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2 Esdras 14:45-16:78 Revised Standard Version (RSV)

45 And when the forty days were ended, the Most High spoke to me, saying, “Make public the twenty-four[a] books that you wrote first and let the worthy and the unworthy read them; 46 but keep the seventy that were written last, in order to give them to the wise among your people. 47 For in them is the spring of understanding, the fountain of wisdom, and the river of knowledge.” 48 And I did so.[b]

Vengeance on the Wicked

15 [c] The Lord says, “Behold, speak in the ears of my people the words of the prophecy which I will put in your mouth, and cause them to be written on paper; for they are trustworthy and true. Do not fear the plots against you, and do not be troubled by the unbelief of those who oppose you. For every unbeliever shall die in his unbelief.”

“Behold,” says the Lord, “I bring evils upon the world, the sword and famine and death and destruction. For iniquity has spread throughout every land, and their harmful deeds have reached their limit. Therefore,” says the Lord, “I will be silent no longer concerning their ungodly deeds which they impiously commit, neither will I tolerate their wicked practices. Behold, innocent and righteous blood cries out to me, and the souls of the righteous cry out continually. I will surely avenge them,” says the Lord, “and will receive to myself all the innocent blood from among them. 10 Behold, my people is led like a flock to the slaughter; I will not allow them to live any longer in the land of Egypt, 11 but I will bring them out with a mighty hand and with an uplifted arm, and will smite Egypt with plagues, as before, and will destroy all its land.”

12 Let Egypt mourn, and its foundations, for the plague of chastisement and punishment that the Lord will bring upon it. 13 Let the farmers that till the ground mourn, because their seed shall fail and their trees shall be ruined by blight and hail and by a terrible tempest. 14 Alas for the world and for those who live in it! 15 For the sword and misery draw near them, and nation shall rise up to fight against nation, with swords in their hands. 16 For there shall be unrest among men; growing strong against one another, they shall in their might have no respect for their king or the chief of their leaders. 17 For a man will desire to go into a city, and shall not be able. 18 For because of their pride the cities shall be in confusion, the houses shall be destroyed, and people shall be afraid. 19 A man shall have no pity upon his neighbors, but shall make an assault upon their houses with the sword, and plunder their goods, because of hunger for bread and because of great tribulation.

20 “Behold,” says God, “I call together all the kings of the earth to fear me, from the rising sun and from the south, from the east and from Leb′anon; to turn and repay what they have given them. 21 Just as they have done to my elect until this day, so I will do, and will repay into their bosom.” Thus says the Lord God: 22 “My right hand will not spare the sinners, and my sword will not cease from those who shed innocent blood on earth.” 23 And a fire will go forth from his wrath, and will consume the foundations of the earth, and the sinners, like straw that is kindled. 24 “Woe to those who sin and do not observe my commandments,” says the Lord; 25 “I will not spare them. Depart, you faithless children! Do not pollute my sanctuary.” 26 For the Lord knows all who transgress against him; therefore he will hand them over to death and slaughter. 27 For now calamities have come upon the whole earth, and you shall remain in them; for God will not deliver you, because you have sinned against him.

A Terrifying Vision of Warfare

28 Behold, a terrifying sight, appearing from the east! 29 The nations of the dragons of Arabia shall come out with many chariots, and from the day that they set out, their hissing shall spread over the earth, so that all who hear them fear and tremble. 30 Also the Carmonians, raging in wrath, shall go forth like wild boars of the forest, and with great power they shall come, and engage them in battle, and shall devastate a portion of the land of the Assyrians with their teeth. 31 And then the dragons, remembering their origin, shall become still stronger; and if they combine in great power and turn to pursue them, 32 then these shall be disorganized and silenced by their power, and shall turn and flee. 33 And from the land of the Assyrians an enemy in ambush shall beset them and destroy one of them, and fear and trembling shall come upon their army, and indecision upon their kings.

