므나세의기도(Prayer of Manasseh)
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concerning the signs: behold, the days are coming when those who dwell on earth shall be seized with great terror, and the way of truth shall be hidden, and the land shall be barren of faith.
 And unrighteousness shall be increased beyond what you yourself see, and beyond what you heard of formerly.
 And the land which you now see ruling shall be waste and untrodden, and men shall see it desolate.
 But if the Most High grants that you live, you shall see it thrown into confusion after the third period; and the sun shall suddenly shine forth at night,
and the moon during the day.
 Blood shall drip from wood,
and the stone shall utter its voice;
the peoples shall be troubled,
and the stars shall fall.
 And one shall reign whom those who dwell on earth do not expect, and the birds shall fly away together;
 and the sea of Sodom shall cast up fish; and one whom the many do not know shall make his voice heard by night, and all shall hear his voice.
 There shall be chaos also in many places, and fire shall often break out, and the wild beasts shall roam beyond their haunts, and menstruous women shall bring forth monsters.
 And salt waters shall be found in the sweet, and all friends shall conquer one another; then shall reason hide itself, and wisdom shall withdraw into its chamber,
 and it shall be sought by many but shall not be found, and unrighteousness and unrestraint shall increase on earth.
 And one country shall ask its neighbor, `Has righteousness, or any one who does right, passed through you?' And it will answer, `No.'
 And at that time men shall hope but not obtain; they shall labor but their ways shall not prosper.
 These are the signs which I am permitted to tell you, and if you pray again, and weep as you do now, and fast for seven days, you shall hear yet greater things than these."
 Then I awoke, and my body shuddered violently, and my soul was so troubled that it fainted.
 But the angel who had come and talked with me held me and strengthened me and set me on my feet.
 Now on the second night Phaltiel, a chief of the people, came to me and said, "Where have you been? And why is your face sad?
 Or do you not know that Israel has been entrusted to you in the land of their exile?
 Rise therefore and eat some bread, so that you may not forsake us, like a shepherd who leaves his flock in the power of cruel wolves."
 Then I said to him, "Depart from me and do not come near me for seven days, and then you may come to me." He heard what I said and left me.
 So I fasted seven days, mourning and weeping, as Uriel the angel had commanded me.
 And after seven days the thoughts of my heart were very grievous to me again.
 Then my soul recovered the spirit of understanding, and I began once more to speak words in the presence of the Most High.
 And I said, "O sovereign Lord, from every forest of the earth and from all its trees thou hast chosen one vine,
 and from all the lands of the world thou hast chosen for thyself one region, and from all the flowers of the world thou hast chosen for thyself one lily,
 and from all the depths of the sea thou hast filled for thyself one river, and from all the cities that have been built thou hast consecrated Zion for thyself,
 and from all the birds that have been created thou hast named for thyself one dove, and from all the flocks that have been made thou hast provided for thyself one sheep,
 and from all the multitude of peoples thou hast gotten for thyself one people; and to this people, whom thou hast loved, thou hast given the law which is approved by all.
 And now, O Lord, why hast thou given over the one to the many, and dishonored the one root beyond the others, and scattered thine only one among the many?
 And those who opposed thy promises have trodden down those who believed thy covenants.
 If thou dost really hate thy people, they should be punished at thy own hands."
 When I had spoken these words, the angel who had come to me on a previous night was sent to me,
 and he said to me, "Listen to me, and I will instruct you; pay attention to me, and I will tell you more."
 And I said, "Speak, my lord." And he said to me, "Are you greatly disturbed in mind over Israel? Or do you love him more than his Maker does?"
 And I said, "No, my lord, but because of my grief I have spoken; for every hour I suffer agonies of heart, while I strive to understand the way of the Most High and to search out part of his judgment."
 And he said to me, "You cannot." And I said, "Why not, my lord? Why then was I born? Or why did not my mother's womb become my grave, that I might not see the travail of Jacob and the exhaustion of the people of Israel?"
 He said to me, "Count up for me those who have not yet come, and gather for me the scattered raindrops, and make the withered flowers bloom again for me;
 open for me the closed chambers, and bring forth for me the winds shut up in them, or show me the picture of a voice; and then I will explain to you the travail that you ask to understand."
 And I said, "O sovereign Lord, who is able to know these things except he whose dwelling is not with men?
