31In the thirtieth year after the ruin of the city I was in Babylon, and lay troubled upon my bed, and my thoughts came up over my heart:
2For I saw the desolation of Sion, and the wealth of them that dwelt at Babylon.
3And my spirit was sore moved, so that I began to speak words full of fear to the most High, and said,
4O Lord, who bearest rule, thou spakest at the beginning, when thou didst plant the earth, and that thyself alone, and commandedst the people,
5And gavest a body unto Adam without soul, which was the workmanship of thine hands, and didst breathe into him the breath of life, and he was made living before thee.
6And thou leadest him into paradise, which thy right hand had planted, before ever the earth came forward.
7And unto him thou gavest commandment to love thy way: which he transgressed, and immediately thou appointedst death in him and in his generations, of whom came nations, tribes, people, and kindreds, out of number.
8And every people walked after their own will, and did wonderful things before thee, and despised thy commandments.
9And again in process of time thou broughtest the flood upon those that dwelt in the world, and destroyedst them.
10And it came to pass in every of them, that as death was to Adam, so was the flood to these.
11Nevertheless one of them thou leftest, namely, Noah with his household, of whom came all righteous men.
12And it happened, that when they that dwelt upon the earth began to multiply, and had gotten them many children, and were a great people, they began again to be more ungodly than the first.
13Now when they lived so wickedly before thee, thou didst choose thee a man from among them, whose name was Abraham.
14Him thou lovedst, and unto him only thou shewedst thy will:
15And madest an everlasting covenant with him, promising him that thou wouldest never forsake his seed.
16And unto him thou gavest Isaac, and unto Isaac also thou gavest Jacob and Esau. As for Jacob, thou didst choose him to thee, and put by Esau: and so Jacob became a great multitude.
17And it came to pass, that when thou leadest his seed out of Egypt, thou broughtest them up to the mount Sinai.
18And bowing the heavens, thou didst set fast the earth, movedst the whole world, and madest the depths to tremble, and troubledst the men of that age.
19And thy glory went through four gates, of fire, and of earthquake, and of wind, and of cold; that thou mightest give the law unto the seed of Jacob, and diligence unto the generation of Israel.
20And yet tookest thou not away from them a wicked heart, that thy law might bring forth fruit in them.
21For the first Adam bearing a wicked heart transgressed, and was overcome; and so be all they that are born of him.
22Thus infirmity was made permanent; and the law (also) in the heart of the people with the malignity of the root; so that the good departed away, and the evil abode still.
23So the times passed away, and the years were brought to an end: then didst thou raise thee up a servant, called David:
24Whom thou commandedst to build a city unto thy name, and to offer incense and oblations unto thee therein.
25When this was done many years, then they that inhabited the city forsook thee,
26And in all things did even as Adam and all his generations had done: for they also had a wicked heart:
27And so thou gavest thy city over into the hands of thine enemies.
28Are their deeds then any better that inhabit Babylon, that they should therefore have the dominion over Sion?
29For when I came thither, and had seen impieties without number, then my soul saw many evildoers in this thirtieth year, so that my heart failed me.
30For I have seen how thou sufferest them sinning, and hast spared wicked doers: and hast destroyed thy people, and hast preserved thine enemies, and hast not signified it.
31I do not remember how this way may be left: Are they then of Babylon better than they of Sion?
32Or is there any other people that knoweth thee beside Israel? or what generation hath so believed thy covenants as Jacob?
33And yet their reward appeareth not, and their labour hath no fruit: for I have gone here and there through the heathen, and I see that they flow in wealth, and think not upon thy commandments.
34Weigh thou therefore our wickedness now in the balance, and theirs also that dwell the world; and so shall thy name no where be found but in Israel.
35Or when was it that they which dwell upon the earth have not sinned in thy sight? or what people have so kept thy commandments?
36Thou shalt find that Israel by name hath kept thy precepts; but not the heathen.
41And the angel that was sent unto me, whose name was Uriel, gave me an answer,
2And said, Thy heart hath gone too far in this world, and thinkest thou to comprehend the way of the most High?
3Then said I, Yea, my lord. And he answered me, and said, I am sent to shew thee three ways, and to set forth three similitudes before thee:
4Whereof if thou canst declare me one, I will shew thee also the way that thou desirest to see, and I shall shew thee from whence the wicked heart cometh.
