Apocalypse of Esdras – 04 Chapters 8 , 9 and 10
Type of Spiritual Experience
Prophetic passages have been highlighted in bold italic, some of which are also apocalyptic
A description of the experience
1 And he answered me, saying, The most High hath made this world for many, but the world to come for few.
2 I will tell thee a similitude, Esdras; As when thou askest the earth, it shall say unto thee, that it giveth much mould whereof earthen vessels are made, but little dust that gold cometh of: even so is the course of this present world.
3 There be many created, but few shall be saved.
4 So answered I and said, Swallow then down, O my soul, understanding, and devour wisdom.
5 For thou hast agreed to give ear, and art willing to prophesy: for thou hast no longer space than only to live.
6 O Lord, if thou suffer not thy servant, that we may pray before thee, and thou give us seed unto our heart, and culture to our understanding, that there may come fruit of it; how shall each man live that is corrupt, who beareth the place of a man?
7 For thou art alone, and we all one workmanship of thine hands, like as thou hast said.
8 For when the body is fashioned now in the mother's womb, and thou givest it members, thy creature is preserved in fire and water, and nine months doth thy workmanship endure thy creature which is created in her.
9 But that which keepeth and is kept shall both be preserved: and when the time cometh, the womb preserved delivereth up the things that grew in it.
10 For thou hast commanded out of the parts of the body, that is to say, out of the breasts, milk to be given, which is the fruit of the breasts,
11 That the thing which is fashioned may be nourished for a time, till thou disposest it to thy mercy.
12 Thou broughtest it up with thy righteousness, and nurturedst it in thy law, and reformedst it with thy judgment.
13 And thou shalt mortify it as thy creature, and quicken it as thy work.
14 If therefore thou shalt destroy him which with so great labour was fashioned, it is an easy thing to be ordained by thy commandment, that the thing which was made might be preserved.
15 Now therefore, Lord, I will speak; touching man in general, thou knowest best; but touching thy people, for whose sake I am sorry;
16 And for thine inheritance, for whose cause I mourn; and for Israel, for whom I am heavy; and for Jacob, for whose sake I am troubled;
17 Therefore will I begin to pray before thee for myself and for them: for I see the falls of us that dwell in the land.
18 But I have heard the swiftness of the judge which is to come.
19 Therefore hear my voice, and understand my words, and I shall speak before thee. This is the beginning of the words of Esdras, before he was taken up: and I said,
20 O Lord, thou that dwellest in everlastingness which beholdest from above things in the heaven and in the air;
21 Whose throne is inestimable; whose glory may not be comprehended; before whom the hosts of angels stand with trembling,
22 Whose service is conversant in wind and fire; whose word is true, and sayings constant; whose commandment is strong, and ordinance fearful;
23 Whose look drieth up the depths, and indignation maketh the mountains to melt away; which the truth witnesseth:
24 O hear the prayer of thy servant, and give ear to the petition of thy creature.
25 For while I live I will speak, and so long as I have understanding I will answer.
26 O look not upon the sins of thy people; but on them which serve thee in truth.
27 Regard not the wicked inventions of the heathen, but the desire of those that keep thy testimonies in afflictions.
28 Think not upon those that have walked feignedly before thee: but remember them, which according to thy will have known thy fear.
29 Let it not be thy will to destroy them which have lived like beasts; but to look upon them that have clearly taught thy law.
30 Take thou no indignation at them which are deemed worse than beasts; but love them that always put their trust in thy righteousness and glory.
31 For we and our fathers do languish of such diseases: but because of us sinners thou shalt be called merciful.
32 For if thou hast a desire to have mercy upon us, thou shalt be called merciful, to us namely, that have no works of righteousness.
33 For the just, which have many good works laid up with thee, shall out of their own deeds receive reward.
34 For what is man, that thou shouldest take displeasure at him? or what is a corruptible generation, that thou shouldest be so bitter toward it?
35 For in truth them is no man among them that be born, but he hath dealt wickedly; and among the faithful there is none which hath not done amiss.
36 For in this, O Lord, thy righteousness and thy goodness shall be declared, if thou be merciful unto them which have not the confidence of good works.
37 Then answered he me, and said, Some things hast thou spoken aright, and according unto thy words it shall be.
38 For indeed I will not think on the disposition of them which have sinned before death, before judgment, before destruction:
39 But I will rejoice over the disposition of the righteous, and I will remember also their pilgrimage, and the salvation, and the reward, that they shall have.
