Old Testament

Apocrypha* & Pseudepigrapha**

Also Known As The Noncanonical Literature*** 

Fourth Book of Maccabees

part of the "Forgotten" books of Eden

THIS book is like a fearful peal of thunder echoing out of the dim horrors of ancient tyranny. It is a chapter based on persecution by Antiochus, the tyrant of Syria, whom some called Epiphanes, The Madman. Roman history of the first centuries records two such tyrants--the other, Caligula, the Second Brilliant Madman.

The form of this writing is that of an oration. So carefully timed are the risings and fallings of the speech; so devastating are its arguments; so unfaltering is its logic; so deep its thrusts; so cool its reasoning--that it takes its place as a sample of the sheerest eloquence.

The keynote is Courage. The writer begins with an impassioned statement of the Philosophy of Inspired Reason. We like to think of this twentieth Century as the Age of Reason and contrast it with the Age of Myths--yet a writing such as this is a challenge to such an assumption. We find a writer who probably belonged to the first century before the Christian Era stating a clear-cut philosophy of Reason that is just as potent today as it was two thousand years ago.

The setting of the observations in the torture chambers is unrelenting. On our modern ears attuned to gentler things it strikes appallingly. The detail's of the successive tortures (suggesting the instruments of the Spanish Inquisition centuries later) are elaborated in a way shocking to our taste. Even the emergence of the stoical characters of the Old man, the Seven Brothers, and the Mother, does nothing to soften the ferocity with which this orator conjures Courage.

The ancient Fathers of the Christian Church carefully preserved this book (we have it from a Syrian translation) as a work of high moral value and teaching, and it was undoubtedly familiar to many of the early Christian martyrs, who were aroused to the pitch of martyrdom by reading it.

There are two versions of the book :

Dr. S. C. Malan and Dr. E. Trumpp. short version

The old RSV version, long version

both are published here

Fourth Book of Maccabees

The Text that follows is from the old RSV version

(Maccabees = "the hammerers")

The Fourth Book of Maccabees was included in many Greek Bible manuscripts. It is not considered canonical by the Roman Catholic Church, nor is it part of the "Apocrypha" in the Anglican tradition. In Greek Orthodox Bibles it is included as an appendix. At one time, but no longer it was assigned to Josephus and called On the Supremacy of Reason. For the most part it consists of an account of Judaism in terms of Stoicism. It dates from some time between 63 BCE and 70 CE.


Chapter 1

1: The subject that I am about to discuss is most philosophical, that is, whether devout reason is sovereign over the emotions. So it is right for me to advise you to pay earnest attention to philosophy.

2: For the subject is essential to everyone who is seeking knowledge, and in addition it includes the praise of the highest virtue -- I mean, of course, rational judgment.

3: If, then, it is evident that reason rules over those emotions that hinder self-control, namely, gluttony and lust,

4: it is also clear that it masters the emotions that hinder one from justice, such as malice, and those that stand in the way of courage, namely anger, fear, and pain.

5: Some might perhaps ask, "If reason rules the emotions, why is it not sovereign over forgetfulness and ignorance?" Their attempt at argument is ridiculous!

6: For reason does not rule its own emotions, but those that are opposed to justice, courage, and self-control; and it is not for the purpose of destroying them, but so that one may not give way to them.

7: I could prove to you from many and various examples that reason is dominant over the emotions,

8: but I can demonstrate it best from the noble bravery of those who died for the sake of virtue, Eleazar and the seven brothers and their mother.

9: All of these, by despising sufferings that bring death, demonstrated that reason controls the emotions.

10: On this anniversary it is fitting for me to praise for their virtues those who, with their mother, died for the sake of nobility and goodness, but I would also call them blessed for the honor in which they are held.

11: For all people, even their torturers, marveled at their courage and endurance, and they became the cause of the downfall of tyranny over their nation. By their endurance they conquered the tyrant, and thus their native land was purified through them.

12: I shall shortly have an opportunity to speak of this; but, as my custom is, I shall begin by stating my main principle, and then I shall turn to their story, giving glory to the all-wise God.

13: Our inquiry, accordingly, is whether reason is sovereign over the emotions.

14: We shall decide just what reason is and what emotion is, how many kinds of emotions there are, and whether reason rules over all these.

15: Now reason is the mind that with sound logic prefers the life of wisdom.

16: Wisdom, next, is the knowledge of divine and human matters and the causes of these.

17: This, in turn, is education in the law, by which we learn divine matters reverently and human affairs to our advantage.

18: Now the kinds of wisdom are rational judgment, justice, courage, and self-control.

19: Rational judgment is supreme over all of these, since by means of it reason rules over the emotions.

20: The two most comprehensive types of the emotions are pleasure and pain; and each of these is by nature concerned with both body and soul.

21: The emotions of both pleasure and pain have many consequences.