 As for me, I am without wisdom, and how can I speak concerning the things which thou hast asked me?"
 He said to me, "Just as you cannot do one of the things that were mentioned, so you cannot discover my judgment, or the goal of the love that I have promised my people."
 And I said, "Yet behold, O Lord, thou dost have charge of those who are alive at the end, but what will those do who were before us, or we, or those who come after us?"
 He said to me, "I shall liken my judgment to a circle; just as for those who are last there is no slowness, so for those who are first there is no haste."
 Then I answered and said, "Couldst thou not have created at one time those who have been and those who are and those who will be, that thou mightest show thy judgment the sooner?"
 He replied to me and said, "The creation cannot make more haste than the Creator, neither can the world hold at one time those who have been created in it."
 And I said, "How hast thou said to thy servant that thou wilt certainly give life at one time to thy creation? If therefore all creatures will live at one time and the creation will sustain them, it might even now be able to support all of them present at one time."
 He said to me, "Ask a woman's womb, and say to it, `If you bear ten children, why one after another?' Request it therefore to produce ten at one time."
 I said, "Of course it cannot, but only each in its own time."
 He said to me, "Even so have I given the womb of the earth to those who from time to time are sown in it.
 For as an infant does not bring forth, and a woman who has become old does not bring forth any longer, so have I organized the world which I created."
 Then I inquired and said, "Since thou hast now given me the opportunity, let me speak before thee. Is our mother, of whom thou hast told me, still young? Or is she now approaching old age?"
 He replied to me, "Ask a woman who bears children, and she will tell you.
 Say to her, "Why are those whom you have borne recently not like those whom you bore before, but smaller in stature?'
 And she herself will answer you, `Those born in the strength of youth are different from those born during the time of old age, when the womb is failing.'
 Therefore you also should consider that you and your contemporaries are smaller in stature than those who were before you,
 and those who come after you will be smaller than you, as born of a creation which already is aging and passing the strength of youth."
 And I said, "O Lord, I beseech thee, if I have found favor in thy sight, show thy servant through whom thou dost visit thy creation."
 And he said to me, "At the beginning of the circle of the earth, before the portals of the world were in place, and before the assembled winds blew,
 and before the rumblings of thunder sounded, and before the flashes of lightning shone, and before the foundations of paradise were laid,
 and before the beautiful flowers were seen, and before the powers of movement were established, and before the innumerable hosts of angels were gathered together,
 and before the heights of the air were lifted up, and before the measures of the firmaments were named, and before the footstool of Zion was established,
 and before the present years were reckoned; and before the imaginations of those who now sin were estranged, and before those who stored up treasures of faith were sealed --
 then I planned these things, and they were made through me and not through another, just as the end shall come through me and not through another."
 And I answered and said, "What will be the dividing of the times? Or when will be the end of the first age and the beginning of the age that follows?"
 He said to me, "From Abraham to Isaac, because from him were born Jacob and Esau, for Jacob's hand held Esau's heel from the beginning.
 For Esau is the end of this age, and Jacob is the beginning of the age that follows.
 For the beginning of a man is his hand, and the end of a man is his heel; between the heel and the hand seek for nothing else, Ezra!"
 I answered and said, "O sovereign Lord, if I have found favor in thy sight,
 show thy servant the end of thy signs which thou didst show me in part on a previous night."
 He answered and said to me, "Rise to your feet and you will hear a full, resounding voice.
 And if the place where you are standing is greatly shaken
 while the voice is speaking, do not be terrified; because the word concerns the end, and the foundations of the earth will understand
 that the speech concerns them. They will tremble and be shaken, for they know that their end must be changed."
 When I heard this, I rose to my feet and listened, and behold, a voice was speaking, and its sound was like the sound of many waters.
 And it said, "Behold, the days are coming, and it shall be that when I draw near to visit the inhabitants of the earth,
 and when I require from the doers of iniquity the penalty of their iniquity, and when the humiliation of Zion is complete,
 and when the seal is placed upon the age which is about to pass away, then I will show these signs: the books shall be opened before the firmament, and all shall see it together.
 Infants a year old shall speak with their voices, and women with child shall give birth to premature children at three and four months, and these shall live and dance.
