2 Esdras 6Revised Standard Version (RSV)
6 And he said to me, “At the beginning of the circle of the earth,[a] before the portals of the world were in place, and before the assembled winds blew, 2 and before the rumblings of thunder sounded, and before the flashes of lightning shone, and before the foundations of paradise were laid, 3 and before the beautiful flowers were seen, and before the powers of movement[b] were established, and before the innumerable hosts of angels were gathered together, 4 and before the heights of the air were lifted up, and before the measures of the firmaments were named, and before the footstool of Zion was established, 5 and before the present years were reckoned; and before the imaginations of those who now sin were estranged, and before those who stored up treasures of faith were sealed— 6 then I planned these things, and they were made through me and not through another, just as the end shall come through me and not through another.”
The Dividing of the Times
7 And I answered and said, “What will be the dividing of the times? Or when will be the end of the first age and the beginning of the age that follows?”
8 He said to me, “From Abraham to Isaac,[c] because from him were born Jacob and Esau, for Jacob’s hand held Esau’s heel from the beginning. 9 For Esau is the end of this age, and Jacob is the beginning of the age that follows. 10 For the beginning of a man is his hand, and the end of a man is his heel;[d] between the heel and the hand seek for nothing else, Ezra!”
More Signs of the End
11 I answered and said, “O sovereign Lord, if I have found favor in thy sight, 12 show thy servant the end of thy signs which thou didst show me in part on a previous night.”
13 He answered and said to me, “Rise to your feet and you will hear a full, resounding voice. 14 And if the place where you are standing is greatly shaken 15 while the voice is speaking, do not be terrified; because the word concerns the end, and the foundations of the earth will understand 16 that the speech concerns them. They will tremble and be shaken, for they know that their end must be changed.”
17 When I heard this, I rose to my feet and listened, and behold, a voice was speaking, and its sound was like the sound of many waters. 18 And it said, “Behold, the days are coming, and it shall be that when I draw near to visit the inhabitants of the earth, 19 and when I require from the doers of iniquity the penalty of their iniquity, and when the humiliation of Zion is complete, 20 and when the seal is placed upon the age which is about to pass away, then I will show these signs: the books shall be opened before the firmament, and all shall see it together. 21 Infants a year old shall speak with their voices, and women with child shall give birth to premature children at three or four months, and these shall live and dance. 22 Sown places shall suddenly appear unsown, and full storehouses shall suddenly be found to be empty; 23 and the trumpet shall sound aloud, and when all hear it, they shall suddenly be terrified. 24 At that time friends shall make war on friends like enemies, and the earth and those who inhabit it shall be terrified, and the springs of the fountains shall stand still, so that for three hours they shall not flow.
25 “And it shall be that whoever remains after all that I have foretold to you shall himself be saved and shall see my salvation and the end of my world. 26 And they shall see the men who were taken up, who from their birth have not tasted death; and the heart of the earth’s[e] inhabitants shall be changed and converted to a different spirit. 27 For evil shall be blotted out, and deceit shall be quenched; 28 faithfulness shall flourish, and corruption shall be overcome, and the truth, which has been so long without fruit, shall be revealed.”
Conclusion of the Second Vision
29 While he spoke to me, behold, little by little the place where I was standing began to rock to and fro.[f] 30 And he said to me, “I have come to show you these things this night.[g] 31 If therefore you will pray again and fast again for seven days, I will again declare to you greater things than these,[h] 32 because your voice has surely been heard before the Most High; for the Mighty One has seen your uprightness and has also observed the purity which you have maintained from your youth. 33 Therefore he sent me to show you all these things, and to say to you: ‘Believe and do not be afraid! 34 Do not be quick to think vain thoughts concerning the former times, lest you be hasty concerning the last times.’”
The Third Vision
35 Now after this I wept again and fasted seven days as before, in order to complete the three weeks as I had been told. 36 And on the eighth night my heart was troubled within me again, and I began to speak in the presence of the Most High. 37 For my spirit was greatly aroused, and my soul was in distress.
God’s Work in Creation
38 I said, “O Lord, thou didst speak at the beginning of creation, and didst say on the first day, ‘Let heaven and earth be made,’ and thy word accomplished the work. 39 And then the Spirit was hovering, and darkness and silence embraced everything; the sound of man’s voice was not yet there.[i] 40 Then thou didst command that a ray of light be brought forth from thy treasuries, so that thy works might then appear.
41 “Again, on the second day, thou didst create the spirit of the firmament, and didst command him to divide and separate the waters, that one part might move upward and the other part remain beneath.
42 “On the third day thou didst command the waters to be gathered together in the seventh part of the earth; six parts thou didst dry up and keep so that some of them might be planted and cultivated and be of service before thee. 43 For thy word went forth, and at once the work was done. 44 For immediately fruit came forth in endless abundance and of varied appeal to the taste; and flowers of inimitable color; and odors of inexpressible fragrance. These were made on the third day.
45 “On the fourth day thou didst command the brightness of the sun, the light of the moon, and the arrangement of the stars to come into being; 46 and thou didst command them to serve man, who was about to be formed.
47 “On the fifth day thou didst command the seventh part, where the water had been gathered together, to bring forth living creatures, birds, and fishes; and so it was done. 48 The dumb and lifeless water produced living creatures, as it was commanded,[j] that therefore the nations might declare thy wondrous works.
49 “Then thou didst keep in existence two living creatures;[k] the name of one thou didst call Be′hemoth and the name of the other Levi′athan. 50 And thou didst separate one from the other, for the seventh part where the water had been gathered together could not hold them both. 51 And thou didst give Be′hemoth one of the parts which had been dried up on the third day, to live in it, where there are a thousand mountains; 52 but to Levi′athan thou didst give the seventh part, the watery part; and thou hast kept them to be eaten by whom thou wilt, and when thou wilt.
53 “On the sixth day thou didst command the earth to bring forth before thee cattle, beasts, and creeping things; 54 and over these thou didst place Adam, as ruler over all the works which thou hadst made; and from him we have all come, the people whom thou hast chosen.
Why Do God’s People Suffer?
55 “All this I have spoken before thee, O Lord, because thou hast said that it was for us that thou didst create this world.[l] 56 As for the other nations which have descended from Adam, thou hast said that they are nothing, and that they are like spittle, and thou hast compared their abundance to a drop from a bucket. 57 And now, O Lord, behold, these nations, which are reputed as nothing, domineer over us and devour us. 58 But we thy people, whom thou hast called thy first-born, only begotten, zealous for thee,[m] and most dear, have been given into their hands. 59 If the world has indeed been created for us, why do we not possess our world as an inheritance? How long will this be so?”