THE BOOKS CALLED APOCRYPHA
2 ESDRAS 5
1: Nevertheless as coming the tokens, behold, the days shall come, that they which dwell upon earth shall be taken in a great number, and the way of truth shall be hidden, and the land shall be barren of faith.
2: But iniquity shall be increased above that which now thou seest, or that thou hast heard long ago.
3: And the land, that thou seest now to have root, shalt thou see wasted suddenly.
4: But if the most High grant thee to live, thou shalt see after the third trumpet that the sun shall suddenly shine again in the night, and the moon thrice in the day:
5: And blood shall drop out of wood, and the stone shall give his voice, and the people shall be troubled:
6: And even he shall rule, whom they look not for that dwell upon the earth, and the fowls shall take their flight away together:
7: And the Sodomitish sea shall cast out fish, and make a noise in the night, which many have not known: but they shall all hear the voice thereof.
8: There shall be a confusion also in many places, and the fire shall be oft sent out again, and the wild beasts shall change their places, and menstruous women shall bring forth monsters:
9: And salt waters shall be found in the sweet, and all friends shall destroy one another; then shall wit hide itself, and understanding withdraw itself into his secret chamber,
10: And shall be sought of many, and yet not be found: then shall unrighteousness and incontinency be multiplied upon earth.
11: One land also shall ask another, and say, Is righteousness that maketh a man righteous gone through thee? And it shall say, No.
12: At the same time shall men hope, but nothing obtain: they shall labour, but their ways shall not prosper.
13: To shew thee such tokens I have leave; and if thou wilt pray again, and weep as now, and fast even days, thou shalt hear yet greater things.
14: Then I awaked, and an extreme fearfulness went through all my body, and my mind was troubled, so that it fainted.
15: So the angel that was come to talk with me held me, comforted me, and set me up upon my feet.
16: And in the second night it came to pass, that Salathiel the captain of the people came unto me, saying, Where hast thou been? and why is thy countenance so heavy?
17: Knowest thou not that Israel is committed unto thee in the land of their captivity?
18: Up then, and eat bread, and forsake us not, as the shepherd that leaveth his flock in the hands of cruel wolves.
19: Then said I unto him, Go thy ways from me, and come not nigh me. And he heard what I said, and went from me.
20: And so I fasted seven days, mourning and weeping, like as Uriel the angel commanded me.
21: And after seven days so it was, that the thoughts of my heart were very grievous unto me again,
22: And my soul recovered the spirit of understanding, and I began to talk with the most High again,
23: And said, O Lord that bearest rule, of every wood of the earth, and of all the trees thereof, thou hast chosen thee one only vine:
24: And of all lands of the whole world thou hast chosen thee one pit: and of all the flowers thereof one lily:
25: And of all the depths of the sea thou hast filled thee one river: and of all builded cities thou hast hallowed Sion unto thyself:
26: And of all the fowls that are created thou hast named thee one dove: and of all the cattle that are made thou hast provided thee one sheep:
27: And among all the multitudes of people thou hast gotten thee one people: and unto this people, whom thou lovedst, thou gavest a law that is approved of all.
28: And now, O Lord, why hast thou given this one people over unto many? and upon the one root hast thou prepared others, and why hast thou scattered thy only one people among many?
29: And they which did gainsay thy promises, and believed not thy covenants, have trodden them down.
30: If thou didst so much hate thy people, yet shouldest thou punish them with thine own hands.
31: Now when I had spoken these words, the angel that came to me the night afore was sent unto me,
32: And said unto me, Hear me, and I will instruct thee; hearken to the thing that I say, and I shall tell thee more.
33: And I said, Speak on, my Lord. Then said he unto me, Thou art sore troubled in mind for Israel's sake: lovest thou that people better than he that made them?
34: And I said, No, Lord: but of very grief have I spoken: for my reins pain me every hour, while I labour to comprehend the way of the most High, and to seek out part of his judgment.
35: And he said unto me, Thou canst not. And I said, Wherefore, Lord? whereunto was I born then? or why was not my mother's womb then my grave, that I might not have seen the travail of Jacob, and the wearisome toil of the stock of Israel?
36: And he said unto me, Number me the things that are not yet come, gather me together the dross that are scattered abroad, make me the flowers green again that are withered,
37: Open me the places that are closed, and bring me forth the winds that in them are shut up, shew me the image of a voice: and then I will declare to thee the thing that thou labourest to know.
38: And I said, O Lord that bearest rule, who may know these things, but he that hath not his dwelling with men?
39: As for me, I am unwise: how may I then speak of these things whereof thou askest me?
40: Then said he unto me, Like as thou canst do none of these things that I have spoken of, even so canst thou not find out my judgment, or in the end the love that I have promised unto my people.
41: And I said, Behold, O Lord, yet art thou nigh unto them that be reserved till the end: and what shall they do that have been before me, or we that be now, or they that shall come after us?
42: And he said unto me, I will liken my judgment unto a ring: like as there is no slackness of the last, even so there is no swiftness of the first.
43: So I answered and said, Couldest thou not make those that have been made, and be now, and that are for to come, at once; that thou mightest shew thy judgment the sooner?
44: Then answered he me, and said, The creature may not haste above the maker; neither may the world hold them at once that shall be created therein.
45: And I said, As thou hast said unto thy servant, that thou, which givest life to all, hast given life at once to the creature that thou hast created, and the creature bare it: even so it might now also bear them that now be present at once.
46: And he said unto me, Ask the womb of a woman, and say unto her, If thou bringest forth children, why dost thou it not together, but one after another? pray her therefore to bring forth ten children at once.
47: And I said, She cannot: but must do it by distance of time.
48: Then said he unto me, Even so have I given the womb of the earth to those that be sown in it in their times.
49: For like as a young child may not bring forth the things that belong to the aged, even so have I disposed the world which I created.
50: And I asked, and said, Seeing thou hast now given me the way, I will proceed to speak before thee: for our mother, of whom thou hast told me that she is young, draweth now nigh unto age.
51: He answered me, and said, Ask a woman that beareth children, and she shall tell thee.
52: Say unto her, Wherefore are unto they whom thou hast now brought forth like those that were before, but less of stature?
53: And she shall answer thee, They that be born in the strength of youth are of one fashion, and they that are born in the time of age, when the womb faileth, are otherwise.
54: Consider thou therefore also, how that ye are less of stature than those that were before you.
55: And so are they that come after you less than ye, as the creatures which now begin to be old, and have passed over the strength of youth.
56: Then said I, Lord, I beseech thee, if I have found favour in thy sight, shew thy servant by whom thou visitest thy creature.