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The New Oxford Annotated Bible New Revised Standard Study Bible that provides essential scholarship and guidance for Bible readers.

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Commentary on 2 Esdras

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Commentary spanning earlier chapters

7.45–8.3 : The second section of the third vision.

45–74 : Dispute between Ezra and the angel.

God rejoices over the few who will be saved and does not lament the many wicked who perish.

45–48 :

Ezra again bemoans the fate of sinners.

46 :

1 Kings 8.46; Prov 20.9 .

48 :

An evil heart, see 3.20n.

52–57 :

Precious as opposed to common metals and substances; see the similar arguments in 9.14–16 .

62–69 :

Ezra's heated lament (better if … had not been born) is typical of his reactions to the angel's arguments (see 4.12; 5.35 ).

64–68 :

The human race, aware of their sins and their fate, are worse off than the blissfully ignorant wild animals.

72 :

Humans who are sinful deserve their fate.

7.102–115 : Dispute between Ezra and the angel,

mainly concerning the idea that there will be no intercession for the evil on the day of judgment (cf. Deut 24.16; Jer 31.30; Ezek 18.1–32 ).

104 :

Decisive, 7.33–34 .

106 :

At v. 106 we come to the continuation of ch 7 as preserved in the standard editions of the Latin Vulgate; NRSV resumes the Latin numbering here, designating verses 106–140 as 36–70 , but with the numbers 106–140 in italics added as well. Abraham, Gen 18.23 ; Moses, Ex 32.11 .

107 :

Joshua, Josh 7.6–7 .

108 :

Samuel, 1 Sam 7.9; 12.23 . David, 2 Sam 24.17 . Solomon, 1 Kings 8.22–23,30 .

109 :

Elijah, 1 Kings 18.42,45; 17.20–21 .

110 :

Hezekiah, 2 Kings 19.15–19 .

112–115 :

The angel again contrasts the present and future ages.

7.116–8.3 :

Further dispute between Ezra and the angel, returning to the issue of the seeming unfairness of the human condition.

116–126 :

Ezra again laments the fate of humans (cf. 4.12,22–24; 5.35; 7.62–69 ).

116 :

My first … comment, 3.5–7 .

118 :

3.7–10; 4.30–31 .

123 :

Fruit, cf. Ezek 47.12; Rev 22.2 .

125 :

Shine more than the stars, see 7.97n. Darkness, 1 Enoch 62.10 .

127–131 :

The idea of life as a contest, in which one can be defeated or victorious.

129 :

Moses, Deut 30.19 .

130 :

Prophets, 2 Chr 36.15–16; cf. Mt 5.17; 23.31–37 .

132–140 :

As the angel had quoted scripture (Deut 30.19 ), the seer responds with a rabbinic exegesis, or “midrash,” of Ex 34.6–7 . He pleads that God is now called merciful … and gracious … and patient.

138 :

Life, eternal life.

8.1–3 :

The angel repeats the arguments and parable used in 7.52–61 .

8.4–9.25 : The third section of the third vision.

4–19a : Monologue of Ezra:

Why should God wonderfully fashion and sustain all humankind, only to destroy a great majority?

6 :

Ezra seeks a seed … so that fruit may be produced that will counteract the effect of the evil seed … sown in Adam's heart ( 4.30 ).

7 :

Deut 4.35; 6.4; Isa 44.6; 45.11; 60.21 .

8–14 :

The enigma of God's creative activity and providential care followed by destruction recalls Job 10.8–13 .

15–16 :

The seer leaves the fate of humankind in God's hands, and speaks particularly about Israel, God's inheritance (Ps 28.9 ).

17 :

I will pray, in 8.19b–36 .

8.19b–36 : Ezra's prayer,

a beautiful and liturgically structured piece (invocation to God, whose attributes are recalled, vv. 20–23 ; petitions, interspersed with confession and intercessions, vv. 24–35 ; concluding ascription of praise, v. 36 ). This prayer also occurs separately, with the title “Confessio Esdrae,” in the section of canticles and hymns contained in many manuscripts of the Latin Vulgate Bible. This circumstance probably accounts for the presence (in v. 19b ) of a superscription in the third person.

19b :

The words, before he was taken up, point to the belief that Ezra, like Enoch and Elijah, was taken up to heaven without dying (see 14.9 ).

21:

Hosts of angels are a traditional element in the description of the heavenly throne room; see 1 Kings 22.19; Isa 6.2–3; Dan 7.9–10 .

22 :

Wind and fire, Ps 104.4; Heb 1.7 .

23 :

Dries up, Isa 50.2; 51.10. Mountains melt, Mic 1.4; Sir 16.18–19 .

26–36 :

A strikingly developed series of rhetorical contrasts between sinners and the righteous introduces an appeal to the mercy of God, the quality highlighted in the influential liturgical formula found in Ex 34.6–7 .

33–36 :

Ezra is concerned not for those who have many works laid up with God (see 7.77 ), but for those who have no store of good works (v. 36 ).

8.37–62a : Dispute between Ezra and the angel.

37–40 :

God's reply to Ezra's prayer is characteristic (see 7.60–61 ; 7.127–131 ). As after 7.132–140 , Ezra's plea for mercy goes unacknowledged. In statingthat God will not concern himself with sinners but will rejoice over the righteous, the angel playfully admits that Ezra has ironically spoken rightly about some things, namely, in Ezra's plea (vv. 26–36 ) that God ignore the wicked and pay attention only to the righteous.

41–45 :

To God's analogy of seeds (cf. Mt 13.3–9 ), Ezra protests that surely humans are more valuable than plants.

46–62a :

The final divine reply: The seer is assured that his lot is with the blessed and is advised to think no more about sinners, who deserve their doom because they have despised the Most High (v. 56 ).

46 :

7.14–18,25 .

47 :

See 5.33 ;7.76–77n.

48–54 :

The angel praises Ezra's character and offers a list of delights awaiting those who are like him (see 14.9 ).

52 :

Paradise, 7.123 ; tree of life, Gen 2.9; Rev 2.7; 22.2 . City, the heavenly Jerusalem; see 10.27,44,54 .

53 :

Hades, the realm of the dead.

58 :

Ps 14.1; 53.1 .

59 :

Torment, 7.80–87 .

61 :

Drawing near, see 4.50; 5.55 .

62 :

A few like you, see 8.51; 14.9,46 .

8.62b–9.22 : Direct prediction of the future by the angel,

now in response to Ezra's request, and again using the key word signs (v. 63 ) (cf. 5.1–13; 6.11–29; 7.26–44 ).

63 :

When, see 4.33; Mk 13.4 .

9.1–3 :

The author uses classical apocalyptic signs (see Mk 13.7–8,29 ).

7 :

Able to escape, cf. Mk 13.14–16 . The author counts both works and faith as valid criteria for salvation.

8 :

See my salvation, cf. Mk 13.13 . Within my borders, 12.34; 13.48 .

9 :

Torments, 7.79–87 .

11 :

Scorned … despised, 7.22–24,37,72,79–81; 8.56–60 .

13 :

8.38–39,55 . For whose sake, 6.59; 7.11 .

14–22 :

The final explanation of why so few are saved: The many have become corrupt in their ways. Cf. Gen 6.5 , where the corruption of humankind provokes the flood, which kills all but Noah and his family.

22 :

Let the multitude perish, God disclaims responsibility for the fates of the mass of humanity.

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