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Lamentation over the Fate of Most People

46 116 I answered and said, “This is my first and last word, that it would have been better if the earth had not produced Adam, or else, when it had produced him, had restrained him from sinning. 47 117 For what good is it to all that they live in sorrow now and expect punishment after death? 48 118 O Adam, what have you done? For though it was you who sinned, the fall was not yours alone, but ours also who are your descendants. 49 119 For what good is it to us, if an eternal age has been promised to us, but we have done deeds that bring death? 50 120 And what good is it that an everlasting hope has been promised us, but we have miserably failed? 51 121 Or that safe and healthful habitations have been reserved for us, but we have lived wickedly? 52 122 Or that the glory of the Most High will defend those who have led a pure life, but we have walked in the most wicked ways? 53 123 Or that a paradise shall be revealed, whose fruit remains unspoiled and in which are abundance and healing, but we shall not enter it, 54 124 because we have lived in unseemly places? 55 125 Or that the faces of those who practiced self-control shall shine more than the stars, but our faces shall be blacker than darkness? 56 126 For while we lived and committed iniquity we did not consider what we should suffer after death.”

57 127 He answered and said, “This is the meaning of the contest which every man who is born on earth shall wage, 58 128 that if he is defeated he shall suffer what you have said, but if he is victorious he shall receive what I have said.[a] 59 129 For this is the way of which Moses, while he was alive, spoke to the people, saying, ‘Choose for yourself life, that you may live!’ 60 130 But they did not believe him, or the prophets after him, or even myself who have spoken to them. 61 131 Therefore there shall not be[b] grief at their destruction, so much as joy over those to whom salvation is assured.”

Ezra Appeals to God’s Mercy

62 132 I answered and said, “I know, O Lord, that the Most High is now called merciful, because he has mercy on those who have not yet come into the world; 63 133 and gracious, because he is gracious to those who turn in repentance to his law; 64 134 and patient, because he shows patience toward those who have sinned, since they are his own works; 65 135 and bountiful, because he would rather give than take away;[c] 66 136 and abundant in compassion, because he makes his compassions abound more and more to those now living and to those who are gone and to those yet to come, 67 137 for if he did not make them abound, the world with those who inhabit it would not have life; 68 138 and he is called giver, because if he did not give out of his goodness so that those who have committed iniquities might be relieved of them, not one ten-thousandth of mankind could have life; 69 139 and judge, because if he did not pardon those who were created by his word and blot out the multitude of their sins,[d] 70 140 there would probably be left only very few of the innumerable multitude.”

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Footnotes

  1. 2 Esdras 7:128 Syr Ethiop Arab 1: Lat I say
  2. 2 Esdras 7:131 Syr: Lat was not
  3. 2 Esdras 7:135 Or is ready to give according to requests
  4. 2 Esdras 7:139 Lat contempts

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