The Second Book of Esdras


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2 Esdras 1 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

(c) The following book is included in the Slavonic Bible as 3 Esdras, but is not found in the Greek. It is included in the Appendix to the Latin Vulgate Bible as 4 Esdras.

Comprising what is sometimes called 5 Ezra (chapters 1–2), 4 Ezra (chapters 3–14), and 6 Ezra (chapters 15–16)

The Genealogy of Ezra

The book[a] of the prophet Ezra son of Seraiah, son of Azariah, son of Hilkiah, son of Shallum, son of Zadok, son of Ahitub, son of Ahijah, son of Phinehas, son of Eli, son of Amariah, son of Azariah, son of Meraimoth, son of Arna, son of Uzzi, son of Borith, son of Abishua, son of Phinehas, son of Eleazar, son of Aaron, of the tribe of Levi, who was a captive in the country of the Medes in the reign of Artaxerxes, king of the Persians.[b]

Ezra’s Prophetic Call

The word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Go, declare to my people their evil deeds, and to their children the iniquities that they have committed against me, so that they may tell[c] their children’s children that the sins of their parents have increased in them, for they have forgotten me and have offered sacrifices to strange gods. Was it not I who brought them out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage? But they have angered me and despised my counsels. Now you, pull out the hair of your head and hurl[d] all evils upon them, for they have not obeyed my law—they are a rebellious people. How long shall I endure them, on whom I have bestowed such great benefits? 10 For their sake I have overthrown many kings; I struck down Pharaoh with his servants and all his army. 11 I destroyed all nations before them, and scattered in the east the peoples of two provinces,[e] Tyre and Sidon; I killed all their enemies.

God’s Mercies to Israel

12 “But speak to them and say, Thus says the Lord: 13 Surely it was I who brought you through the sea, and made safe highways for you where there was no road; I gave you Moses as leader and Aaron as priest; 14 I provided light for you from a pillar of fire, and did great wonders among you. Yet you have forgotten me, says the Lord.

15 “Thus says the Lord Almighty:[f] The quails were a sign to you; I gave you camps for your protection, and in them you complained. 16 You have not exulted in my name at the destruction of your enemies, but to this day you still complain.[g] 17 Where are the benefits that I bestowed on you? When you were hungry and thirsty in the wilderness, did you not cry out to me, 18 saying, ‘Why have you led us into this wilderness to kill us? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in this wilderness.’ 19 I pitied your groanings and gave you manna for food; you ate the bread of angels. 20 When you were thirsty, did I not split the rock so that waters flowed in abundance? Because of the heat I clothed you with the leaves of trees.[h] 21 I divided fertile lands among you; I drove out the Canaanites, the Perizzites, and the Philistines[i]before you. What more can I do for you? says the Lord. 22 Thus says the Lord Almighty:[j] When you were in the wilderness, at the bitter stream, thirsty and blaspheming my name, 23 I did not send fire on you for your blasphemies, but threw a tree into the water and made the stream sweet.

Israel’s Disobedience and Rejection

24 “What shall I do to you, O Jacob? You, Judah, would not obey me. I will turn to other nations and will give them my name, so that they may keep my statutes. 25 Because you have forsaken me, I also will forsake you. When you beg mercy of me, I will show you no mercy. 26 When you call to me, I will not listen to you; for you have defiled your hands with blood, and your feet are swift to commit murder. 27 It is not as though you had forsaken me; you have forsaken yourselves, says the Lord.

28 “Thus says the Lord Almighty: Have I not entreated you as a father entreats his sons or a mother her daughters or a nurse her children, 29 so that you should be my people and I should be your God, and that you should be my children and I should be your father? 30 I gathered you as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. But now, what shall I do to you? I will cast you out from my presence. 31 When you offer oblations to me, I will turn my face from you; for I have rejected your[k] festal days, and new moons, and circumcisions of the flesh.[l] 32 I sent you my servants the prophets, but you have taken and killed them and torn their bodies[m] in pieces; I will require their blood of you, says the Lord.[n]

33 “Thus says the Lord Almighty: Your house is desolate; I will drive you out as the wind drives straw; 34 and your sons will have no children, because with you[o] they have neglected my commandment and have done what is evil in my sight. 35 I will give your houses to a people that will come, who without having heard me will believe. Those to whom I have shown no signs will do what I have commanded. 36 They have seen no prophets, yet will recall their former state.[p] 37 I call to witness the gratitude of the people that is to come, whose children rejoice with gladness;[q] though they do not see me with bodily eyes, yet with the spirit they will believe the things I have said.

