Second Esdras Chapters
1 And the angel that was sent to me, whose name was Uriel, gave me an answer,
2 and said to me, your heart has utterly failed you in regarding this world, and think you to comprehend the way of the Most High?
3 Then said I, Yes my Lord. And he answered me, and said, I am sent to show you three ways, and to set forth three similitudes before you:
4 whereof if you can declare me one, I also will show you the way that you desire to see, and I will teach you wherefore the heart is wicked.
5 And I said, say on, my Lord. Then said he to me, Go to, weigh me a weight of fire, or measure me a measure of wind, or call me again the day that is past.
6 Then answered I and said, who of the sons of men is able to do this, that you should ask me of such things?
7 And he said to me, If I had asked you, saying, How many dwellings are there in the heart of the sea? or how many springs are there at the fountain head of the deep? or how many ways are above the firmament? or which are the exits of hell? or which are the paths of paradise?
8 perhaps you would say to me, I never went down into the deep, nor as yet into hell, neither did I ever climb up into heaven.
9 Nevertheless now have I asked you but only of the fire and wind, and of the day, things wherethrough you have passed, and without which you can not be, and yet have you given me no answer of them.
10 He said moreover to me, Your own things, that are grown up with you, can you not know;
11 how then can your vessel comprehend the way of the Most High? and how can he that is already worn out with the corrupted world understand incorruption?
12 And when I heard these things I fell upon my face, and said to him, It were better that we were not here at all, than that we should come here and live in the midst of ungodliness, and suffer, and not know wherefore.
13 He answered me, and said, The woods of the trees of the field went forth, and took counsel together,
14 and said, Come! Let’s go and make war against the sea, that it may depart away before us, and that we may make us more woods.
15 The waves of the sea also in like manner took counsel together, and said, Come! Let’s go up and subdue the wood of the plain, that there also we may make us another country.
16 The counsel of the wood was in vain, for the fire came and consumed it:
17 likewise also the counsel of the waves of the sea, for the sand stood up and stopped them.
18 If you were judge now between these two, whom would you justify, or whom condemn?
19 I answered and said, it is a foolish counsel that they both have taken, for the ground is given to the wood, and the place of the sea is given to bear his waves.
20 Then answered he me, and said, You have given a right judgement, and why judge you not in your own case?
21 For like as the ground is given to the wood, and the sea to his waves, even so those who dwell upon the earth may understand nothing but that which is upon the earth: and he only that dwells above the heavens may understand the things that are above the height of the heavens.
22 Then answered I and said, I beseech you, O Lord, wherefore is the power of understanding given to me?
23 For it was not in my mind to be curious of the ways above, but of such things as pass by us daily; because Israel is given up as a reproach to the heathen, and the people whom you have loved is given over to ungodly nations, and the law of our forefathers is made of none effect, and the written covenants are nowhere regarded,
24 and we pass away out of the world as grasshoppers, and our life is as a vapor, neither are we worthy to obtain mercy.
25 What will he then do for his name whereby we are called? Of these things have I asked.
26 Then he answered me, and said, if you be alive you shall see, and if you live long, you shall marvel; for the world hastens fast to pass away.
27 For it is not able to bear the things that are promised to the righteous in the times to come: for this world is full of sadness and infirmities.
28 For the evil whereof you asked me is sown, but the gathering thereof is not yet come.
29 If therefore that which is sown be not reaped, and if the place where the evil is sown pass not away, there can’t come the field where the good is sown.
30 For a grain of evil seed was sown in the heart of Adam from the beginning, and how much wickedness has it brought forth to this time! and how much shall it yet bring forth until the time of threshing come!
31 Ponder now by yourself, how great fruit of wickedness a grain of evil seed has brought forth.
32 When the ears which are without number shall be sown, how great a floor shall they fill!
33 Then I answered and said, How long? and when shall these things come to pass? wherefore are our years few and evil?
34 And he answered me, and said, You do not hasten more than the Most High: for your haste is for your own self, but he that is above hastens on behalf of many.
35 Did not the souls of the righteous ask question of these things in their chambers, saying, How long are we here? when comes the fruit of the threshing time of our reward?
36 And to them Jeremiel the archangel gave answer, and said, Even when the number is fulfilled of those who are like to you. For he has weighed the world in the balance;
37 and by measure has he measured the times, and by number has he counted the seasons; and he shall not move nor stir them, until the said measure be fulfilled.
38 Then answered I and said, O Lord that bear rule, yet even we all are full of impiety:
39 and for our sakes perhaps it is that the threshing time of the righteous is kept back, because of the sins of those who dwell upon the earth.
40 So he answered me, and said, Go your way to a woman with child, and ask of her when she has fulfilled her nine months, if her womb may keep the birth any longer within her.
41 Then said I, no, Lord, that can it not. And he said to me, in the grave the chambers of souls are like the womb:
42 for like as a woman that travails makes haste to escape the anguish of the travail: even so do these places haste to deliver those things that are committed to them from the beginning.
43 Then shall it be showed you concerning those things which you desire to see.
44 Then answered I and said, if I have found favor in your sight, and if it be possible, and if I be meet therefore,
45 show me this also, whether there be more to come than is past, or whether the more part is gone over us.
46 For what is gone I know, but what is for to come I know not.
47 And he said to me, Stand up upon the right side, and I shall expound the similitude to you.
48 so I stood, and saw, and, behold, a hot burning oven passed by before me: and it happened, that when the flame was gone by I looked, and, behold, the smoke remained still.
49 After this there passed by before me a watery cloud, and sent down much rain with a storm; and when the stormy rain was past, the drops remained therein still.
50 Then said he to me, Consider with yourself; as the rain is more than the drops, and the fire is greater than the smoke, so the quantity which is past did more exceed; but the drops and the smoke remained still.
51 Then I prayed, and said, May I live, think you, until that time? or who shall be in those days?
52 He answered me, and said, As for the tokens whereof you asked me, I may tell you of them in part: but as touching your life, I am not sent to show you; for I do not know it.