Hard Questions

frank, open and honest discussions

The Book of 4 Ezra from the Dead Sea Scrolls

with 14 comments

Question: Which nation does this prophecy speak about?There are certain prophecies in Old Jewish religious books which are totally incompatible with the theory that the Final Prophet, The Chosen One is a descendant of David.
These prophecies point to a non-Israelite prophet, someone from a different nation.

Muslims have always maintained that Muhammed [pbuh], the descendant of Ishmail and Abraham was the prophet mentioned in the Torah who God promised, will spread His words in the nations, and show the His light to the Gentiles.

Today, I highlight prophecies in the Book of 4Ezra, also known as 2 Esdras, found in the Dead Sea Scrolls:

24 What shall I do unto thee, O Jacob? thou, Juda, wouldest not obey me: I will turn me to other nations, and unto those will I give my name, that they may keep my statutes.

32 I sent unto you my servants the prophets, whom ye have taken and slain, and torn their bodies in pieces, whose blood I will require of your hands, saith the Lord.

33 Thus saith the Almighty Lord, Your house is desolate, I will cast you out as the wind doth stubble.

34 And your children shall not be fruitful; for they have despised my commandment, and done the thing that is an evil before me.

#235 Your houses will I give to a people that shall come; which not having heard of me yet shall believe me; to whom I have shewed no signs, yet they shall do that I have commanded them.

36 They have seen no prophets, yet they shall call their sins to remembrance, and acknowledge them.

37 I take to witness the grace of the people to come, whose little ones rejoice in gladness: and though they have not seen me with bodily eyes, yet in spirit they believe the thing that I say.

38 And now, brother, behold what glory; and see the people that come from the east:

39 Unto whom I will give for leaders, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Oseas, Amos, and Micheas, Joel, Abdias, and Jonas,

40 Nahum, and Abacuc, Sophonias, Aggeus, Zachary, and Malachy, which is called also an angel of the Lord.

Written by Rasheed Gadir

October 10, 2007 at 7:05 am

14 Responses

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  1. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, otherwise known as “Mormons”. I was doing some personal study on how the Lord’s covenant to Abraham would be fulfilled as described in Jacob 5 in the Book of Mormon. This chapter is an allegory attibuted to the writings of an ancient Israelite prophet named Zenos. This allegory was described by the Nephite prophet, Jacob, to his people who had settled in Ancient America. Jacob says its source is from plates of brass that his family brought from Jeruselem around 600 BC. Jacob’s father Lehi, an Israelite prophet in Jeruselem, was instructed to flee Jeruselem’s destruction and were led to America at that time. Shortly after their flight, Jeruselem was destroyed by the Babylonians.

    Jacob 5 tells how apostacy among Israel’s seed would lead to their scattering to various parts of the earth. Some to be “grafted in” with the Gentiles, others to remain with the tribe of Judah (with gentiles grafted in to them), and yet another to be led to a sparsely populated yet fertile part of the earth. In the last days, the gentiles (many who also have israelite lineage) would bring to pass the restoration of the gospel of Christ to the entire House of Israel, starting with the branch taken to America and finishing with the tribe of Judah. It is our belief that the land of America and the founding of the USA, provided the fertile ground in which our founding prophet Joseph Smith was able to restore the gospel to the world. The gentile nations who were led to America, brought with them the Bible and converted many of Lehi’s descendants to Christianity. It was their desire for freedom of worship that led to the founding of our great nation. It is our belief that Joseph Smith is the prophet who ushered in the Dispensation of the Fullness of Times, after which the Messiah will come and reign personally on the earth. When I read these passages to which you refer, I consider the gentile nations to be the nations that are referred to in verse 24. 34 refers to the evil works of the House of Israel and its apostacy. 35 and 36 describe the nations of the gentiles who were not blessed to be part of the Abrahamic Covenant, but will be “adopted-in” as they convert to the gospel of Jesus Christ. We do not consider Joseph Smith to be the Chosen One, but rather this is Jesus Christ. Go to http://www.lds.org and then click on gospel library/scriptures/book of mormon/jacob. I would encourage you to read Jacob 4 as well. Here he presents the question,

    “17 And now, my beloved, how is it possible that these, after having rejected the sure foundation, can ever build upon it, that it may become the head of their corner?
    18 Behold, my beloved brethren, I will unfold this mystery unto you; if I do not, by any means, get shaken from my firmness in the Spirit, and stumble because of my over anxiety for you.”

    In other words, How can the House of Israel ever become as great in the last days as is prophesied if they will reject and crucify Christ? He then answers it with Zenos’ Allegory.