22: Thus desire precedes pleasure and delight follows it.

23: Fear precedes pain and sorrow comes after.

24: Anger, as a man will see if he reflects on this experience, is an emotion embracing pleasure and pain.

25: In pleasure there exists even a malevolent tendency, which is the most complex of all the emotions.

26: In the soul it is boastfulness, covetousness, thirst for honor, rivalry, and malice;

27: in the body, indiscriminate eating, gluttony, and solitary gormandizing.

28: Just as pleasure and pain are two plants growing from the body and the soul, so there are many offshoots of these plants,

29: each of which the master cultivator, reason, weeds and prunes and ties up and waters and thoroughly irrigates, and so tames the jungle of habits and emotions.

30: For reason is the guide of the virtues, but over the emotions it is sovereign. Observe now first of all that rational judgment is sovereign over the emotions by virtue of the restraining power of self-control.

31: Self-control, then, is dominance over the desires.

32: Some desires are mental, others are physical, and reason obviously rules over both.

33: Otherwise how is it that when we are attracted to forbidden foods we abstain from the pleasure to be had from them? Is it not because reason is able to rule over appetites? I for one think so.

34: Therefore when we crave seafood and fowl and animals and all sorts of foods that are forbidden to us by the law, we abstain because of domination by reason.

35: For the emotions of the appetites are restrained, checked by the temperate mind, and all the impulses of the body are bridled by reason.

Chapter 2

1: And why is it amazing that the desires of the mind for the enjoyment of beauty are rendered powerless?

2: It is for this reason, certainly, that the temperate Joseph is praised, because by mental effort he overcame sexual desire.

3: For when he was young and in his prime for intercourse, by his reason he nullified the frenzy of the passions.

4: Not only is reason proved to rule over the frenzied urge of sexual desire, but also over every desire.

5: Thus the law says, "You shall not covet your neighbor's wife...or anything that is your neighbor's."

6: In fact, since the law has told us not to covet, I could prove to you all the more that reason is able to control desires. Just so it is with the emotions that hinder one from justice.

7: Otherwise how could it be that someone who is habitually a solitary gormandizer, a glutton, or even a drunkard can learn a better way, unless reason is clearly lord of the emotions?

8: Thus, as soon as a man adopts a way of life in accordance with the law, even though he is a lover of money, he is forced to act contrary to his natural ways and to lend without interest to the needy and to cancel the debt when the seventh year arrives.

9: If one is greedy, he is ruled by the law through his reason so that he neither gleans his harvest nor gathers the last grapes from the vineyard. In all other matters we can recognize that reason rules the emotions.

10: For the law prevails even over affection for parents, so that virtue is not abandoned for their sakes.

11: It is superior to love for one's wife, so that one rebukes her when she breaks the law.

12: It takes precedence over love for children, so that one punishes them for misdeeds.

13: It is sovereign over the relationship of friends, so that one rebukes friends when they act wickedly.

14: Do not consider it paradoxical when reason, through the law, can prevail even over enmity. The fruit trees of the enemy are not cut down, but one preserves the property of enemies from the destroyers and helps raise up what has fallen.

15: It is evident that reason rules even the more violent emotions: lust for power, vainglory, boasting, arrogance, and malice.

16: For the temperate mind repels all these malicious emotions, just as it repels anger -- for it is sovereign over even this.

17: When Moses was angry with Dathan and Abiram he did nothing against them in anger, but controlled his anger by reason.

18: For, as I have said, the temperate mind is able to get the better of the emotions, to correct some, and to render others powerless.

19: Why else did Jacob, our most wise father, censure the households of Simeon and Levi for their irrational slaughter of the entire tribe of the Shechemites, saying, "Cursed be their anger"?

20: For if reason could not control anger, he would not have spoken thus.

21: Now when God fashioned man, he planted in him emotions and inclinations,

22: but at the same time he enthroned the mind among the senses as a sacred governor over them all.

23: To the mind he gave the law; and one who lives subject to this will rule a kingdom that is temperate, just, good, and courageous.

24: How is it then, one might say, that if reason is master of the emotions, it does not control forgetfulness and ignorance?

Chapter 3

1: This notion is entirely ridiculous; for it is evident that reason rules not over its own emotions, but over those of the body.

2: No one of us can eradicate that kind of desire, but reason can provide a way for us not to be enslaved by desire.

3: No one of us can eradicate anger from the mind, but reason can help to deal with anger.

4: No one of us can eradicate malice, but reason can fight at our side so that we are not overcome by malice.

5: For reason does not uproot the emotions but is their antagonist.

6: Now this can be explained more clearly by the story of King David's thirst.

7: David had been attacking the Philistines all day long, and together with the soldiers of his nation had slain many of them.

8: Then when evening fell, he came, sweating and quite exhausted, to the royal tent, around which the whole army of our ancestors had encamped.

