“Nevertheless, concerning the signs, behold, the days will come when those who dwell on earth will be taken with great amazement, and the way of truth will be hidden, and the land will be barren of faith. Iniquity will be increased above what now you see, and beyond what you have heard long ago. The land that you now see ruling will be a trackless waste, and men will see it desolate. But if the Most High grants you to live, you will see what is after the third period will be troubled. The sun will suddenly shine in the night, and the moon in the day. Blood will drop out of wood, and the stone will utter its voice. The peoples will be troubled, and the stars will fall. He will rule whom those who dwell on the earth don’t expect, and the birds will fly away together. The Sodomite sea will cast out fish, and make a noise in the night, which many have not known; but all will hear its voice. There will also be chaos in many places. Fires will break out often, and the wild animals will change their places, and women will bring forth monsters. Salt waters will be found in the sweet, and all friends will destroy one another. Then reason will hide itself, and understanding withdraw itself into its chamber. 10 It will be sought by many, and won’t be found. Unrighteousness and lack of restraint will be multiplied on earth. 11 One country will ask another, ‘Has righteousness, or a man that does righteousness, gone through you?’ And it will say, ‘No.’ 12 It will come to pass at that time that men will hope, but won’t obtain. They will labor, but their ways won’t prosper. 13 I am permitted to show you such signs. If you will pray again, and weep as now, and fast seven days, you will hear yet greater things than these.”
14 Then I woke up, and an extreme trembling went through my body, and my mind was so troubled that it fainted. 15 So the angel who had come to talk with me held me, comforted me, and set me on my feet.
16 In the second night, it came to pass that Phaltiel the captain of the people came to me, saying, “Where have you been? Why is your face sad? 17 Or don’t you know that Israel is committed to you in the land of their captivity? 18 Get up then, and eat some bread, and don’t forsake us, like a shepherd who leaves the flock in the power of cruel wolves.”
19 Then said I to him, “Go away from me and don’t come near me for seven days, and then you shall come to me.” He heard what I said and left me.
20 So I fasted seven days, mourning and weeping, like Uriel the angel had commanded me. 21 After seven days, the thoughts of my heart were very grievous to me again, 22 and my soul recovered the spirit of understanding, and I began to speak words before the Most High again. 23 I said, “O sovereign Lord of all the woods of the earth, and of all the trees thereof, you have chosen one vine for yourself. 24 Of all the lands of the world you have chosen one §country for yourself. Of all the flowers of the world, you have chosen one lily for yourself. 25 Of all the depths of the sea, you have filled one river for yourself. Of all built cities, you have consecrated Zion for yourself. 26 Of all the birds that are created you have named for yourself one dove. Of all the livestock that have been made, you have provided for yourself one sheep. 27 Among all the multitudes of peoples you have gotten yourself one people. To this people, whom you loved, you gave a law that is approved by all. 28 Now, O Lord, why have you given this one people over to many, and have dishonored the one root above others, and have scattered your only one among many? 29 Those who opposed your promises have trampled down those who believed your covenants. 30 If you really do hate your people so much, they should be punished with your own hands.”
31 Now when I had spoken these words, the angel that came to me the night before was sent to me, 32 and said to me, “Hear me, and I will instruct you. Listen to me, and I will tell you more.”
33 I said, “Speak on, my Lord.”
Then said he to me, “You are very troubled in mind for Israel’s sake. Do you love that people more than he who made them?”
34 I said, “No, Lord; but I have spoken out of grief; for my heart is in agony every hour while I labor to comprehend the way of the Most High, and to seek out part of his judgment.”
35 He said to me, “You can’t.”
And I said, “Why, Lord? Why was I born? Why wasn’t my mother’s womb my grave, that I might not have seen the travail of Jacob, and the wearisome toil of the people of Israel?”
36 He said to me, “Count for me those who haven’t yet come. Gather together for me the drops that are scattered abroad, and make the withered flowers green again for me. 37 Open for me the chambers that are closed, and bring out the winds for me that are shut up in them. Or show me the image of a voice. Then I will declare to you the travail that you asked to see.”
38 And I said, “O sovereign Lord, who may know these things except he who doesn’t have his dwelling with men? 39 As for me, I lack wisdom. How can I then speak of these things you asked me about?”
40 Then said he to me, “Just as you can do none of these things that I have spoken of, even so you can’t find out my judgment, or the end of the love that I have promised to my people.”
41 I said, “But, behold, O Lord, you have made the promise to those who are alive at the end. What should they do who have been before us, or we ourselves, or those who will come after us?”
42 He said to me, “I will compare my judgment to a ring. Just as there is no slowness of those who are last, even so there is no swiftness of those who be first.”
43 So I answered, “Couldn’t you make them all at once that have been made, and that are now, and that are yet to come, that you might show your judgment sooner?”
44 Then he answered me, “The creature may not move faster than the creator, nor can the world hold them at once who will be created in it.”
45 And I said, “How have you said to your servant, that you will surely make alive at once the creature that you have created? §If therefore they will be alive at once, and the creation will sustain them, even so it might now also support them to be present at once.”
46 And he said to me, “Ask the womb of a woman, and say to her, ‘If you bear ten children, why do you it at different times? Ask her therefore to give birth to ten children at once.”
47 I said, “She can’t, but must do it each in their own time.”
48 Then said he to me, “Even so, I have given the womb of the earth to those who are sown in it in their own times. 49 For just as a young child may not give birth, neither she who has grown old any more, even so have I organized the world which I created.”
50 I asked, “Seeing that you have now shown me the way, I will speak before you. Is our mother, of whom you have told me, still young? Or does she now draw near to old age?”
51 He answered me, “Ask a woman who bears children, and she will tell you. 52 Say to her, ‘Why aren’t they whom you have now brought forth like those who were before, but smaller in stature?’ 53 She also will answer you, ‘Those who are born in the strength of youth are different from those who are born in the time of old age, when the womb fails.’ 54 Consider therefore you also, how you are shorter than those who were before you. 55 So are those who come after you smaller than you, as born of the creature which now begins to be old, and is past the strength of youth.”
56 Then I said, “Lord, I implore you, if I have found favor in your sight, show your servant by whom you visit your creation.”
5:1 So the syriac. 5:16 The Syriac has Psaltiel. § 5:24 After the Oriental versions. The Latin has pit. 5:28 After the Oriental versions. The Latin reads have prepared. 5:45 So the Syriac. § 5:45 The Latin omits If...alive at once.