    I admit, that the veracity of the Book of Mormon is a question of personal acceptance, faith and testimony, unlike the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. However, it does provide some unique insight into some of these questions. I believe it to be true and that it restores many of the plain and precious truths that were once available to ancient believers.


    April 22, 2008 at 11:31 pm

  2. Dear Don

    Thank you for your contribution.

    I have to admit that I am not well versed in the teachings of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), so it might take me some time to better educate myself. I am, however, very much interested to know more about your scriptures, and how it relates to other Christian denominations, how it was transmitted, etc.

    I have just visited the LDS website which is very resourceful. Can you please point me to other useful resources on the subjects above.

    Thank you and welcome to my Hard Questions Blog.



    April 23, 2008 at 12:49 am

  3. Rasheed,

    Thank you for your kindness and for your invitation to provide more references. There is a more basic website for the neophyte wanting to educate themselves regarding our religion and its scripture.

    Try http://www.mormon.org This is a great non-threatening site where you can peruse our beliefs and even ask questions. We are a missionary religion, but you won’t feel like you just walked into a Foot Locker to browse for shoes at this website. 🙂

    I would also encourage you to read the books 1st and 2nd Nephi, as well as Jacob in the Book of Mormon (found on lds.org) These books will give you some terrific insight into God’s purposes for the seed of Abraham and how He will fulfill His covenant with him.

    You should read these books in the context of God the Father and Jesus Christ being two distinct personages. The Father being our Creator and father of our spirits, and Jesus being the Creator of the Earth and the heavens, the Only Begotten of the Father, the Savior of our souls (from sin as well as from death), and our God.

    We see Jesus as our god and our father because of his grace in saving us from sin and temporal death. However, he is distinct from God the Father, to whom we pray. We believe Christ to be the head of our church who communicates to our modern day prophet and apostles via continuing revelation as he directs his church. Hence the name, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

    While reading the early books in the Book of Mormon, Jesus had yet to be born, and so therefore as of that time had no body. He is the one who visits the Nephite prophets Lehi, Nephi, and Jacob. It is he who visited the ancient prophets of the Old Testament. He later obtained his body as a result of a virgin birth which was begotten by the Father (who has an immortal and glorified body of flesh and bone). Christ visited the Nephites after his death as a resurrected being, having an immortal and glorified body like unto the Father’s.

    This is a very unique view we have of the nature of God that is not found in other Christian religions.

    I hope this is helpful. I look forward to learning more of Islam and its relationship to Christianity and Judaism. I believe that tolerance and understanding of one another’s beliefs is essential if we are to ever experience peace in our lifetimes.



    April 23, 2008 at 5:48 pm

  4. Don,

    Thank you for your comment and for the information.

    I agree with you wholly about the need for mutual understanding and for tolerance of differences of opinions and beliefs.

    I have a feeling that we will have a lively discussion that will enhance our knowledge of each other’s faith.



    April 24, 2008 at 12:05 am

  5. Rasheed,

    “Question: Which nation does this prophecy speak about? There are certain prophecies in Old Jewish religious books which are totally incompatible with the theory that the Final Prophet, The Chosen One is a descendant of David.

    These prophecies point to a non-Israelite prophet, someone from a different nation.”

    According to a discussion of 2 Esdras in Wikipedia:

    ‘The first two chapters of 2 Esdras are found only in the Latin version of the book, and are called 5 Ezra by scholars. They are considered by most scholars to be Christian in origin; they assert God’s rejection of the Jews and describe a vision of the Son of God. These are generally considered to be late additions (possibly third century) to the work.’

    As the extract you cite comes from the first chapter of 2 Esdras, it is unlikely one can cite the text in support of a prediction of the coming of Muhammed [pbuh],


    Paul Williams

    December 15, 2008 at 6:10 pm

    • Paul,

      My apology for the delay in moderating your comment. I am on a work trip and my access to the internet is limited.

      The Christian origin of the first two chapters is not really confirmed, as the same Wikipedia article says later on:

      Critics question whether even the main body of the book, not counting the chapters that exist only in the Latin version and in Greek fragments, has a single author. Kalisch, De Faye, and Charles hold that no fewer than five people worked on the text. However, Gunkel points to the unity in character and holds that the book is written by a single author; it’s even possible that the so-called “Christian” chapters were originally in the work.

      Even if the text is definitely of Christian origin, this – in itself – does not necessarily disqualify it from being a prophecy about Muhammed [pbuh]. Islamic traditions tells us that many Christians in the pre- Islamic era were expecting the appearance of Muhammed [pbuh], and the Quran clearly says that Jesus announced to his disciples that The Praised prophet will appear after him.


