Apocrypha (from the Greek word ἀπόκρυφα, meaning “those having been hidden away” are texts of uncertain authenticity or writings where the authorship is questioned. In Judeo-Christian theology the term apocrypha refers to any collection of scriptural texts that falls outside the canon. Given that different denominations have different ideas about what constitutes canonical scripture, there are several different versions of the apocrypha. During sixteenth-century controversies over the biblical canon the word “apocrypha” acquired a negative connotation, and it has become a synonym for “spurious” or “false”.
Although traditional Rabbinical Judaism insists on the exclusive canonization of the current 24 books in the Tanakh, it also claims to have an Oral Law handed down from Moses. The Sadducees, – unlike the Pharisees but like the Samaritans – seem to have maintained an earlier and smaller number of texts as canonical, preferring to hold to only what was written in the Law of Moses (making most of the presently accepted canon, both Jewish and Christian, apocryphal in their eyes). Certain circles in Judaism, such as the Essenes in Judea and the Therapeutae in Egypt, were said to have a secret literature (see Dead Sea scrolls).
The main body of the book appears to be written for consolation in a period of great distress (most likely Titus’ destruction of the Second Temple in AD 70) according to the modern theory. The author seeks answers, similar to Job’s quest for understanding the meaning of suffering but the author doesn’t like or desire only the answer that was given to Job.
The book is considered one of the gems of Jewish apocalyptic literature.
Extract fro 2 Esdras 13:8-47
8 “After this I looked and saw that all who had gathered together against him, to wage war with him, were filled with fear, and yet they dared to fight
10 but I saw only how he sent forth from his mouth something like a stream of fire, and from his lips a flaming breath, and from his tongue he shot forth a storm of sparks. 11 … (which) fell on the onrushing multitude that was prepared to fight, and burned up all of them, so that suddenly nothing was seen of the innumerable multitude but only the dust of ashes and the smell of smoke … 12 After this I saw the same man come down from the mountain and call to himself another multitude that was peaceable.
25 This is the interpretation of the vision:
26 … this is he whom the Most High has been keeping for many ages, who will himself deliver his creation; and he will direct those who are left. 27 And as for your seeing wind and fire and a storm coming out of his mouth 28 … destroying the onrushing multitude that came to conquer him, this is the interpretation:
29 The days are coming when the Most High will deliver those who are on the earth. 30 And bewilderment of mind shall come over those who inhabit the earth. 31 They shall plan to make war against one another …
33 Then, when all the nations hear his voice, all the nations shall leave their own lands and the warfare that they have against one another; 34 and an innumerable multitude shall be gathered together, as you saw, wishing to come and conquer him.
35 But he shall stand on the top of Mount Zion. 36 And Zion shall come and be made manifest to all people, prepared and built, as you saw the mountain carved out without hands.
39 And as for your seeing him gather to himself another multitude that was peaceable, 40 these are the Ten Tribes that were taken away from their own land into exile in the days of King Hoshea, whom Shalmaneser, king of the Assyrians, made captives; he took them across the river, and they were taken into another land. 41 But they formed this plan for themselves, that they would leave the multitude of the nations and go to a more distant region, where no human beings had ever lived …
46 Then they lived there until the last times; and now, when they are about to come again, 47 the Most High will stop the channels of the river (Euphrates) again, so that they may be able to cross over. Therefore you saw the multitude gathered together in peace. ”