“But about the signs: Look, the days will come when those who live on earth will be seized with great terror.[a] The way of truth will be hidden, and the land will be barren and devoid of faith. Injustice will be multiplied beyond what you yourself see and beyond what you have heard of formerly. The land that you now see holding sway will have no one left to walk upon it, and people[b] will see it desolate. But if the Most High grants that you live, you will see it thrown into confusion after the third period of time.[c] The sun will suddenly start shining by night and the moon by day. Blood will drip from wood, and stones will speak out. Peoples will be troubled, and natural courses will be changed. A person no one on earth expected will come to power, and birds will migrate together. The sea of Sodom will cast up fish; it will utter sounds in a voice that many don’t know, but all will hear its voice. Chasms will open up in many places, and fire will be shot forth frequently. Wild beasts will roam beyond their territory, and women will give birth to monsters. Salt waters will be found in sources of freshwater. Friends everywhere will begin to fight each other. Reason will be hidden, and intelligence will go into hiding. 10 Many will look for it, but they won’t find it, and injustice and lust will be multiplied on earth. 11 One country will ask its neighbor, ‘Has justice passed through you, doing what is right?’ and the answer will be no. 12 At that time people will hope but not get what they hoped for; they will labor, but they will make no progress. 13 I am permitted to tell you these signs, and if you pray again and continue to weep as you are now doing and fast for seven days, you will again hear greater things than these.”

14 I awoke, my body shuddered greatly, and my spirit labored so that it fainted. 15 The angel who came and talked to me held me, comforted me, and set me on my feet.

16 On the second night, Phaltiel a leader of the people came to me and said, “Where were you, and why is your face sad? 17 Don’t you realize that Israel has been entrusted to you while it is in exile in this land? 18 Arise then, and take some food so that you may not abandon us like a shepherd who leaves his flock in the power of cruel wolves.”

19 I said to him, “Leave me and don’t come near me again for seven days. After that, you will come to me.” He heard how I spoke and withdrew from me.

Second dialogue

20 I didn’t eat food for seven days, wailing and weeping, as the angel Uriel had commanded me. 21 After seven days, my deepest thoughts were again very troubling to me. 22 Then I recovered my wits and I began again to speak words before the Most High: 23 Supreme Lord, you chose one vine from every forest on earth and from all its trees, 24 and from all this world’s lands you chose for yourself one region,[d] and from all the world’s flowers you chose for yourself one lily, 25 and from all the ocean’s depths you filled for yourself one river, and from all cities that have been built you dedicated for yourself Zion, 26 and from all the created birds you named for yourself one dove, and from all the flocks that have been made you provided for yourself one sheep, 27 from all the peoples that have multiplied you acquired for yourself one people, and to this people that you desired you gave the Law celebrated by all. 28 Now, Lord, why did you give the one to the many? Why dishonor[e] the one root above all the rest, and scatter your only one among the many? 29 Those who have denied your promises have trampled those who believed in your covenants! 30 If you really hate your people, they should be punished with your own hands.

31 When I had said these words, the angel who had come to me on the previous night was sent to me. 32 He said to me: “Listen to me, and I will instruct you; pay attention to me, and I will tell you more.”

33 I said, “Speak, my Lord.”

He said to me, “Are you really more deeply disturbed over Israel, or do you love him more than the one who made him does?”

34 I said: “No, Lord, but I spoke in grief. My heart torments me every hour while I try to make sense of the Most High’s ways and investigate his decisions.”

35 He said to me, “You can’t.”

And I said: “Why, Lord? Or else why was I born, and why did my mother’s womb not become my tomb so that I might not see the toil of Jacob and the exhaustion of the line of Israel?”

36 He said to me: “Count for me those who haven’t yet been born, gather for me the scattered raindrops, make the withered flowers bloom again for me, 37 open for me the closed warehouses and bring forth for me the winds shut up in them, or show me what a voice looks like. Then I will show you what you ask to see.”

38 I said: “Supreme Lord, who can know these things except one who doesn’t live among human beings? 39 But I’m ignorant. How can I speak of these things that you asked me about?”

40 He said to me: “As you can’t do one of these things that were mentioned, so you can’t comprehend my judgment or the goal[f] of the love I have promised to my people.”

41 I said: “Look, Lord, you’ve made promises concerning these who are alive at the end, but what will those who are before us do, or we, or those who come after us?”

42 He said to me, “I will compare my judgment to a crown.[g] Just as there is no delay for those who come last, so there is no rushing for those who come before.”

43 I replied, “Couldn’t you have created all at once those who have been and those who are and those who will be so that you might show your judgment more quickly?”

44 He replied to me, “The creation can’t run ahead of its creator, nor can the world sustain all at one time those who are created in it.”

45 I said: “How then could you say to your servant that you will certainly give life to the creation created by you at one time? If, therefore, they will live at one time[h] and the creation will sustain them then, couldn’t it sustain them at one time now?”

46 He said to me: “Ask a woman’s womb: If you bear ten children,[i] why do you only do it over time? Ask it then to produce ten at once.”

47 I said, “Surely it can’t, but only over time.”

48 He said to me: “I also have given the earth’s womb for those who have been sown on it over time. 49 As an infant doesn’t give birth and a woman who has become old doesn’t give birth any longer, so I have set in order the world I created.”

50 I asked: “Since you have given me opportunity, let me speak before you. Is our mother, of whom you spoke to me, still young? Or is she already approaching old age?”

51 He responded to me: “Ask one who gives birth, and she will tell you. Say to her, 52 ‘Why are those you have borne now not like those whom you bore before, but are smaller in stature?’ 53 She herself will tell you, ‘Those who are born in youth’s vigor are different from those who are born in the time of old age, when the womb is failing.’ 54 Therefore, consider that you yourself are smaller in stature than those who were before you, 55 and those who come after you will be even smaller than you, as born of a creation that is already aging and past the strength of youth.”

56 I said: “I ask, Lord, if you look favorably on me, show your servant through whom you will visit your creation.”


  1. 2 Esdras 5:1 Syr; Lat uncertain
  2. 2 Esdras 5:3 Lat they
  3. 2 Esdras 5:4 Lat uncertain
  4. 2 Esdras 5:24 Syr, Eth; Lat pit
  5. 2 Esdras 5:28 Lat prepare, apparently because of a corruption in the Gk
  6. 2 Esdras 5:40 Lat limit
  7. 2 Esdras 5:42 Lat, Syr; some versions circle
  8. 2 Esdras 5:45 Lat omits if, therefore, they will live at one time.
  9. 2 Esdras 5:46 Latin omits ten.