 Sown places shall suddenly appear unsown, and full storehouses shall suddenly be found to be empty;
 and the trumpet shall sound aloud, and when all hear it, they shall suddenly be terrified.
 At that time friends shall make war on friends like enemies, and the earth and those who inhabit it shall be terrified, and the springs of the fountains shall stand still, so that for three hours they shall not flow.
 "And it shall be that whoever remains after all that I have foretold to you shall himself be saved and shall see my salvation and the end of my world.
 And they shall see the men who were taken up, who from their birth have not tasted death; and the heart of the earth's inhabitants shall be changed and converted to a different spirit.
 For evil shall be blotted out, and deceit shall be quenched;
 faithfulness shall flourish, and corruption shall be overcome, and the truth, which has been so long without fruit, shall be revealed."
 While he spoke to me, behold, little by little the place where I was standing began to rock to and fro.
 And he said to me, "I have come to show you these things this night.
 If therefore you will pray again and fast again for seven days, I will again declare to you greater things than these,
 because your voice has surely been heard before the Most High; for the Mighty One has seen your uprightness and has also observed the purity which you have maintained from your youth.
 Therefore he sent me to show you all these things, and to say to you: `Believe and do not be afraid!
 Do not be quick to think vain thoughts concerning the former times, lest you be hasty concerning the last times.'"
 Now after this I wept again and fasted seven days as before, in order to complete the three weeks as I had been told.
 And on the eighth night my heart was troubled within me again, and I began to speak in the presence of the Most High.
 For my spirit was greatly aroused, and my soul was in distress.
 I said, "O Lord, thou didst speak at the beginning of creation, and didst say on the first day, `Let heaven and earth be made,' and thy word accomplished the work.
 And then the Spirit was hovering, and darkness and silence embraced everything; the sound of man's voice was not yet there.
 Then thou didst command that a ray of light be brought forth from thy treasuries, so that thy works might then appear.
 "Again, on the second day, thou didst create the spirit of the firmament, and didst command him to divide and separate the waters, that one part might move upward and the other part remain beneath.
 "On the third day thou didst command the waters to be gathered together in the seventh part of the earth; six parts thou didst dry up and keep so that some of them might be planted and cultivated and be of service before thee.
 For thy word went forth, and at once the work was done.
 For immediately fruit came forth in endless abundance and of varied appeal to the taste; and flowers of inimitable color; and odors of inexpressible fragrance. These were made on the third day.
 "On the fourth day thou didst command the brightness of the sun, the light of the moon, and the arrangement of the stars to come into being;
 and thou didst command them to serve man, who was about to be formed.
 "On the fifth day thou didst command the seventh part, where the water had been gathered together, to bring forth living creatures, birds, and fishes; and so it was done.
 The dumb and lifeless water produced living creatures, as it was commanded, that therefore the nations might declare thy wondrous works.
 "Then thou didst keep in existence two living creatures; the name of one thou didst call Behemoth and the name of the other Leviathan.
 And thou didst separate one from the other, for the seventh part where the water had been gathered together could not hold them both.
 And thou didst give Behemoth one of the parts which had been dried up on the third day, to live in it, where there are a thousand mountains;
 but to Leviathan thou didst give the seventh part, the watery part; and thou hast kept them to be eaten by whom thou wilt, and when thou wilt.
 "On the sixth day thou didst command the earth to bring forth before thee cattle, beasts, and creeping things;
 and over these thou didst place Adam, as ruler over all the works which thou hadst made; and from him we have all come, the people whom thou hast chosen.
 "All this I have spoken before thee, O Lord, because thou hast said that it was for us that thou didst create this world.
 As for the other nations which have descended from Adam, thou hast said that they are nothing, and that they are like spittle, and thou hast compared their abundance to a drop from a bucket.
 And now, O Lord, behold, these nations, which are reputed as nothing, domineer over us and devour us.
 But we thy people, whom thou hast called thy first-born, only begotten, zealous for thee, and most dear, have been given into their hands.
 If the world has indeed been created for us, why do we not possess our world as an inheritance? How long will this be so?"
 When I had finished speaking these words, the angel who had been sent to me on the former nights was sent to me again,
 and he said to me, "Rise, Ezra, and listen to the words that I have come to speak to you."