9: Now all the rest were at supper,

10: but the king was extremely thirsty, and although springs were plentiful there, he could not satisfy his thirst from them.

11: But a certain irrational desire for the water in the enemy's territory tormented and inflamed him, undid and consumed him.

12: When his guards complained bitterly because of the king's craving, two staunch young soldiers, respecting the king's desire, armed themselves fully, and taking a pitcher climbed over the enemy's ramparts.

13: Eluding the sentinels at the gates, they went searching throughout the enemy camp

14: and found the spring, and from it boldly brought the king a drink.

15: But David, although he was burning with thirst, considered it an altogether fearful danger to his soul to drink what was regarded as equivalent to blood.

16: Therefore, opposing reason to desire, he poured out the drink as an offering to God.

17: For the temperate mind can conquer the drives of the emotions and quench the flames of frenzied desires;

18: it can overthrow bodily agonies even when they are extreme, and by nobility of reason spurn all domination by the emotions.

19: The present occasion now invites us to a narrative demonstration of temperate reason.

20: At a time when our fathers were enjoying profound peace because of their observance of the law and were prospering, so that even Seleucus Nicanor, king of Asia, had both appropriated money to them for the temple service and recognized their commonwealth --

21: just at that time certain men attempted a revolution against the public harmony and caused many and various disasters.

Chapter 4

1: Now there was a certain Simon, a political opponent of the noble and good man, Onias, who then held the high priesthood for life. When despite all manner of slander he was unable to injure Onias in the eyes of the nation, he fled the country with the purpose of betraying it.

2: So he came to Apollonius, governor of Syria, Phoenicia, and Cilicia, and said,

3: "I have come here because I am loyal to the king's government, to report that in the Jerusalem treasuries there are deposited tens of thousands in private funds, which are not the property of the temple but belong to King Seleucus."

4: When Apollonius learned the details of these things, he praised Simon for his service to the king and went up to Seleucus to inform him of the rich treasure.

5: On receiving authority to deal with this matter, he proceeded quickly to our country accompanied by the accursed Simon and a very strong military force.

6: He said that he had come with the king's authority to seize the private funds in the treasury.

7: The people indignantly protested his words, considering it outrageous that those who had committed deposits to the sacred treasury should be deprived of them, and did all that they could to prevent it.

8: But, uttering threats, Apollonius went on to the temple.

9: While the priests together with women and children were imploring God in the temple to shield the holy place that was being treated so contemptuously,

10: and while Apollonius was going up with his armed forces to seize the money, angels on horseback with lightning flashing from their weapons appeared from heaven, instilling in them great fear and trembling.

11: Then Apollonius fell down half dead in the temple area that was open to all, stretched out his hands toward heaven, and with tears besought the Hebrews to pray for him and propitiate the wrath of the heavenly army.

12: For he said that he had committed a sin deserving of death, and that if he were delivered he would praise the blessedness of the holy place before all people.

13: Moved by these words, Onias the high priest, although otherwise he had scruples about doing so, prayed for him lest King Seleucus suppose that Apollonius had been overcome by human treachery and not by divine justice.

14: So Apollonius, having been preserved beyond all expectations, went away to report to the king what had happened to him.

15: When King Seleucus died, his son Antiochus Epiphanes succeeded to the throne, an arrogant and terrible man,

16: who removed Onias from the priesthood and appointed Onias's brother Jason as high priest.

17: Jason agreed that if the office were conferred upon him he would pay the king three thousand six hundred and sixty talents annually.

18: So the king appointed him high priest and ruler of the nation.

19: Jason changed the nation's way of life and altered its form of government in complete violation of the law,

20: so that not only was a gymnasium constructed at the very citadel of our native land, but also the temple service was abolished.

21: The divine justice was angered by these acts and caused Antiochus himself to make war on them.

22: For when he was warring against Ptolemy in Egypt, he heard that a rumor of his death had spread and that the people of Jerusalem had rejoiced greatly. He speedily marched against them,

23: and after he had plundered them he issued a decree that if any of them should be found observing the ancestral law they should die.

24: When, by means of his decrees, he had not been able in any way to put an end to the people's observance of the law, but saw that all his threats and punishments were being disregarded,

25: even to the point that women, because they had circumcised their sons, were thrown headlong from heights along with their infants, though they had known beforehand that they would suffer this --

26: when, then, his decrees were despised by the people, he himself, through torture, tried to compel everyone in the nation to eat defiling foods and to renounce Judaism.

Chapter 5

1: The tyrant Antiochus, sitting in state with his counselors on a certain high place, and with his armed soldiers standing about him,

2: ordered the guards to seize each and every Hebrew and to compel them to eat pork and food sacrificed to idols.

3: If any were not willing to eat defiling food, they were to be broken on the wheel and killed.

