Assyrian / Babylonian wisdom: Sibyl of Babylon on the superiority of the Judean people (second century BCE)

Citation with stable link: Philip A. Harland, 'Assyrian / Babylonian wisdom: Sibyl of Babylon on the superiority of the Judean people (second century BCE),' Ethnic Relations and Migration in the Ancient World, last modified February 28, 2023,

Ancient authors: Anonymous Egyptian Judean as the Assyrian / Babylonian Sibyl (second century BCE), Sibylline Oracles 3.97-349, 489-829 (link to Greek; link to full translation).

Comments: The present oracles are among the earliest of the so-called Sibylline Oracles produced by Judeans / Jews (sometimes including Jesus adherents) posing as a non-Judean Sibyl or prophetess. The consistent mention of a seventh Egyptian king (3.193, 318, and 608) suggests an Egyptian Judean author who is identifying God’s special end-time royal functionary as one of the Ptolemaic kings, most likely Ptolemy Philometer, Neos Philopater, or Physkon (all between 180-117 BCE). This expectation of installment of a native Egyptian king in some (imminent) future time has some commonalities with the Egyptian Oracle of the Lamb and the Oracle of the Potter (link). Parts of Sibylline Oracle 3 that are excluded here (1-96, 350-488) date from a later time.

The oracles in Greek verse translated below are important evidence for ethnic relations in a variety of ways, three of which I will briefly mention. First of all, the focus on characterizing other peoples makes this an excellent source for understanding how an Egyptian Judean who speaks Greek would view and stereotype those of other ethnic groups. In this respect, here we encounter Judean stereotypes about “the peoples” (traditionally rendered “the gentiles”) much like those of Paul (link) and the Wisdom of Solomon (link): Our author caricatures peoples (beyond God’s people) as (1) tending towards worshipping inappropriate things (“idolatry” in Judean terms) and (2) engaging in perverted sexual customs. The latter point – that those considered “foreigners” engage in upside down sexual customs – is widespread in Greek ethnographic discourses as well (see category eight). But in this case the stereotype is interpreted in Judean moralistic terms as one of the key causes of the Israelite or Judean god’s judgment on and destruction of certain peoples.

Second, in these oracles non-Israelite peoples are not merely clumped together as a monolith. The author spells out an awareness of numerous named peoples. In doing so, the author incidentally engages in ethnographic descriptions and demonstrates to the Greek-speaking listener of the oracles the author’s attention to or knowledge about these numerous peoples. There are too many peoples to discuss here, but a couple are worth highlighting. Particularly noteworthy is the attention to Chaldeans (sometimes interchangeable with Babylonians), who are directly critiqued despite – or perhaps because of – the fact that the Israelites or Judeans are here portrayed as descendents of Abram from Ur of the Chaldees. Judeans are, in a sense, Chaldeans but as “God’s people” are imagined to be completely set apart, as you’ll see. Also worth noting is that the Egyptians are both associated with the Israelite god’s action in saving the righteous Israelite people via the seventh king, on the one hand, and worthy of condemnation like other peoples, on the other. In this world of Assyrians, Chaldeans, Egyptians, Phrygians, Lycians, Libyans, and many others, the oracles of the Sibyl seem aimed primarily at portraying the Israelite or Judean people as superior to all others. Although this might seem like an obvious point when dealing with Israelite or Judean characterizations of themselves, it is particularly noteworthy in connection with the ethnic hierarchies that come through in many other sources on this site. Many Greek or Roman ethnographic discussions give Judeans a very low rung on the ethnic ladder (e.g. Tacitus at this link). Assertion of superiority might at times (though not always) relate to this Greek and Roman denigration.

