1 For Your judgments are great, and cannot be expressed;
Therefore beings not instructed have strayed.
2 For when unrighteous men thought to oppress the qodesh nation;
They, being shut up in their houses, the prisoners of darkness,
And shackled in the bonds of a long night,
Lay exiled from the anticipation of eternity.
3 For while they thought to lie hidden in their secret sins,
They were scattered under a dark veil of forgetfulness,
Being greatly astonished, and troubled with visions.
4 For neither could the corner that held them keep them from fear:
But noises falling down sounded about them,
And mournful visions appeared to them with a heavy presence.
5 No power of the fire could give them light:
Nor could the bright flames of the stars endure to lighten that horrible night.
6 Only a very dreadful fire kindled by itself appeared to them;
For being greatly afraid, they thought that which they saw to be worse than the sight they did not see.
7 As for the illusions of magic, they were brought to naught,
And their boasting in wisdom was reproved with shame.
8 For those who promised to drive away fear and troubles from a sick being,
Were sick themselves of fear, worthy to be laughed at.
9 For though no fearsome matter frightened them;
Yet being scared of beasts that passed by, and hissing of serpents,
10 They perished from fear,
Denying that they saw the air, which could in no way be avoided.
11 For wickedness, condemned by her own witness,
Is very fearful, and being pressured by conscience, always forsees difficulties.
12 For fear is naught but a betrayal of the support which reason offers.
13 And the expectation from within, being lesser,
Counts the ignorance greater than the cause which brings the torment.
14 But they sleeping the same sleep that night, which was indeed unbearable,
And which came upon them out of the imminent depths of She’ol,
15 Were on one hand tortured with fearsome visions,
And on the other hand fainted, their heart failing them;
For a sudden unexpected fear came upon them.
16 So then whoever fell down there was thus kept, shut up in a prison without iron bars,
17 For whether he were a farmer, or shepherd,
Or a labourer in the field,
He was overtaken, and endured that unavoidable necessity;
For they were all bound with one chain of darkness.
18 Whether it wore a whistling wind,
Or a melodious noise of birds among the spreading branches.
Or a pleasant waterfall running forcefully.
19 Or a terrible sound of stones thrown down,
Or a stampeding of beasts that could not be seen,
Or a roaring voice of most savage wild beasts,
Or a rebounding echo from the hollow mountains;
These made them to faint for fear.
20 For the whole world shone with radiant light,
And none were hindered in their labour;
21 Over them alone was spread a heavy night,
An image of that darkness which would afterward receive them;
But they were even more grievous unto themselves than the darkness.