4: And when many persons had been rounded up, one man, Eleazar by name, leader of the flock, was brought before the king. He was a man of priestly family, learned in the law, advanced in age, and known to many in the tyrant's court because of his philosophy.

5: When Antiochus saw him he said,

6: "Before I begin to torture you, old man, I would advise you to save yourself by eating pork,

7: for I respect your age and your gray hairs. Although you have had them for so long a time, it does not seem to me that you are a philosopher when you observe the religion of the Jews.

8: Why, when nature has granted it to us, should you abhor eating the very excellent meat of this animal?

9: It is senseless not to enjoy delicious things that are not shameful, and wrong to spurn the gifts of nature.

10: It seems to me that you will do something even more senseless if, by holding a vain opinion concerning the truth, you continue to despise me to your own hurt.

11: Will you not awaken from your foolish philosophy, dispel your futile reasonings, adopt a mind appropriate to your years, philosophize according to the truth of what is beneficial,

12: and have compassion on your old age by honoring my humane advice?

13: For consider this, that if there is some power watching over this religion of yours, it will excuse you from any transgression that arises out of compulsion."

14: When the tyrant urged him in this fashion to eat meat unlawfully, Eleazar asked to have a word.

15: When he had received permission to speak, he began to address the people as follows:

16: "We, O Antiochus, who have been persuaded to govern our lives by the divine law, think that there is no compulsion more powerful than our obedience to the law.

17: Therefore we consider that we should not transgress it in any respect.

18: Even if, as you suppose, our law were not truly divine and we had wrongly held it to be divine, not even so would it be right for us to invalidate our reputation for piety.

19: Therefore do not suppose that it would be a petty sin if we were to eat defiling food;

20: to transgress the law in matters either small or great is of equal seriousness,

21: for in either case the law is equally despised.

22: You scoff at our philosophy as though living by it were irrational,

23: but it teaches us self-control, so that we master all pleasures and desires, and it also trains us in courage, so that we endure any suffering willingly;

24: it instructs us in justice, so that in all our dealings we act impartially, and it teaches us piety, so that with proper reverence we worship the only real God.

25: "Therefore we do not eat defiling food; for since we believe that the law was established by God, we know that in the nature of things the Creator of the world in giving us the law has shown sympathy toward us.

26: He has permitted us to eat what will be most suitable for our lives, but he has forbidden us to eat meats that would be contrary to this.

27: It would be tyrannical for you to compel us not only to transgress the law, but also to eat in such a way that you may deride us for eating defiling foods, which are most hateful to us.

28: But you shall have no such occasion to laugh at me,

29: nor will I transgress the sacred oaths of my ancestors concerning the keeping of the law,

30: not even if you gouge out my eyes and burn my entrails.

31: I am not so old and cowardly as not to be young in reason on behalf of piety.

32: Therefore get your torture wheels ready and fan the fire more vehemently!

33: I do not so pity my old age as to break the ancestral law by my own act.

34: I will not play false to you, O law that trained me, nor will I renounce you, beloved self-control.

35: I will not put you to shame, philosophical reason, nor will I reject you, honored priesthood and knowledge of the law.

36: You, O king, shall not stain the honorable mouth of my old age, nor my long life lived lawfully.

37: The fathers will receive me as pure, as one who does not fear your violence even to death.

38: You may tyrannize the ungodly, but you shall not dominate my religious principles either by word or by deed."

Chapter 6

1: When Eleazar in this manner had made eloquent response to the exhortations of the tyrant, the guards who were standing by dragged him violently to the instruments of torture.

2: First they stripped the old man, who remained adorned with the gracefulness of his piety.

3: And after they had tied his arms on each side they scourged him,

4: while a herald opposite him cried out, "Obey the king's commands!"

5: But the courageous and noble man, as a true Eleazar, was unmoved, as though being tortured in a dream;

6: yet while the old man's eyes were raised to heaven, his flesh was being torn by scourges, his blood flowing, and his sides were being cut to pieces.

7: And though he fell to the ground because his body could not endure the agonies, he kept his reason upright and unswerving.

8: One of the cruel guards rushed at him and began to kick him in the side to make him get up again after he fell.

9: But he bore the pains and scorned the punishment and endured the tortures.

10: And like a noble athlete the old man, while being beaten, was victorious over his torturers;

11: in fact, with his face bathed in sweat, and gasping heavily for breath, he amazed even his torturers by his courageous spirit.

12: At that point, partly out of pity for his old age,

13: partly out of sympathy from their acquaintance with him, partly out of admiration for his endurance, some of the king's retinue came to him and said,

14: "Eleazar, why are you so irrationally destroying yourself through these evil things?

15: We will set before you some cooked meat; save yourself by pretending to eat pork."

16: But Eleazar, as though more bitterly tormented by this counsel, cried out:

17: "May we, the children of Abraham, never think so basely that out of cowardice we feign a role unbecoming to us!