 I said, "Speak, my lord." And he said to me, "There is a sea set in a wide expanse so that it is broad and vast,
 but it has an entrance set in a narrow place, so that it is like a river.
 If any one, then, wishes to reach the sea, to look at it or to navigate it, how can he come to the broad part unless he passes through the narrow part?
 Another example: There is a city built and set on a plain, and it is full of all good things;
 but the entrance to it is narrow and set in a precipitous place, so that there is fire on the right hand and deep water on the left;
 and there is only one path lying between them, that is, between the fire and the water, so that only one man can walk upon that path.
 If now that city is given to a man for an inheritance, how will the heir receive his inheritance unless he passes through the danger set before him?"
 I said, "He cannot, lord." And he said to me, "So also is Israel's portion.
 For I made the world for their sake, and when Adam transgressed my statutes, what had been made was judged.
 And so the entrances of this world were made narrow and sorrowful and toilsome; they are few and evil, full of dangers and involved in great hardships.
 But the entrances of the greater world are broad and safe, and really yield the fruit of immortality.
 Therefore unless the living pass through the difficult and vain experiences, they can never receive those things that have been reserved for them.
 But now why are you disturbed, seeing that you are to perish? And why are you moved, seeing that you are mortal?
 And why have you not considered in your mind what is to come, rather than what is now present?"
 Then I answered and said, "O sovereign Lord, behold, thou hast ordained in thy law that the righteous shall inherit these things, but that the ungodly shall perish.
 The righteous therefore can endure difficult circumstances while hoping for easier ones; but those who have done wickedly have suffered the difficult circumstances and will not see the easier ones."
 And he said to me, "You are not a better judge than God, or wiser than the Most High!
 Let many perish who are now living, rather than that the law of God which is set before them be disregarded!
 For God strictly commanded those who came into the world, when they came, what they should do to live, and what they should observe to avoid punishment.
 Nevertheless they were not obedient, and spoke against him; they devised for themselves vain thoughts,
 and proposed to themselves wicked frauds;
they even declared that the Most High does not exist,
and they ignored his ways!
 They scorned his law,
and denied his covenants;
they have been unfaithful to his statutes,
and have not performed his works.
 "Therefore, Ezra, empty things are for the empty, and full things are for the full.
 For behold, the time will come, when the signs which I have foretold to you will come to pass, that the city which now is not seen shall appear, and the land which now is hidden shall be disclosed.
 And every one who has been delivered from the evils that I have foretold shall see my wonders.
 For my son the Messiah shall be revealed with those who are with him, and those who remain shall rejoice four hundred years.
 And after these years my son the Messiah shall die, and all who draw human breath.
 And the world shall be turned back to primeval silence for seven days, as it was at the first beginnings; so that no one shall be left.
 And after seven days the world, which is not yet awake, shall be roused, and that which is corruptible shall perish.
 And the earth shall give up those who are asleep in it, and the dust those who dwell silently in it; and the chambers shall give up the souls which have been committed to them.
 And the Most High shall be revealed upon the seat of judgment, and compassion shall pass away, and patience shall be withdrawn;
 but only judgment shall remain, truth shall stand, and faithfulness shall grow strong.
 And recompense shall follow, and the reward shall be manifested; righteous deeds shall awake, and unrighteous deeds shall not sleep.
 Then the pit of torment shall appear, and opposite it shall be the place of rest; and the furnace of hell shall be disclosed, and opposite it the paradise of delight.
 Then the Most High will say to the nations that have been raised from the dead, `Look now, and understand whom you have denied, whom you have not served, whose commandments you have despised!
 Look on this side and on that; here are delight and rest, and there are fire and torments!' Thus he will speak to them on the day of judgment --
 a day that has no sun or moon or stars,
 or cloud or thunder or lightning or wind or water or air, or darkness or evening or morning,
 or summer or spring or heat or winter or frost or cold or hail or rain or dew,
 or noon or night, or dawn or shining or brightness or light, but only the splendor of the glory of the Most High, by which all shall see what has been determined for them.
 For it will last for about a week of years.
 This is my judgment and its prescribed order; and to you alone have I shown these things."
 I answered and said, "O sovereign Lord, I said then and I say now: Blessed are those who are alive and keep thy commandments!
 But what of those for whom I prayed? For who among the living is there that has not sinned, or who among men that has not transgressed thy covenant?