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, these oracles are framed as the product of a foreign, non-Israelite Sibyl or prophetess (in other words, sort of a wise barbarian figure). Although a favourite persona to employ among Judean authors, the figure of the Sibyl herself is, most often, expressly a non-Israelite or non-Judean figure. Although one option is to speak of a “Hebrew” Sibyl, in most cases she is a foreigner, a non-Hebrew, non-Israelite or non-Judean (in our cases employed by a Greek-speaking Egyptian Judean author or authors). In fact, by the time of Varro (first century BCE), attempts to enumerate the Sibyls might present at least ten different well-known Sibyls of this type: Persian, Libyan, Delphian, Kimmerian (from Scythian territory north of the Black Sea), Erythrean, Samian, Kumean, Hellespontian, Phrygian, and Tiburtine (as cited by Lactantius, Divine Institutions 1.6). Incidentally not mentioned by Varro this time is our present Assyrian, or Babylonian Sibyl, which is clearly identified at the very end of our oracles. (Powerful eastern peoples are at times interchangeable or confused by Greek-speaking outsiders, as is the case with the use of Assyrian for what we might call a Babylonian figure here). Therefore the usage of this foreign figure by Judeans has many affinities with Greeks who emphasize foreign (non-Greek) or “barbarian” sources of wisdom or truth, or who appeal to such sources of superior knowledge as a way of claiming superiority over others.

Source of translation: M.S. Terry, Sibylline Oracles Translated from the Greek into English Blank Verse (New York: Hunt & Eaton, 1890), public domain, adapted by Harland with reference to Geffcken’s critical edition of the Greek.


Book 3

[Tower of Babel]

(97-109) But when the threats of the almighty God
had been fulfilled, with which he once threatened those
who made a tower in the land of Assyria . . .
They all spoke one language, and resolved
to ascend to starry heaven.
Quickly the immortal added to the winds
a mighty force, and tempests from above
threw down the huge tower, and among humankind
he raised up confusion. Therefore mortals gave
to that city the name of “Babylon.”
But when the tower fell, and the tongues of men
became discordant, all the earth was filled
with mortals and divided among kings.
Then was the tenth generation
of mortal men, after the time when the flood
came on the earlier generation.

[Humanizing / Euhemerizing explanation of Greek gods]

(110-155) And Kronos reigned,
as well as Titan and Iapetos, whom men considered
fairest of Gaia and Ouranos born,
and gave them also names of “Earth” and “Sky [or: Heaven],”
because they were most excellent of men.
The earth was divided into three parts,
according to the inheritance of each,
and each ruled his own portion, without strife.
For they were bound by the paternal oath,
and their portions were equal. But old age
came on the father [Ouranos], and his time was full,
and he died. But the sons, infringing oaths,
contended with each other in fierce strife
over who should hold royal honour, and rule
over all mortals. Then Kronos and Titan
fought with the rest. But Rhea, Gaia,
garland-loving Venus, Demeter,
Vesta, and Dione golden-haired
brought them to friendship,
and called a council of all kings, brothers, family,
and also others of ancestral blood.
They decided Kronos should be king,
for he was the oldest and most noble.
But Titan placed on Kronos serious oaths
to rear no male children, that he
himself might reign when age and fate should fall
on Kronos. So whenever Rhea bore,
beside her sat the Titans who destroyed
all the male offspring. But the female lived
and were left to the mother’s nursing care.
But when at the third birth the honoured Rhea
brought forth illustrious Hera, and they saw
with wondering eyes a group of females born,
The savage Titans took themselves away.
Then when Rhea gave birth to a male child
she sent him quickly into Phrygia
to be reared there in secret, having bound
three Cretans by an oath to do her will.
They called him Zeus (Dia), for he was sent away.
She also secretly sent Poseidon
and Ploutos, third, by women’s helping hand
did Rhea, coming to Dodona, bear
Dodona from where Europos’ flowed,
and, with Peneios mixed, pours in the sea
its water, and men call it Stygian.
But when the Titans heard of hidden sons
begotten by king Kronos and his wife,
quickly assembled Titan sixty youths,
bound Kronos and his wife Rhea in chains,
hid them in earth, and kept them under guard.
And then the sons heard mighty Kronos
and they stirred up a tumultuous war,
and this was the beginning of dire war
among all mortals, for it was indeed
the primal origin of war among men.