40 Like as I have spoken now, so shall it come to pass.
41 For as the husbandman soweth much seed upon the ground, and planteth many trees, and yet the thing that is sown good in his season cometh not up, neither doth all that is planted take root: even so is it of them that are sown in the world; they shall not all be saved.
42 I answered then and said, If I have found grace, let me speak.
43 Like as the husbandman's seed perisheth, if it come not up, and receive not thy rain in due season; or if there come too much rain, and corrupt it:
44 Even so perisheth man also, which is formed with thy hands, and is called thine own image, because thou art like unto him, for whose sake thou hast made all things, and likened him unto the husbandman's seed.
45 Be not wroth with us but spare thy people, and have mercy upon thine own inheritance: for thou art merciful unto thy creature.
46 Then answered he me, and said, Things present are for the present, and things to cometh for such as be to come.
47 For thou comest far short that thou shouldest be able to love my creature more than I: but I have ofttimes drawn nigh unto thee, and unto it, but never to the unrighteous.
48 In this also thou art marvellous before the most High:
49 In that thou hast humbled thyself, as it becometh thee, and hast not judged thyself worthy to be much glorified among the righteous.
50 For many great miseries shall be done to them that in the latter time shall dwell in the world, because they have walked in great pride.
51 But understand thou for thyself, and seek out the glory for such as be like thee.
52 For unto you is paradise opened, the tree of life is planted, the time to come is prepared, plenteousness is made ready, a city is builded, and rest is allowed, yea, perfect goodness and wisdom.
53 The root of evil is sealed up from you, weakness and the moth is hid from you, and corruption is fled into hell to be forgotten:
54 Sorrows are passed, and in the end is shewed the treasure of immortality.
55 And therefore ask thou no more questions concerning the multitude of them that perish.
56 For when they had taken liberty, they despised the most High, thought scorn of his law, and forsook his ways.
57 Moreover they have trodden down his righteous,
58 And said in their heart, that there is no God; yea, and that knowing they must die.
59 For as the things aforesaid shalt receive you, so thirst and pain are prepared for them: for it was not his will that men should come to nought:
60 But they which be created have defiled the name of him that made them, and were unthankful unto him which prepared life for them.
61 And therefore is my judgment now at hand.
62 These things have I not shewed unto all men, but unto thee, and a few like thee. Then answered I and said,
63 Behold, O Lord, now hast thou shewed me the multitude of the wonders, which thou wilt begin to do in the last times: but at what time, thou hast not shewed me.
1 He answered me then, and said, Measure thou the time diligently in itself: and when thou seest part of the signs past, which I have told thee before,
2 Then shalt thou understand, that it is the very same time, wherein the Highest will begin to visit the world which he made.
3 Therefore when there shall be seen earthquakes and uproars of the people in the world:
4 Then shalt thou well understand, that the most High spake of those things from the days that were before thee, even from the beginning.
5 For like as all that is made in the world hath a beginning and an end, and the end is manifest:
6 Even so the times also of the Highest have plain beginnings in wonder and powerful works, and endings in effects and signs.
7 And every one that shall be saved, and shall be able to escape by his works, and by faith, whereby ye have believed,
8 Shall be preserved from the said perils, and shall see my salvation in my land, and within my borders: for I have sanctified them for me from the beginning.
9 Then shall they be in pitiful case, which now have abused my ways: and they that have cast them away despitefully shall dwell in torments.
10 For such as in their life have received benefits, and have not known me;
11 And they that have loathed my law, while they had yet liberty, and, when as yet place of repentance was open unto them, understood not, but despised it;
12 The same must know it after death by pain.
13 And therefore be thou not curious how the ungodly shall be punished, and when: but enquire how the righteous shall be saved, whose the world is, and for whom the world is created.
14 Then answered I and said,
15 I have said before, and now do speak, and will speak it also hereafter, that there be many more of them which perish, than of them which shall be saved:
16 Like as a wave is greater than a drop.
17 And he answered me, saying, Like as the field is, so is also the seed; as the flowers be, such are the colours also; such as the workman is, such also is the work; and as the husbandman ls himself, so is his husbandry also: for it was the time of the world.
18 And now when I prepared the world, which was not yet made, even for them to dwell in that now live, no man spake against me.
19 For then every one obeyed: but now the manners of them which are created in this world that is made are corrupted by a perpetual seed, and by a law which is unsearchable rid themselves.
20 So I considered the world, and, behold, there was peril because of the devices that were come into it.
21 And I saw, and spared it greatly, and have kept me a grape of the cluster, and a plant of a great people.
22 Let the multitude perish then, which was born in vain; and let my grape be kept, and my plant; for with great labour have I made it perfect.
