101“On the wedding night when my son entered the bedroom, he dropped dead. 2So we put out all the wedding lamps, and all my neighbours came to comfort me. I remained in control of myself until the evening of the second day, 3when they all left. That night I got up and came out to this field, as you see. 4I have decided never to return to that town. I am going to stay here in constant mourning, neither eating nor drinking anything until I die.”
5When she told me this, I put aside my own thoughts and spoke sharply to her: 6“You are the most foolish woman I ever met. Don't you see what our people are suffering? Don't you know all that has happened to us? 7
Jerusalem, the mother of us all, is overcome with grief and shame. You ought to be mourning for her 8and sharing the grief and sorrow of all of us. But you are mourning for that one son of yours. 9Ask the earth; let her tell you that she is the one who ought to be mourning for the vast multitudes of people that she has brought to birth. 10All of us who are living came originally from her, and there are more to come. Almost all of us go straight to destruction — the vast multitude of earth's children are lost. 11So who has more right to mourn, you for your one son, or the earth, which has lost so many? 12-13I know what you are thinking; you think that your sorrow is worse than the earth's. You think that it is only natural for earth's multitudes to live and then die, but you have lost your own flesh and blood which you brought to birth with such trouble and pain. But let me tell you 14that from the time God created the earth she has suffered as much in producing human beings for God as you did in childbirth. 15So keep your tears to yourself, and be brave about what has happened to you. 16If you will accept God's decision as just, you will get your son back at the right time, and you will receive the praise due to a mother. 17Go back to the city and to your husband.”
18“No,” she answered, “I will never go back; I am going to stay here and die.”
19-20“Don't do that,” I continued. “Consider the misfortunes and sorrows of Jerusalem, and you won't feel so sorry for yourself. 21You can see that our place of worship is in ruins, our altar has been torn down, our Temple has been destroyed, 22our musical instruments lie quiet, our hymns have been silenced, our joy has ended, the light of the sacred lamp has been put out, our Covenant Box has been carried off, our sacred utensils have been desecrated, the name of our God has been profaned, our leaders have been dishonoured, our priests have been burnt to death, our Levites have been taken captive, our virgins have been raped, our wives have been violated, our devout men have been carried off, our children have been abandoned, our young people have been made slaves, and our strong soldiers have been made helpless. 23Worst of all, Jerusalem, once marked as God's own city, has lost its glory and has been handed over to our enemies. 24So put aside all your sorrow and grief. May God Most High, the Almighty, be merciful to you and give you peace. May he give you rest from your troubles.”
25While I was speaking to the woman, her face suddenly began to shine with a light that flashed like lightning. I was afraid to stand near her and wondered what all this meant. 26Suddenly she let out a loud and terrifying cry that shook the earth. 27
When I looked up, I could no longer see the woman, but there was a city built10.27 Some ancient translations built; Latin being built. on huge foundations. I was afraid and shouted, 28“Where is the angel Uriel, who came to me earlier? It is his fault that I am so confused. My prayer is useless, and I have nothing to hope for but death.”
29I was still speaking when the angel Uriel appeared again. He saw me 30lying there unconscious like a corpse, so he took hold of my right-hand, gave me strength, and stood me on my feet. Then he asked, 31“What's the matter? Why are you so disturbed and confused?”
32I answered, “You abandoned me completely! I did as you told me and came out to this field, but I cannot explain what I am seeing.”
33“Stand up straight,” he answered, “and I will explain it to you.”
34“Sir,” I answered, “please explain it to me. I will die in my frustration if you leave me, 35for I cannot understand what I have seen and heard. 36Or is my mind playing tricks on me, and this is just a bad dream? 37I beg you, sir, tell me what this vision means.”
38The angel said, “Now listen closely, and I will explain the meaning of these things that you fear. God Most High has revealed many secrets to you 39because he has seen that you have lived a righteous life and have always grieved and mourned for your people and for Jerusalem. 40This is what the vision means: a woman appeared to you a little while ago, 41and when you saw that she was mourning, you tried to console her. 42-43The woman told you about the death of her son. Then she vanished from your sight, and a whole city10.42–43 Some ancient translations whole city; Latin a being built. appeared. This is the meaning: 44the woman you saw is Jerusalem, which you now see as a completed city. 45When she told you that for thirty years she had had no children, it meant that for 3,00010.45 Some ancient translations 3,000; Latin a three. years no offerings had yet been made there. 46Then Solomon built the city, and sacrifices began to be offered there. At that time the childless woman gave birth to her son. 47When she told you that she took great care in bringing the son up, that referred to the period when Jerusalem was inhabited. 48When she told you of the death of her son on his wedding day, that meant the destruction of Jerusalem. 49So in the vision you saw how she mourned for her son, and you tried to console her for what had happened — this is what was to be revealed to you. 50When God Most High saw that you were grieving for the woman with all your heart and soul, he showed you all her glory and majestic beauty. 51That is why I told you to go and stay in the field where no one had ever lived, 52for I knew that God Most High was going to show you these things. 53I told you to go to the field where no foundation had ever been built, 54because nothing built by man could stand in the place where the city of God Most High was about to be revealed.