5And I said, Tell on, my lord. Then said he unto me, Go thy way, weigh me the weight of the fire, or measure me the blast of the wind, or call me again the day that is past.
6Then answered I and said, What man is able to do that, that thou shouldest ask such things of me?
7And he said unto me, If I should ask thee how great dwellings are in the midst of the sea, or how many springs are in the beginning of the deep, or how many springs are above the firmament, or which are the outgoings of paradise:
8Peradventure thou wouldest say unto me, I never went down into the deep, nor as yet into hell, neither did I ever climb up into heaven.
9Nevertheless now have I asked thee but only of the fire and wind, and of the day wherethrough thou hast passed, and of things from which thou canst not be separated, and yet canst thou give me no answer of them.
10He said moreover unto me, Thine own things, and such as are grown up with thee, canst thou not know;
11How should thy vessel then be able to comprehend the way of the Highest, and, the world being now outwardly corrupted to understand the corruption that is evident in my sight?
12Then said I unto him, It were better that we were not at all, than that we should live still in wickedness, and to suffer, and not to know wherefore.
13He answered me, and said, I went into a forest into a plain, and the trees took counsel,
14And said, Come, let us go and make war against the sea that it may depart away before us, and that we may make us more woods.
15The floods of the sea also in like manner took counsel, and said, Come, let us go up and subdue the woods of the plain, that there also we may make us another country.
16The thought of the wood was in vain, for the fire came and consumed it.
17The thought of the floods of the sea came likewise to nought, for the sand stood up and stopped them.
18If thou wert judge now betwixt these two, whom wouldest thou begin to justify? or whom wouldest thou condemn?
19I answered and said, Verily it is a foolish thought that they both have devised, for the ground is given unto the wood, and the sea also hath his place to bear his floods.
20Then answered he me, and said, Thou hast given a right judgment, but why judgest thou not thyself also?
21For like as the ground is given unto the wood, and the sea to his floods: even so they that dwell upon the earth may understand nothing but that which is upon the earth: and he that dwelleth above the heavens may only understand the things that are above the height of the heavens.
22Then answered I and said, I beseech thee, O Lord, let me have understanding:
23For it was not my mind to be curious of the high things, but of such as pass by us daily, namely, wherefore Israel is given up as a reproach to the heathen, and for what cause the people whom thou hast loved is given over unto ungodly nations, and why the law of our forefathers is brought to nought, and the written covenants come to none effect,
24And we pass away out of the world as grasshoppers, and our life is astonishment and fear, and we are not worthy to obtain mercy.
25What will he then do unto his name whereby we are called? of these things have I asked.
26Then answered he me, and said, The more thou searchest, the more thou shalt marvel; for the world hasteth fast to pass away,
27And cannot comprehend the things that are promised to the righteous in time to come: for this world is full of unrighteousness and infirmities.
28But as concerning the things whereof thou askest me, I will tell thee; for the evil is sown, but the destruction thereof is not yet come.
29If therefore that which is sown be not turned upside down, and if the place where the evil is sown pass not away, then cannot it come that is sown with good.
30For the grain of evil seed hath been sown in the heart of Adam from the beginning, and how much ungodliness hath it brought up unto this time? and how much shall it yet bring forth until the time of threshing come?
31Ponder now by thyself, how great fruit of wickedness the grain of evil seed hath brought forth.
32And when the ears shall be cut down, which are without number, how great a floor shall they fill?
33Then I answered and said, How, and when shall these things come to pass? wherefore are our years few and evil?
34And he answered me, saying, Do not thou hasten above the most Highest: for thy haste is in vain to be above him, for thou hast much exceeded.
35Did not the souls also of the righteous ask question of these things in their chambers, saying, How long shall I hope on this fashion? when cometh the fruit of the floor of our reward?
36And unto these things Uriel the archangel gave them answer, and said, Even when the number of seeds is filled in you: for he hath weighed the world in the balance.
37By measure hath he measured the times; and by number hath he numbered the times; and he doth not move nor stir them, until the said measure be fulfilled.
38Then answered I and said, O Lord that bearest rule, even we all are full of impiety.
39And for our sakes peradventure it is that the floors of the righteous are not filled, because of the sins of them that dwell upon the earth.
40So he answered me, and said, Go thy way to a woman with child, and ask of her when she hath fulfilled her nine months, if her womb may keep the birth any longer within her.
