2 Esdras 6New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
6 He said to me, “At the beginning of the circle of the earth, before[a] 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 movements[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 alone and not through another; just as the end shall come through me alone and not through another.”
The Dividing of the Times
7 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 Now Esau is the end of this age, and Jacob is the beginning of the age that follows. 10 The beginning of a person is the hand, and the end of a person is the heel;[d] seek for nothing else, Ezra, between the heel and the hand, Ezra!”
More Signs of the End
11 I answered and said, “O sovereign Lord, if I have found favor in your sight, 12 show your servant the last of your signs of which you showed me a 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 got to my feet and listened; a voice was speaking, and its sound was like the sound of mighty[e] waters. 18 It said, “The days are coming 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 When the seal is placed upon the age that is about to pass away, then I will show these signs: the books shall be opened before the face of the firmament, and all shall see my judgment[f] together. 21 Children a year old shall speak with their voices, and pregnant women shall give birth to premature children at three and four months, and these shall live and leap about. 22 Sown places shall suddenly appear unsown, and full storehouses shall suddenly be found to be empty; 23 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, 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 “It shall be that whoever remains after all that I have foretold to you shall be saved and shall see my salvation and the end of my world. 26 And they shall see those who were taken up, who from their birth have not tasted death; and the heart of the earth’s[g] 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, little by little the place where I was standing began to rock to and fro.[h] 30 And he said to me, “I have come to show you these things this night.[i] 31 If therefore you will pray again and fast again for seven days, I will again declare to you greater things than these,[j] 32 because your voice has surely been heard by the Most High; for the Mighty One has seen your uprightness and has also observed the purity that 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; then you will not act hastily in the last times.’”
The Third Vision
35 Now after this I wept again and fasted seven days in the same way as before, in order to complete the three weeks that had been prescribed for me. 36 Then on the eighth night my heart was troubled within me again, and I began to speak in the presence of the Most High. 37 My spirit was greatly aroused, and my soul was in distress.
God’s Work in Creation
38 I said, “O Lord, you spoke at the beginning of creation, and said on the first day, ‘Let heaven and earth be made,’ and your word accomplished the work. 39 Then the spirit was blowing, and darkness and silence embraced everything; the sound of human voices was not yet there.[k] 40 Then you commanded a ray of light to be brought out from your store-chambers, so that your works could be seen.
41 “Again, on the second day, you created the spirit of the firmament, and commanded it to divide and separate the waters, so that one part might move upward and the other part remain beneath.
42 “On the third day you commanded the waters to be gathered together in a seventh part of the earth; six parts you dried up and kept so that some of them might be planted and cultivated and be of service before you. 43 For your word went forth, and at once the work was done. 44 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 you commanded the brightness of the sun, the light of the moon, and the arrangement of the stars to come into being; 46 and you commanded them to serve humankind, about to be formed.
47 “On the fifth day you commanded 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, so that therefore the nations might declare your wondrous works.
49 “Then you kept in existence two living creatures;[l] the one you called Behemoth[m] and the name of the other Leviathan. 50 And you separated one from the other, for the seventh part where the water had been gathered together could not hold them both. 51 And you gave Behemoth[n] one of the parts that had been dried up on the third day, to live in it, where there are a thousand mountains; 52 but to Leviathan you gave the seventh part, the watery part; and you have kept them to be eaten by whom you wish, and when you wish.
53 “On the sixth day you commanded the earth to bring forth before you cattle, wild animals, and creeping things; 54 and over these you placed Adam, as ruler over all the works that you had made; and from him we have all come, the people whom you have chosen.
Why Do God’s People Suffer?
55 “All this I have spoken before you, O Lord, because you have said that it was for us that you created this world.[o] 56 As for the other nations that have descended from Adam, you have said that they are nothing, and that they are like spittle, and you have compared their abundance to a drop from a bucket. 57 And now, O Lord, these nations, which are reputed to be as nothing, domineer over us and devour us. 58 But we your people, whom you have called your firstborn, only begotten, zealous for you,[p] 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?”