23 Nevertheless, if thou wilt cease yet seven days more, (but thou shalt not fast in them,
24 But go into a field of flowers, where no house is builded, and eat only the flowers of the field; taste no flesh, drink no wine, but eat flowers only;)
25 And pray unto the Highest continually, then will I come and talk with thee.
26 So I went my way into the field which is called Ardath, like as he commanded me; and there I sat among the flowers, and did eat of the herbs of the field, and the meat of the same satisfied me.
27 After seven days I sat upon the grass, and my heart was vexed within me, like as before:
28 And I opened my mouth, and began to talk before the most High, and said,
29 O Lord, thou that shewest thyself unto us, thou wast shewed unto our fathers in the wilderness, in a place where no man treadeth, in a barren place, when they came out of Egypt.
30 And thou spakest saying, Hear me, O Israel; and mark my words, thou seed of Jacob.
31 For, behold, I sow my law in you, and it shall bring fruit in you, and ye shall be honoured in it for ever.
32 But our fathers, which received the law, kept it not, and observed not thy ordinances: and though the fruit of thy law did not perish, neither could it, for it was thine;
33 Yet they that received it perished, because they kept not the thing that was sown in them.
34 And, lo, it ls a custom, when the ground hath received seed, or the sea a ship, or any vessel meat or drink, that, that being perished wherein it was sown or cast into,
35 That thing also which was sown, or cast therein, or received, doth perish, and remaineth not with us: but with us it hath not happened so.
36 For we that have received the law perish by sin, and our heart also which received it
37 Notwithstanding the law perisheth not, but remaineth in his force.
38 And when I spake these things in my heart, I looked back with mine eyes, and upon the right side I saw a woman, and, behold, she mourned and wept with a loud voice, and was much grieved in heart, and her clothes were rent, and she had ashes upon her head.
39 Then let I my thoughts go that I was in, and turned me unto her,
40 And said unto her, Wherefore weepest thou? why art thou so grieved in thy mind?
41 And she said unto me, Sir, let me alone, that I may bewail myself, and add unto my sorrow, for I am sore vexed in my mind, and brought very low.
42 And I said unto her, What aileth thee? tell me.
43 She said unto me, I thy servant have been barren, and had no child, though I had an husband thirty years,
44 And those thirty years I did nothing else day and night, and every hour, but make my, prayer to the Highest.
45 After thirty years God heard me thine handmaid, looked upon my misery, considered my trouble, and gave me a son: and I was very glad of him, so was my husband also, and all my neighbours: and we gave great honour unto the Almighty.
46 And I nourished him with great travail.
47 So when he grew up, and came to the time that he should have a wife, I made a feast.
1 And it so came to pass, that when my son was entered into his wedding chamber, he fell down, and died.
2 Then we all overthrew the lights, and all my neighbours rose up to comfort me: so I took my rest unto the second day at night.
3 And it came to pass, when they had all left off to comfort me, to the end I might be quiet; then rose I up by night and fled, and came hither into this field, as thou seest.
4 And I do now purpose not to return into the city, but here to stay, and neither to eat nor drink, but continually to mourn and to fast until I die.
5 Then left I the meditations wherein I was, and spake to her in anger, saying,
6 Thou foolish woman above all other, seest thou not our mourning, and what happeneth unto us?
7 How that Sion our mother is full of all heaviness, and much humbled, mourning very sore?
8 And now, seeing we all mourn and are sad, for we are all in heaviness, art thou grieved for one son?
9 For ask the earth, and she shall tell thee, that it is she which ought to mourn for the fall of so many that grow upon her.
10 For out of her came all at the first, and out of her shall all others come, and, behold, they walk almost all into destruction, and a multitude of them is utterly rooted out.
11 Who then should make more mourning than she, that hath lost so great a multitude; and not thou, which art sorry but for one?
12 But if thou sayest unto me, My lamentation is not like the earth's, because I have lost the fruit of my womb, which I brought forth with pains, and bare with sorrows;
13 But the earth not so: for the multitude present in it according to the course of the earth is gone, as it came:
14 Then say I unto thee, Like as thou hast brought forth with labour; even so the earth also hath given her fruit, namely, man, ever since the beginning unto him that made her.
15 Now therefore keep thy sorrow to thyself, and bear with a good courage that which hath befallen thee.
16 For if thou shalt acknowledge the determination of God to be just, thou shalt both receive thy son in time, and shalt be commended among women.
17 Go thy way then into the city to thine husband.
18 And she said unto me, That will I not do: I will not go into the city, but here will I die.
19 So I proceeded to speak further unto her, and said,
20 Do not so, but be counselled. by me: for how many are the adversities of Sion? be comforted in regard of the sorrow of Jerusalem.
