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Further Denunciations


Woe to you, Babylon and Asia! Woe to you, Egypt and Syria! 2Bind on sackcloth and cloth of goats’ hair, and wail for your children, and lament for them; for your destruction is at hand. 3The sword has been sent upon you, and who is there to turn it back? 4A fire has been sent upon you, and who is there to quench it? 5Calamities have been sent upon you, and who is there to drive them away? 6Can one drive off a hungry lion in the forest, or quench a fire in the stubble once it has started to burn? 7Can one turn back an arrow shot by a strong archer? 8The Lord God sends calamities, and who will drive them away? 9Fire will go forth from his wrath, and who is there to quench it? 10He will flash lightning, and who will not be afraid? He will thunder, and who will not be terrified? 11The Lord will threaten, and who will not be utterly shattered at his presence? 12The earth and its foundations quake, the sea is churned up from the depths, and its waves and the fish with them shall be troubled at the presence of the Lord and the glory of his power. 13For his right hand that bends the bow is strong, and his arrows that he shoots are sharp and when they are shot to the ends of the world will not miss once. 14Calamities are sent forth and shall not return until they come over the earth. 15The fire is kindled, and shall not be put out until it consumes the foundations of the earth. 16Just as an arrow shot by a mighty archer does not return, so the calamities that are sent upon the earth shall not return. 17Alas for me! Alas for me! Who will deliver me in those days?

The Horror of the Last Days

18 The beginning of sorrows, when there shall be much lamentation; the beginning of famine, when many shall perish; the beginning of wars, when the powers shall be terrified; the beginning of calamities, when all shall tremble. What shall they do, when the calamities come? 19Famine and plague, tribulation and anguish are sent as scourges for the correction of humankind. 20Yet for all this they will not turn from their iniquities, or ever be mindful of the scourges. 21Indeed, provisions will be so cheap upon earth that people will imagine that peace is assured for them, and then calamities shall spring up on the earth—the sword, famine, and great confusion. 22For many of those who live on the earth shall perish by famine; and those who survive the famine shall die by the sword. 23And the dead shall be thrown out like dung, and there shall be no one to console them; for the earth shall be left desolate, and its cities shall be demolished. 24No one shall be left to cultivate the earth or to sow it. 25The trees shall bear fruit, but who will gather it? 26The grapes shall ripen, but who will tread them? For in all places there shall be great solitude; 27a person will long to see another human being, or even to hear a human voice. 28For ten shall be left out of a city; and two, out of the field, those who have hidden themselves in thick groves and clefts in the rocks. 29Just as in an olive orchard three or four olives may be left on every tree, 30or just as, when a vineyard is gathered, some clusters may be left by those who search carefully through the vineyard, 31so in those days three or four shall be left by those who search their houses with the sword. 32The earth shall be left desolate, and its fields shall be plowed up, and its roads and all its paths shall bring forth thorns, because no sheep will go along them. 33Virgins shall mourn because they have no bridegrooms; women shall mourn because they have no husbands; their daughters shall mourn, because they have no help. 34Their bridegrooms shall be killed in war, and their husbands shall perish of famine.

God’s People Must Prepare for the End

35 Listen now to these things, and understand them, you who are servants of the Lord. 36This is the word of the Lord; receive it and do not disbelieve what the Lord says. 37The calamities draw near, and are not delayed. 38Just as a pregnant woman, in the ninth month when the time of her delivery draws near, has great pains around her womb for two or three hours beforehand, but when the child comes forth from the womb, there will not be a moment’s delay, 39so the calamities will not delay in coming upon the earth, and the world will groan, and pains will seize it on every side.

40 Hear my words, O my people; prepare for battle, and in the midst of the calamities be like strangers on the earth. 41Let the one who sells be like one who will flee; let the one who buys be like one who will lose; 42let the one who does business be like one who will not make a profit; and let the one who builds a house be like one who will not live in it; 43let the one who sows be like one who will not reap; so also the one who prunes the vines, like one who will not gather the grapes; 44those who marry, like those who will have no children; and those who do not marry, like those who are widowed. 45Because of this, those who labor, labor in vain; 46for strangers shall gather their fruits, and plunder their goods, overthrow their houses, and take their children captive; for in captivity and famine they will produce their children. 47Those who conduct business, do so only to have it plundered; the more they adorn their cities, their houses and possessions, and their persons, 48the more angry I will be with them for their sins, says the Lord. 49Just as a respectable and virtuous woman abhors a prostitute, 50so righteousness shall abhor iniquity, when she decks herself out, and shall accuse her to her face when he comes who will defend the one who searches out every sin on earth.

The Power and Wisdom of God

51 Therefore do not be like her or her works. 52For in a very short time iniquity will be removed from the earth, and righteousness will reign over us. 53Sinners must not say that they have not sinned; for God will burn coals of fire on the head of everyone who says, “I have not sinned before God and his glory.” 54The Lord certainly knows everything that people do; he knows their imaginations and their thoughts and their hearts. 55He said, “Let the earth be made,” and it was made, and “Let the heaven be made,” and it was made. 56At his word the stars were fixed in their places, and he knows the number of the stars. 57He searches the abyss and its treasures; he has measured the sea and its contents; 58he has confined the sea in the midst of the waters; and by his word he has suspended the earth over the water. 59He has spread out the heaven like a dome and made it secure upon the waters; 60he has put springs of water in the desert, and pools on the tops of the mountains, so as to send rivers from the heights to water the earth. 61He formed human beings and put a heart in the midst of each body, and gave each person breath and life and understanding 62and the spirit of Almighty God, who surely made all things and searches out hidden things in hidden places. 63He knows your imaginations and what you think in your hearts! Woe to those who sin and want to hide their sins! 64The Lord will strictly examine all their works, and will make a public spectacle of all of you. 65You shall be put to shame when your sins come out before others, and your own iniquities shall stand as your accusers on that day. 66What will you do? Or how will you hide your sins before the Lord and his glory? 67Indeed, God is the judge; fear him! Cease from your sins, and forget your iniquities, never to commit them again; so God will lead you forth and deliver you from all tribulation.

Impending Persecution of God’s People

68 The burning wrath of a great multitude is kindled over you; they shall drag some of you away and force you to eat what was sacrificed to idols. 69And those who consent to eat shall be held in derision and contempt, and shall be trampled under foot. 70For in many places and in neighboring cities there shall be a great uprising against those who fear the Lord. 71They shall be like maniacs, sparing no one, but plundering and destroying those who continue to fear the Lord. 72For they shall destroy and plunder their goods, and drive them out of house and home. 73Then the tested quality of my elect shall be manifest, like gold that is tested by fire.

Promise of Divine Deliverance

74 Listen, my elect ones, says the Lord; the days of tribulation are at hand, but I will deliver you from them. 75Do not fear or doubt, for God is your guide. 76You who keep my commandments and precepts, says the Lord God, must not let your sins weigh you down, or your iniquities prevail over you. 77Woe to those who are choked by their sins and overwhelmed by their iniquities! They are like a field choked with underbrush and its path overwhelmed with thorns, so that no one can pass through. 78It is shut off and given up to be consumed by fire.

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The commentary does not cover 2 Esdras 16.