1 In the thirties year after the ruin of the city, I Salathiel (also called Esdras) was in Babylon, and lay troubled upon my bed, and my thoughts came up over my heart: 2 for I saw the desolation of Sion, and the wealth of those who lived at Babylon. 3 And my spirit was sore moved, so that I began to speak words full of fear to the Most High, and said,4 O Lord that bear rule, did you not not speak at the beginning, when you did fashion the earth, and that yourself alone, and command the* dust. 5 and it†gave you Adam, a body without a soul? yet it was the workmanship of your hands, and you did breathe into him the breath of life, and he was made living before you. 6 And you led him into paradise, which your right hand did plant, before ever the earth came forward. 7 And to him you gave your one commandment: which he transgressed, and immediately you appointed death for him and in his generations; and there were born of him nations and tribes, peoples and kindred, out of number. 8 And every nation walked after their own will, and did ungodly things before you, and despised your commandments, and you didn’t forbid them. 9 Nevertheless again in process of time you brought the flood upon those that lived in the world, and destroyed them. 10 And it came to pass that the same hap befell them; like as death was to Adam, so was the flood to these.11 Nevertheless one of them you left, Noah with his household, even all the righteous men that came of him. 12 And it came to pass, that when those who lived upon the earth began to multiply, they multiplied also children, and peoples, and many nations, and began again to be more ungodly than the first.13 And it came to pass, when they did wickedly before you, you did choose you one from among them, whose name was Abraham; 14 and him you loved, and to him only you showed the end of the times secretly by night: 15 and made an everlasting covenant with him, promising him that you would never forsake his seed. 16 And to him you gave Isaac, and to Isaac you gave Jacob and Esau. And you did set apart Jacob for yourself, but did put by Esau: and Jacob became a great multitude. 17 And it came to pass, that when you led his seed out of Egypt, you brought them up to the mount Sinai. 18 You bowed the heavens also, and did‡ shake the earth, and movedst the whole world, and made the depths to tremble, and troubled the course of that age. 19 And your glory went through four gates, of fire, and of earthquake, and of wind, and of cold; that you might give the law to the seed of Jacob, and the commandment to the generation of Israel. 20 And yet took you not away from them their § wicked heart, that your law might bring forth fruit in them. 21 For the first Adam bearing a* wicked heart transgressed, and was overcome; and not he only, but all they also that are born of him. 22 Thus disease was made permanent; and the law was in the heart of the people along with the† wickedness of the root; so the good departed away, and that which was‡ wicked abode still. 23 So the times passed away, and the years were brought to an end: then did you raise you up a servant, called David, 24 whom you commanded to build a city to your name, and to offer oblations to you therein of your own. 25 When this was done many years, then those who inhabited the city did evil, 26 in all things doing even as Adam and all his generations had done: for they also bare a§ wicked heart: 27 and so you gave your city over into the hands of your enemies. 28 And I said then in my heart, are their deeds any better that inhabit Babylon? and has she therefore dominion over Sion? 29 For it came to pass when I came here, that I saw also impieties without number, and my soul saw many evil-doers in this thirties year, so that my heart failed me. 30 For I have seen how you suffer them sinning, and have spared the ungodly doers, and have destroyed your people, and have preserved your enemies; and you have not signified 31 to any* how your way may be comprehended. Are the deeds of Babylon better than those of Sion? 32 Or is there any other nation that knows you beside Israel? or what tribes have so believed your covenants as these tribes of Jacob? 33 And yet their reward appears not, and their labor has no fruit: for I have gone here and there through the nations, and I see that they abound in wealth, and think not upon your commandments. 34 Weigh you therefore our iniquities now in the balance, and theirs also that dwell in the world; and so shall it be found which way the scale inclines. 35 Or when was it that they which dwell upon the earth have not sinned in your sight? or what nation has so kept your commandments? 36 You shall find that men who may be reckoned by name have kept your precepts; but nations you shall not find.
*3:4 So the Syriac and Aethiopic.
†3:5 So the Syriac.
‡3:18 So some versions. Lat. set fast.
§3:20 Or, corrupt
*3:21 Or, corrupt
†3:22 Or, corruption
‡3:22 Or, corrupt
§3:26 Or, corrupt
*3:31 So the Syriac. The Latin has how this way may be left.