Judgment on Babylon

34 Behold, clouds from the east, and from the north to the south; and their appearance is very threatening, full of wrath and storm. 35 They shall dash against one another and shall pour out a heavy tempest upon the earth, and their own tempest; and there shall be blood from the sword as high as a horse’s belly 36 and a man’s thigh and a camel’s hock. 37 And there shall be fear and great trembling upon the earth; and those who see that wrath shall be horror-stricken, and they shall be seized with trembling. 38 And, after that, heavy storm clouds shall be stirred up from the south, and from the north, and another part from the west. 39 And the winds from the east shall prevail over the cloud that was[d] raised in wrath, and shall dispel it; and the tempest that was to cause destruction by the east wind shall be driven violently toward the south and west. 40 And great and mighty clouds, full of wrath and tempest, shall rise, to destroy all the earth and its inhabitants, and shall pour out upon every high and lofty place[e] a terrible tempest, 41 fire and hail and flying swords and floods of water, that all the fields and all the streams may be filled with the abundance of those waters. 42 And they shall destroy cities and walls, mountains and hills, trees of the forests, and grass of the meadows, and their grain. 43 And they shall go on steadily to Babylon, and shall destroy her. 44 They shall come to her and surround her; they shall pour out the tempest and all its wrath upon her; then the dust and smoke shall go up to heaven, and all who are about her shall wail over her. 45 And those who survive shall serve those who have destroyed her.

Judgment on Asia

46 And you, Asia, who share in the glamour of Babylon and the glory of her person— 47 woe to you, miserable wretch! For you have made yourself like her; you have decked out your daughters in harlotry to please and glory in your lovers, who have always lusted after you. 48 You have imitated that hateful harlot in all her deeds and devices; therefore God says, 49 “I will send evils upon you, widowhood, poverty, famine, sword, and pestilence, to lay waste your houses and bring you to destruction and death. 50 And the glory of your power shall wither like a flower, when the heat rises that is sent upon you. 51 You shall be weakened like a wretched woman who is beaten and wounded, so that you cannot receive your mighty lovers. 52 Would I have dealt with you so violently,” says the Lord, 53 “If you had not always killed my chosen people, exulting and clapping your hands and talking about their death when you were drunk? 54 Trick out the beauty of your face! 55 The reward of a harlot is in your bosom, therefore you shall receive your recompense. 56 As you will do to my chosen people,” says the Lord, “so God will do to you, and will hand you over to adversities. 57 Your children shall die of hunger, and you shall fall by the sword, and your cities shall be wiped out, and all your people who are in the open country shall fall by the sword. 58 And those who are in the mountains and highlands[f] shall perish of hunger, and they shall eat their own flesh in hunger for bread and drink their own blood in thirst for water. 59 Unhappy above all others, you shall come and suffer fresh afflictions. 60 And as they pass they shall wreck the hateful[g] city, and shall destroy a part of your land and abolish a portion of your glory, as they return from devastated Babylon. 61 And you shall be broken down by them like stubble, and they shall be like fire to you. 62 And they shall devour you and your cities, your land and your mountains; they shall burn with fire all your forests and your fruitful trees. 63 They shall carry your children away captive, and shall plunder your wealth, and abolish the glory of your countenance.”

Further Denunciations

16 Woe to you, Babylon and Asia! Woe to you, Egypt and Syria! Gird yourselves with sackcloth and haircloth, and wail for your children, and lament for them; for your destruction is at hand. The sword has been sent upon you, and who is there to turn it back? A fire has been sent upon you, and who is there to quench it? Calamities have been sent upon you, and who is there to drive them away? Can one drive off a hungry lion in the forest, or quench a fire in the stubble, when once it has begun to burn? Can one turn back an arrow shot by a strong archer? The Lord God sends calamities, and who will drive them away? Fire will go forth from his wrath, and who is there to quench it? 10 He will flash lightning, and who will not be afraid? He will thunder, and who will not be terrified? 11 The Lord will threaten, and who will not be utterly shattered at his presence? 12 The earth and its foundations quake, the sea is churned up from the depths, and its waves and the fish also shall be troubled at the presence of the Lord and before the glory of his power. 13 For his right hand that bends the bow is strong, and his arrows that he shoots are sharp and will not miss when they begin to be shot to the ends of the world. 14 Behold, calamities are sent forth and shall not return until they come over the earth. 15 The fire is kindled, and shall not be put out until it consumes the foundations of the earth. 16 Just as an arrow shot by a mighty archer does not return, so the calamities that are sent upon the earth shall not return. 17 Alas for me! Alas for me! Who will deliver me in those days?

