Sibylline Oracles IV/V


“a genre of revelatory literature with a narrative framework, in which a revelation is mediated by an otherworldly being to a human recipient, disclosing a transcendent reality which is both temporal, insofar as it envisages eschatological salvation, and spatial insofar as it involves another, supernatural world.”  Renan

See Also:
Dead Sea Scrolls Archive | Jewish Sources | Testament of Moses | Pseudepigrapha Online

Note: The literary genre called ‘apocalyptic’ is collected and organized here in such a way as to show the progression of eschatological thought in the late Second Temple period.  One goal will be to show the writers’ expectations of an imminent end, and how the ultimate expectation of a ‘final end of the world’ in the events surrounding the great eschatological event (the conquering of the Gentiles to them, the fall of Jerusalem and its temple to us) was a misapprehension of the nature of fulfillment found in the advent of Jesus Christ – who was denied as the Way of Victory.   Another goal will be to show how the demise of apocalyptic literature following the final end of the Jewish state lends support to the Preterist idea of prophetic fulfillment associated with that desolation.  Christian works written in the first generation following AD70 — most of which display the sense of vindication felt as a result of the fall of Jerusalem — will be presented as the capstone of the apocalyptic genre.

Sibylline Oracles Book IV

  • Adolph Hausrath “The smoke rose up from the ashes of Jerusalem, but no sign of the Son of Man appeared in heaven. But the faith of their hearts was not crushed by the signs of the times. The ensuing years make it equally evident that Christianity continued to look for the advent. Indeed, immediately after the shock of deepest disillusion caused by the fall of the temple, within two years of the writing of the Apocalypse, the strong faith of an Egyptian Christian found it possible to repeat the gist of the prophecy. When the victorious Vespasian came to Alexandria, a Christian wrote the oracle which is to be read in the collection of the Sibyl V. 361—433. ” (A History of the New Testament Times)
  • The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament | Christmas and the End of History – “There is, though, an unlikely place where both the prophets of Israel and the Cumaean Sibyl are honoured, and that is on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo’s incomparable frescoes show her opposite the prophet Ezekiel. The idea comes from the poet Virgil, for in his fourth Eclogue he talks of a Cumaean prophecy coming true; he speaks of a virgin, the birth of a boy, the beginning of a golden age, with a new generation born from heaven. No wonder Christian poets and artists took it for an inspired prophecy. There, on Michelangelo’s painted plaster, the puzzles of the pagan Sibyl and the Bible’s prophecies are reconciled.”


“An evil storm of war will also come upon Jerusalem from Italy, and it will sack the great Temple of God whenever they put their trust in folly and cast off piety and commit repulsive murders in front of the Temple. . . . A leader of Rome will come to Syria who will burn the Temple of Jerusalem with fire, at the same time slaughter many men and destroy the great land of the Jews with its broad roads. Then indeed an earthquake will destroy at once Salamis and Paphos when the dark water overwhelms Cyprus, which is washed by many waves.” (A.D. 80; 4:115-118, 125-129)

The Four Kingdoms in Book 4 of the Sibylline Oracles:

  1. The Assyrians for 6 generations-49-53
  2. The Medes for two generations-54-64
  3. The Persians for one generation prosperous-65-87
  4. The Macedonians-88-101
    The rise of Italy, Rome-102-114
    The destruction of Jerusalem-115-129
    Rumors of Nero’s return-130-151
    Impiety of end Times-152-161
    Exhortation to convert-162-170
    Resurrection & Judgment-179-192


Barbara Levick
“The fourth ‘Sibylline Oracle’, composed by a Jew just after Vespasian’s death, encapsulates the grievances of Jews and Greeks, interpreting the eruption of Vesuvius as requital for the fate of Jerusalem, prophesying natural destruction and the return of Nero leading a Parthian army.” (Vespasian)

Sibylline Oracles Book V

Rome and Babylon used Interchangeably (ll 138-139; l.144; ll. 158-161; ll. 162-177

Sibylline Oracles – Translated by Milton S. Terry “As the translator notes, this collection should more properly titled ‘the Pseudo-Sibylline Oracles’. The original Sibylline Books were closely-guarded oracular scrolls written by prophetic priestesses (the Sibylls) in the Etruscan and early Roman Era as far back as the 6th Century B.C.E. These books were destroyed, partially in a fire in 83 B.C.E., and finally burned by order of the Roman General Flavius Stilicho (365-408 C.E.).”

