Thursday, 1 March 2012

The Second Coming in 2 Esdras

Greek Orthodox Icon of the Second Coming

The Second Book of Esdras, otherwise known as 4 Ezra, is a apocryphal (non-canonical) work, and like the vast majority of apocalyptic writings (such as the Book of Enoch or the Apocalypse of Baruch), is written under a pseudonym attributing it to a prominent figure of prophetic history. Although this Jewish apocalyptic work purports to have been written by the prophet Ezra in the 5th century BC, it is of much later origin (perhaps the 1st century AD), and should be distinguished from the canonical works of Ezra/Nehemiah.
2 Esdras is of some interest to us here, as like the Book of Enoch, it also contains a depiction of the coming of a Warrior-Messiah at the end-time (see the earlier post The Second Coming in the Book of Enoch). Here, we once again have some similar combined themes (in a slightly different form) we have found to be associated with the coming of the Messiah, such as the "carving out" of a mountain and the stirring up of the sea (compare this with the stone of Dan 2, which is "cut out" but not by human hand, and becomes a huge mountain which destroys the statue/world empire in Nebuchadnezzar's dream).  And in imagery which recalls the battle of Armageddon in Rev 16 and Rev 19, the Warrior-Messiah consumes the enemies assembled against him with a stream fire which issues from his mouth (compare this to the sword protruding from the mouth of the Warrior-Messiah in Rev 19:15):

After seven days I dreamed a dream in the night; and behold, a wind arose from the sea and stirred up all its waves. And I looked, and behold, this wind made something like the figure of a man come up out of the heart of the sea. And I looked, and behold, that man flew with the clouds of heaven; and wherever he turned his face to look, everything under his gaze trembled, and whenever his voice issued from his mouth, all who heard his voice melted as wax melts when it feels the fire.
After this I looked, and behold, an innumerable multitude of men were gathered together from the four winds of heaven to make war against the man who came up out of the sea. And I looked, and behold, he carved out for himself a great mountain, and flew up upon it. And I tried to see the region or place from which the mountain was carved, but I could not.
After this I looked, and behold, all who had gathered together against him, to wage war with him, were much afraid, yet dared to fight. And behold, when he saw the onrush of the approaching multitude, he neither lifted his hand nor held a spear or any weapon of war; but I saw only how he sent forth from his mouth as it were a stream of fire, and from his lips a flaming breath, and from his tongue he shot forth a storm of sparks. All these were mingled together, the stream of fire and the flaming breath and the great storm, and fell on the onrushing multitude which was prepared to fight, and burned them all up, so that suddenly nothing was seen of the innumerable multitude but only the dust of ashes and the smell of smoke. When I saw it, I was amazed.  (2Esdras 13:1-12)

It seems that this apocryphal work also connects the Second Coming with the Casting Down of Mountains, which as is argued at some length in this blog, is related to the Mega-tsunami threat presented by the future collaspse of the volcano Cumbre Vieja in the Canary Islands.

See also the related post:

Tsunami Clouds: Shadows of the Future?


Anne said...

A most beautiful piece of writing. He sounds more like a poet-prophet in a similar style with to Isaiah. I found it very moving.

Emmett O'Regan said...

You obviously have an eye for the poetic. 2 Esdras is one of the most highly regarded examples of Jewish apocalyptic writing - it's definitely worth a read, even just to appereciate its style and flair.

Anonymous said...

The powers on display in this story sound like those attributed to the two witnesses in the Apocalypse.

Emmett O'Regan said...

I think this passage is directly connected to the Two Witnesses and the Second Coming of Christ after their martyrdom.