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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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4.1–25 : Dialogic dispute between Ezra and the angel Uriel.

The message is that God's ways are beyond human understanding.

1–12 :

Three riddles illustrate the limitations of human knowledge.

1 :

Angel, representing the viewpoint of God. The name Uriel in Hebrew means “God is my fire” (or “my light”). According to 1 Enoch 20.2 , Uriel is a watcher over the world and over Tartarus, the lowest part of hell (cf. 2 Pet 2.4 note c ).

7 :

How many dwellings?, in many apocalypses, these types of questions are in fact issues of proper concern.

8 :

See Deut 30.11–13 .

10–11:

See Job 38–41; Jn 3.12 .

12 :

For the seer, to live without understanding of life's meaning is intolerable.

13–21 :

Parable of the conflict between the forest and the sea.

21 :

Isa 55.8–9; Ps 104.5–9 .

22–25 :

Ezra protests that he is inquiring only about the meaning of earthly, historical happenings, not about cosmic events.

24 :

Ps 109.23; Hos 13.3; Wis 2.4 .

4.26–52 : Dialogic prediction regarding the future.

26–32 :

The angel's concern shifts to the end of the present, evil age and the distinction between this age and the next.

29 :

Compare the fourth vision, 9.26–10.59 .

30 :

The grain of evil seed, or evil “yetser,”( see 3.20n. ) sown in Adam's heart, introduced in 3.7–27 , must ripen and be harvested before the coming, righteous age can appear.

33–52 :

Ezra's questions concerning the time of the end.

33 :

How long?, the question is a prophetic and apocalyptic commonplace; see Isa 6.11; Dan 8.13; 12.6; Zech 1.12 . Ezra's concerns, like the angel's, also move to the end of the age.

35 :

Souls of the righteous in their chambers, according to Jewish thought of the time, the souls of the righteous dead are placed in “chambers,” or “treasuries,” to await the last judgment (see 2.31; 4.41; 7.32,80,95,101; 2 Apoc. Bar. 21.23 ).

36 :

Archangel Jeremiel, see 1 Enoch 20.8, Apoc. Zeph. 6.11–17; 2 Baruch chs 53–74. In 1 Enoch 20.8 the angel, called Remeiel, is “in charge of those who rise.” When the number … is completed, cf. 2.40–41; Rev 6.11 .

36–37 :

Weighed … measured … numbered, God has determined the times and periods of history (see Sir 36.10n. ).

40–43 :

The analogy of a woman who is in labor explains the inevitability of the end (cf. 16.38–39; 1 Thess 5.3 ).

41 :

Chambers, see v. 35n.

44–50 :

The seer asks what proportion of time remains; he is told by a parable that the end is near.

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