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Limitations of the Human Mind

Then the angel that had been sent to me, whose name was U′riel, answered and said to me, “Your understanding has utterly failed regarding this world, and do you think you can comprehend the way of the Most High?” Then I said, “Yes, my lord.” And he replied to me, “I have been sent to show you three ways, and to put before you three problems. If you can solve one of them for me, I also will show you the way you desire to see, and will teach you why the heart is evil.”

I said, “Speak on, my lord.”

And he said to me, “Go, weigh for me the weight of fire, or measure for me a measure[a] of wind, or call back for me the day that is past.”

I answered and said, “Who of those that have been born can do this, that you ask me concerning these things?”

And he said to me, “If I had asked you, ‘How many dwellings are in the heart of the sea, or how many streams are at the source of the deep, or how many streams are above the firmament, or which are the exits of hell, or which are the entrances[b] of paradise?’ Perhaps you would have said to me, ‘I never went down into the deep, nor as yet into hell, neither did I ever ascend into heaven.’ But now I have asked you only about fire and wind and the day, things through which you have passed and without which you cannot exist,[c] and you have given me no answer about them!” 10 And he said to me, “You cannot understand the things with which you have grown up; 11 how then can your mind comprehend the way of the Most High? And how can one who is already worn out[d] by the corrupt world understand incorruption?”[e] When I heard this, I fell on my face[f] 12 and said to him, “It would be better for us not to be here than to come here and live in ungodliness, and to suffer and not understand why.”

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Footnotes

  1. 2 Esdras 4:5 Syr Ethiop Arab Georg: Lat a blast
  2. 2 Esdras 4:7 Syr Compare Ethiop Arab 2 Arm: Latin omits of hell, or which are the entrances
  3. 2 Esdras 4:9 Other Latin manuscripts read from which you cannot be separated
  4. 2 Esdras 4:11 The text here is uncertain
  5. 2 Esdras 4:11 Syr Ethiop the way of the incorruptible?
  6. 2 Esdras 4:11 Syr Ethiop Arab 1: Latin is corrupt

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