[Rise and fall of successive hegemonies and the seventh king]

(156-195) Then God sent evil on the Titans,
and all the offspring from Titan and Kronos
died. But as time rolled on these kingdoms rose:
Egyptian, Persian, Median, Ethiopian,
Assyrian-Babylon, and Macedonian,
Egyptian yet again, then that of Rome.
And then a message of the mighty God
pressed on my [the Sibyl’s] heart, and ordered that I prophecy
on all the earth, and in the minds of kings
those hidden things which are yet to be.
And first the only God delivered me
what kingdoms of humankind will be raised up.
And first the house of Solomon will rule
the horsemen of Phoenicia and of Asia,
and those of other islands, and the people (genos)
of the Pamphylians, Persians, Phrygians,
Carians, Mysians, and Lydians, famed for gold.
And then the arrogant Greeks,
impure, and another Macedonian people,
much mixed, will rule, and they will bring on men
a fearful cloud of war. But the God of heaven
will utterly destroy them from below.
And then another kingdom will arise,
white and many-headed from the western sea,
which will rule and shake many a land,
and afterward bring terror to all kings.
Much gold and silver will she take by force
from many cities, yet in the vast earth
there will be gold, silver and elegance.
And they will completely afflict humankind, and then
to those same men will come a ruinous fall
when they attempt unrighteous insolence.
On them will be the bond of wickedness:
male will consort with male and they will set
children in dens of shame. And in those days
a great affliction will come among men
to confuse and wound and everything with evil
through shameful covetousness and ill-gotten gain
in many lands, but mostly in Macedon.
And hatred and deceit will spring up
until the seventh reign of an
Egyptian king of Greek birth will rule.
And then the people of the mighty God
will be again strong and be guides of life
to all humankind.

[Judgment on various peoples]

(196-217) But why should God now
lay it upon my spirit to declare
what is the first, second and final evil
upon everyone, and how they will begin?
First God will send evil on the Titans,
for mighty Kronos’s sons will take vengeance,
because they bound the king and mother dear.
Again tyrants will rule the Greeks
and they will be proud, arrogant, and vicious kings,
adulterous and completely bad.
No more will there be a rest from war.
The dreadful Phrygians will all perish
and Troy will meet misfortune in that day.
Evil will also come to the Persians,
to the Assyrians, and too all Egypt as well,
as well as Libya, the Ethiopians,
Carians, and Pamphylians. On all mortals
evil will be imposed. Why then do I speak
of each? When the first things end,
immediately the second things will fall upon humankind.
And yet I will first proclaim to you:
An evil will come upon pious men
who dwell by the great temple of Solomon,
descendants of righteous men.
Among these I also will declare the tribe (phylē),
the line (genos) of fathers, and the the people of them all,
all very thoughtfully, O crafty mortal.

[Critique of other Chaldeans]

(218-233) There is a city . . . [text missing in manuscript] in the land
of Ur of the Chaldees, from which came a people (genos)
most upright, always fond of good counsel
and noble deeds. For they seek not with care
the circling pathway of the sun and moon [i.e. astrology],
nor monstrous deeds on earth, nor the blue depth
of sea or ocean, nor the signs of sneezing,
nor interpreters of bird-flight, nor diviners,
nor poisoners, nor enchanters, nor the frauds
and silly stories of the story-tellers,
nor studies of Chaldean astrologers,
nor oracles they gather from the stars.
For all these things are errors, which vain men
search day by day, and exercise their souls
in pointless labours, and then teach
their error to other thoughtless men.
From this many evils have come to men,
and turned them from good and righteous ways.

[Superiority of the Judean people]

(234-264) But they [Abram’s people] seek with care for righteousness
and virtue, and do not have the avarice
which causes unnumbered ills among mortal men:
continuous war and famine without end.
Just measure they observe in field and town;
They steal not from each other in the night,
nor drive off herds of oxen, sheep, and goats.
Nor do they move away neighbours’ boundary-marks.
Nor does the wealthy man upset the poor
or oppress widows, but he rather aids,
The wealthy man always provides wheat, wine and oil,
and always provides a share to those that have nothing
and to the poor at harvest-time.
So they fulfill the word of the great God,
the hymn of the law.
for the one who dwells in heaven created earth
to be a common property for everyone.
But when the people of twelve tribes depart
from Egypt and with joy pursue their way
with leaders sent of God, they will proceed
in a pillar of fire by night and one of cloud
at morning of each day as they go on.
And God will appoint a leader for them,
a great man, Moses, whom a princess found
beside a marsh and carried off and reared
and called her son. But when he soon came
as leader of the people whom God brought
away from Egypt to the Sinai mount,
then God delivered them the law from heaven
and wrote upon two tablets all just things
which he enjoined to do. If, perhaps,
someone gives no heed, he must to the law
make satisfaction, either at men’s hands,
or, if he escapes man’s notice, he will
by ample satisfaction be destroyed.
[Omitted two sentences not in all manuscripts.]
For he who rules in heaven completed earth
to be a common property for everyone.
And he placed most noble thought in all breasts.

