He said to me: “In the beginning of the earthly world—[a]
before the world’s exits were made,
before the gathered winds blew,
before the voices
of the thunders sounded,
before the flashes of lightning shone,
before paradise’s foundations
were made firm,
before beautiful flowers were seen,
before the powers of movement
were established,
before the innumerable heavenly armies of angels were assembled,
before the heights of the air
were lifted up,
before the measures
of the firmament were named,
before Zion’s footstool was established,
before the present years
were reckoned,
before the imaginations of those
who now sin were alienated,
before those who stored up faith
as a treasure were sealed—

then I planned these things. As they were done by me and not by another, so also the end will come by me and not through another.”

I answered, “What separates the times? When is the end of the first and the beginning of that which follows?”

He said to me: “From Abraham to Abraham, because Jacob and Esau were born from him, but Jacob’s hand held Esau’s heel from the outset. Esau represents the end of this age, and Jacob represents the beginning of the following. 10 The beginning of the one man is his hand, and the end of the other man is his heel.[b] Don’t look for anything else between heel and hand, Ezra.”

11 I answered: “Supreme Lord, if only you looked so favorably upon me 12 that you would show your servant your final signs,[c] which you showed me in part on a previous night.”

13 He answered: “Get up on your feet. You’ll hear a loud, echoing voice. 14 Don’t be afraid if the place on which you stand is greatly moved 15 while the voice is speaking. Since the word concerns the end, and since the foundations of the earth will understand 16 that the speech is about them, the place will tremble and shake, because it knows that it is destined to be transformed.”

17 When I heard, I rose on my feet and listened. There was a voice speaking, and its sound was like the sound of deep waters. 18 It said: “Look! The days are coming when I will begin to come near to visit those who live on earth, 19 when I will begin to examine those who unjustly inflicted harm in their cruelty. When the humiliation of Zion is complete, 20 when the seal is placed on the age that begins to pass away, I will perform these signs: Scrolls will be opened in view of the firmament, and all will see together. 21 Infants a year old will speak with their voices, and pregnant women will give birth to premature babies of three and four months, but they will live and dance. 22 Fields that were not sown will suddenly appear sown,[d] and full warehouses will suddenly be found empty. 23 A trumpet will sound with a blast; when all hear it they will suddenly be terrified. 24 In that time friends will make war on friends like enemies, the earth along with those who live on it will be terrified, and the sources of rivers will stand still so that they don’t run for three hours. 25 Then everyone who is left after all these things that I have foretold to you will be saved. These will see my deliverance and the end of my age. 26 They will see[e] the people who have been taken up and who haven’t tasted death from their birth. The hearts of those who live on earth[f] will be changed and converted to a different spirit, 27 for evil will be erased and grief extinguished. 28 Faith will flourish, and corruption will be overcome. Truth that was without fruit for so long will be displayed.”

29 While he was still speaking with me, the place on which I stood was shaken,[g] little by little. 30 He said to me: “I came to show you these things this night.[h] 31 If you ask further and fast again for seven days, I will again declare daily[i] to you greater things than these, 32 because the Most High has listened to your voice. The mighty one has seen your virtue and perceived the humility you have had from your youth. 33 Because of this he sent me to show you all these things and to say to you: Trust confidently, and don’t be afraid. 34 Don’t be hasty to think empty thoughts about the former times, lest you be hasty about the last times.”

Third dialogue

35 After all this I wept again and abstained from food for another seven days, to complete the three weeks that had been prescribed for me. 36 Then on the eighth night my heart was disturbed within me again, and I began to speak before the Most High. 37 My spirit was greatly agitated, and my soul was troubled.

38 Then I said: “Lord, you spoke from the beginning of creation on the first day, ‘Let heaven and earth be made,’ and your word accomplished the deed. 39 Then the spirit was hovering, darkness was spread around, and there was silence. There was as yet no sound of a human voice.[j] 40 Then you commanded that a ray of light be brought forth from your treasuries so that your works might be seen.

41 “Then on the second day you created the spirit of the firmament and commanded that it divide and make a division between the waters so that a certain part might recede upward and another part remain below.

42 “On the third day you commanded the waters to be gathered together in a seventh part of the earth, but you made six parts dry and preserved them so that some of these might be sown and cultivated, to be of service before you. 43 Your word went forth, and the work was immediately accomplished. 44 Suddenly, fruit blossomed in great abundance in an infinite variety of flavors, and flowers with matchless color and scents of unspeakable fragrance. These things were done on the third day.

45 “On the fourth day you commanded the sun’s splendor to be made, the moon’s light, and the arrangement of the stars. 46 You commanded them to serve the human being who was about to be formed.

47 “On the fifth day you commanded the seventh part where the water was gathered to produce animals, birds, and fish. 48 The silent and lifeless water, as it was commanded, brought forth animals so that peoples might recount your wonders. 49 You kept two living creatures[k] in reserve; one you named Behemoth, and the second you named Leviathan. 50 You separated them from each other, for the seventh part where the water was gathered couldn’t contain them. 51 You gave Behemoth one part of the land that had been dried on the third day, where there are a thousand mountains so that he might live there. 52 To Leviathan, however, you gave the watery seventh part. You kept them to be eaten by whomever you wish, and whenever you wish.

53 “On the sixth day you commanded the earth that it create before you cattle, beasts, and reptiles, 54 and over these you set Adam, the leader over all the things you had made. From him we all, the people you have chosen, have been brought forth.

55 “I have said all these things before you, Lord, because you have said that you created the oldest age[l] for our sake. 56 You have said that the other nations born of Adam are nothing, that they are like spit, and you have compared their abundance to a drop from a pitcher. 57 But look now, Lord! These nations that are valued as nothing rule over us and devour us, 58 while we, your people, whom you have called your oldest offspring, your one and only child, those who are zealous for you, your dearest ones, are handed over to them. 59 If the world was created for our sake, why don’t we possess our world as an inheritance? How long will this situation last?”


  1. 2 Esdras 6:1 Lat in the beginning, the earthly world; Syr and other versions The beginning is through man and the end is through me.
  2. 2 Esdras 6:10 Syr; Lat uncertain
  3. 2 Esdras 6:12 Lat the end of your signs
  4. 2 Esdras 6:22 or the reverse; Lat uncertain
  5. 2 Esdras 6:26 Antecedent unclear; or the verb should be passive and those who were taken up will be seen.
  6. 2 Esdras 6:26 Lat omits on earth.
  7. 2 Esdras 6:29 Correction of Lat by other versions
  8. 2 Esdras 6:30 Syr, Eth; Lat uncertain
  9. 2 Esdras 6:31 Lat; other versions lack daily.
  10. 2 Esdras 6:39 Lat from you
  11. 2 Esdras 6:49 Syr, Eth; Lat two souls
  12. 2 Esdras 6:55 Lat world