38 “And now, father,[r] look with pride and see the people coming from the east; 39 to them I will give as leaders Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and Hosea and Amos and Micah and Joel and Obadiah and Jonah 40 and Nahum and Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi, who is also called the messenger of the Lord.[s]


2 Esdras 2 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

God’s Judgment on Israel

“Thus says the Lord: I brought this people out of bondage, and I gave them commandments through my servants the prophets; but they would not listen to them, and made my counsels void. The mother who bore them[a] says to them, ‘Go, my children, because I am a widow and forsaken. I brought you up with gladness; but with mourning and sorrow I have lost you, because you have sinned before the Lord God and have done what is evil in my sight.[b] But now what can I do for you? For I am a widow and forsaken. Go, my children, and ask for mercy from the Lord.’ Now I call upon you, father, as a witness in addition to the mother of the children, because they would not keep my covenant, so that you may bring confusion on them and bring their mother to ruin, so that they may have no offspring. Let them be scattered among the nations; let their names be blotted out from the earth, because they have despised my covenant.

“Woe to you, Assyria, who conceal the unrighteous within you! O wicked nation, remember what I did to Sodom and Gomorrah, whose land lies in lumps of pitch and heaps of ashes.[c] That is what I will do to those who have not listened to me, says the Lord Almighty.”

10 Thus says the Lord to Ezra: “Tell my people that I will give them the kingdom of Jerusalem, which I was going to give to Israel. 11 Moreover, I will take back to myself their glory, and will give to these others the everlasting habitations, which I had prepared for Israel.[d] 12 The tree of life shall give them fragrant perfume, and they shall neither toil nor become weary. 13 Go[e] and you will receive; pray that your days may be few, that they may be shortened. The kingdom is already prepared for you; be on the watch! 14 Call, O call heaven and earth to witness: I set aside evil and created good; for I am the Living One, says the Lord.

Exhortation to Good Works

15 “Mother, embrace your children; bring them up with gladness, as does a dove; strengthen their feet, because I have chosen you, says the Lord. 16 And I will raise up the dead from their places, and bring them out from their tombs, because I recognize my name in them. 17 Do not fear, mother of children, for I have chosen you, says the Lord. 18 I will send you help, my servants Isaiah and Jeremiah. According to their counsel I have consecrated and prepared for you twelve trees loaded with various fruits, 19 and the same number of springs flowing with milk and honey, and seven mighty mountains on which roses and lilies grow; by these I will fill your children with joy.

20 “Guard the rights of the widow, secure justice for the ward, give to the needy, defend the orphan, clothe the naked, 21 care for the injured and the weak, do not ridicule the lame, protect the maimed, and let the blind have a vision of my splendor. 22 Protect the old and the young within your walls. 23 When you find any who are dead, commit them to the grave and mark it,[f] and I will give you the first place in my resurrection. 24 Pause and be quiet, my people, because your rest will come.

25 “Good nurse, nourish your children; strengthen their feet. 26 Not one of the servants[g] whom I have given you will perish, for I will require them from among your number. 27 Do not be anxious, for when the day of tribulation and anguish comes, others shall weep and be sorrowful, but you shall rejoice and have abundance. 28 The nations shall envy you, but they shall not be able to do anything against you, says the Lord. 29 My power will protect[h] you, so that your children may not see hell.[i]

30 “Rejoice, O mother, with your children, because I will deliver you, says the Lord. 31 Remember your children that sleep, because I will bring them out of the hiding places of the earth, and will show mercy to them; for I am merciful, says the Lord Almighty. 32 Embrace your children until I come, and proclaim mercy to them; because my springs run over, and my grace will not fail.”

Ezra on Mount Horeb

33 I, Ezra, received a command from the Lord on Mount Horeb to go to Israel. When I came to them they rejected me and refused the Lord’s commandment. 34 Therefore I say to you, O nations that hear and understand, “Wait for your shepherd; he will give you everlasting rest, because he who will come at the end of the age is close at hand. 35 Be ready for the rewards of the kingdom, because perpetual light will shine on you forevermore. 36 Flee from the shadow of this age, receive the joy of your glory; I publicly call on my savior to witness.[j] 37 Receive what the Lord has entrusted to you and be joyful, giving thanks to him who has called you to the celestial kingdoms. 38 Rise, stand erect and see the number of those who have been sealed at the feast of the Lord. 39 Those who have departed from the shadow of this age have received glorious garments from the Lord. 40 Take again your full number, O Zion, and close the list of your people who are clothed in white, who have fulfilled the law of the Lord. 41 The number of your children, whom you desired, is now complete; implore the Lord’s authority that your people, who have been called from the beginning, may be made holy.”