[Dispersian and return]

(265-294) To them alone the bounteous field yields fruit,
a hundred-fold from one, and thus completes
God’s measure. But to them will also come
misfortune, nor will they escape every plague.
Even you [descendents of Abram], forsaking your fair shrine,
will flee away when it becomes your lot
to leave the holy ground, and you will be
carried to the Assyrians [i.e. Babylonians], and will see
wives and young children as slaves hostile men.
All means of life and wealth will be destroyed.
Every land and sea be filled with you
and everyone will take offense at your customs.
Your land will be desolate. The fenced altar
and sacred temple and extended walls
will all fall to the ground because in heart
you have not kept the holy law of God.
Instead you have erred and served meaningless images
and have not feared the immortal begetter of gods
and of all people, nor chosen to honour him.
Instead, you have honoured images of men.
Therefore for seven decades will your fruitful land
and the wonders of the temple be desolate.
And yet a good end remains for you,
and highest glory from the immortal God.
But wait and confide in God’s pure laws
when he lifts your weary knee to the light.
Then God will send out of heaven a king
to judge each man in blood and light of fire.
There is a royal tribe (phylē), whose progeny
will be unfailing and in course of time
it will rule and builds God’s temple again.
All the kings of Persia will assist
with gold, brass and well-wrought iron and God
himself will give by night the holy dream.
Then the temple will be as it was before.

[Woes against peoples]

[Assyrians / Babylonians]

(295-313) Now when my spirit had ceased its sacred song,
and I prayed the great begetter to be released,
again a message of Almighty God
rose in my heart. He commanded me
to prophecy over all the earth, and place
in royal minds the things which are to be.
And God first gave to my mind to tell about
what bitter woes he planned for Babylon,
because they had destroyed God’s great temple.
Woe to you, O Babylon,
and Assyrian men, when the clash
of weapons will destroy all the sinful earth,
and the shout of war will ruin every land,
and the affliction of God, leader of hymns, will come.
For it will come as from the air above,
Babylon, and from the holy ones
if the high heaven will descend on you,
and eternal wrath will destroy your children.
And then you will be as you were at first,
as things which are not, and with blood
will you be filled, as you previously shed
the blood of many good and righteous men,
whose blood yet cries out to the lofty heaven.

[Egyptians, Ethiopians, Libyans]

(314-349) A great plague will come against you, Egypt,
against your homes, and what you hoped for
may never happen. For through a sword will pass
through you. Separation, death,
and famine will prevail until the seventh
generation of kings, and then cease.
Woe to you, land of Gog and Magog,
in the midst of the rivers of Ethiopia!
What pouring out of blood will you receive,
and be called house of judgment among men!
Your land with much dew will drink black blood.
Woe to you, Libya, and woe to you,
land and sea! You daughters of the West
will experience a bitter day!
And you will come pursued by cruel strife,
dreadful and harsh. Dire judgment will begin,
and you will all come to ruin by force,
because you marred the Immortal’s mighty house,
and with iron teeth you chewed it terribly.
So you will see your land full of the dead,
by war, by every spirit of violence,
by famine, by pestilence,
and by barbarian-spirited (barbarothymoi) enemies,
your land all desert and the city destroyed.
And there will shine at evening-time a star
which they will call a comet, baleful sign
to mortals pointing to famine, sword, death,
and ruin of great leaders and chief men.
And there will be great signs again among men,
for the deep-flowing Tanais [Don] will forsake
Maiotis’ [Sea of Azov’s] marshy lake, and the deep stream
will flow along a fruitful furrow’s mark,
and the vast flood a neck of land will stop.
And there will be wide chasms and yawning pits,
and many cities with their men will fall:
In Asia: Iassos, Kebren, Pandonia,
Kolophon, Ephesos, Nike, Antioch,
Tanagra, Sinope, Smyrna, Myrina.
In Europe: Kyagra, Klitos, Basilis,
Meropeia, Antigone, Magnesia,
Mykene, Pantheia, and most happy Gaza,
Hierapolis and Astypalia.
Know, then, that Egypt’s destructive people is near its end,
and then for Alexandrians
gone by years will be better.