21 For thou seest that our sanctuary is laid waste, our altar broken down, our temple destroyed;
22 Our psaltery is laid on the ground, our song is put to silence, our rejoicing is at an end, the light of our candlestick is put out, the ark of our covenant is spoiled, our holy things are defiled, and the name that is called upon us is almost profaned: our children are put to shame, our priests are burnt, our Levites are gone into captivity, our virgins are defiled, and our wives ravished; our righteous men carried away, our little ones destroyed, our young men are brought in bondage, and our strong men are become weak;
23 And, which is the greatest of all, the seal of Sion hath now lost her honour; for she is delivered into the hands of them that hate us.
24 And therefore shake off thy great heaviness, and put away the multitude of sorrows, that the Mighty may be merciful unto thee again, and the Highest shall give thee rest and ease from thy labour.
25 And it came to pass while I was talking with her, behold, her face upon a sudden shined exceedingly, and her countenance glistered, so that I was afraid of her, and mused what it might be.
26 And, behold, suddenly she made a great cry very fearful: so that the earth shook at the noise of the woman.
27 And I looked, and, behold, the woman appeared unto me no more, but there was a city builded, and a large place shewed itself from the foundations: then was I afraid, and cried with a loud voice, and said,
28 Where is Uriel the angel, who came unto me at the first? for he hath caused me to fall into many trances, and mine end is turned into corruption, and my prayer to rebuke.
29 And as I was speaking these words behold, he came unto me, and looked upon me.
30 And, lo, I lay as one that had been dead, and mine understanding was taken from me: and he took me by the right hand, and comforted me, and set me upon my feet, and said unto me,
31 What aileth thee? and why art thou so disquieted? and why is thine understanding troubled, and the thoughts of thine heart?
32 And I said, Because thou hast forsaken me, and yet I did according to thy words, and I went into the field, and, lo, I have seen, and yet see, that I am not able to express.
33 And he said unto me, Stand up manfully, and I will advise thee.
34 Then said I, Speak on, my lord, in me; only forsake me not, lest I die frustrate of my hope.
35 For I have seen that I knew not, and hear that I do not know.
36 Or is my sense deceived, or my soul in a dream?
37 Now therefore I beseech thee that thou wilt shew thy servant of this vision.
38 He answered me then, and said, Hear me, and I shall inform thee, and tell thee wherefore thou art afraid: for the Highest will reveal many secret things unto thee.
39 He hath seen that thy way is right: for that thou sorrowest continually for thy people, and makest great lamentation for Sion.
40 This therefore is the meaning of the vision which thou lately sawest:
41 Thou sawest a woman mourning, and thou begannest to comfort her:
42 But now seest thou the likeness of the woman no more, but there appeared unto thee a city builded.
43 And whereas she told thee of the death of her son, this is the solution:
44 This woman, whom thou sawest is Sion: and whereas she said unto thee, even she whom thou seest as a city builded,
45 Whereas, I say, she said unto thee, that she hath been thirty years barren: those are the thirty years wherein there was no offering made in her.
46 But after thirty years Solomon builded the city and offered offerings: and then bare the barren a son.
47 And whereas she told thee that she nourished him with labour: that was the dwelling in Jerusalem.
48 But whereas she said unto thee, That my son coming into his marriage chamber happened to have a fail, and died: this was the destruction that came to Jerusalem.
49 And, behold, thou sawest her likeness, and because she mourned for her son, thou begannest to comfort her: and of these things which have chanced, these are to be opened unto thee.
50 For now the most High seeth that thou art grieved unfeignedly, and sufferest from thy whole heart for her, so hath he shewed thee the brightness of her glory, and the comeliness of her beauty:
51 And therefore I bade thee remain in the field where no house was builded:
52 For I knew that the Highest would shew this unto thee.
53 Therefore I commanded thee to go into the field, where no foundation of any building was.
54 For in the place wherein the Highest beginneth to shew his city, there can no man's building be able to stand.
55 And therefore fear not, let not thine heart be affrighted, but go thy way in, and see the beauty and greatness of the building, as much as thine eyes be able to see:
56 And then shalt thou hear as much as thine ears may comprehend.
57 For thou art blessed above many other, and art called with the Highest; and so are but few.
58 But to morrow at night thou shalt remain here;
59 And so shall the Highest shew thee visions of the high things, which the most High will do unto them that dwell upon the earth in the last days. So I slept that night and another, like as he commanded me.