 And now I see that the world to come will bring delight to few, but torments to many.
 For an evil heart has grown up in us, which has alienated us from God, and has brought us into corruption and the ways of death, and has shown us the paths of perdition and removed us far from life -- and that not just a few of us but almost all who have been created!"
 He answered me and said, "Listen to me, Ezra, and I will instruct you, and will admonish you yet again.
 For this reason the Most High has made not one world but two.
 For whereas you have said that the righteous are not many but few, while the ungodly abound, hear the explanation for this.
 "If you have just a few precious stones, will you add to them lead and clay?"
 I said, "Lord, how could that be?"
 And he said to me, "Not only that, but ask the earth and she will tell you; defer to her, and she will declare it to you.
 Say to her, `You produce gold and silver and brass, and also iron and lead and clay;
 but silver is more abundant than gold, and brass than silver, and iron than brass, and lead than iron, and clay than lead.'
 Judge therefore which things are precious and desirable, those that are abundant or those that are rare?"
 I said, "O sovereign Lord, what is plentiful is of less worth, for what is more rare is more precious."
 He answered me and said, "Weigh within yourself what you have thought, for he who has what is hard to get rejoices more than he who has what is plentiful.
 So also will be the judgment which I have promised; for I will rejoice over the few who shall be saved, because it is they who have made my glory to prevail now, and through them my name has now been honored.
 And I will not grieve over the multitude of those who perish; for it is they who are now like a mist, and are similar to a flame and smoke -- they are set on fire and burn hotly, and are extinguished."
 I replied and said, "O earth, what have you brought forth, if the mind is made out of the dust like the other created things!
 For it would have been better if the dust itself had not been born, so that the mind might not have been made from it.
 But now the mind grows with us, and therefore we are tormented, because we perish and know it.
 Let the human race lament, but let the beasts of the field be glad; let all who have been born lament, but let the four-footed beasts and the flocks rejoice!
 For it is much better with them than with us; for they do not look for a judgment, nor do they know of any torment or salvation promised to them after death.
 For what does it profit us that we shall be preserved alive but cruelly tormented?
 For all who have been born are involved in iniquities, and are full of sins and burdened with transgressions.
 And if we were not to come into judgment after death, perhaps it would have been better for us."
 He answered me and said, "When the Most High made the world and Adam and all who have come from him, he first prepared the judgment and the things that pertain to the judgment.
 And now understand from your own words, for you have said that the mind grows with us.
 For this reason, therefore, those who dwell on earth shall be tormented, because though they had understanding they committed iniquity, and though they received the commandments they did not keep them, and though they obtained the law they dealt unfaithfully with what they received.
 What, then, will they have to say in the judgment, or how will they answer in the last times?
 For how long the time is that the Most High has been patient with those who inhabit the world, and not for their sake, but because of the times which he has foreordained!"
 I answered and said, "If I have found favor in thy sight, O Lord, show this also to thy servant: whether after death, as soon as every one of us yields up his soul, we shall be kept in rest until those times come when thou wilt renew the creation, or whether we shall be tormented at once?"
 He answered me and said, "I will show you that also, but do not be associated with those who have shown scorn, nor number yourself among those who are tormented.
 For you have a treasure of works laid up with the Most High; but it will not be shown to you until the last times.
 Now, concerning death, the teaching is: When the decisive decree has gone forth from the Most High that a man shall die, as the spirit leaves the body to return again to him who gave it, first of all it adores the glory of the Most High.
 And if it is one of those who have shown scorn and have not kept the way of the Most High, and who have despised his law, and who have hated those who fear God --
 such spirits shall not enter into habitations, but shall immediately wander about in torments, ever grieving and sad, in seven ways.
 The first way, because they have scorned the law of the Most High.
 The second way, because they cannot now make a good repentance that they may live.
 The third way, they shall see the reward laid up for those who have trusted the covenants of the Most High.
 The fourth way, they shall consider the torment laid up for themselves in the last days.
 The fifth way, they shall see how the habitations of the others are guarded by angels in profound quiet.
 The sixth way, they shall see how some of them will pass over into torments.
 The seventh way, which is worse than all the ways that have been mentioned, because they shall utterly waste away in confusion and be consumed with shame, and shall wither with fear at seeing the glory of the Most High before whom they sinned while they were alive, and before whom they are to be judged in the last times.