The Horror of the Last Days

18 The beginning of sorrows, when there shall be much lamentation; the beginning of famine, when many shall perish; the beginning of wars, when the powers shall be terrified; the beginning of calamities, when all shall tremble. What shall they do in these circumstances, when the calamities come? 19 Behold, famine and plague, tribulation and anguish are sent as scourges for the correction of men. 20 Yet for all this they will not turn from their iniquities, nor be always mindful of the scourges. 21 Behold, provision will be so cheap upon earth that men will imagine that peace is assured for them, and then the calamities shall spring up on the earth—the sword, famine, and great confusion. 22 For many of those who live on the earth shall perish by famine; and those who survive the famine shall die by the sword. 23 And the dead shall be cast out like dung, and there shall be no one to console them; for the earth shall be left desolate, and its cities shall be demolished. 24 No one shall be left to cultivate the earth or to sow it. 25 The trees shall bear fruit, and who will gather it? 26 The grapes shall ripen, and who will tread them? For in all places there shall be great solitude; 27 one man will long to see another, or even to hear his voice. 28 For out of a city, ten shall be left; and out of the field, two who have hidden themselves in thick groves and clefts in the rocks. 29 As in an olive orchard three or four olives may be left on every tree, 30 or as when a vineyard is gathered some clusters may be left by those who search carefully through the vineyard, 31 so in those days three or four shall be left by those who search their houses with the sword. 32 And the earth shall be left desolate, and its fields shall be for briers, and its roads and all its paths shall bring forth thorns, because no sheep will go along them. 33 Virgins shall mourn because they have no bridegrooms; women shall mourn because they have no husbands; their daughters shall mourn, because they have no helpers. 34 Their bridegrooms shall be killed in war, and their husbands shall perish of famine.

God’s People Must Prepare for the End

35 Listen now to these things, and understand them, O servants of the Lord. 36 Behold the word of the Lord, receive it; do not disbelieve what the Lord says.[h] 37 Behold, the calamities draw near, and are not delayed. 38 Just as a woman with child, in the ninth month, when the time of her delivery draws near, has great pains about her womb for two or three hours beforehand, and when the child comes forth from the womb, there will not be a moment’s delay, 39 so the calamities will not delay in coming forth upon the earth, and the world will groan, and pains will seize it on every side.

40 “Hear my words, O my people; prepare for battle, and in the midst of the calamities be like strangers on the earth. 41 Let him that sells be like one who will flee; let him that buys be like one who will lose; 42 let him that does business be like one who will not make a profit; and let him that builds a house be like one who will not live in it; 43 let him that sows be like one who will not reap; so also him that prunes the vines, like one who will not gather the grapes; 44 them that marry, like those who will have no children; and them that do not marry, like those who are widowed. 45 Because those who labor, labor in vain; 46 for strangers shall gather their fruits, and plunder their goods, and overthrow their houses, and take their children captive; for in captivity and famine they will beget their children. 47 Those who conduct business, do it only to be plundered; the more they adorn their cities, their houses and possessions, and their persons, 48 the more angry I will be with them for their sins,” says the Lord. 49 Just as a respectable and virtuous woman abhors a harlot, 50 so righteousness shall abhor iniquity, when she decks herself out, and shall accuse her to her face, when he comes who will defend him who searches out every sin on earth.

