THE SECOND BOOK OF ESDRAS
40 Then 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.
41 And 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?
42 And 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.
43 So 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 mightiest shew thy judgment the sooner?
44 Then 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.
45 And 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.
46 And 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.
47 And I said, She cannot: but must do it by distance of time.
48 Then said he unto me, Even so have I given the womb of the earth to those that be sown in it in their times.
49 For 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.
50 And 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.
51 He answered me, and said, Ask a woman that beareth children, and she shall tell thee.
52 Say unto her, Wherefore are unto they whom thou hast now brought forth like those that were before, but less of stature?
53 And she shall answer thee, They that be born in the the strength of youth are of one fashion, and they that are born in the time of age, when the womb faileth, are otherwise.
54 Consider thou therefore also, how that ye are less of stature than those that were before you.
55 And 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.
56 Then said I, Lord, I beseech thee, if I have found favour in thy sight, shew thy servant by whom
thou visitest thy creature.
1 And he said unto me, In the beginning, when the earth was made, before the borders of the world stood, or ever the winds blew,
2 Before it thundered and lightened, or ever the foundations of paradise were laid,
3 Before the fair flowers were seen, or ever the moveable powers were established, before the innumerable multitude of angels were gathered together,
4 Or ever the heights of the air were lifted up, before the measures of the firmament were named, or ever the chimneys in Sion were hot,
5 And ere the present years were sought out, and or ever the inventions of them that now sin were
turned, before they were sealed that have gathered faith for a treasure:
6 Then did I consider these things, and they all were made through me alone, and through none other: by me also they shall be ended, and by none other.
7 Then answered I and said, What shall be the parting asunder of the times? or when shall be the end of the first, and the beginning of it that followeth?
8 And he said unto me, From Abraham unto Isaac, when Jacob and Esau were born of him, Jacob's hand
held first the heel of Esau.
9 For Esau is the end of the world, and Jacob is the beginning of it that followeth.
10 The hand of man is betwixt the heel and the hand: other question, Esdras, ask thou not.