The texts which are presented here are forgeries, probably composed between the second to sixth century C.E. They purport to predict events which were already history or mythological history at the time of composition, as well as vague all-purpose predictions, especially woe for various cities and countries such as Rome and Assyria. They are an odd pastiche of Hellenistic and Roman Pagan mythology, including Homer and Hesiod; Jewish legends such as the Garden of Eden, Noah and the Tower of Babel; thinly veiled references to historical figures such as Alexander the Great and Cleopatra, as well as a long list of Roman Emperors; and last but not least, Gnostic and early Christian homilies and eschatological writings, all in no particular order. There may be actual residue of the original Sibylline books wedged in here and there, but this is dubious.

(On Why Second Temple Was Destroyed)
“And then Israel, intoxicated, will not perceive nor yet will she hear, afllicted with weak ears. But when the raging wrath of the Most High comes upon the Hebrews it will also take faith away from them, because they did harm to the son of the heavenly God. . . .

“Then when the Hebrews reap the bad harvest, a Roman king will ravage much gold and silver. Thereafter there will be other kingdoms continuously, as kingdoms perish and they will afflict mortals. But there will be a great fall for those men when they launch on unjust haughtiness. But when the temple of Solomon falls in the illus-trious land cast down by men of barbarian speech with bronze breastplates, the Hebrews will be driven from their land; wandering, being slaughtered, they will mix much darnels in their wheat. There will be evil strife for all men; and the cities, violated in turn, will weep for each other on receiving the wrath of the great God in their bosom, since they committed an evil deed. (A.D.150; 1:360-364, 387-400)

(On Earthly Jerusalem)
“He seized the divinely built Temple and burned the citizens and peoples who went into it, men whom I rightly praised.

For on his appearance the whole creation was shaken and kings perished, and those in whom sovereignty remained destroyed a great city and righteous people. . . . (5: 150-154 OTP 1:396.)

For murder and terrors are in store for all men because of the great city and righteous people which is preserved throughout everything which Providence held in special place. . (5:225-227; OTP 1:398.)

But now a certain insignificant and impious king has gone up, cast it down, and left it in ruins with a great horde and illustrious men. He himself perished at immortal hands when he left the land, and no such sign has yet been peformed among men that others should think to sack a great city” (5:408-413; OTP 1:403.)

(On Nero, The Beast)
“Then Beliar will come from the Sebastinoi [i.e., the line of Augustus] and he will raise up the height of mountains, he will raise up the sea, the great fiery sun and shining moon, and he will raise up the dead. . . . But he will, indeed, also lead men astray, and he will lead astray many ftithful, chosen Hebrews, and also other lawless men who have not yet listened to the word of God. (Sibylline Oracles 3:63-70; OTP 1:363.)

“One who has fifty as an initial will be commander, a terrible snake, breathing out grievous war, who one day will lay hands on his own family and slay them, and throw every-thing into confusion, athlete, charioteer, murderer, one who dares ten thousand things. He will also cut the mountain between two seas and defile it with gore. But even when he disappears he will be destruc-tive. Then he will return declaring himself equal to God. But he will prove that he is not. Three princes after him will perish at each other’s hands.” (.5:28-35; OTP 1:393.)

“a savage-minded man, much-bloodied, raving nonsense, with a full host numerous as sand, to bring destruction on you.” (5:96; OTP 1:395.)

“a terrible and shameless prince whom all mortals and noble men despise. For he destroyed many men and laid hands on the womb. (5:143- 145; OTP 1:396.)

“There will come to pass in the last time about the waning of the moon a war which will throw the world into confusion and be deceptive in guile. A man who is a matricide will come from the ends of the earth in flight and devising penetrating schemes in his mind. He will destroy every land and conquer all and consider all things more wisely than all men. He will immediately seize the one because of whom he himself perished. He will destroy many men and great rulers, and he will set fire to all men as no one else ever did. Through zeal he will raise up those who were crouched in fear. There will come upon men a great war from the West. Blood will flow up to the band of deep-eddying rivers. Wrath will drip in the plains of Macedonia, an alliance to the people horn the West, but destruction for the king.” (Oracles 5:361-374; OTP 1:401-402.)

