While the lion was speaking in this way to the eagle, I looked
and saw that the last head of the eagle was gone. Then the two small wings that had moved over to that head rose up to govern, but their rule was short and full of trouble.
They disappeared before my eyes, and the whole body of the eagle burst into flames, and the world was terrified. I was so disturbed and so afraid that I woke up. I said,
"I have brought this on myself, because I have tried to study the ways of God Most High.
I am mentally exhausted and completely worn out. The terrible fears I have experienced this night have taken my last bit of strength.
All I can do now is pray to God Most High to give me strength until the end."
Then I prayed, "Master and Lord, if it is true that you consider me more righteous than many others and if you hear my prayers, then I beg you,
give me strength. Show me, O Lord, the full meaning of this terrifying vision, and set my mind at ease.
After all, you did consider me worthy to be shown the end of this age."
God's angel said to me, "Here is the interpretation of the vision you saw.
The eagle you saw coming up out of the sea represents the fourth kingdom in the vision that your brother Daniel saw. 1
References for 2 Esdras 12:11
But he was not given the same interpretation of it that I am giving you.
The time is coming when an empire will be established on earth that is more terrible than any before it.
Twelve kings will rule over it, one after the other.
The second king will rule longer than any of the others.
That is the meaning of the twelve wings that you saw.
"You heard the voice speaking from the middle of the eagle's body, instead of from its heads.
That means that after the rule of the second king, a great struggle for power will take place, and the empire will be in danger of breaking up. But that will not happen, and the empire will regain its earlier power.
"You saw the eight small wings growing out of the eagle's big wings. That means
that eight kings will rise up in the empire, but their rule will be brief and unimportant.
Two of them will appear briefly near the middle of the period, four of them will not appear until near the end, and two will be left until the very end.
"You saw the three heads that were asleep. That means
that in the last days of the empire, God Most High will raise up three kings; they will restore much of the empire and rule over the world
References for 2 Esdras 12:23
and its people with more harshness than any before them. The reason they are called the eagle's heads
is that these three kings will bring to a head and complete the godless work of the eagle.
You saw the largest head disappear. This means that one of the kings will die in his bed, in great agony.
The other two will die in battle.
One of them will kill the other; then he also will be killed in battle at the end of time.
"You saw the two small wings moving under the head on the right side.
That means that God Most High has kept them until the end, but their rule was short and full of trouble, as you saw.
"You saw the angry lion come roaring out of the forest, and you heard it speak to the eagle and rebuke it for the evil that it had done and for all that it had said.
The lion represents the Messiah, whom God Most High has held back until the end. He will be a descendant of David and will come and speak to the rulers. He will rebuke them for their wickedness, their sinfulness, and their contempt for God's ways. 2
References for 2 Esdras 12:32
While they are still living, he will bring them to judgment, condemn them for their sin, and destroy them.
But he will have mercy on the rest of my people, those who are left in my land; he will set them free and make them happy until the end comes, the Judgment Day about which I told you at the beginning.
"That is the dream you had, and that is its interpretation.
But you are the only one that God Most High has considered worthy to reveal this secret to.
So write in a book everything you saw, and put it in a safe hiding place.
Then teach these secrets to those who are wise among your people, those who will be able to understand them and keep them secret.
But you must stay here seven more days, so that God Most High may reveal to you whatever he wishes." Then the angel left me.
When the seven days had passed and all the people heard that I had not yet returned to the city, all of them, rich and poor, came and asked me,
"What wrong have we done to you? How have we mistreated you? Why have you abandoned us and settled down in this place?
You are the only one of all our prophets who is left. You are like the last bunch of grapes in a vineyard, like a lantern in a dark place, like a safe harbor for a ship in a storm.
Haven't we suffered enough already?
If you abandon us, it would have been better if we had died like the others in the fire that destroyed Jerusalem.
We are no better than those who died." Then they all started crying loudly. I answered,
"Be brave, Israel, put away your sorrow.
God Most High will keep you in mind; the Almighty One has not forgotten you in all your troubles.
And I haven't left you or abandoned you. I came here to pray for Jerusalem in her time of trouble and to ask mercy for her and for your Temple, now in disgrace.
Please return to your homes, all of you. I will come back to you in a few days."
So they left me and went back to the city.
I stayed in the field for seven days, as the angel had commanded me. I ate nothing but wild flowers; I was a vegetarian in those days.