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Tour of the Apocrypha: 2Esdras - The Apocalypse of Ezra

Tour of the Apocrypha:
2nd Esdras - The Apocalypse of Ezra
James Scott Trimm

The book of 2nd Esdras appears in the Latin Vulgate as well as some manuscripts of the Peshitta, but does not appear in the Greek LXX. This book has been given various names. In the Latin Vulgate our canonical book of Ezra is 1Esdras; Nehemiah is 2Esdras; 1Ezra (KJV: 1Esdras) is 3 Esdars and this Apocalypse of Ezra is titled "3Esdras" In the KJV it is titled "2Esdras".

The Apocalypse of Ezra is an apocalyptic work consisting of seven visions given to Ezra:

1. (3:1-5:20) Why is Israel allowed to suffer under Babylon?

2. (5:21-6:34) The lot of those who die in this age.

3. (6:35-9:25) The final judgment.

4. (9:26-10:59) Woman transformed into Zion.

5. (11:1-12:51) Three Headed Eagle rising from the sea.

6. (13:1-13:58) Man rising from the sea.

7. (14:1-14:48) Dictation of books.

This was the original material of the Apocalypse of Ezra. However, the monks monkeyed with the text. Latin scribes added a two chapter introduction (Chapters 1-2) and a two chapter epilogue (Chapters 15-16). These sections, added by the monks strongly profess replacement theology. In them Elohim rejects Israel (1:24-32) and replaces Israel with "a people that will come" (1:33-40). Elohim then declares "I will give them the kingdom of Jerusalem, which I was going to give to Israel" (2:10).

While the Latin version contains the additional chapters, the Syriac (Aramaic Peshitta), Coptic, Ethiopic, Arabic, Armenian and Georgian versions do not contain the additions.  The original Hebrew of this book has not survived, however the Peshitta does preserve the text in Aramaic.

There are a number of very interesting things to be found in this book, the following are just a few highlights:

Adam's fall and the source of the evil inclination

26  Then answered he me, and said, If you are alive, you will see, and if you go on living, you will often be amazed, for the world hastens fast to pass away,
27  And cannot comprehend the things that are promised to the righteous in time to come: for this world is full of unrighteousness and infirmities.
28  But as concerning the evil about which you ask me, I will tell you; for the evil is sown, but the destruction thereof is not yet come.
29  If 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.
30  For the small grain of evil seed has been sown in the heart of Adam from the beginning, and how much ungodliness has it brought up unto this time? and how much shall it yet bring forth until the time of threshing come?
31  Ponder now by yourself, how great fruit of wickedness the grain of evil seed has brought forth.
32  And when the heads of good shall be cut down, which are without number, how great a floor shall they fill?
(2Esdras 4:26-32)

A reference to the chamber from which souls come

41  Then said I, No, YHWH, that can she not. And he said unto me, In she’ol the storehouses of souls are like the womb of a woman:
42  For like as a woman that travails makes haste to escape the necessity of the travail: even so do these places haste to deliver those things that are committed unto them.
(2Esdras 4:41-42)

A vision of a three headed eagle which elaborates upon the fourth beast of Daniel 7. 

1  Then saw I a dream, and, behold, there came up from the sea a great eagle in its exceeding greatness, which had twelve feathered wings, and three heads.

11  The eagle, whom you saw come up from the sea, is the kingdom which was seen in the vision of your brother Daniel.
(2Esdras 11:1; 12:11)

A vision of the "Son of Man" Parallel to Daniel 7

3  And I beheld, and, lo, that man flew with the clouds of heaven : that man was flying with the clouds of heaven.  And when he turned his countenance to look, all the things trembled that were seen under him.
4  And when-so-ever the voice went out of his mouth, all they burned that heard his voice, like as the earth melts .
5  And after this I beheld, and, lo, there was gathered together a multitude of men, out of number, from the four winds of the heaven, to subdue the man that came out of the sea
6  But I beheld, and, lo, he had graved himself a great mountain, flew and set themselves up upon it.
7  But I would have seen the region or place whereout the hill was graven, and I could not.
8  and after this I beheld, and, lo, all they which were gathered together to subdue him were sore afraid, and yet durst fight.
9  And, lo, as he saw the violence of the multitude that came, he neither lifted up his hand, nor held sword, nor any instrument of war:
10  But only I saw that he sent out of his mouth as it had been a blast of fire, and out of his lips a flaming breath, and out of his tongue he cast out sparks and tempests.
(2Esdras 13:3-10)

Prophecies concerning the Messiah identifying him as the "Son" of Elohim.

28  For my son the Messiah  shall be revealed with those that are with him, and they that remain shall rejoice within thirty  years.
(2Esdras 7:28)

A vision concerning the fate of the Lost Ten Tribes

40  Those are the ten  tribes, which were carried away prisoners out of their own land in the time of Hoshea the king, whom Shal’man’eser the king of Assyria led away captive, and he carried them over the [Euphrates]  River, and so came they into another land.
41  But they took this counsel among themselves, that they would leave the multitude of the heathen, and go forth into a further country, where never mankind dwelt,
42  That they might there keep their statutes, which they never kept in their own land.
43  And they entered into Euphrates by the narrow places of the river.
44  For Elyon then showed signs for them, and held still the flood, till they were passed over.
45  For through that country there was a great way to go, namely, of a year and a half: and the same region is called Artzaret  [at the end of the world] .
46  Then dwelt they there until the latter time; and again when they shall begin to come,
47  Elyon shall stop the springs of the stream again, that they may go through: therefore saw you the multitude with peace.
48  But those that are left behind of your people are they that are found within my set-apart borders shall be saved.
49  Now when he destroys the multitude of the nations that are gathered together, he shall defend his people that remain.
50  And then shall he show them great wonders.
(2Esdras 13:40-50)

And an account of Ezra's canonization of the books of the Tanak

45: And it came to pass, when the forty days were filled, that Elyon spoke, saying, The first that you have written publish openly these tweny-four  books, that the worthy and unworthy of the people may read it:
46  But keep the seventy, that you may deliver them only to such as be wise among the people:
47  For in them is the spring of understanding, the fountain of wisdom, and the stream of knowledge.
(2Esdras 14:40-50)

This is an amazing prophetic work which has a good deal to offer the seeker of truth.

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