Ezra Sees the Son of God

42 I, Ezra, saw on Mount Zion a great multitude that I could not number, and they all were praising the Lord with songs. 43 In their midst was a young man of great stature, taller than any of the others, and on the head of each of them he placed a crown, but he was more exalted than they. And I was held spellbound. 44 Then I asked an angel, “Who are these, my lord?” 45 He answered and said to me, “These are they who have put off mortal clothing and have put on the immortal, and have confessed the name of God. Now they are being crowned, and receive palms.” 46 Then I said to the angel, “Who is that young man who is placing crowns on them and putting palms in their hands?” 47 He answered and said to me, “He is the Son of God, whom they confessed in the world.” So I began to praise those who had stood valiantly for the name of the Lord.[k] 48 Then the angel said to me, “Go, tell my people how great and how many are the wonders of the Lord God that you have seen.”


2 Esdras 3 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Ezra’s Prayer of Complaint

In the thirtieth year after the destruction of the city, I was in Babylon—I, Salathiel, who am also called Ezra. I was troubled as I lay on my bed, and my thoughts welled up in my heart, because I saw the desolation of Zion and the wealth of those who lived in Babylon. My spirit was greatly agitated, and I began to speak anxious words to the Most High, and said, “O sovereign Lord, did you not speak at the beginning when you planted[a] the earth—and that without help—and commanded the dust[b] and it gave you Adam, a lifeless body? Yet he was the creation of your hands, and you breathed into him the breath of life, and he was made alive in your presence. And you led him into the garden that your right hand had planted before the earth appeared. And you laid upon him one commandment of yours; but he transgressed it, and immediately you appointed death for him and for his descendants. From him there sprang nations and tribes, peoples and clans without number. And every nation walked after its own will; they did ungodly things in your sight and rejected your commands, and you did not hinder them. But again, in its time you brought the flood upon the inhabitants of the world and destroyed them. 10 And the same fate befell all of them: just as death came upon Adam, so the flood upon them. 11 But you left one of them, Noah with his household, and all the righteous who have descended from him.

12 “When those who lived on earth began to multiply, they produced children and peoples and many nations, and again they began to be more ungodly than were their ancestors. 13 And when they were committing iniquity in your sight, you chose for yourself one of them, whose name was Abraham; 14 you loved him, and to him alone you revealed the end of the times, secretly by night. 15 You made an everlasting covenant with him, and promised him that you would never forsake his descendants; and you gave him Isaac, and to Isaac you gave Jacob and Esau. 16 You set apart Jacob for yourself, but Esau you rejected; and Jacob became a great multitude. 17 And when you led his descendants out of Egypt, you brought them to Mount Sinai. 18 You bent down the heavens and shook[c] the earth, and moved the world, and caused the depths to tremble, and troubled the times. 19 Your glory passed through the four gates of fire and earthquake and wind and ice, to give the law to the descendants of Jacob, and your commandment to the posterity of Israel.

20 “Yet you did not take away their evil heart from them, so that your law might produce fruit in them. 21 For the first Adam, burdened with an evil heart, transgressed and was overcome, as were also all who were descended from him. 22 Thus the disease became permanent; the law was in the hearts of the people along with the evil root; but what was good departed, and the evil remained. 23 So the times passed and the years were completed, and you raised up for yourself a servant, named David. 24 You commanded him to build a city for your name, and there to offer you oblations from what is yours. 25 This was done for many years; but the inhabitants of the city transgressed, 26 in everything doing just as Adam and all his descendants had done, for they also had the evil heart. 27 So you handed over your city to your enemies.

Babylon Compared with Zion

28 “Then I said in my heart, Are the deeds of those who inhabit Babylon any better? Is that why it has gained dominion over Zion? 29 For when I came here I saw ungodly deeds without number, and my soul has seen many sinners during these thirty years.[d] And my heart failed me, 30 because I have seen how you endure those who sin, and have spared those who act wickedly, and have destroyed your people, and protected your enemies, 31 and have not shown to anyone how your way may be comprehended.[e] Are the deeds of Babylon better than those of Zion? 32 Or has another nation known you besides Israel? Or what tribes have so believed the covenants as these tribes of Jacob? 33 Yet their reward has not appeared and their labor has borne no fruit. For I have traveled widely among the nations and have seen that they abound in wealth, though they are unmindful of your commandments. 34 Now therefore weigh in a balance our iniquities and those of the inhabitants of the world; and it will be found which way the turn of the scale will incline. 35 When have the inhabitants of the earth not sinned in your sight? Or what nation has kept your commandments so well? 36 You may indeed find individuals who have kept your commandments, but nations you will not find.”