This is the second book of the prophet Ezra. He was the son of Seraiah, the grandson of Azariah, and a descendant of Hilkiah, Shallum, Zadok, Ahitub, 2Ahijah, Phinehas, Eli, Amariah, Azariah, Meraioth, Arna, Uzzi, Borith, Abishua, Phinehas, Eleazar, 3and Aaron, of the tribe of Levi.
When I, Ezra, was a captive in Media during the reign of Artaxerxes, king of Persia, 4the Lord said to me, 5
“Go and remind my people and their children of the sins they have committed against me, and let them tell their grandchildren. 6My people have sinned even more than their ancestors, for they have forgotten me and offered sacrifices to foreign gods. 7I rescued them from Egypt, where they were slaves, but they have done things that made me angry and have refused to listen to my warnings.
8“Ezra, tear your hair in grief and call down on these people all the disasters they deserve. They are rebellious and refuse to obey my Law. 9How much longer can I tolerate these people for whom I have done so much? 10
For their sake I overthrew many kings and crushed the king of Egypt together with his officials and all his army. 11I destroyed all the nations that opposed them, and in the east I scattered the people of the provinces of Tyre and Sidon and killed all the enemies of Israel.
12“Ezra, tell them that the Lord says: 13
I brought you across the Red Sea and made safe roads for you where there were none. I made Moses your leader and gave you Aaron as your priest. 14
I provided you with light from a pillar of fire and performed great miracles among you, but you have forgotten me. I, the Lord, have spoken.
“The Lord Almighty says: I sent you quails as a sign of my care for you. I provided you with camps where you could be safe, but all you did there was complain. 16Even when I destroyed your enemies, you did not appreciate what I had done. You have never done anything but complain. 17
Have you forgotten the blessings I gave you? There in the desert when you were hungry and thirsty you cried out to me: 18‘Why have you brought us out to this desert to kill us? Being slaves to the Egyptians was better than coming here to die.’ 19I was moved by your bitter groans and gave you manna, the bread of angels. 20
When you were thirsty, I split the rock and all the water you needed flowed out. To protect you from the heat, I provided you with shady trees. 21I divided fertile lands among you and drove out the Canaanites, the Perizzites, and the Philistines, who opposed your advance. What more could I have done for you?
“The Lord Almighty says: There in the desert by the river of bitter water when you were thirsty and cursed me, 23in spite of your insults I did not send fire upon you. Instead, I made the water fit to drink by throwing wood into the river. 24People of Israel, what can I do with you? People of Judah, you refuse to obey me. So I will turn to other nations and make them my people. They will keep my laws. 25Because you have abandoned me, I will abandon you. You will beg me for mercy, but I will show you none. 26When you pray to me, I will not hear you. You never hesitate to commit murder; your hands are stained with the blood of those you have killed. 27It is not me that you have betrayed; you have betrayed yourselves.
28“The Lord Almighty says: I have pleaded with you as a father pleads with his sons, as a mother pleads with her daughters, or as a nursemaid pleads with her small children. 29I begged you to be my people so that I could be your God, to be my children so that I could be your father. 30
I gathered you together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. But now what can I do with you? I will banish you from my sight; 31and even when you offer sacrifices to me, I will turn away from you. Your religious festivals, your New Moon celebrations, or your circumcision ceremonies mean nothing to me. 32I sent you my servants, the prophets, but you killed them and mutilated their corpses. I will make you pay for murdering them.
33“The Lord Almighty says: Your Temple is abandoned. I will scatter you like straw blown away by the wind. 34Your children will have no descendants because they rejected my commandments and did what I hated, just as you did. 35
I will give your home to a people that is about to appear. They will believe me, even though they have not yet heard of me. They will do what I command, even though I never performed any miracles for them. 36They have not seen the prophets, but they will live by their ancient teachings. 37I give my solemn promise that I will bless those people, and their little children will laugh and shout for joy. Those people have never seen me, but deep within them they will believe my words.
38“Now, Father Ezra, look with pride at the people you see coming from the east. 39Look at the leaders I have given them: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Hosea, Amos, Micah, Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, 40Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi (who is also called the Lord's messenger).
21“The Lord says: I led my people out of slavery in Egypt; I gave them commandments through my servants, the prophets, but they refused to listen and ignored my teaching. 2
Jerusalem, the mother who brought them into the world, says to them, ‘Go your own way, my children; I am now a widow left completely alone. 3I took great delight in bringing you up, but you sinned against the Lord God and did what I knew was wrong, so I mourned in deep grief when I lost you. 4What can I do for you, now that I am a widow and left completely alone? Go, my children, and ask the Lord for mercy.’