[Omitted series of oracles (lines 350-488) against peoples that date from ca. 31 BCE].


(489-503) Now when my spirit had ceased from sacred song,
again a message of almighty God
rose in my heart, and he commanded me
to utter prophecies upon the earth.
Woe to you, Phoenician people (genos), both men and women,
also woe to all the cities by the sea.
None of you will come to the sun’s light
in common light. No longer will there be
number and tribe, because of unjust speech
and lawless, unholy life in which all indulged,
opening a foul mouth and uttering fearful words,
false and unrighteous words. They set themselves
in opposition to the mighty God,
and opened a polluted mouth to lie.
Therefore they will by dreadful strokes be slain
in all the earth, and bitter destiny
will God send on them, burning from the ground
their numerous cities and foundations.

[Cretans, Thracians, Anatolians, Libyans, etc.]

(504-544) Woe to you, Crete, burdened with pain,
on you will come a stroke. Terribly
you will be destroyed forever.
And every land will see you black with smoke,
and fire will never leave you, but will burn.
Woe to you, Thrace, for you will bend
beneath a yoke of slavery. When the Galatians,
mixed with the Dardanians, hurriedly destroy
Greece, then will terrible evil come on you.
In a strange land you not give and yet receive.
Woe to you, Gog, and so with all,
One by one, Magog, Marson, and Aggon.
How many an evil lot will fall to you!
Many will also fall on Lycia’s sons,
as well as those of Mysia and Phrygia.
And many peoples (ethnē) of Pamphylia
and of Lydia will fall, as well as Maurians [in northern Africa]
and Ethiopians, barbarous tribes,
and Cappadocians and Arabians.
How can I now speak of each
according to his lot? For to all the peoples,
as many as are dwelling on the earth,
will the Most High send forth an evil plague.
When now a very barbarous people comes
against the Greeks, it will slay many chiefs
of chosen men. Many fattened sheep
and horses will be torn, and mules and herds
of bellowing oxen, and in lawlessness
they will burn the well-made houses with fire.
And many will as slaves be led by force
into a foreign land, and children too.
Women from bed-chambers, girdled low,
delicate, falling down with tender feet,
will be seen chained and suffering all abuse
by hostile, barbarous men. Nor will they have
any help in life, nor any help in war.
But they will see their goods and all their wealth
enriching enemies. Their knees will tremble.
A hundred flee, but one will slay them all,
And five will rouse an ambush heavy-armed.
But they, among themselves mixed shamefully
in fearful war and tumult, will bring joy
to the enemy, but sorrow to the Greeks.
Then will a yoke of slavery be on all Greece,
and all at once will war and pestilence
with mortals yet remain. And God will make
the mighty heaven on high like brass, and drought
on all the earth, which itself will be iron.
And then men will bitterly lament,
the land uncultivated and unplowed.
He who made the heaven and earth will place
a massive fire on earth, and only one third
of all humanity will remain alive.


