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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

6.35–9.25 : The third vision.

6.35–7.44 : The first section of the third vision.

35–37 : Introduction

(cf. 3.1–3 and 5.21–22 ).

35 :

I … fasted seven days, see 5.13n. The three weeks (cf. Dan 10.2–3 ), so far only two fasts of seven days have been mentioned (here and at 5.20 ). The author may be referring to this as Ezra's third vision.

7.1–25 : Dispute between Ezra and the angel.

It is necessary first to undergo the trials of this world before one can receive the rewards of the next.

1 :

The former nights, 4.1; 5.31 .

3–9 :

The angel tells two parables, of a sea and a city, to illustrate his point.

11 :

By implication, the world was created entirely good for Israel's sake, and when Adam transgressed, that inheritance was despoiled (see 3.7,21 ).

12–13 :

This world of evil is contrasted with the greater world to come.

17 :

Deut 8.1; Ps 37.9 .

17–18 :

The seer exhibits a characteristic concern for the ungodly, but is told that their punishment is deserved (vv. 19–25 ).

7.26–44 : Direct prediction of the future by the angel,

again using classical apocalyptic signs (cf. 5.1–13; 6.11–29 ). In this section the focus is on God's judgment (cf. Mt 25.31–46 ).

26 :

The city, the heavenly Jerusalem; see 10.25–54 .

28 :

My son the Messiah, a term used often in this book (see 13.32,37,52; 14.9 ). The precise connection between this term and Christian notions of Jesus “the Messiah” as “son of God” is uncertain, and in any event is indirect. Those who are with him, 13.52; 14.9 .

29 :

My son the Messiah shall die, this idea is unparalleled in other Jewish sources.

30 :

Primeval silence, as before creation.

32 :

Dan 12.2 . Chambers, see 4.35n. Resurrection precedes the day of judgment.

33–34 :

On the day of judgment, only judgment shall remain; mercy is put aside (see 7.104–105 ).

36–105 :

These verses are lacking from the standard editions of the Latin Vulgate, and from the King James Version. They are present in the Syriac, Ethiopic, Arabic, and Armenian versions, and in seven Latin manuscripts. The section was probably deliberately cut out of an ancestor of most surviving Latin manuscripts because of dogmatic reasons, for the passage contains an emphatic denial of the value of prayers for the dead (v. 105 ).

36 :

Pit, Isa 38.17–18; Rev 9.2 .

39–43 :

A description of the day of judgment; cf. Gen 8.22; Zech 14.6–7 .

42 :

Isa 60.19–20; Rev 21.23 .

43 :

A week of years, seven years; cf. Dan 9.24,26 .

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.

7.75–101 : Dialogic prediction of the future.

The state of souls after death and before the judgment.

76–77 :

Do not include yourself, the angel repeatedly asserts that Ezra is specially favored by God (see 6.32–33; 8.19,47–54; 13.53–56; 14.9 ).

77 :

A treasure of works, 8.33,36 .

79–99 :

The fates of two different types of souls, good and evil, are laid out in parallel fashion.

80–87 :

Seven kinds of torment for the wicked; cf. Lk 16.19–31 .

80 :

Habitations, elsewhere called “chambers,” see 4.35n.

88–99 :

Seven kinds of joyous rest for the righteous. Compare the teaching regarding death in Dan 12.2–3;Wis 3–5 .

92 :

The evil thought, the evil “yetser” (see 3.20n. ).

97 :

Sun … stars, v. 125; Dan 12.3; Mt 13.43 .

98 :

To see the face of God (Ex 33.20; 1 Jn 3.2; Rev 22.4 ). Reward, cf. Rev 22.12 .

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 .

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