5“Father Ezra, I call on you to testify against these people as their mother has done, because they have refused to keep my covenant. 6Now bring confusion on them and ruin on their mother, so that they will have no descendants. 7They will be scattered among the nations, and no one on earth will remember them any longer, for they have despised my covenant.
“How terrible will be your punishment, Assyria. You have let wicked people hide within your borders. Remember, sinful nation, what I did to Sodom and Gomorrah. 9Their land now lies covered with lumps of tar and heaps of ashes. That is what I do to people who do not obey me.
10“The Lord says to Ezra: announce to my new people that I will give them the kingdom of Jerusalem, which I had planned to give to Israel. 11I will take the dazzling light of my presence away from Israel and will give to my new people the eternal Temple that I had prepared for Israel. 12
The tree of life will fill the air round them with its fragrance. They will never have to work; they will never grow tired. 13
Ask, and you will receive. Pray that the number of the days you have to wait will be reduced. Even now the kingdom has been prepared for you, so stay alert. 14Call heaven and earth to witness that I, the living God, have abolished evil and created good.
15“Mother Jerusalem, take your children in your arms. Guide their steps in safe paths; rear them with the same delight as a dove has in rearing her young. I, the Lord, have chosen you. 16I will raise your dead from their graves because I recognize them as my people. 17Jerusalem, mother of these people, do not be afraid; I, the Lord, have chosen you.
“I will send my servants Isaiah and Jeremiah to help you. At their request I have consecrated and prepared for you twelve trees, heavy with different kinds of fruit, 19twelve fountains flowing with milk and honey, and seven high mountains covered with roses and lilies. I will make your children very happy there. 20Now, Jerusalem, come to the defence of widows, take the side of the fatherless, give to the poor, protect orphans, give clothing to those who have none, 21take care of those who are broken and weak, do not make fun of those who are crippled, protect the disabled, and help the blind to catch the vision of my dazzling splendour. 22Keep both the old and the young safe within your walls. 23
Whenever you find a dead body, bury it and mark the grave, and I will give you a place of honour when I raise the dead.
24“Be calm, my people; your time to rest will come. 25Take care of your children like a faithful nursemaid and guide their steps in safe paths, 26
so that none of them will be lost. When the time comes, I will hold you responsible for them. 27Don't worry; when the day of trouble and distress comes, others will cry and mourn, but you will be happy and rich. 28The other nations will be jealous of you, but they will not be able to harm you.
29“I will protect you with my power and save your children from hell. 30Be happy, Jerusalem, you and your children, because I, the Lord, will rescue you. 31Remember your children who are asleep in their graves; I, the Lord Almighty, am merciful, and I will bring them out from the place where they lie hidden in the earth. 32Until I come, hold your children close and tell them about my grace and mercy, which are like a spring that never runs dry.”
33I, Ezra, was on Mount Sinai when the Lord ordered me to go to the people of Israel. But when I went to them, they rejected me and refused to listen to what the Lord commanded. 34That is why I am speaking to you Gentiles. You are ready to listen and understand: “Wait for your shepherd who is coming very soon, at the end of the age, to give you eternal rest. 35Be ready to receive the blessings of the kingdom, for eternal light will shine on you for ever. 36Flee from the darkness of this present age and accept the joyful splendour prepared for you. I testify publicly for my saviour. 37The Lord has appointed him, so accept him and be happy. Give thanks to God, who has called you into his heavenly kingdom. 38Stand up and see the number of those who have received the Lord's mark and who share in his banquet. 39They have left the darkness of this age and have received shining white robes from the Lord. 40So now, Jerusalem, welcome these people who have kept the Law of the Lord, and this will complete the list of those whom God has assigned to you. 41The children you longed for have returned; their number is now complete. So pray that the Lord's kingdom may come and that your people, whom God chose before he created the world, may become holy.”
I, Ezra, saw an enormous crowd on Mount Zion, too many people to count. They were all singing and praising the Lord. 43Standing in the middle of this crowd was a very tall young man, taller than any of the others. He was placing a crown on the head of each person, but he towered above them all. I was spellbound by the sight, 44and I asked the angel, “Who are these people, sir?”
45He replied, “These are people who have taken off their mortal robes and have put on immortal ones. They have confessed their faith in God, and now they are being given crowns and palm branches as symbols of their victory.”
46Then I asked the angel, “Who is the young man who is putting the crowns on their heads and giving them the palms?”
47“He is the Son of God,” the angel replied, “and all these people confessed their faith in him while they lived on earth.” Then I began to praise those who had stood for the Lord so bravely. 48And the angel said to me, “Go and tell my people what you have seen, the many marvellous wonders of the Lord.”