“making himself equal to God.” (12:79, 81, 86; OTP 14-47.)

“a genre of revelatory literature with a narrative framework, in which a revelation is mediated by an otherworldly being to a human recipient, disclosing a transcendent reality which is both temporal, insofar as it envisages eschatological salvation, and spatial insofar as it involves another, supernatural world.” (The Method and Message of Jewish Apocalyptic, (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1964,, 10.)


David Chilton (1985)
“..they are seven kings; five have fallen
: The first five Caesars were Julius, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, and Claudius. This has been called into question by some, since, in a technical sense, the Empire began with Augustus, not Julius (cf. Tacitus, The Annals, i.1). Yet that was a technicality which, as far as the normal conversation and writing of the first century were concerned, was irrelevant. For all practical purposes, Julius Caesar was Emperor: He claimed the title imperator, and most early Roman, Christian, and Jewish writers count him as the first Emperor. Suetonius begins his Lives of the Twelve Caesars with Julius as the first Emperor, as does Dio Cassius in his Roman History. Book 5 of the Sibylline Oracles calls Julius “the first king: and 4 Ezra 12:15 speaks of Augustus as “the second” of the emperors. For our purposes, Josephus seems to provide the most convincing testimony, since he wrote for both a Roman and a Jewish audience, in the common parlance of the day. In his Antiquities of the Jews he clearly speaks of Augustus and Tiberius as the second and third emperors (xviii. ii.2), of Caligula as the fourth (, and of Julius as the first (xix. i.11). The most extensive discussion of all the evidence is in Moses Stuart, Commentary on the Apocalypse, two VOIS. (Andover: Allen, Merrill, and Wardwell, 1845), Vol. 2, pp. 445-52; cf. Isbon T. Beckwith, The Apocalypse of John: Studies in Introduction with an Exegetical and Critical Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, [1919] 1979), pp. 701f. (p. 436)

Stanley Paher
In the Sibylline Oracles , Book 5, generally dated about 80 A.D. a reincarnation of Nero was rumored, now known as the “Nero Redivivus myth”. The tyrant was thought not to have really died but instead he had escaped to remote Parthia, where he would amass a large army in anticipation of returning to Rome. Line 144 relates that “He [Nero] will flee from Babylon.” Line 150 describes the destruction of Jerusalem and the seizing of the divinely built temple (see also lines 397-400). In line 155 the writer foretells of a great star burning Babylon and the “land of Italy” because so many holy faithful Hebrews had perished on account of the Policies of the “unclean city of Latin land” (line 168). An oracle in lines 434-435 mentions that Babylon was for many years the sole ruling kingdom over the world. Fourth Ezra, composed in about 100 A.D. because of its opening sentence, “in the 30th year after the destruction of our city,” relates that Asia has become like Rome. He significantly called Rome both Babylon and a harlot! “And you, 0 Asia who share in the glamour of Babylon … You have made yourself like her, you have decked out your daughters in harlotry… You have imitated the hateful harlot…” (15:46-48). See also 16: 1, where a similar idea is conveyed. ” (A.D.70 Doctrine)

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Date: 23 Jan 2006
Time: 17:27:15


The apocryphal Book of Judith refers to Nebuchadnezzer as “Lord of the whole and God.” This is a 2nd century b.c. work. In The Legends of the Jews by Ginzberg the Roman emperor, Titus, is being alluded to but the text states that the Palymrene archers fighting on the side of Rome in the seige of Jerusalem in 70 a.d. are giving their assistance to “Nebuchadnezzer.” In the Jewish Midrash Rabbah Ecclesiastes it states that the Roman emperor, Trajan, is “a descendant of Nebuchadnezzer.” First Peter 5:l3 states — “Greetings froml her who dwells in Babylon . . .” in lst century a.d. Imperial Rome. Is Nebuchadnezzer the intended solution to Revelation l3:l8 (666)? [Walter C. Cambra]

Date: 21 Sep 2011
Time: 17:52:06

Your Comments:

You interpet these books with your own knowledge and understanding. You should ask Jesus if will give you understanding so you know the truth instead your faith in the giver of deliverence or the giver of death? I choose Jesus the deliverer, the giver of life, deliverence, everlasting and neverending. In heaven holy holy holy be his me.

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