This excerpt from Jewish Literature comes from “Apocalypse of Zephaniah” (Late First Century BCE). If this passage sounds a lot like the Book of Revelation there are several good reasons. Both authors are Jewish, both are writing in Greek, both are employing a literary style of “apocalypse” and both describe heavenly visions of angelic beings.
1 Again I turned back and walked, and I saw a great sea. 2 But I thought that it was a sea of water. I discovered that it was entirely a sea of flames like a slime which casts forth much flame and whose waves burn sulfur and bitumen. 3 They began to approach me. 4 Then I thought that the Lord Almighty had come to visit me. 5 Then when I saw, I fell upon my face before him in order that I might worship him. 6 I was very much afraid, and I entreated him that he might save me from this distress. 7 I cried out, saying, “Eloe, Lord, Adonai, Sabaoth, I beseech you to save me from this distress because it has befallen me.”
8 That same instant I stood up, and I saw a great angel before me. His hair was spread out like the lionesses’. His teeth were outside his mouth like a bear. His hair was spread out like women’s. His body was like the serpent’s when he wished to swallow me. 9 And when I saw him, I was afraid of him so that all of my parts of my body were loosened and I fell upon my face. 10 I was unable to stand, and I prayed before the Lord Almighty, “You will save me from this distress. You are the one who saved Israel from the hand of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. You saved Susanna from the hand of the elders of injustice. You saved the three holy men, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, from the furnace of burning fire. I beg you to save me from this distress.”
11 Then I arose and stood, and I saw a great angel standing before me with his face shining like the rays of the sun in its glory since his face is like that which is perfected in its glory. 12 And he was girded as if a golden girdle were upon his breast. His feet were like bronze which is melted in a fire. 13 And when I saw him, I rejoiced, for I thought that the Lord Almighty had come to visit me. 14 I fell upon my face, and I worshiped him. 15 He said to me, “Take heed. Don’t worship me. I am not the Lord Almighty, but I am the great angel, Eremiel, who is over the abyss and Hades, the one in which all of the souls are imprisoned from the end of the Flood, which came upon the earth, until this day.” 16 Then I inquired of the angel, “What is the place to which I have come?” He said to me, “It is Hades.” 17 Then I asked him, “Who is the great angel who stands thus, whom I saw?” He said, “This is the one who accuses men in the presence of the Lord.”(Apocalypse of Zephaniah 6)
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