 "Now this is the order of those who have kept the ways of the Most High, when they shall be separated from their mortal body.
 During the time that they lived in it, they laboriously served the Most High, and withstood danger every hour, that they might keep the law of the Lawgiver perfectly.
 Therefore this is the teaching concerning them:
 First of all, they shall see with great joy the glory of him who receives them, for they shall have rest in seven orders.
 The first order, because they have striven with great effort to overcome the evil thought which was formed with them, that it might not lead them astray from life into death.
 The second order, because they see the perplexity in which the souls of the ungodly wander, and the punishment that awaits them.
 The third order, they see the witness which he who formed them bears concerning them, that while they were alive they kept the law which was given them in trust.
 The fourth order, they understand the rest which they now enjoy, being gathered into their chambers and guarded by angels in profound quiet, and the glory which awaits them in the last days.
 The fifth order, they rejoice that they have now escaped what is corruptible, and shall inherit what is to come; and besides they see the straits and toil from which they have been delivered, and the spacious liberty which they are to receive and enjoy in immortality.
 The sixth order, when it is shown to them how their face is to shine like the sun, and how they are to be made like the light of the stars, being incorruptible from then on.
 The seventh order, which is greater than all that have been mentioned, because they shall rejoice with boldness, and shall be confident without confusion, and shall be glad without fear, for they hasten to behold the face of him whom they served in life and from whom they are to receive their reward when glorified.
 This is the order of the souls of the righteous, as henceforth is announced; and the aforesaid are the ways of torment which those who would not give heed shall suffer hereafter."
 I answered and said, "Will time therefore be given to the souls, after they have been separated from the bodies, to see what you have described to me?"
 He said to me, "They shall have freedom for seven days, so that during these seven days they may see the things of which you have been told, and afterwards they shall be gathered in their habitations."
 I answered and said, "If I have found favor in thy sight, show further to me, thy servant, whether on the day of judgment the righteous will be able to intercede for the ungodly or to entreat the Most High for them,
 fathers for sons or sons for parents, brothers for brothers, relatives for their kinsmen, or friends for those who are most dear."
 He answered me and said, "Since you have found favor in my sight, I will show you this also. The day of judgment is decisive and displays to all the seal of truth. Just as now a father does not send his son, or a son his father, or a master his servant, or a friend his dearest friend, to be ill or sleep or eat or be healed in his stead,
 so no one shall ever pray for another on that day, neither shall any one lay a burden on another; for then every one shall bear his own righteousness and unrighteousness."
[36(106)] I answered and said, "How then do we find that first Abraham prayed for the people of Sodom, and Moses for our fathers who sinned in the desert,
[37(107)] and Joshua after him for Israel in the days of Achan,
[38(108)] and Samuel in the days of Saul, and David for the plague, and Solomon for those in the sanctuary,
[39(109)] and Elijah for those who received the rain, and for the one who was dead, that he might live,
[40(110)] and Hezekiah for the people in the days of Sennacherib, and many others prayed for many?
[41(111)] If therefore the righteous have prayed for the ungodly now, when corruption has increased and unrighteousness has multiplied, why will it not be so then as well?"
[42(112)] He answered me and said, "This present world is not the end; the full glory does not abide in it; therefore those who were strong prayed for the weak.
[43(113)] But the day of judgment will be the end of this age and the beginning of the immortal age to come, in which corruption has passed away,
[44(114)] sinful indulgence has come to an end, unbelief has been cut off, and righteousness has increased and truth has appeared.
[45(115)] Therefore no one will then be able to have mercy on him who has been condemned in the judgment, or to harm him who is victorious."
[46(116)] I answered and said, "This is my first and last word, that it would have been better if the earth had not produced Adam, or else, when it had produced him, had restrained him from sinning.
[47(117)] For what good is it to all that they live in sorrow now and expect punishment after death?
[48(118)] O Adam, what have you done? For though it was you who sinned, the fall was not yours alone, but ours also who are your descendants.
[49(119)] For what good is it to us, if an eternal age has been promised to us, but we have done deeds that bring death?
[50(120)] And what good is it that an everlasting hope has been promised to us, but we have miserably failed?
