In the thirtieth year after the ruin of the city, I was in Babylon and lay troubled upon my bed, and my thoughts came up over my heart;
for I saw the desolation of Zion, and the wealth of those who dwelt at Babylon.
And my spirit was sorely moved, so that I began to speak words full of fear to the Most High, and said,
"O Lord, who bearest rule, Thou spokest at the beginning when Thou didst plant the earthÀ2Àand that Thyself aloneÀ2Àand commanded the people,
and gavest a body unto Adam without soul, which was the workmanship of Thine hands, and didst breathe into him the breath of life, and he was made living before Thee.
And Thou leddest him into Paradise which Thy right hand had planted before ever the earth came forward.
And unto him Thou gavest commandment to love Thy way, which he transgressed; and immediately Thou appointed death in him and in his generations, from whom came nations, tribes, people, and kindred without number.
And every people walked after their own will, and did dreadful things before Thee and despised Thy commandments.
And again, in process of time, Thou broughtest the flood upon those who dwelt in the world, and destroyed them.
And it came to pass with every one of them that as death was to Adam, so was the flood to these.
Nevertheless one of them Thou leftest, namely, Noah, with his household, of whom came all righteous men.
"And it happened, when they that dwelt upon the earth began to multiply, and had gotten them many children and were a great people, that they began again to be more ungodly than the first.
Now when they lived so wickedly before Thee, Thou didst choose Thee a man from among them whose name was Abraham.
Him Thou loved, and unto him only Thou showed Thy will
and madest an everlasting covenant with him, promising him that Thou wouldest never forsake his seed.
And unto him Thou gavest Isaac, and unto Isaac also Thou gavest Jacob and Esau. As for Jacob, Thou didst choose him to Thee and put off Esau; and so Jacob became a great multitude.
And it came to pass that, when Thou leddest his seed out of Egypt, Thou broughtest them up to Mount Sinai.
And, bowing the heavens, Thou didst set fast the earth, moved the whole world, and madest the depths to tremble, and troubled the men of that age.Œ
And Thy glory went through four gates: of fire and of earthquake and of wind and of cold, that Thou mightest give the law unto the seed of Jacob and diligence unto the generations of Israel.
"And yet tookest Thou not away from them a wicked heart, that Thy law might bring forth fruit in them.
For the first Adam, bearing a wicked heart, transgressed and was overcome; and so be all those who are born of him.
Thus infirmity was made permanent; and the law was (also) in the heart of the people with the malignity of the root, so that the good departed away and the evil abode still.
So the times passed away, and the years were brought to an end. Then didst Thou raise Thee up a servant called David,
whom Thou commanded to build a city unto Thy name, and to offer incense and oblations unto Thee therein.
When this was done many years, then those who inhabited the city forsook Thee,
and in all things did even as Adam and all his generations had done; for they also had a wicked heart.
And so Thou gavest Thy city over into the hands of Thine enemies.
"Are their deeds then any better who inhabit Babylon, that they should therefore have the dominion over Zion?
For when I came thither and had seen impieties without number, then my soul saw many evildoers in this thirtieth year, so that my heart failed me.
For I have seen how Thou sufferest them sinning and hast spared wicked doers, and hast destroyed Thy people and hast preserved Thine enemies, and hast not made it known.
I do not conceive how this way may be left. Are they then of Babylon better than they of Zion?
Or is there any other people that knoweth Thee besides Israel? Or what generation hath so believed Thy covenants as Jacob?
And yet their reward appeareth not, and their labor hath no fruit. For I have gone here and there through the heathen, and I see that they flow in wealth and think not upon Thy commandments.
Weigh Thou therefore our wickedness now in the balance and theirs also who dwell in the world; and so shall Thy name nowhere be found but in Israel.
Or when was it that those who dwell upon the earth have not sinned in Thy sight? Or what people have so kept Thy commandments?
Thou shalt find that Israel by name hath kept Thy precepts, but not the heathen."