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The Apocryphal Old Testament Collection of the most important non-canonical Old Testament books designed for general use.

Chapter XXI

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Text Commentary

1And I went away and sat in a cave in the hillside in the Kidron valley, and I purified myself there, and though I ate no bread I was not hungry, and though I drank no water I was not thirsty; and I was there till the seventh day, as he had commanded me. 2And afterwards I came to the place where he had spoken with me. 3And at sunset my mind was beset by many thoughts, and I began to speak in the presence of the Mighty One. 4And I said, O thou who hast made the earth, hear me, thou who hast fixed the vault of heaven by thy word 1 Text ‘in its fulness’: cp. Ps. xxxiii. 6 . and hast made fast the height of it by thy spirit, thou who hast called into being from the beginning of the world things which did not previously exist, and they obey thee. 5Thou who hast commanded the air by thy nod, and hast seen the things which are to be as the things which have been already. 6Thou who rulest in thy great design the hosts that stand before thee, and dost control, as with a rod of iron, 2 Lit. ‘control in anger’. the countless holy beings whom thou didst make from the beginning, of flame and fire, which stand around thy throne. 7To thee only does it belong to do at once whatever thou dost wish. 8Thou makest the rain to fall drop by drop upon the earth, and thou alone knowest the end of the times before they come: have respect unto my prayer. 9For thou alone art able to sustain all who are, and those who have passed away, and those who are to be, those who sin, and those who are righteous. 3 Text ‘who are justified’. The text then adds ‘as living and being past finding out’ – clearly a dittograph of the opening clause of the next verse. 10For thou alone dost live, immortal and past finding out, and thou knowest the number of mankind. 11And if in the course of time many have sinned, yet others, not a few in number, have been righteous.

12Thou knowest the place which thou hast reserved for the end of those who have sinned, and the destiny of the others who have been righteous. 13For if there were this life only, which belongs to all men, nothing could be more bitter than this. 14For what gain is strength that turns to weakness, or plenty that turns to famine, or beauty that turns to ugliness? 15For the nature of man is always changing. 16For what we once were, now we no longer are, and what we now are, we shall not long remain. 17For if a term had not been set for all, their beginning would have been in vain. 18But do thou inform me about everything that comes from thee, and enlighten me about everything I ask thee.

19For how long will what is corruptible endure, and for how long will mortals thrive on earth, 4 Lit. ‘will the time of mortals be prospered’. and the transgressors 5 Or ‘those who pass away’: cp. verse 9. in the world continue in their pollutions and corruptions? 20In thy mercy issue thy command and bring to pass everything thou saidst thou wouldst, that it may be made known to those who think thy patience is but weakness. 21And show to those who do not know that everything that has happened to us and to our city up till now has been in accordance with the patience of thy power, because for thy name's sake thou hast called us a beloved people. 22 So bring mortality to an end now. 6 Text ‘Every nature, from now onwards, is mortal’. 23Restrain the angel of death, and let thy glory appear and the might of thy beauty be known: let Sheol be sealed so that from now onwards it may not receive the dead; and let the treasuries of souls restore those that are held fast in them. 24For there have been many years of desolation since the days of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, and of all those like them who sleep in the earth, on whose account thou didst say thou didst create the world. 25And now show thy glory quickly, and do not put off what thou hast promised.

26And when I had finished this prayer I was completely exhausted.

Notes:

1 Text ‘in its fulness’: cp. Ps. xxxiii. 6 .

2 Lit. ‘control in anger’.

3 Text ‘who are justified’. The text then adds ‘as living and being past finding out’ – clearly a dittograph of the opening clause of the next verse.

4 Lit. ‘will the time of mortals be prospered’.

5 Or ‘those who pass away’: cp. verse 9.

6 Text ‘Every nature, from now onwards, is mortal’.

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