(545-572) O Greece, why have you trusted mortal men
as leaders, who cannot escape from death?
And why do you bring your foolish offerings
to the dead, and sacrifice to idols?
Who do you put the terrible error in your heart
to do these things and leave the mighty God?
Honour the name of the father of all and let it not
escape you. There have been a thousand years,
yes, and five hundred more, since arrogant kings
ruled over the Greeks. They were the first to bring
evils to mortal men, making many images
of god that are dead.
From this you were taught to think about pointless things.
But when the anger of the mighty God
will come upon you, then will you find out
the face of the mighty God. All souls
of men, in great distress, will lift their hands
up to the broad heaven and begin to call
on the great king, the helper, and to seek
a rescuer from the mighty judgement to come.
But come, learn this and lodge in your hearts
what troubles will come as the years move on.
When Greece brings her sacrifice of oxen
and bellowing bulls, a whole burnt-offering
to the temple of mighty God,
she will escape the hateful sound of war,
fear, and famine. She will go forth again
away from underneath a yoke of slavery.
But such a group of godless men will be
until that fatal day receives its end.
For you will not bring sacrifice to God
until all things come to pass, whatever things
the one God wills to be not without end.
Everything will take place, as strong fate impels.

[Judeans as a holy people]

(573-600) Once again there will be
a holy people, devoted to the mind
and counsels of the highest. They will honour
the great God’s temple with drink-offerings,
burnt-offerings, and holy hecatombs,
with sacrifice of well-fed bulls, choice rams,
firstlings of sheep, and the fat parts of lambs,
sacredly offering whole burnt sacrifice
on the great altar. But in righteousness,
Having obtained the law of the Most High,
blessed they will dwell in cities and rich fields.
And prophets will by the immortal one
be exalted and bring great joy to men.
For to them only has the great God given
his kindly counsel, and put in their hearts
faith and most noble thought. They do not
pointlessly hold in awe the works of men,
of gold, brass, silver, ivory,
wood, stone, and clay idols of dead gods,
red-painted representations of beasts,
whatever mortals honour with empty-minded desire.
But they lift up their holy arms to heaven.
At daybreak they rise from their beds to cleanse
their hands with water and to pay appropriate honours
to God the immortal, who is always great,
as well as to parents. But above all people
they keep the bed of marriage undefiled,
and do not mix with boys or with males in impure acts,
like the Phoenicians, Latins, Egyptians,
spacious Greece, and many more peoples:
Persians, Galatians, and of all peoples of Asia,
transgressing the immortal God’s pure law.

[Idolatry of the peoples and God’s judgement]

(601-618) And so the immortal will inflict on men
delusion, famine, sufferings, groans,
war, pestilence, and mournful woes.
Because they did not want to honour righteously
the immortal Father of everyone.
Instead, they honoured idols made with human hands,
that even men themselves will throw away
in clefts of rocks, concealing them from shame.
When a young seventh king of Egypt will rule
his own land, reckoned in the dynasty of the Greeks
which Macedonia’s mighty men will rule,
then will there come from Asia a great king
with eagle’s fire. With his foot and horse he
will cover all the land, break down all things,
and fill all things with evil. He will cast down
the Egyptian kingdom, seize all goods,
and ride upon the broad back of the sea.
And then before the mighty God, the king
immortal, they will bend their knees
on the all-fostering earth. And all the works
made with hands in a flame of fire will fall.

[Restoration and call for reconciliation]

(619-634) Then God will grant great joy to men.
For land, trees, and countless flocks of sheep
will yield humankind the genuine fruit of wine,
sweet honey, white milk, and wheat,
which is for men the very best of all.
But you, mortal versed in various skills
and evil-minded, will not be like this.
Turn around and be reconciled to God.
Offer to God whole hecatombs of bulls,
lambs, and goats, at the recurring times.
Propitiate him, the immortal God.
Perhaps he will show mercy. For he himself
alone is God, and there is none other.
Hold righteousness in honour, wrong no man
with oppression, for the immortal one
enjoins these things on miserable men.
But you, be on your guard against the wrath
of the great God, when to all men will come
the height of famine, and, being overpowered
They meet dire judgment.

[Further judgement on peoples]

(635-651) King will seize king
and take his land away. Peoples will plunder,
peoples, and leaders, and tribes.
Leaders will all flee to another land,
and earth itself be changed. Barbarous rule
will ravage all Greece, and the rich land of wealth
will become exhausted, and they will face
strife because of gold and silver
in a strange land. Love of gain will be
an evil guide for cities. And they will all
be unburied and their flesh will be
destroyed by vultures and wild beasts of earth.
When these things are finished, the huge earth
will consume all that remains of the dead.
Earth will be completely unsown and unplowed,
proclaiming woefully the abomination
of countless men through many circling years,
as well as shields, javelins and all sorts of weapons.
Nor will the forest wood be cut for fire.