55“So don't be afraid. Go into the city and look at its beautiful and majestic buildings. See as much as you can. 56After that, you will hear as much as you can. 57You are more fortunate than most people, and only a few have the reputation with God Most High that you have. 58Remain here until tomorrow night, 59and he will show you in dreams and visions what he plans to do for those who will be living on the earth in the last days.” So I slept there that night and the next, as I had been told.
The second night I had a dream. I saw an eagle coming up out of the sea. It had twelve wings and three heads. 2As I looked, it spread out its wings over the whole world. Winds blew on it from every direction, and clouds11.2 Some ancient translations clouds; Latin does not have this word. gathered over it. 3Then from its wings I saw rival wings begin to grow, but they were small and insignificant. 4All three heads of the eagle were asleep, even the middle one, which was larger than the others. 5While I was watching, the eagle flew up in the air and became ruler of the whole earth and all its people. 6I saw how everything on earth was brought under the eagle's control — no one on earth was able to oppose it. 7Then I saw the eagle stand up on its claws and say to its wings, 8“Not all of you are to wake up at the same time; you must sleep where you are and wake up when your turn comes, 9and the heads must wake up last.” 10I looked again and saw that the voice was not coming from any of the eagle's heads but from the middle of its body. 11I counted its rival wings, and there were eight of them.
12I saw one of the wings on the right side rise up and govern the whole world. 13After its rule came to an end, it vanished so completely that it left no trace. Then the next wing rose up and governed for a long time. 14When its rule was coming to an end and it was about to vanish like the first wing, 15a voice said to it, 16“Listen, you have ruled the world for a long time, and I want you to hear this message before you disappear: 17no one after you will rule as long as you did — not even half as long.” 18The third wing rose up and governed as the earlier ones had done; then it also vanished. 19The same thing happened to all the other wings: one after the other they rose to power and then vanished.
20I kept looking, and after a while the other small wings on the right side rose up to seize power. Some of them governed briefly and quickly disappeared, 21while others rose up but were never able to govern. 22Then I noticed that the twelve large wings and two of the small wings had disappeared. 23Nothing was left on the eagle's body except the three sleeping heads and the six small wings. 24I kept watching, and suddenly two of the six small wings left the others and moved under the head on the right side, while the other four remained where they were. 25Then I saw that these four small wings were plotting to rise up and seize power. 26One of them rose up, but it quickly disappeared. 27The second one also rose up, but it disappeared even more quickly than the first. 28I saw that the two remaining small wings were also plotting to seize control for themselves. 29While they were making their plans, one of the sleeping heads suddenly awoke. It was the one in the middle, the one that was larger than the other two. 30Then I saw that it was joined by the other heads, 31and when it turned to eat up the two little wings that were planning to seize power, the two other heads helped it. 32This head gained power over the whole world, established an oppressive rule over people everywhere, and exercised more power over the world than any of the other wings had done before. 33Then, as I watched, the middle head disappeared just as suddenly as the wings had done. 34Two heads were left, and they also gained power over the earth and its people; 35but while I was still watching, the head on the right ate up the head on the left.
36Then I heard a voice which said, “Ezra, look straight ahead and think about what you see.”
37I looked and saw what appeared to be an angry lion come roaring out of the forest. I heard it speak in human language to the eagle and say, 38“Listen, Eagle, to what I have to say to you; it is the message of God Most High: 39you are the only one left of the four animals that I appointed to govern my world and to bring the ages of this world to an end. 40You are the fourth animal and you have conquered all the animals that came before you. As long as you have been in this world, you have ruled it through terror, oppression, and deceit, 41with a total disregard for truth. 42You have viciously attacked harmless people, who were living in peace; you have hated those who spoke the truth, and you have loved liars. You have destroyed the homes of those who were prosperous and have torn down the walls of those who did you no harm. 43God Most High knows how proud and arrogant you are. The Almighty One 44has looked back over the world he established. The end has come; the final age is over. 45So, Eagle, the time has come for you to vanish, along with your big, terrible wings, your small, wicked wings, your evil heads, your awful claws, and your whole worthless body. 46The entire world will be set free from your violence and renewed as it sets its hope on the judgement and mercy of God, who created it.”