18: For it would be irrational if we, who have lived in accordance with truth to old age and have maintained in accordance with law the reputation of such a life, should now change our course

19: become a pattern of impiety to the young, in becoming an example of the eating of defiling food.

20: It would be shameful if we should survive for a little while and during that time be a laughing stock to all for our cowardice,

21: and if we should be despised by the tyrant as unmanly, and not protect our divine law even to death.

22: Therefore, O children of Abraham, die nobly for your religion!

23: And you, guards of the tyrant, why do you delay?"

24: When they saw that he was so courageous in the face of the afflictions, and that he had not been changed by their compassion, the guards brought him to the fire.

25: There they burned him with maliciously contrived instruments, threw him down, and poured stinking liquids into his nostrils.

26: When he was now burned to his very bones and about to expire, he lifted up his eyes to God and said,

27: "You know, O God, that though I might have saved myself, I am dying in burning torments for the sake of the law.

28: Be merciful to your people, and let our punishment suffice for them.

29: Make my blood their purification, and take my life in exchange for theirs."

30: And after he said this, the holy man died nobly in his tortures, and by reason he resisted even to the very tortures of death for the sake of the law.

31: Admittedly, then, devout reason is sovereign over the emotions.

32: For if the emotions had prevailed over reason, we would have testified to their domination.

33: But now that reason has conquered the emotions, we properly attribute to it the power to govern.

34: And it is right for us to acknowledge the dominance of reason when it masters even external agonies. It would be ridiculous to deny it.

35: And I have proved not only that reason has mastered agonies, but also that it masters pleasures and in no respect yields to them.

Chapter 7

1: For like a most skilful pilot, the reason of our father Eleazar steered the ship of religion over the sea of the emotions,

2: and though buffeted by the stormings of the tyrant and overwhelmed by the mighty waves of tortures,

3: in no way did he turn the rudder of religion until he sailed into the haven of immortal victory.

4: No city besieged with many ingenious war machines has ever held out as did that most holy man. Although his sacred life was consumed by tortures and racks, he conquered the besiegers with the shield of his devout reason.

5: For in setting his mind firm like a jutting cliff, our father Eleazar broke the maddening waves of the emotions.

6: O priest, worthy of the priesthood, you neither defiled your sacred teeth nor profaned your stomach, which had room only for reverence and purity, by eating defiling foods.

7: O man in harmony with the law and philosopher of divine life!

8: Such should be those who are administrators of the law, shielding it with their own blood and noble sweat in sufferings even to death.

9: You, father, strengthened our loyalty to the law through your glorious endurance, and you did not abandon the holiness which you praised, but by your deeds you made your words of divine philosophy credible.

10: O aged man, more powerful than tortures; O elder, fiercer than fire; O supreme king over the passions, Eleazar!

11: For just as our father Aaron, armed with the censer, ran through the multitude of the people and conquered the fiery angel,

12: so the descendant of Aaron, Eleazar, though being consumed by the fire, remained unmoved in his reason.

13: Most amazing, indeed, though he was an old man, his body no longer tense and firm, his muscles flabby, his sinews feeble, he became young again

14: in spirit through reason; and by reason like that of Isaac he rendered the many-headed rack ineffective.

15: O man of blessed age and of venerable gray hair and of law-abiding life, whom the faithful seal of death has perfected!

16: If, therefore, because of piety an aged man despised tortures even to death, most certainly devout reason is governor of the emotions.

17: Some perhaps might say, "Not every one has full command of his emotions, because not every one has prudent reason."

18: But as many as attend to religion with a whole heart, these alone are able to control the passions of the flesh,

19: since they believe that they, like our patriarchs Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, do not die to God, but live in God.

20: No contradiction therefore arises when some persons appear to be dominated by their emotions because of the weakness of their reason.

21: What person who lives as a philosopher by the whole rule of philosophy, and trusts in God,

22: and knows that it is blessed to endure any suffering for the sake of virtue, would not be able to overcome the emotions through godliness?

23: For only the wise and courageous man is lord of his emotions.

Chapter 8

1: For this is why even the very young, by following a philosophy in accordance with devout reason, have prevailed over the most painful instruments of torture.

2: For when the tyrant was conspicuously defeated in his first attempt, being unable to compel an aged man to eat defiling foods, then in violent rage he commanded that others of the Hebrew captives be brought, and that any who ate defiling food should be freed after eating, but if any were to refuse, these should be tortured even more cruelly.

3: When the tyrant had given these orders, seven brothers -- handsome, modest, noble, and accomplished in every way -- were brought before him along with their aged mother.

4: When the tyrant saw them, grouped about their mother as if in a chorus, he was pleased with them. And struck by their appearance and nobility, he smiled at them, and summoned them nearer and said,

5: "Young men, I admire each and every one of you in a kindly manner, and greatly respect the beauty and the number of such brothers. Not only do I advise you not to display the same madness as that of the old man who has just been tortured, but I also exhort you to yield to me and enjoy my friendship.