[King sent by God, reward for God’s people,
threats against the temple, and cosmic judgment]

(652-701) Then from the sun God will send a king,
who will make all earth cease from evil war,
killing some and binding others with strong oaths.
Yet he will not do this by his own plans,
but by excellent teachings of God.
The temple of the great God will be weighed down
with gold and silver and purple ornament,
and earth and sea will be filled with good things.
And then kings will again begin
to envy one another and their hearts will
desire wicked projects. Envy brings
no good to wretched mortals. But again
will kings of peoples rush upon the land
in masses, bringing doom upon themselves.
For they will plan to destroy the shrine
of the great God and most excellent men.
When they reach the land, polluted kings
will sacrifice within the city’s walls,
Each having his own throne and subject tribe.
And then will God speak with a mighty voice
to all rude, empty-minded people.
And judgments from the mighty God will come
upon them, and they all will be destroyed
by an immortal hand. And fiery swords
will fall down from heaven on earth, and mighty lights
will come down flaming in the midst of men.
And mother earth will be tossed in those days
by an immortal hand, and fish of the sea,
All earth’s beasts, countless flocks of birds,
all the souls of men, and all the sea
will shudder at the face of the immortal,
and there will be dismay. High mountain peaks
and huge hills of giants he will break, and
the dark abyss will appear to all.
Misty gorges in the lofty hill
will be full of the dead. The rocks will stream
with blood, and every torrent fill the plain.
And well-built walls of hostile men will all
fall to the earth. For they did now know the law,
nor God’s judgment, but with senseless soul
they rushed to the temple and lifted spears.
God judges all by war, sword, fire,
and overwhelming flood. And there will be
brimstone from heaven, as well as stones and frightening hail.
Death will come upon the four-footed animals.
Then will men come to know the immortal God
who judges these things. Lamentation
and uproar will come on the boundless earth,
because men perish. In speechless woe
will everyone be bathed in blood. Earth herself
will drink the blood of them that are destroyed
and the wild beasts will fill themselves with flesh.
The eternal God himself gave me
all these things to prophesy. Nor will they be
without complete fulfillment, for he put
them only in the heart. For without falsehood
the spirit of God continues in the world.

[Salvation for the Judean people]

(702-731) Again the children of the mighty God
will live in peace around the temple,
delighting in those things which he will give
who is creator, righteous judge, and king.
For he alone, standing wondrous near,
can shelter as a wall of flaming fire
from all around. And there will be no wars
in cities or in country. Rather than the hand
of cruel war, there will be with them
the immortal champion himself
and the hand of the holy one. And then the isles
and cities all will speak, and tell how much
the immortal loves those men. For he shares with them
in all conflict and delivers them.
And divinely formed heaven, sun, moon,
and mother earth will tremble in those days.
And they will lead forth a sweet word in hymns:
“Come, falling on the earth let us all pray
to the immortal king, great God, most high.
Let us send to the temple, since he is the
sole lord. Let us all observe the law
of God most high, who above all on earth
is the most righteous one. For we have strayed
Far from the path of the immortal one,
and have done reverence with a senseless soul
to works of human hands, to images
carved out of wood and of dead men.”
These things souls of the faithful cry aloud:
“Come, let us with God’s people fall down
upon our faces, and let us delight in our homes
with hymns to God the creator. Let us gather
the weapons of our foes in every land
for seven lengths of the revolving years,
even shields, helmets, and all sorts of weapons,
as well as a great store of bows and harmful arrows,
for forest wood will not be cut for fire.”


(732-740) But, wretched Greece, cease your willful
arrogance. Entreat the immortal and
great-hearted one, and be watchful.
Send to this city the thoughtless people
who have come from the mighty’s holy land.
Do not disturb Kamarina, for it is best
undisturbed, as a leopard from the lair,
an evil which you should by no means meet.
But keep away, and do not hold arrogance
in your heart, an overbearing soul,
ready for mighty contest. And serve God,
the mighty one, that you may share with them.

