fear with which I have been terrified this night. Therefore I will now beseech the Most High that he may strengthen me to the end.”

The Interpretation of the Vision

And I said, “O sovereign Lord, if I have found favor in thy sight, and if I have been accounted righteous before thee beyond many others, and if my prayer has indeed come up before thy face, strengthen me and show me, thy servant, the interpretation and meaning of this terrifying vision, that thou mayest fully comfort my soul. For thou hast judged me worthy to be shown the end of the times and the last events of the times.”

10 He said to me, “This is the interpretation of this vision which you have seen: 11 The eagle which you saw coming up from the sea is the fourth kingdom which appeared in a vision to your brother Daniel. 12 But it was not explained to him as I now explain or have explained it to you. 13 Behold, the days are coming when a kingdom shall arise on earth, and it shall be more terrifying than all the kingdoms that have been before it. 14 And twelve kings shall reign in it, one after another. 15 But the second that is to reign shall hold sway for a longer time than any other of the twelve. 16 This is the interpretation of the twelve wings which you saw. 17 As for your hearing a voice that spoke, coming not from the eagle’s[b] heads but from the midst of his body, this is the interpretation: 18 In the midst of[c] the time of that kingdom great struggles shall arise, and it shall be in danger of falling; nevertheless it shall not fall then, but shall regain its former power.[d] 19 As for your seeing eight little wings[e] clinging to his wings, this is the interpretation: 20 Eight kings shall arise in it, whose times shall be short and their years swift; 21 and two of them shall perish when the middle of its time draws near; and four shall be kept for the time when its end approaches; but two shall be kept until the end. 22 As for your seeing three heads at rest, this is the interpretation: 23 In its last days the Most High will raise up three kings,[f] and they[g] shall renew many things in it, and shall rule the earth 24 and its inhabitants more oppressively than all who were before them; therefore they are called the heads of the eagle. 25 For it is they who shall sum up his wickedness and perform his last actions. 26 As for your seeing that the large head disappeared, one of the kings[h] shall die in his bed, but in agonies. 27 But as for the two who remained, the sword shall devour them. 28 For the sword of one shall devour him who was with him; but he also shall fall by the sword in the last days. 29 As for your seeing two little wings[i] passing over to[j] the head which was on the right side, 30 this is the interpretation: It is these whom the Most High has kept for the eagle’s[k] end; this was the reign which was brief and full of tumult, as you have seen.

31 “And as for the lion whom you saw rousing up out of the forest and roaring and speaking to the eagle and reproving him for his unrighteousness, and as for all his words that you have heard, 32 this is the Messiah[l] whom the Most High has kept until the end of days, who will arise from the posterity of David, and will come and speak to them;[m] he will denounce them for their ungodliness and for their wickedness, and will cast up before them their contemptuous dealings. 33 For first he will set them living before his judgment seat, and when he has reproved them, then he will destroy them. 34 But he will deliver in mercy the remnant of my people, those who have been saved throughout my borders, and he will make them joyful until the end comes, the day of judgment, of which I spoke to you at the beginning. 35 This is the dream that you saw, and this is its interpretation. 36 And you alone were worthy to learn this secret of the Most High. 37 Therefore write all these things that you have seen in a book, and put it in a hidden place; 38 and you shall teach them to the wise among your people, whose hearts you know are able to comprehend and keep these secrets. 39 But wait here seven days more, so that you may be shown whatever it pleases the Most High to show you.” Then he left me.

The People Come to Ezra

40 When all the people heard that the seven days were past and I had not returned to the city, they all gathered together, from the least to the greatest, and came to me and spoke to me, saying, 41 “How have we offended you, and what harm have we done you, that you have forsaken us and sit in this place? 42 For of all the prophets you alone are left to us, like a cluster of grapes from the vintage, and like a lamp in a dark place, and like a haven for a ship saved from a storm. 43 Are not the evils which have befallen us sufficient? 44 Therefore if you forsake us, how much better it would have been for us if we also had been consumed in the burning of Zion! 45 For we are no better than those who died there.” And they wept with a loud voice.

Then I answered them and said, 46 “Take courage, O Israel; and do not be sorrowful, O house of Jacob; 47 for the Most High has you in remembrance, and the Mighty One has not forgotten you in your struggle. 48 As for me, I have neither forsaken you nor withdrawn from you; but I have come to this place to pray on account of the desolation of Zion, and to seek mercy on account of the humiliation of our[n] sanctuary. 49 Now go, every one of you to his house, and after these days I will come to you.” 50 So the people went into the city, as I told them to do. 51 But I sat in the field seven days, as the angel[o] had commanded me; and I ate only of the flowers of the field, and my food was of plants during those days.


  1. 2 Esdras 12:2 Ethiop: Latin omits arose
  2. 2 Esdras 12:17 Lat his
  3. 2 Esdras 12:18 Syr Arm: Lat After
  4. 2 Esdras 12:18 Ethiop Arab 1 Arm: Lat Syr beginning
  5. 2 Esdras 12:19 Syr: Lat underwings
  6. 2 Esdras 12:23 Syr Ethiop Arab Arm: Lat kingdoms
  7. 2 Esdras 12:23 Syr Ethiop Arm: Lat he
  8. 2 Esdras 12:26 Lat them
  9. 2 Esdras 12:29 Arab 1: Lat underwings
  10. 2 Esdras 12:29 Syr Ethiop: Latin omits to
  11. 2 Esdras 12:30 Lat his
  12. 2 Esdras 12:32 Literally anointed one
  13. 2 Esdras 12:32 Syr: Latin omits of days . . . and speak
  14. 2 Esdras 12:48 Syr Ethiop: Lat your
  15. 2 Esdras 12:51 Literally he
Revised Standard Version (RSV)

Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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