1And I answered and said, Lo, thou hast shown me the course of the times and what is to be after these things; and thou hast explained to me that retribution, which thou hast described to me, shall come upon the nations. 2And now I know that there have been many sinners, and they have lived in prosperity and departed from the world; but there will be few nations left in those times, to whom what thou hast said can be repeated. 3What advantage is there in this? What worse evils than those we have seen come upon us are we to expect to see?
4,5Once again will I speak in thy presence. How have they profited, who were men of understanding in thy sight, and did not pursue paths that led nowhere like the rest of the nations, and never said to dead idols, Give us life, but always feared thee and followed thy ways? 6Lo! They have been carried off; nor because of them hast thou had mercy on Zion. 7Even if others did evil, was it not due to Zion that she should be forgiven because of the good things that they did, instead of being overwhelmed because of the evil things the others did? 8But who, O Lord, my Lord, can comprehend the workings of thy judgement? Or who can search out the depths of thy way? 9Or who can trace the profundity of thy path? Or who can describe thy unfathomable counsel? Or what man that has ever been born has ever discovered either the beginning or the end of thy wisdom? 10,11For we all have been made like a breath. For as our breath comes up from inside us, and does not return, but disappears, so it is with men: 1 Lit. ‘with the nature of men’. they do not depart this life as and when they would, 2 Lit. ‘according to their own will’. nor do they know what will happen to them in the end. 12The righteous quite rightly look forward to their end, and they leave their dwelling here without fear, because they have a store of good works laid up in thy treasuries. 13So they leave this world without fear, and trust that they will attain the world which thou hast promised them. 14But as for us, our lot is hard: 3 Lit. ‘woe to us’. we suffer injury and insult now, and we can only look forward to further evils. 15But thou knowest truly what thou hast done 4 Or ‘made’. on behalf of 5 Or ‘by means of’. thy servants; for we cannot understand what is good as thou, our creator, canst.
16And yet again I will speak in thy presence, O Lord, my lord. 17When of old there was no world, and no one to inhabit it, thou didst make thy plan, and thou didst utter thy word, and immediately the works of creation stood before thee. 18And thou didst say that thou wouldest make man for thy world to be the administrator of thy works, so that it might be known that he was not made because of the world, but the world because of him. 19And now it would seem that 6 Lit. ‘And now I see that’. the world which was made because of us remains, but we, for 7 Lit. ‘because of’. whom it was made, disappear.