6: Just as I am able to punish those who disobey my orders, so I can be a benefactor to those who obey me.

7: Trust me, then, and you will have positions of authority in my government if you will renounce the ancestral tradition of your national life.

8: And enjoy your youth by adopting the Greek way of life and by changing your manner of living.

9: But if by disobedience you rouse my anger, you will compel me to destroy each and every one of you with dreadful punishments through tortures.

10: Therefore take pity on yourselves. Even I, your enemy, have compassion for your youth and handsome appearance.

11: Will you not consider this, that if you disobey, nothing remains for you but to die on the rack?"

12: When he had said these things, he ordered the instruments of torture to be brought forward so as to persuade them out of fear to eat the defiling food.

13: And when the guards had placed before them wheels and joint-dislocators, rack and hooks and catapults and caldrons, braziers and thumbscrews and iron claws and wedges and bellows, the tyrant resumed speaking:

14: "Be afraid, young fellows, and whatever justice you revere will be merciful to you when you transgress under compulsion."

15: But when they had heard the inducements and saw the dreadful devices, not only were they not afraid, but they also opposed the tyrant with their own philosophy, and by their right reasoning nullified his tyranny.

16: Let us consider, on the other hand, what arguments might have been used if some of them had been cowardly and unmanly. Would they not have been these?

17: "O wretches that we are and so senseless! Since the king has summoned and exhorted us to accept kind treatment if we obey him,

18: why do we take pleasure in vain resolves and venture upon a disobedience that brings death?

19: O men and brothers, should we not fear the instruments of torture and consider the threats of torments, and give up this vain opinion and this arrogance that threatens to destroy us?

20: Let us take pity on our youth and have compassion on our mother's age;

21: and let us seriously consider that if we disobey we are dead!

22: Also, divine justice will excuse us for fearing the king when we are under compulsion.

23: Why do we banish ourselves from this most pleasant life and deprive ourselves of this delightful world?

24: Let us not struggle against compulsion nor take hollow pride in being put to the rack.

25: Not even the law itself would arbitrarily slay us for fearing the instruments of torture.

26: Why does such contentiousness excite us and such a fatal stubbornness please us, when we can live in peace if we obey the king?"

27: But the youths, though about to be tortured, neither said any of these things nor even seriously considered them.

28: For they were contemptuous of the emotions and sovereign over agonies,

29: so that as soon as the tyrant had ceased counseling them to eat defiling food, all with one voice together, as from one mind, said:

Chapter 9

1: "Why do you delay, O tyrant? For we are ready to die rather than transgress our ancestral commandments;

2: we are obviously putting our forefathers to shame unless we should practice ready obedience to the law and to Moses our counselor.

3: Tyrant and counselor of lawlessness, in your hatred for us do not pity us more than we pity ourselves.

4: For we consider this pity of yours which insures our safety through transgression of the law to be more grievous than death itself.

5: You are trying to terrify us by threatening us with death by torture, as though a short time ago you learned nothing from Eleazar.

6: And if the aged men of the Hebrews because of their religion lived piously while enduring torture, it would be even more fitting that we young men should die despising your coercive tortures, which our aged instructor also overcame.

7: Therefore, tyrant, put us to the test; and if you take our lives because of our religion, do not suppose that you can injure us by torturing us.

8: For we, through this severe suffering and endurance, shall have the prize of virtue and shall be with God, for whom we suffer;

9: but you, because of your bloodthirstiness toward us, will deservedly undergo from the divine justice eternal torment by fire."

10: When they had said these things the tyrant not only was angry, as at those who are disobedient, but also was enraged, as at those who are ungrateful.

11: Then at his command the guards brought forward the eldest, and having torn off his tunic, they bound his hands and arms with thongs on each side.

12: When they had worn themselves out beating him with scourges, without accomplishing anything, they placed him upon the wheel.

13: When the noble youth was stretched out around this, his limbs were dislocated,

14: and though broken in every member he denounced the tyrant, saying,

15: "Most abominable tyrant, enemy of heavenly justice, savage of mind, you are mangling me in this manner, not because I am a murderer, or as one who acts impiously, but because I protect the divine law."

16: And when the guards said, "Agree to eat so that you may be released from the tortures,"

17: he replied, "You abominable lackeys, your wheel is not so powerful as to strangle my reason. Cut my limbs, burn my flesh, and twist my joints.

18: Through all these tortures I will convince you that sons of the Hebrews alone are invincible where virtue is concerned."

19: While he was saying these things, they spread fire under him, and while fanning the flames they tightened the wheel further.

20: The wheel was completely smeared with blood, and the heap of coals was being quenched by the drippings of gore, and pieces of flesh were falling off the axles of the machine.

