Apocalypse of Esdras – 01 Chapters 3, 4
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
1 In the thirtieth year after the ruin of the city I was in Babylon, and lay troubled upon my bed, and my thoughts came up over my heart:
2 For I saw the desolation of Sion, and the wealth of them that dwelt at Babylon.
3 And my spirit was sore moved, so that I began to speak words full of fear to the most High, and said,
4 O Lord, who bearest rule, thou spakest at the beginning, when thou didst plant the earth, and that thyself alone, and commandedst the people,
5 And gavest a body unto Adam without soul, which was the workmanship of thine hands, and didst breathe into him the breath of life, and he was made living before thee.
6 And thou leadest him into paradise, which thy right hand had planted, before ever the earth came forward.
7 And unto him thou gavest commandment to love thy way: which he transgressed, and immediately thou appointedst death in him and in his generations, of whom came nations, tribes, people, and kindreds, out of number.
8 And every people walked after their own will, and did wonderful things before thee, and despised thy commandments.
9 And again in process of time thou broughtest the flood upon those that dwelt in the world, and destroyedst them.
10 And it came to pass in every of them, that as death was to Adam, so was the flood to these.
11 Nevertheless one of them thou leftest, namely, Noah with his household, of whom came all righteous men.
12 And it happened, that when they that dwelt upon the earth began to multiply, and had gotten them many children, and were a great people, they began again to be more ungodly than the first.
13 Now when they lived so wickedly before thee, thou didst choose thee a man from among them, whose name was Abraham.
14 Him thou lovedst, and unto him only thou shewedst thy will:
15 And madest an everlasting covenant with him, promising him that thou wouldest never forsake his seed.
16 And unto him thou gavest Isaac, and unto Isaac also thou gavest Jacob and Esau. As for Jacob, thou didst choose him to thee, and put by Esau: and so Jacob became a great multitude.
17 And it came to pass, that when thou leadest his seed out of Egypt, thou broughtest them up to the mount Sinai.
18 And bowing the heavens, thou didst set fast the earth, movedst the whole world, and madest the depths to tremble, and troubledst the men of that age.
19 And thy glory went through four gates, of fire, and of earthquake, and of wind, and of cold; that thou mightest give the law unto the seed of Jacob, and diligence unto the generation of Israel.
20 And yet tookest thou not away from them a wicked heart, that thy law might bring forth fruit in them.
21 For the first Adam bearing a wicked heart transgressed, and was overcome; and so be all they that are born of him.
22 Thus infirmity was made permanent; and the law (also) in the heart of the people with the malignity of the root; so that the good departed away, and the evil abode still.
23 So the times passed away, and the years were brought to an end: then didst thou raise thee up a servant, called David:
24 Whom thou commandedst to build a city unto thy name, and to offer incense and oblations unto thee therein.
25 When this was done many years, then they that inhabited the city forsook thee,
26 And in all things did even as Adam and all his generations had done: for they also had a wicked heart:
27 And so thou gavest thy city over into the hands of thine enemies.
28 Are their deeds then any better that inhabit Babylon, that they should therefore have the dominion over Sion?
29 For when I came thither, and had seen impieties without number, then my soul saw many evildoers in this thirtieth year, so that my heart failed me.
30 For I have seen how thou sufferest them sinning, and hast spared wicked doers: and hast destroyed thy people, and hast preserved thine enemies, and hast not signified it.
31 I do not remember how this way may be left: Are they then of Babylon better than they of Sion?
32 Or is there any other people that knoweth thee beside Israel? or what generation hath so believed thy covenants as Jacob?
33 And yet their reward appeareth not, and their labour hath no fruit: for I have gone here and there through the heathen, and I see that they flow in wealth, and think not upon thy commandments.
34 Weigh thou therefore our wickedness now in the balance, and theirs also that dwell the world; and so shall thy name no where be found but in Israel.
35 Or when was it that they which dwell upon the earth have not sinned in thy sight? or what people have so kept thy commandments?
36 Thou shalt find that Israel by name hath kept thy precepts; but not the heathen.
1 And the angel that was sent unto me, whose name was Uriel, gave me an answer,
2 And said, Thy heart hath gone too far in this world, and thinkest thou to comprehend the way of the most High?
3 Then said I, Yea, my lord. And he answered me, and said, I am sent to shew thee three ways, and to set forth three similitudes before thee:
4 Whereof if thou canst declare me one, I will shew thee also the way that thou desirest to see, and I shall shew thee from whence the wicked heart cometh.
5 And I said, Tell on, my lord. Then said he unto me, Go thy way, weigh me the weight of the fire, or measure me the blast of the wind, or call me again the day that is past.
6 Then answered I and said, What man is able to do that, that thou shouldest ask such things of me?
7 And he said unto me, If I should ask thee how great dwellings are in the midst of the sea, or how many springs are in the beginning of the deep, or how many springs are above the firmament, or which are the outgoings of paradise:
8 Peradventure thou wouldest say unto 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 thee but only of the fire and wind, and of the day wherethrough thou hast passed, and of things from which thou canst not be separated, and yet canst thou give me no answer of them.