[Judgment and a peaceful existence for God’s people]

(741-761) When this fated day reaches its consummation,
and the judgment of immortal God comes upon mortals,
a great judgment and dominion will come upon men.
For earth, all-mother, will give
the best fruit, boundless wheat,
wine, and oil. And from the heavens will come a drink,
of delightful sweet honey,
trees, fruits of trees, fatted sheep,
oxen, young lambs, and young goats.
Sweet fountains of white milk will burst forth.
The cities ill be full of good things,
and the fields will be fertile. There will be no sword
nor uproar on the earth. Nor will the earth
groan heavily and tremble any more.
Nor will there be war or drought any longer on earth,
nor famine, nor the fruit-destroying hail.
Instead, great peace will be upon all the earth.
King will be friend to king until the end
of time, and a new law on all the earth
will the immortal in the starry heaven
perfect for men, dealing with whatever things
have been done by miserable mortals.
For he alone is God, no other is,
and he will burn with fire man’s grievous power.

[Exhortation to good behaviour]

(762-766) But now, being quick to keep my thoughts in heart,
shun godless worship, serve the living God,
be on your guard against adultery
and all unclean things. Rear your own children
and do not murder. For the immortal one
is angry with those who commit these sins.

[Final kingdom for God’s people continued]

(767-795) And then he will establish an eternal kingdom
for all humanity. He will give a holy law
to the pious to whom he has pledged
to open up the land, the wide world,
portals of the blessed, all joys,
mind immortal, and eternal bliss.
And those from every land will bring frankincense,
and gifts to the house of the great God,
and there will be no other house
to be inquired of by future men,
except the one whom God gave to faithful men to honour,
[omitted one phrase – Christian interpolation]
All paths of the field, the rough hills,
the lofty mountains, and the sea’s wild waves
will in those days be easy to pass over.
For all peace of the good will come on earth.
And God’s prophets will take away the sword.
For they will be the judges of humankind
and righteous kings. For this is the judgment
of the mighty and sovereign God.
Be happy, maiden, and rejoice,
for the eternal who made heaven and earth,
has given you joy and he will dwell in you,
and he will be an immortal light for you.
And wolves and lambs together will eat
grass in the mountains, young goats will
graze with leopards, wandering bears will stay
among calves, the carnivorous lion
will eat straw in the manger like the ox,
and little children will lead them with ropes.
For beasts he made on earth will be tame,
and serpents will fall asleep with young babes
and no harm will come to them,
for God’s hand will be on them.

[Signs of the end]

(796-808) Now I will tell you a very clear sign
so that you may know when the end of all things
on earth will be. When in the starry heaven
swords will be seen by night toward west or east,
quickly will there be a dark cloud of dust
coming downward from the heaven over all the earth.
The sun’s brightness in the midst of heaven
will be eclipsed, and the moon’s beams will appear
and come again on earth. There will be
the sign of blood-drops issuing from stones,
And you will see a war of foot-soldiers and horse-men
in a cloud, like a hunting of wild beasts,
like a dark mist. This is the end of war
Which God who dwells in heaven will accomplish.
But everyone must sacrifice to the great king.

[Assyrian / Babylonian Sibyl’s conclusion]

(809-829) I, who madly left Assyria’s long Babylonian walls,
say these things to you and
prophesied to everyone about the fire,
God’s fury which will be sent on Greece,
so that I might prophesy to mortals
about divine mysteries. Throughout Greece
they will say that I am from another
homeland, born of Erythrai – shameless.
Others say that I am a Sibyl born of Kirke and
father Gnostos – crazy and false.
But at the time when all things come to pass
you will make mention of me. No longer
will anyone call me mad;
rather, they will call me God’s great prophetess,
because God will show me whatever things
belonged at first to my ancestors,
those things God laid down in his plans for me.
All future things God stored up in my mind,
so that I might prophecy about things to come and
things that were, and tell them to humankind.
For when the world was deluged with a flood
of waters, and one man alone was left,
a man of honour [i.e. Noah], sailing on the waves
in wooden house along with beasts and birds,
I was his bride and from his blood I came.
To him the first things and the last things
were all made known. And so from my own mouth
I have truthfully declared everything.

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