21: Although the ligaments joining his bones were already severed, the courageous youth, worthy of Abraham, did not groan,

22: but as though transformed by fire into immortality he nobly endured the rackings.

23: "Imitate me, brothers," he said. "Do not leave your post in my struggle or renounce our courageous brotherhood.

24: Fight the sacred and noble battle for religion. Thereby the just Providence of our ancestors may become merciful to our nation and take vengeance on the accursed tyrant."

25: When he had said this, the saintly youth broke the thread of life.

26: While all were marveling at his courageous spirit, the guards brought in the next eldest, and after fitting themselves with iron gauntlets having sharp hooks, they bound him to the torture machine and catapult.

27: Before torturing him, they inquired if he were willing to eat, and they heard this noble decision.

28: These leopard-like beasts tore out his sinews with the iron hands, flayed all his flesh up to his chin, and tore away his scalp. But he steadfastly endured this agony and said,

29: "How sweet is any kind of death for the religion of our fathers!"

30: To the tyrant he said, "Do you not think, you most savage tyrant, that you are being tortured more than I, as you see the arrogant design of your tyranny being defeated by our endurance for the sake of religion?

31: I lighten my pain by the joys that come from virtue,

32: but you suffer torture by the threats that come from impiety. You will not escape, most abominable tyrant, the judgments of the divine wrath."

Chapter 10

1: When he too had endured a glorious death, the third was led in, and many repeatedly urged him to save himself by tasting the meat.

2: But he shouted, "Do you not know that the same father begot me and those who died, and the same mother bore me, and that I was brought up on the same teachings?

3: I do not renounce the noble kinship that binds me to my brothers."


5: Enraged by the man's boldness, they disjointed his hands and feet with their instruments, dismembering him by prying his limbs from their sockets,

6: and breaking his fingers and arms and legs and elbows.

7: Since they were not able in any way to break his spirit, they abandoned the instruments and scalped him with their fingernails in a Scythian fashion.

8: They immediately brought him to the wheel, and while his vertebrae were being dislocated upon it he saw his own flesh torn all around and drops of blood flowing from his entrails.

9: When he was about to die, he said,

10: "We, most abominable tyrant, are suffering because of our godly training and virtue,

11: but you, because of your impiety and bloodthirstiness, will undergo unceasing torments."

12: When he also had died in a manner worthy of his brothers, they dragged in the fourth, saying,

13: "As for you, do not give way to the same insanity as your brothers, but obey the king and save yourself."

14: But he said to them, "You do not have a fire hot enough to make me play the coward.

15: No, by the blessed death of my brothers, by the eternal destruction of the tyrant, and by the everlasting life of the pious, I will not renounce our noble brotherhood.

16: Contrive tortures, tyrant, so that you may learn from them that I am a brother to those who have just been tortured."

17: When he heard this, the bloodthirsty, murderous, and utterly abominable Antiochus gave orders to cut out his tongue.

18: But he said, "Even if you remove my organ of speech, God hears also those who are mute.

19: See, here is my tongue; cut it off, for in spite of this you will not make our reason speechless.

20: Gladly, for the sake of God, we let our bodily members be mutilated.

21: God will visit you swiftly, for you are cutting out a tongue that has been melodious with divine hymns."

Chapter 11

1: When this one died also, after being cruelly tortured, the fifth leaped up, saying,

2: "I will not refuse, tyrant, to be tortured for the sake of virtue.

3: I have come of my own accord, so that by murdering me you will incur punishment from the heavenly justice for even more crimes.

4: Hater of virtue, hater of mankind, for what act of ours are you destroying us in this way?

5: Is it because we revere the Creator of all things and live according to his virtuous law?

6: But these deeds deserve honors, not tortures."


9: While he was saying these things, the guards bound him and dragged him to the catapult;

10: they tied him to it on his knees, and fitting iron clamps on them, they twisted his back around the wedge on the wheel, so that he was completely curled back like a scorpion, and all his members were disjointed.

11: In this condition, gasping for breath and in anguish of body,

12: he said, "Tyrant, they are splendid favors that you grant us against your will, because through these noble sufferings you give us an opportunity to show our endurance for the law."

13: After he too had died, the sixth, a mere boy, was led in. When the tyrant inquired whether he was willing to eat and be released, he said,

14: "I am younger in age than my brothers, but I am their equal in mind.

15: Since to this end we were born and bred, we ought likewise to die for the same principles.

16: So if you intend to torture me for not eating defiling foods, go on torturing!"

17: When he had said this, they led him to the wheel.

18: He was carefully stretched tight upon it, his back was broken, and he was roasted from underneath.

19: To his back they applied sharp spits that had been heated in the fire, and pierced his ribs so that his entrails were burned through.

20: While being tortured he said, "O contest befitting holiness, in which so many of us brothers have been summoned to an arena of sufferings for religion, and in which we have not been defeated!