41Then said I, No, Lord, that can she not. And he said unto me, In the grave the chambers of souls are like the womb of a woman:
42For like as a woman that travaileth maketh haste to escape the necessity of the travail: even so do these places haste to deliver those things that are committed unto them.
43From the beginning, look, what thou desirest to see, it shall be shewed thee.
44Then answered I and said, If I have found favour in thy sight, and if it be possible, and if I be meet therefore,
45Shew me then whether there be more to come than is past, or more past than is to come.
46What is past I know, but what is for to come I know not.
47And he said unto me, Stand up upon the right side, and I shall expound the similitude unto thee.
48So I stood, and saw, and, behold, an hot burning oven passed by before me: and it happened that when the flame was gone by I looked, and, behold, the smoke remained still.
49After this there passed by before me a watery cloud, and sent down much rain with a storm; and when the stormy rain was past, the drops remained still.
50Then said he unto me, Consider with thyself; as the rain is more than the drops, and as the fire is greater than the smoke; but the drops and the smoke remain behind: so the quantity which is past did more exceed.
51Then I prayed, and said, May I live, thinkest thou, until that time? or what shall happen in those days?
52He answered me, and said, As for the tokens whereof thou askest me, I may tell thee of them in part: but as touching thy life, I am not sent to shew thee; for I do not know it.
51Nevertheless 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.
2But iniquity shall be increased above that which now thou seest, or that thou hast heard long ago.
3And the land, that thou seest now to have root, shalt thou see wasted suddenly.
4But 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:
5And blood shall drop out of wood, and the stone shall give his voice, and the people shall be troubled:
6And even he shall rule, whom they look not for that dwell upon the earth, and the fowls shall take their flight away together:
7And 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.
8There 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:
9And 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,
10And shall be sought of many, and yet not be found: then shall unrighteousness and incontinency be multiplied upon earth.
11One land also shall ask another, and say, Is righteousness that maketh a man righteous gone through thee? And it shall say, No.
12At the same time shall men hope, but nothing obtain: they shall labour, but their ways shall not prosper.
13To 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.
14Then I awaked, and an extreme fearfulness went through all my body, and my mind was troubled, so that it fainted.
15So the angel that was come to talk with me held me, comforted me, and set me up upon my feet.
16And 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?
17Knowest thou not that Israel is committed unto thee in the land of their captivity?
18Up then, and eat bread, and forsake us not, as the shepherd that leaveth his flock in the hands of cruel wolves.
19Then said I unto him, Go thy ways from me, and come not nigh me. And he heard what I said, and went from me.
20And so I fasted seven days, mourning and weeping, like as Uriel the angel commanded me.
21And after seven days so it was, that the thoughts of my heart were very grievous unto me again,
22And my soul recovered the spirit of understanding, and I began to talk with the most High again,
23And 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:
24And of all lands of the whole world thou hast chosen thee one pit: and of all the flowers thereof one lily:
25And of all the depths of the sea thou hast filled thee one river: and of all builded cities thou hast hallowed Sion unto thyself:
26And 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:
27And 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.
28And 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?
29And they which did gainsay thy promises, and believed not thy covenants, have trodden them down.
30If thou didst so much hate thy people, yet shouldest thou punish them with thine own hands.
31Now when I had spoken these words, the angel that came to me the night afore was sent unto me,
32And said unto me, Hear me, and I will instruct thee; hearken to the thing that I say, and I shall tell thee more.
33And 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?
34And 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.
35And 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?
36And 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,
37Open 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.
38And I said, O Lord that bearest rule, who may know these things, but he that hath not his dwelling with men?
39As for me, I am unwise: how may I then speak of these things whereof thou askest me?
40Then 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.
41And 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?
42And 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.
43So 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?
44Then 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.
45And 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.
46And 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.
47And I said, She cannot: but must do it by distance of time.
48Then said he unto me, Even so have I given the womb of the earth to those that be sown in it in their times.
49For 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.
50And 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.
51He answered me, and said, Ask a woman that beareth children, and she shall tell thee.
52Say unto her, Wherefore are unto they whom thou hast now brought forth like those that were before, but less of stature?
53And 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.
54Consider thou therefore also, how that ye are less of stature than those that were before you.
55And 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.
56Then said I, Lord, I beseech thee, if I have found favour in thy sight, shew thy servant by whom thou visitest thy creature.