      December 17, 2008 at 12:59 am

    • usually we take in high regards the John 16:7-13 of being a prophecy about Muhammad PBUH but Christians would say it was the holy spirit “He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears” .if you consider the fact that the holy spirit never spoke til this day..lol..so we consider that prophesy to be taken literal predicting the coming of an actual person & not some alleged spirit jumping in & out of people…many Jews & Christians today tend to refute the fact that Jews would have never taken Ezra as a Son Of God because Muslims “or the author of the Quran” fail to comprehend the interpretations of the Word Son Of God in the Jewish ideology & scriptures but as it states in the holy Quran 2:92 “And Moses had certainly brought you clear proofs. Then you took the calf [in worship] after that, while you were wrongdoers” Jews were always shaky & doubtful if they bowed to a motionless calf i don’t think taking Ezra as a Son of God is far too fetched …

      why don’t you take on the verses Quran 2:201-202 & do some analysis since you’re good at it ..I’ve been reading it & in the verse 2:201 it seems like it is talking about Jesus then in the verse that follows it is referring to some kind of false scriptures of the Torah or kabbalah or Talmud or maybe even about the actual Torah what is known as Moses’s Torah in the time of Jesus & maybe even today’s

      Wickedpedia PHil

      January 2, 2013 at 12:11 pm

      • PHil

        Thanks for your kind comment. I will read the verses you mentioned and see what I can write about my understanding of them, I promise.John 16: 7-13 are indeed a reference to prophet Muhammed (pbuh). Many Muslim scholars have disputed the translation and interpretation of the word “Paraclete” found in the verse.

        Rasheed Gadir

        January 2, 2013 at 6:20 pm

      • u cant say they never did or no jews ever did that , there r some christians today who pray to mother mary , and even find some graves to be holy , and most people doesnt know this , u can find even in google some sites and pictures ,
        so if quran said they did in the past u cant say no one ever did coz we have very poor historical evidence specially for arab jews , as u may not know that the arab jews in muhammed time didnt comment on that verse , so most likely they agree that it happened or else they will deny it and say muhammed and quran was wrong ,
        how ever as i read some of dead sea scrolls mention son of god ( am not sure who is ) but as Jewish believe god have no son or partner just like in silam , and surely one day this will be proven , and am sure if it was proven u will not care and u will just say muhammed did know it by chance ,
        peace bro

        Zeyad Sulaiman Zeyad

        November 4, 2014 at 4:06 pm

  6. Rasheed

    thanks for your interesting response.

    Gunkel appears to be the only scholar to asert a single author of the text, he may be right, but all(?) other scholars detect multiple authorship.

    I agree that this ‘does not necessarily disqualify it from being a prophecy about Muhammed [pbuh]’.

    However, reading 2 Esdras 2 in context suggests an escatological scene which is comparable to other end times visions (like St John’s in the book of Revelation) where it is Jesus who is the key figure:

    I, Ezra, saw on Mount Zion a great multitude that I could not number, and they all were praising the Lord with songs. 43In their midst was a young man of great stature, taller than any of the others, and on the head of each of them he placed a crown, but he was more exalted than they. And I was held spellbound. 44Then I asked an angel, ‘Who are these, my lord?’ 45He answered and said to me, ‘These are they who have put off mortal clothing and have put on the immortal, and have confessed the name of God. Now they are being crowned, and receive palms.’ 46Then I said to the angel, ‘Who is that young man who is placing crowns on them and putting palms in their hands?’ 47He answered and said to me, ‘He is the Son of God, whom they confessed in the world.’ So I began to praise those who had stood valiantly for the name of the Lord.* 48Then the angel said to me, ‘Go, tell my people how great and how many are the wonders of the Lord God that you have seen.’


    Paul Williams

    December 17, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    • Paul.

      If you interpret the phrase “He is the son of God” in a way that Jews would have understood it, you would arrive at a different conclusion. Still there is the interesting notion in the prophecy that the new revelation will not be to the people of Israel but to ones who have seen “no prophets”. This is what makes this prophecy interesting.


      December 18, 2008 at 4:48 am

  7. Indeed, I agree with you on this…


    Paul Williams

    December 18, 2008 at 5:11 pm

    • Paul,
      If you follow Jesus and his prophecies about the comming of the last prophet, you have to be muslim


      March 2, 2016 at 3:57 am

  8. 4 Ezra (the “apocalypse”, i.e. chapters 3-14) was written some 30 years after the destruction of the 2nd Temple. Qumran (the site of the Dead Sea Scrolls) was destroyed by the Romans ca. 68 CE. There is no way that 4 Ezra was found among the scrolls. Here it starts and so it goes.

    Michael F. Mach

    April 20, 2010 at 7:29 pm

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