Saturday, January 6, 2024

Seal Five (6.9–11)


And when he opened the fifth seal, I saw souls under the altar, those who were slaughtered for God’s word and the witness they held. And they were yelling in a loud voice, saying, ‘Holy and true Lord, why do you not judge and avenge our blood from those dwelling on the earth?’ And each of them were given white robes, and it was said to them that they should rest for a little while until their fellow slaves and their brothers—those about to be killed like them—were complete too.


In addition to Chapter 5’s slain lamb standing in parallel to the sacrificial offering in the temple, the author here points to the temple altar. The martyrs standing under the altar are implied to be the overflowing blood of other sacrifices. The image of ‘blood’ calling for divine vengeance reminds of Abel’s death. The enemies responsible for these martyrdoms are not identified. The author predicts that divine judgment will arrive when a predetermined total of martyrs is reached, which is only ‘a little while’ away.



35.17 How long, O Yhwh, will you look on? Rescue me from their ravages, my life from the lions!

119.84 How long must your servant endure? When will you judge those who persecute me?


1.2 O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not listen? Or cry to you ‘Violence!’ and you will not save?


4.10 And Yhwh said, ‘What have you done? Listen; your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground!’

1 Enoch

9.10 And now look, the spirits of the souls of the men who have died make suit, and their groan has come up to the gates of heaven

22.5 Then I saw the spirit of a dead man making suit, and his lamentation went up to heaven and cried and made suit.

47.1, 4 In those days, there had arisen the prayer of the righteous, and the blood of the righteous, from the earth into the presence of the Lord of Spirits. […] And the hearts of the holy ones were filled with joy, for the number of the righteous was at hand; and the prayer of the righteous had been heard, and the blood of the righteous had been required in the presence of the Lord of Spirits.

Sibylline Oracles

3.310–313 Then you will be as you were before, as if you had not been. Then you will be filled with blood, as you yourself formerly poured out the blood of good men and righteous men, whose blood even now cries out to high heaven.


11.35 ‘Some of the wise shall fall, so that they may be refined, purified, and cleansed, until the time of the end, for there is still an interval until the time appointed.’


11.25 So that you may not claim to be wiser than you are, brothers and sisters, I want you to understand this mystery: a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the nations has come in.


13.9 As for yourselves, beware; for they will hand you over to councils; and you will be beaten in synagogues; and you will stand before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them.

4 Ezra

4.35–37 ‘Did not the souls of the righteous in their chambers ask about these matters, saying, “How long are we to remain here? And when will the harvest of our reward come?”’ And the archangel Jeremiel answered and said, “When the number of those like yourselves is completed; for he has weighed the age in the balance, and measured the times by measure, and numbered the times by number; and he will not move or arouse them until that measure is fulfilled.”’

6.59 ‘If the world has indeed been created for us, why do we not possess our world as an inheritance? How long will this be so?’

2 Baruch

11.3 Who will judge over these things? Or to whom shall we complain about that which has befallen us?

23.5 No creature will live again unless the number that has been appointed is completed.

5 Ezra

2.39–40 Those who have departed from the shadow of this age have received glorious garments from the Lord. Take again your full number, O Zion, and close the list of your people who are clothed in white, who have fulfilled the law of the Lord.


152b It was taught in a baraita that Rabbi Eliezer says: The souls of the righteous are stored beneath the Throne of Glory, as it is stated: ‘And the soul of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of life.’

3 Enoch

44.7 I saw the souls of the fathers of the world, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the rest of the righteous, who had been raised from their graves and had ascended into heaven. They were praying before the Holy One, blessed be he, and saying in prayer, ‘Lord of the Universe, how long will you sit upon your throne, as a mourner sits in the days of his mourning, with your right hand behind you, and not redeem your sons and reveal your kingdom in the world?’

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