Documents for the Study of the Gospels

By David R. Cartlidge; David L. Dungan | Go to book overview

APOCALYPTIC PREDICTIONS
2 Esdras 11; 13

Introduction: This work (also called IV Ezra) purports to be visions seen by Ezra after the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 B.C. Actually, the imagery in 2 Esdras refers to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70–72. 2 Esdras is a Jewish work, probably dating from the late first century A.D. Its strong apocalyptic fervor mirrors the desperation and tension of Judaism as it saw its homeland virtually annihilated by the Roman power.


The Eagle Vision (2 Esdras 11)

10.60. I slept that night and the next, just as he (an angel) bade me.

11:1. And I saw a dream, and behold, an eagle ascended from the sea; the eagle had twelve feathered wings and three heads, 2. and I looked, and behold, he stretched his wings over the whole earth, and all the winds of Heaven blew on him and were gathered together. 3. And I looked, and from his wings there grew opposite wings, and they became small and puny wings. 4. His heads were quiescent, and the middle head was larger than the other heads, but it also rested quietly between them. 5. And I looked, and behold, the eagle flew on his wings and he ruled over the earth and over those things that lived on it. 6. And I saw that all things under Heaven were subject to him, and none spoke against him, nor did any one of the creatures on the earth. 7. And I looked, and behold, the eagle rose up on his claws, and he sent a voice to his wings, saying, 8. “Do not watch everything at once; let each one sleep in his place and watch in (his) time; 9. however, save the heads for last.”

10. And I looked, and behold, the voice did not go forth from his heads but from the midst of his body. 11. And I counted his opposing wings and, behold, there were eight. 12. And I looked, and behold, a wing rose up from the right side and ruled over all the earth. 13. And it happened that while it reigned an end came to it, and its place disappeared. And a second (wing) arose and ruled, so that it held (power) for a long time.

14. It happened that while it reigned, its end came, and it disappeared as did the first. 15. And behold, a voice was sent to it, saying, 16. “Hear, you who have reigned over the earth for so long a time; I announce this to you before you disappear: 17. No one after you shall last for as long a time as you did, not even half as long.”

18. And the third wing lifted itself and held its reign just as the former ones, and it too disappeared. 19. And it happened to all to govern in turn and then

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