[51(121)] Or that safe and healthful habitations have been reserved for us, but we have lived wickedly?
[52(122)] Or that the glory of the Most High will defend those who have led a pure life, but we have walked in the most wicked ways?
[53(123)] Or that a paradise shall be revealed, whose fruit remains unspoiled and in which are abundance and healing, but we shall not enter it,
[54(124)] because we have lived in unseemly places?
[55(125)] Or that the faces of those who practiced self-control shall shine more than the stars, but our faces shall be blacker than darkness?
[56(126)] For while we lived and committed iniquity we did not consider what we should suffer after death."
[57(127)] He answered and said, "This is the meaning of the contest which every man who is born on earth shall wage,
[58(128)] that if he is defeated he shall suffer what you have said, but if he is victorious he shall receive what I have said.
[59(129)] For this is the way of which Moses, while he was alive, spoke to the people, saying, `Choose for yourself life, that you may live!'
[60(130)] But they did not believe him, or the prophets after him, or even myself who have spoken to them.
[61(131)] Therefore there shall not be grief at their destruction, so much as joy over those to whom salvation is assured."
[62(132)] I answered and said, "I know, O Lord, that the Most High is now called merciful, because he has mercy on those who have not yet come into the world;
[63(133)] and gracious, because he is gracious to those who turn in repentance to his law;
[64(134)] and patient, because he shows patience toward those who have sinned, since they are his own works;
[65(135)] and bountiful, because he would rather give than take away;
[66(136)] and abundant in compassion, because he makes his compassions abound more and more to those now living and to those who are gone and to those yet to come,
[67(137)] for if he did not make them abound, the world with those who inhabit it would not have life;
[68(138)] and he is called giver, because if he did not give out of his goodness so that those who have committed iniquities might be relieved of them, not one ten-thousandth of mankind could have life;
[69(139)] and judge, because if he did not pardon those who were created by his word and blot out the multitude of their sins,
[70(140)] there would probably be left only very few of the innumerable multitude."
 He answered me and said, "The Most High made this world for the sake of many, but the world to come for the sake of few.
 But I tell you a parable, 2Ezra Just as, when you ask the earth, it will tell you that it provides very much clay from which earthenware is made, but only a little dust from which gold comes; so is the course of the present world.
 Many have been created, but few shall be saved."
 I answered and said, "Then drink your fill of understanding, O my soul, and drink wisdom, O my heart!
 For not of your own will did you come into the world, and against your will you depart, for you have been given only a short time to live.
 O Lord who are over us, grant to thy servant that we may pray before thee, and give us seed for our heart and cultivation of our understanding so that fruit may be produced, by which every mortal who bears the likeness of a human being may be able to live.
 For thou alone dost exist, and we are a work of thy hands, as thou hast declared.
 And because thou dost give life to the body which is now fashioned in the womb, and dost furnish it with members, what thou hast created is preserved in fire and water, and for nine months the womb which thou has formed endures thy creation which has been created in it.
 But that which keeps and that which is kept shall both be kept by thy keeping. And when the womb gives up again what has been created in it,
 thou hast commanded that from the members themselves (that is, from the breasts) milk should be supplied which is the fruit of the breasts,
 so that what has been fashioned may be nourished for a time; and afterwards thou wilt guide him in thy mercy.
 Thou hast brought him up in thy righteousness, and instructed him in thy law, and reproved him in thy wisdom.
 Thou wilt take away his life, for he is thy creation; and thou wilt make him live, for he is thy work.
 If then thou wilt suddenly and quickly destroy him who with so great labor was fashioned by thy command, to what purpose was he made?
 And now I will speak out: About all mankind thou knowest best; but I will speak about thy people, for whom I am grieved,
 and about thy inheritance, for whom I lament, and about Israel, for whom I am sad, and about the seed of Jacob, for whom I am troubled.
 Therefore I will pray before thee for myself and for them, for I see the failings of us who dwell in the land,
 and I have heard of the swiftness of the judgment that is to come.