121While the lion was speaking in this way to the eagle, I looked 2and saw that the last head of the eagle was gone. Then the two small wings that had moved over to that head rose up to govern, but their rule was short and full of trouble. 3They disappeared before my eyes, and the whole body of the eagle burst into flames, and the world was terrified.
I was so disturbed and so afraid that I woke up. I said, 4“I have brought this on myself, because I have tried to study the ways of God Most High. 5I am mentally exhausted and completely worn out. The terrible fears I have experienced this night have taken my last bit of strength. 6All I can do now is pray to God Most High to give me strength until the end.” 7Then I prayed, “Master and Lord, if it is true that you consider me more righteous than many others, and if you hear my prayers, then I beg you, 8give me strength. Show me, Lord, the full meaning of this terrifying vision, and set my mind at ease. 9After all, you did consider me worthy to be shown the end of the age.”
10God's angel said to me, “Here is the interpretation of the vision you saw. 11
The eagle you saw coming up out of the sea represents the fourth kingdom in the vision that your brother Daniel saw. 12But he was not given the same interpretation of it that I am giving you. 13The time is coming when an empire will be established on earth that is more terrible than any before it. 14Twelve kings will rule over it, one after the other. 15The second king will rule longer than any of the others. 16That is the meaning of the twelve wings that you saw.
17“You heard the voice speaking from the middle of the eagle's body, instead of from its heads. 18That means that after the rule of the second king, a great struggle for power will take place, and the empire will be in danger of breaking up. But that will not happen, and the empire will regain its earlier power.
19“You saw the eight small wings growing out of the eagle's big wings. That means 20that eight kings will rise up in the empire, but their rule will be brief and unimportant. 21Two of them will appear briefly near the middle of the period, four of them will not appear until near the end, and two will be left until the very end.
22“You saw the three heads that were asleep. That means 23that in the last days of the empire, God Most High will raise up three kings; they12.23 Some ancient translations they; Latin a he. will restore much of the empire and rule over the world 24and its people with more harshness than any before them. The reason they are called the eagle's heads 25is that these three kings will bring to a head and complete the godless work of the eagle. 26You saw the largest head disappear. This means that one of the kings will die in his bed, in great agony. 27The other two will die in battle. 28One of them will kill the other; then he also will be killed in battle at the end of time.
29“You saw the two small wings moving under the head on the right side. 30That means that God Most High has kept them until the end, but their rule was short and full of trouble, as you saw.
31“You saw the angry lion come roaring out of the forest, and you heard it speak to the eagle and rebuke it for the evil that it had done and for all that it had said. 32
The lion represents the Messiah, whom God Most High has held back until the end. He will be a descendant of David and will come and speak12.32 Some ancient translations he will… speak; Latin does not have these words. to the rulers. He will rebuke them for their wickedness, their sinfulness, and their contempt for God's ways. 33While they are still living, he will bring them to judgement, condemn them for their sin, and destroy them. 34But he will have mercy on the rest of my people, those who are left in my land; he will set them free and make them happy until the end comes, the Judgement Day about which I told you at the beginning.
35“That is the dream you had, and that is its interpretation. 36But you are the only one that God Most High has considered worthy to reveal this secret to. 37So write in a book everything you saw, and put it in a safe hiding place. 38Then teach these secrets to those who are wise among your people, those who will be able to understand them and keep them secret. 39But you must stay here seven more days, so that God Most High may reveal to you whatever he wishes.” Then the angel left me.
40When the seven days had passed and all the people heard that I had not yet returned to the city, all of them, rich and poor, came and asked me, 41“What wrong have we done to you? How have we ill-treated you? Why have you abandoned us and settled down in this place? 42You are the only one of all our prophets who is left. You are like the last bunch of grapes in a vineyard, like a lantern in a dark place, like a safe harbour for a ship in a storm. 43Haven't we suffered enough already? 44If you abandon us, it would have been better if we had died like the others in the fire that destroyed Jerusalem. 45We are no better than those who died.” Then they all started crying loudly.
I answered, 46“Be brave, Israel, put away your sorrow. 47God Most High will keep you in mind; the Almighty One has not forgotten you in all your troubles. 48And I haven't left you or abandoned you. I came here to pray for Jerusalem in her time of trouble and to ask mercy for her and for your Temple, now in disgrace. 49Please return to your homes, all of you. I will come back to you in a few days.” 50So they left me and went back to the city.
51I stayed in the field for seven days, as the angel had commanded me. I ate nothing but wild flowers; I was a vegetarian in those days.