THE SOUL AFTER DEATH
ACCORDING TO THE 2ND BOOK OF ESDRAS 7:75-105. FROM THE APOCRYPHA
TRANSLATED BY EDGAR J. GOODSPEED
75 Then I answered and said, "If I have found favor in your sight, Sovereign, show this also to your slave; whether after death as soon as each one of us gives up his soul, we shall be faithfully kept at rest until those times come when you begin to renew the creation, or shall be tortured at once." 76 And he answered me and said, "I will show you that also; but you must not associate with those who have shown scorn, or count yourself among 77 those who are tortured. For you have a treasure of works laid up with the Most High, but it will not be shown to you 78 until the last times. For about death, the teaching is: When the final sentence goes forth from the Most High that a man is to die, when the soul departs from the body to return again to him who gave it, first of all it prays to the glory of 79 the Most High; if it was one of those who scorned and did not observe the way of the Most High, and of those who have despised his law, and of those who hate those who fear 80 God, such spirits shall not enter dwellings but wander about thenceforth in torment, always grieving and sad, in seven 81 ways: The first way is that they have scorned the Law of 82 the Most High. The second way is that they can no longer 83 make a good repentance, so that they may live. The third way is that they will see the reward destined for those who 84 have believed the agreements of the Most High. The fourth way is that they will consider the torment destined for them 85 in the last days. The fifth way is that they will see that the dwelling-places of the others are guarded by angels in profound 86 silence. The sixth way is that they will see that some of them will pass over to be tormented henceforth. The 87 seventh way, which is worse than all the ways that have been mentioned, is that they will waste away in shame and be consumed in disgrace, and wither with fear, at seeing the glory of the Most High before whom they sinned while they lived, and before whom they are destined to be judged in the last times. 88 "But of those who have observed the ways of the Most High, this is the order, when they shall be separated 89 from this fragile jar. In the time when they lived in it, they carefully served the Most High, though they were in danger every hour, so as to keep the Law of the Law-giver 90 perfectly. Therefore this is the teaching about them: 91 First of all, they see with great rapture the glory of him who 92 takes them up, for they will rest in seven orders. The first order is that they have striven with much toil to conquer the wicked thought that was formed with them, so that it should 93 not lead them away from life to death. The second order is that they see the labyrinth in which the souls of the 94 ungodly wander, and the punishment that awaits them. The third order is that they see the testimony that he who formed them has borne to them, because when they were alive they faithfully observed the Law which was given 95 them. The fourth order is that they understand the rest which they now enjoy, gathered in their chambers, in great quietness, watched over by angels, and the glory that awaits 96 them in the last days. The fifth order is that they exult that they have now escaped what is corruptible and will possess the future as their inheritance, and besides perceive the narrowness and toilsomeness from which they have been freed and the spaciousness they are destined to receive and enjoy 97 in immortality. The sixth order is that it is shown to them how their face is destined to shine like the sun, and how they are to be made like the light of the stars, and be incorruptible 98 thenceforth. The seventh order, which is greater than all those that have been mentioned, is that they will exult boldly, and that they will trust confidently, and rejoice fearlessly, for they hasten to see the face of him whom they served in life, and from whom they are to receive their reward when 99 they are glorified. These are the orders of the souls of the upright, as henceforth proclaimed, and the above ways of torture are those which those who would not give heed will henceforth suffer." 100 And I answered and said, "Then will time be given the souls after they are seperated from the bodies, to see what you have told me of?" 101 And he said to me, "They have freedom for seven days, to see on the seven days the things you have been told, and afterward they will be gathered in their dwellings." 102 And I answered and said, "If I have found favor in your sight, show me, your slave, further, whether on the Day of Judgment the upright will be able to intercede for the ungodly, or to beseech the Most 103 High on their behalf, fathers for sons, or sons for parents, brothers for brothers, relatives for their kinsmen, and friends for those who are most dear to them." 104 And he answered me and said, "Since you have found favor in my sight, I will show you this also. The Day of Judgment is final and shows to all the stamp of truth. Just as now a father cannot send his son or a son his father or a master his slave or a friend his dearest 105 friend to be sick for him, or sleep or eat or be cured, so no one can pray for another then, or lay a burden on another, for they must all bear everyone his own iniquity or uprightness then."
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