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The Fourth Book of Esdras

“help” from the Hebrew (excluded from most "bibles of men")

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Chapter 4

Yes Word (Tyndale-Modern English)


      And the angel that was sent unto me ( whos name was Uriel ) gave me an answer, and said: Thy heart has taken to much upon it in this world, and thou thinkest to comprehend the way of the Highest. Then said I: Yee my Lord: And he answered me, and said: I am sent to show thee these ways, and to set forth these similitudes, before thee: whereof if thou canst declare me one , I will show thee also the way, that thou desirest to see: and I shall show thee from whence the wicked heart cometh. And 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. Then answered I and said: What man born is able to do that? Why requirest thou such of me? And he said unto me: If I should ask thee, how deep dwellings are in the sea? Or how great water springs are upon the firmament: Or how great water springs are in the firmament of the deep? Or which are the out goings of paradise? Peradventure thou wouldest say unto me: I never went down into the deep nor hell, neither did I ever climb up in to heaven. Nevertheless now have I asked thee but only of fire and wind and of the day, where through thou hast traveled, and from the which thou canst not be separated: and yet canest thou give me no answer of them.
      He said moreover unto me: Thine own things, and such as are grown up with thee, canest thou not know: how should thy vessel then be able to comprehend the way of the Highest, and now outwardly in the corrupt world, to understand the corruption that is evident in my sight: Then said I unto him: It were better that we were not at all, then that we should live in wickedness, and to suffer, and not to know wherefore. He answered me, and said: I went in a wood, and the trees took such a device and said: Come let us go, and fight against the sea, that it may depart away from us, and that we may make us yet more woods.
      The floods of the sea in like manner took this device, and said: Come, let us go up, and fight against the trees of the wood, that we may make our land wider. The thought of the wood was but vain and nothing worth, for the fire came and consumed the wood: The thought of the floods of the sea came likewise to naught also, for the sand stood up and stopped them.
      If thou were judge now between these two, whom wouldest thou justify, or whom wouldest thou condemn? I answered and said: Shurly it is a foolish thought that they both devised. For the ground is given unto the wood, and the sea also has his place to bare his floods. Then answered he me, and said: Thou hast given a right judgement, why judgest thy self also? For like as the ground is given unto the wood, and the sea to his flood: 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 heavens. Then answered I, and said: I beseech thee, O' Lord, let me have understanding: for it was not my mind to be curious of thy high things, but of such as we meddle with all, namely, wherefore that Israel is blasphemed of the Heathen, and for what cause the people ( whom thou ever hast loved ) is given over, to be punished of ungodly nations: and why the law of our fathers is brought to nought, and the written covenants come to none effect, and we pass away out of the world as the grasshoppers, and our life is very fear, and we are not worthy to obtain mercy. What will he do unto his name, which is called upon over us? Of these things have I asked question.
      Then answered he me, and said: The more thou searchest, the more thou shalt marvel, for the world hasteth fast to pass away, and can not comprehend the things, that are promised for the righteous in time to come, for this world is full of unrighteousness and weakness.
      But as concerning the things whereof thou asked me, I will tell thee. The evil is sown, but the destruction thereof is not yet come. If the evil now that is sown, be not turned upside down, and the place where the evil is sown, pass not away, then can not the thing come that is sown with good. For the corn of evil seed hath been sown in the heart of man from the beginning, and how much ungodliness hath he brought up unto this time? and how much shall he yet bring forth, until he come into the barn?
      Ponder now by thy self, when the corn of the evil seed is cut down, how great a barn it shall fill: I answered and said: How and when shall these things come to pass? Wherefore are our years few from evil? And he answered me, saying: Ask not thou too much upon the Highest, for thy hastiness to be above him is but vain, thou makest to much a do. Did not the souls also of the righteous ask question of these things in their holiness:* How long shall I hope of this fashion? When cometh the fruit of my barn, and my reward? And upon this Jeremiel the Archangel gave them answer, and said: Even when the number of the seeds is filled in you: for he hath weighed the world in the balance: in measure and number hath he measured the time, and moveth it not, until the same measure be fulfilled. Then answered I and said: O' Lord, Lord, now are we all full of sin, and for our sake peradventure is it not, that the barn of the righteous shall not be filled, because of the sins of them that dwell upon the earth.
      So he answered me., and said: Go thy way to a woman with children, and ask of her, when she hath fulfilled her nine months, if her childbed may keep the birth any longer within her. Then said I: No Lord, that can she not. And he said unto me: In hell the secret places of souls are like the privy chamber of a woman. For like as a woman that travaileth, maketh haste, when the time and necessity of the birth is at hand: Even so doth she hast to deliver it that is committed unto her. Look what thou desirest to see, it shall be shown thee from the beginning. Then answered I , and said: If I have found favor in thy sight, and if it be possible, and if I be meet therefore, show me then, whether there be more to come than is past, or more past then there is for to come. What is past, I know: but what is for to come, I know not.
      And he said unto me: Stand up upon the right side, and I shall expound the similitude unto thee. So I stood, and behold, an hot burning oven went over before me: and it happened when the flame was gone by, the smoke had the upper hand. After this there went over before me a watery cloud, and sent down much rain with a storm: and when the stormy rain was past the drops remained still. Then said he unto me: like as the rain is more than the drops, and as the fire exceedeth the smoke, even so the measure of the things that are past, hath the upper hand. Then went the drops and the smoke above: and I prayed and said: May I live (thinkest thou) until that time? Or what shall happen in those days? He answered me, and said: As for the tokens whereof thou ask me, I may tell thee of them in a part: but as touching thy life, I may not show thee, for I am not sent therefore.

* How long shall I hope of this fashion? (marginal note Revelation 6)

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