Vision of the eagle and the lion
5 I kept looking and saw the eagle flying with its wings to rule over the earth and over those who lived on the earth. 6 I saw how everything under heaven was made to submit to it, and no one opposed it, not a single creature that lives on the earth. 7 I looked and saw the eagle rise on its talons and call out to its wings, saying, 8 “Don’t all watch together. Let each one sleep in its place and take turns watching, 9 but the heads will be kept for the end.” 10 I looked and saw that the voice didn’t come from its heads but from the middle of its body. 11 I counted its opposing wings, and there were eight of them. 12 A wing arose on the right side, and it ruled over the whole earth; 13 and while it was ruling, it came to an end and disappeared so that its place vanished. The next one rose up and ruled, and it held sway a long time. 14 While it was exercising its rule, it came to its end, so that it disappeared like the previous one.
15 Then a voice rang out, saying to this wing, 16 “Listen, you who have held sway over the earth all this time. I announce[b] this to you before you begin to disappear. 17 No one after you will hold sway as long a time—not even half as long.” 18 A third wing raised itself up, and it also exercised rulership like the previous ones, and it too disappeared. 19 And so it happened to each of the wings in turn, to come to power and then never to be seen again. 20 I looked, and indeed the wings that followed on the right side also rose up in time so that they too might rule, but some of those who came to power disappeared immediately, 21 while others of them rose up but didn’t succeed in establishing their rule. 22 After all this, I looked again, and the twelve wings and two of the little wings had disappeared. 23 Nothing remained on the body of the eagle except the three heads that were at rest and six little wings.
24 I looked and noticed that two of the six little wings were set apart and remained under the head on the right side, but four remained in their place. 25 I watched as these little wings plotted to rise up and take power. 26 One was raised up, but it immediately disappeared, 27 and then a second, but this one disappeared more quickly than the previous one. 28 I saw the two that were left plotting among themselves that they too should rule, 29 and while they were making their plans, one of the heads that had been at rest, the one in the middle, woke up. This one was bigger than the other two heads. 30 I saw how it formed a partnership with the two other heads, 31 and then how the head turned with those that were with it, and it ate the two little wings that had planned to rule. 32 Moreover, this head gained power over the whole earth and dominated those who lived on it, inflicting great distress. It had greater power over the whole world than all the wings that had gone before.
33 After all this, I watched as the middle head, just like the wings, suddenly disappeared. 34 There were two heads left, however, which also ruled over the earth and over those who live on it. 35 I looked and watched as the head on the right side devoured the one on the left. 36 I heard a voice saying to me, “Look in front of you and consider what you see.” 37 I looked and saw something like a lion being roused, roaring out of the forest. I heard how he spoke in a human voice and said to the eagle, 38 “Listen, you, and I will speak to you. The Most High says to you, 39 ‘Aren’t you the last of the four beasts that I made to rule in my world so that I might bring about the end of my times through them? 40 You, the fourth that has come, conquered all the beasts that came before you, ruling over the world with much terror and over the whole world with harsh oppression. You have lived in the world with deceit for so long! 41 You judged the earth, but not in truth, 42 for you have oppressed the meek and injured those who caused no unrest. You hated those who spoke the truth and loved liars. You destroyed the dwellings of those who bore fruit and tore down the walls of those who had done you no harm. 43 Your insolence has ascended to the Most High and your pride to the mighty one. 44 The Most High has reviewed his times. Look! They are finished, and his ages are complete. 45 Therefore, eagle, you must utterly vanish, you and your terrifying wings, your dreadful little wings and your evil heads, and your dreadful talons and all your worthless body. 46 Then the whole earth will be refreshed and restored, set free from your violence, and will hope for the judgment and mercy of him who made it.’”
- 2 Esdras 11:2 Syr and other versions; Lat omits clouds.
- 2 Esdras 11:16 Syr