10 He said moreover unto me, Thine own things, and such as are grown up with thee, canst thou not know;
11 How should thy vessel then be able to comprehend the way of the Highest, and, the world being now outwardly corrupted to understand the corruption that is evident in my sight?
12 Then said I unto him, It were better that we were not at all, than that we should live still in wickedness, and to suffer, and not to know wherefore.
13 He answered me, and said, I went into a forest into a plain, and the trees took counsel,
14 And said, Come, let us go and make war against the sea that it may depart away before us, and that we may make us more woods.
15 The floods of the sea also in like manner took counsel, and said, Come, let us go up and subdue the woods of the plain, that there also we may make us another country.
16 The thought of the wood was in vain, for the fire came and consumed it.
17 The thought of the floods of the sea came likewise to nought, for the sand stood up and stopped them.
18 If thou wert judge now betwixt these two, whom wouldest thou begin to justify? or whom wouldest thou condemn?
19 I answered and said, Verily it is a foolish thought that they both have devised, for the ground is given unto the wood, and the sea also hath his place to bear his floods.
20 Then answered he me, and said, Thou hast given a right judgment, but why judgest thou not thyself also?
21 For like as the ground is given unto the wood, and the sea to his floods: even so they that dwell upon the earth may understand nothing but that which is upon the earth: and he that dwelleth above the heavens may only understand the things that are above the height of the heavens.
22 Then answered I and said, I beseech thee, O Lord, let me have understanding:
23 For it was not my mind to be curious of the high things, but of such as pass by us daily, namely, wherefore Israel is given up as a reproach to the heathen, and for what cause the people whom thou hast loved is given over unto ungodly nations, and why the law of our forefathers is brought to nought, and the written covenants come to none effect,
24 And we pass away out of the world as grasshoppers, and our life is astonishment and fear, and we are not worthy to obtain mercy.
25 What will he then do unto his name whereby we are called? of these things have I asked.
26 Then answered he me, and said, The more thou searchest, the more thou shalt marvel; for the world hasteth fast to pass away,
27 And cannot comprehend the things that are promised to the righteous in time to come: for this world is full of unrighteousness and infirmities.
28 But as concerning the things whereof thou askest me, I will tell thee; for the evil is sown, but the destruction thereof is not yet come.
29 If therefore that which is sown be not turned upside down, and if the place where the evil is sown pass not away, then cannot it come that is sown with good.
30 For the grain of evil seed hath been sown in the heart of Adam from the beginning, and how much ungodliness hath it brought up unto this time? and how much shall it yet bring forth until the time of threshing come?
31 Ponder now by thyself, how great fruit of wickedness the grain of evil seed hath brought forth.
32 And when the ears shall be cut down, which are without number, how great a floor shall they fill?
33 Then I answered and said, How, and when shall these things come to pass? wherefore are our years few and evil?
34 And he answered me, saying, Do not thou hasten above the most Highest: for thy haste is in vain to be above him, for thou hast much exceeded.
35 Did not the souls also of the righteous ask question of these things in their chambers, saying, How long shall I hope on this fashion? when cometh the fruit of the floor of our reward?
36 And unto these things Uriel the archangel gave them answer, and said, Even when the number of seeds is filled in you: for he hath weighed the world in the balance.
37 By measure hath he measured the times; and by number hath he numbered the times; and he doth not move nor stir them, until the said measure be fulfilled.
38 Then answered I and said, O Lord that bearest rule, even we all are full of impiety.
39 And for our sakes peradventure it is that the floors of the righteous are not filled, because of the sins of them that dwell upon the earth.
40 So he answered me, and said, Go thy way to a woman with child, and ask of her when she hath fulfilled her nine months, if her womb may keep the birth any longer within her.
41 Then said I, No, Lord, that can she not. And he said unto me, In the grave the chambers of souls are like the womb of a woman:
42 For like as a woman that travaileth maketh haste to escape the necessity of the travail: even so do these places haste to deliver those things that are committed unto them.
43 From the beginning, look, what thou desirest to see, it shall be shewed thee.
44 Then answered I and said, If I have found favour in thy sight, and if it be possible, and if I be meet therefore,
45 Shew me then whether there be more to come than is past, or more past than is to come.
46 What is past I know, but what is for to come I know not.
47 And he said unto me, Stand up upon the right side, and I shall expound the similitude unto thee.
48 So I stood, and saw, and, behold, an 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 still.
50 Then said he unto me, Consider with thyself; as the rain is more than the drops, and as the fire is greater than the smoke; but the drops and the smoke remain behind: so the quantity which is past did more exceed.
51 Then I prayed, and said, May I live, thinkest thou, until that time? or what shall happen in those days?
52 He answered me, and said, As for the tokens whereof thou askest me, I may tell thee of them in part: but as touching thy life, I am not sent to shew thee; for I do not know it.