3In the thirtieth year after the destruction of the city, I was in BabylonI, Salathiel, who am also called Ezra. I was troubled as I lay on my bed, and my thoughts welled up in my heart, 2because I saw the desolation of Zion and the wealth of those who lived in Babylon. 3My spirit was greatly agitated, and I began to speak anxious words to the Most High, and said, 4O sovereign Lord, did you not speak at the beginning when you planted* the earthand that without helpand commanded the dust* 5and it gave you Adam, a lifeless body? Yet he was the creation of your hands, and you breathed into him the breath of life, and he was made alive in your presence. 6And you led him into the garden that your right hand had planted before the earth appeared. 7And you laid upon him one commandment of yours; but he transgressed it, and immediately you appointed death for him and for his descendants. From him there sprang nations and tribes, peoples and clans without number. 8And every nation walked after its own will; they did ungodly things in your sight and rejected your commands, and you did not hinder them. 9But again, in its time you brought the flood upon the inhabitants of the world and destroyed them. 10And the same fate befell all of them: just as death came upon Adam, so the flood upon them. 11But you left one of them, Noah with his household, and all the righteous who have descended from him.
12 When those who lived on earth began to multiply, they produced children and peoples and many nations, and again they began to be more ungodly than were their ancestors. 13And when they were committing iniquity in your sight, you chose for yourself one of them, whose name was Abraham; 14you loved him, and to him alone you revealed the end of the times, secretly by night. 15You made an everlasting covenant with him, and promised him that you would never forsake his descendants; and you gave him Isaac, and to Isaac you gave Jacob and Esau. 16You set apart Jacob for yourself, but Esau you rejected; and Jacob became a great multitude. 17And when you led his descendants out of Egypt, you brought them to Mount Sinai. 18You bent down the heavens and shook* the earth, and moved the world, and caused the depths to tremble, and troubled the times. 19Your glory passed through the four gates of fire and earthquake and wind and ice, to give the law to the descendants of Jacob, and your commandment to the posterity of Israel.
20 Yet you did not take away their evil heart from them, so that your law might produce fruit in them. 21For the first Adam, burdened with an evil heart, transgressed and was overcome, as were also all who were descended from him. 22Thus the disease became permanent; the law was in the hearts of the people along with the evil root; but what was good departed, and the evil remained. 23So the times passed and the years were completed, and you raised up for yourself a servant, named David. 24You commanded him to build a city for your name, and there to offer you oblations from what is yours. 25This was done for many years; but the inhabitants of the city transgressed, 26in everything doing just as Adam and all his descendants had done, for they also had the evil heart. 27So you handed over your city to your enemies.
28 Then I said in my heart, Are the deeds of those who inhabit Babylon any better? Is that why it has gained dominion over Zion? 29For when I came here I saw ungodly deeds without number, and my soul has seen many sinners during these thirty years.* And my heart failed me, 30because I have seen how you endure those who sin, and have spared those who act wickedly, and have destroyed your people, and protected your enemies, 31and have not shown to anyone how your way may be comprehended.* Are the deeds of Babylon better than those of Zion? 32Or has another nation known you besides Israel? Or what tribes have so believed the covenants as these tribes of Jacob? 33Yet their reward has not appeared and their labour has borne no fruit. For I have travelled widely among the nations and have seen that they abound in wealth, though they are unmindful of your commandments. 34Now therefore, weigh in a balance our iniquities and those of the inhabitants of the world; and it will be found which way the turn of the scale will incline. 35When have the inhabitants of the earth not sinned in your sight? Or what nation has kept your commandments so well? 36You may indeed find individuals who have kept your commandments, but nations you will not find.
The New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized Edition), copyright 1989, 1995 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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10 February 2011