The Power and Wisdom of God

51 Therefore do not be like her or her works. 52 For behold, just a little while, and iniquity will be removed from the earth, and righteousness will reign over us. 53 Let no sinner say that he has not sinned; for God[i] will burn coals of fire on the head of him who says, “I have not sinned before God and his glory.” 54 Behold, the Lord knows all the works of men, their imaginations and their thoughts and their hearts. 55 He said, “Let the earth be made,” and it was made; “Let the heaven be made,” and it was made. 56 At his word the stars were fixed, and he knows the number of the stars. 57 It is he who searches the deep and its treasures, who has measured the sea and its contents; 58 who has enclosed the sea in the midst of the waters, and by his word has suspended the earth over the water; 59 who has spread out the heaven like an arch, and founded it upon the waters; 60 who has put springs of water in the desert, and pools on the tops of the mountains, to send rivers from the heights to water the earth; 61 who formed man, and put a heart in the midst of his body, and gave him breath and life and understanding 62 and the spirit of Almighty God; who made all things and searches out hidden things in hidden places. 63 Surely he knows your imaginations and what you think in your hearts! Woe to those who sin and want to hide their sins! 64 Because the Lord will strictly examine all their works, and will make a public spectacle of all of you. 65 And when your sins come out before men, you shall be put to shame; and your own iniquities shall stand as your accusers in that day. 66 What will you do? Or how will you hide your sins before God and his angels? 67 Behold, God is the judge, fear him! Cease from your sins, and forget your iniquities, never to commit them again; so God will lead you forth and deliver you from all tribulation.

Impending Persecution of God’s People

68 For behold, the burning wrath of a great multitude is kindled over you, and they shall carry off some of you and shall feed you what was sacrificed to idols. 69 And those who consent to eat shall be held in[j] derision and contempt, and be trodden under foot. 70 For in many places[k] and in neighboring cities there shall be a great insurrection against those who fear the Lord. 71 They shall be like mad men, sparing no one, but plundering and destroying those who continue to fear the Lord. 72 For they shall destroy and plunder their goods, and drive them out of their houses. 73 Then the tested quality of my elect shall be manifest, as gold that is tested by fire.

Promise of Divine Deliverance

74 “Hear, my elect,” says the Lord. “Behold, the days of tribulation are at hand, and I will deliver you from them. 75 Do not fear or doubt, for God is your guide. 76 You who keep my commandments and precepts,” says the Lord God, “do not let your sins pull you down, or your iniquities prevail over you.” 77 Woe to those who are choked by their sins and overwhelmed by their iniquities, as a field is choked with underbrush and its path[l] overwhelmed with thorns, so that no one can pass through! 78 It is shut off and given up to be consumed by fire.


  1. 2 Esdras 14:45 Syr Arab 1: Latin omits twenty-four
  2. 2 Esdras 14:48 Syr adds in the seventh year of the sixth week, five thousand years and three months and twelve days after creation. At that time Ezra was caught up, and taken to the place of those who are like him, after he had written all these things. And he was called the Scribe of the knowledge of the Most High for ever and ever. Ethiop Arab 1 Arm have a similar ending
  3. 2 Esdras 15:1 Chapters 15 and 16 (except 15:57–59 which has been found in Greek) are extant only in Latin
  4. 2 Esdras 15:39 Literally that he
  5. 2 Esdras 15:40 Or eminent person
  6. 2 Esdras 15:58 Gk: Latin omits and highlands
  7. 2 Esdras 15:60 Another reading is idle or unprofitable
  8. 2 Esdras 16:36 Cn: Lat do not believe the gods of whom the Lord speaks
  9. 2 Esdras 16:53 Literally he
  10. 2 Esdras 16:69 Literally consent to them shall be for these in
  11. 2 Esdras 16:70 The Latin is uncertain
  12. 2 Esdras 16:77 Another reading is seed
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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