 Therefore hear my voice, and understand my words, and I will speak before thee." The beginning of the words of Ezra's prayer, before he was taken up. He said:
 "O Lord who inhabitest eternity, whose eyes are exalted and whose upper chambers are in the air,
 whose throne is beyond measure and whose glory is beyond comprehension, before whom the hosts of angels stand trembling
 and at whose command they are changed to wind and fire, whose word is sure and whose utterances are certain, whose ordinance is strong and whose command is terrible,
 whose look dries up the depths and whose indignation makes the mountains melt away, and whose truth is established for ever --
 hear, O Lord, the prayer of thy servant, and give ear to the petition of thy creature; attend to my words.
 For as long as I live I will speak, and as long as I have understanding I will answer.
 O look not upon the sins of thy people, but at those who have served thee in truth.
 Regard not the endeavors of those who act wickedly, but the endeavors of those who have kept thy covenants amid afflictions.
 Think not on those who have lived wickedly in thy sight; but remember those who have willingly acknowledged that thou art to be feared.
 Let it not be thy will to destroy those who have had the ways of cattle; but regard those who have gloriously taught thy law.
 Be not angry with those who are deemed worse than beasts; but love those who have always put their trust in thy glory.
 For we and our fathers have passed our lives in ways that bring death, but thou, because of us sinners, are called merciful.
 For if thou hast desired to have pity on us, who have no works of righteousness, then thou wilt be called merciful.
 For the righteous, who have many works laid up with thee, shall receive their reward in consequence of their own deeds.
 But what is man, that thou art angry with him; or what is a corruptible race, that thou art so bitter against it?
 For in truth there is no one among those who have been born who has not acted wickedly, and among those who have existed there is no one who has not transgressed.
 For in this, O Lord, thy righteousness and goodness will be declared, when thou art merciful to those who have no store of good works."
 He answered me and said, "Some things you have spoken rightly, and it will come to pass according to your words.
 For indeed I will not concern myself about the fashioning of those who have sinned, or about their death, their judgment, or their destruction;
 but I will rejoice over the creation of the righteous, over their pilgrimage also, and their salvation, and their receiving their reward.
 As I have spoken, therefore, so it shall be.
 "For just as the farmer sows many seeds upon the ground and plants a multitude of seedlings, and yet not all that have been sown will come up in due season, and not all that were planted will take root; so also those who have been sown in the world will not all be saved."
 I answered and said, "If I have found favor before thee, let me speak.
 For if the farmer's seed does not come up, because it has not received thy rain in due season, or if it has been ruined by too much rain, it perishes.
 But man, who has been formed by thy hands and is called thy own image because he is made like thee, and for whose sake thou hast formed all things -- hast thou also made him like the farmer's seed?
 No, O Lord who art over us! But spare thy people and have mercy on thy inheritance, for thou hast mercy on thy own creation."
 He answered me and said, "Things that are present are for those who live now, and things that are future are for those who will live hereafter.
 For you come far short of being able to love my creation more than I love it. But you have often compared yourself to the unrighteous. Never do so!
 But even in this respect you will be praiseworthy before the Most High,
 because you have humbled yourself, as is becoming for you, and have not deemed yourself to be among the righteous in order to receive the greatest glory.
 For many miseries will affect those who inhabit the world in the last times, because they have walked in great pride.
 But think of your own case, and inquire concerning the glory of those who are like yourself,
 because it is for you that paradise is opened, the tree of life is planted, the age to come is prepared, plenty is provided, a city is built, rest is appointed, goodness is established and wisdom perfected beforehand.
 The root of evil is sealed up from you, illness is banished from you, and death is hidden; hell has fled and corruption has been forgotten;
 sorrows have passed away, and in the end the treasure of immortality is made manifest.
 Therefore do not ask any more questions about the multitude of those who perish.
 For they also received freedom , but they despised the Most High, and were contemptuous of his law, and forsook his ways.
 Moreover they have even trampled upon his righteous ones,
 and said in their hearts that there is not God -- though knowing full well that they must die.
 For just as the things which I have predicted await you, so the thirst and torment which are prepared await them. For the Most High did not intend that men should be destroyed;
 but they themselves who were created have defiled the name of him who made them, and have been ungrateful to him who prepared life for them.
 Therefore my judgment is now drawing near;
 I have not shown this to all men, but only to you and a few like you." Then I answered and said,
 "Behold, O Lord, thou hast now shown me a multitude of the signs which thou wilt do in the last times, but thou hast not shown me when thou wilt do them."
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므나세의기도(Prayer of Manasseh)