21: For religious knowledge, O tyrant, is invincible.

22: I also, equipped with nobility, will die with my brothers,

23: and I myself will bring a great avenger upon you, you inventor of tortures and enemy of those who are truly devout.

24: We six boys have paralyzed your tyranny!

25: Since you have not been able to persuade us to change our mind or to force us to eat defiling foods, is not this your downfall?

26: Your fire is cold to us, and the catapults painless, and your violence powerless.

27: For it is not the guards of the tyrant but those of the divine law that are set over us; therefore, unconquered, we hold fast to reason."

Chapter 12

1: When he also, thrown into the caldron, had died a blessed death, the seventh and youngest of all came forward.

2: Even though the tyrant had been fearfully reproached by the brothers, he felt strong compassion for this child when he saw that he was already in fetters. He summoned him to come nearer and tried to console him, saying,

3: "You see the result of your brothers' stupidity, for they died in torments because of their disobedience.

4: You too, if you do not obey, will be miserably tortured and die before your time,

5: but if you yield to persuasion you will be my friend and a leader in the government of the kingdom."

6: When he had so pleaded, he sent for the boy's mother to show compassion on her who had been bereaved of so many sons and to influence her to persuade the surviving son to obey and save himself.

7: But when his mother had exhorted him in the Hebrew language, as we shall tell a little later,

8: he said, "Let me loose, let me speak to the king and to all his friends that are with him."

9: Extremely pleased by the boy's declaration, they freed him at once.

10: Running to the nearest of the braziers,

11: he said, "You profane tyrant, most impious of all the wicked, since you have received good things and also your kingdom from God, were you not ashamed to murder his servants and torture on the wheel those who practice religion?

12: Because of this, justice has laid up for you intense and eternal fire and tortures, and these throughout all time will never let you go.

13: As a man, were you not ashamed, you most savage beast, to cut out the tongues of men who have feelings like yours and are made of the same elements as you, and to maltreat and torture them in this way?

14: Surely they by dying nobly fulfilled their service to God, but you will wail bitterly for having slain without cause the contestants for virtue."

15: Then because he too was about to die, he said,

16: "I do not desert the excellent example of my brothers,

17: and I call on the God of our fathers to be merciful to our nation;

18: but on you he will take vengeance both in this present life and when you are dead."

19: After he had uttered these imprecations, he flung himself into the braziers and so ended his life.

Chapter 13

1: Since, then, the seven brothers despised sufferings even unto death, everyone must concede that devout reason is sovereign over the emotions.

2: For if they had been slaves to their emotions and had eaten defiling food, we would say that they had been conquered by these emotions.

3: But in fact it was not so. Instead, by reason, which is praised before God, they prevailed over their emotions.

4: The supremacy of the mind over these cannot be overlooked, for the brothers mastered both emotions and pains.

5: How then can one fail to confess the sovereignty of right reason over emotion in those who were not turned back by fiery agonies?

6: For just as towers jutting out over harbors hold back the threatening waves and make it calm for those who sail into the inner basin,

7: so the seven-towered right reason of the youths, by fortifying the harbor of religion, conquered the tempest of the emotions.

8: For they constituted a holy chorus of religion and encouraged one another, saying,

9: "Brothers, let us die like brothers for the sake of the law; let us imitate the three youths in Assyria who despised the same ordeal of the furnace.

10: Let us not be cowardly in the demonstration of our piety."

11: While one said, "Courage, brother," another said, "Bear up nobly,"

12: and another reminded them, "Remember whence you came, and the father by whose hand Isaac would have submitted to being slain for the sake of religion."

13: Each of them and all of them together looking at one another, cheerful and undaunted, said, "Let us with all our hearts consecrate ourselves to God, who gave us our lives, and let us use our bodies as a bulwark for the law.

14: Let us not fear him who thinks he is killing us,

15: for great is the struggle of the soul and the danger of eternal torment lying before those who transgress the commandment of God.

16: Therefore let us put on the full armor of self-control, which is divine reason.

17: For if we so die, Abraham and Isaac and Jacob will welcome us, and all the fathers will praise us."

18: Those who were left behind said to each of the brothers who were being dragged away, "Do not put us to shame, brother, or betray the brothers who have died before us."

19: You are not ignorant of the affection of brotherhood, which the divine and all-wise Providence has bequeathed through the fathers to their descendants and which was implanted in the mother's womb.

20: There each of the brothers dwelt the same length of time and was shaped during the same period of time; and growing from the same blood and through the same life, they were brought to the light of day.

21: When they were born after an equal time of gestation, they drank milk from the same fountains. For such embraces brotherly-loving souls are nourished;

22: and they grow stronger from this common nurture and daily companionship, and from both general education and our discipline in the law of God.

23: Therefore, when sympathy and brotherly affection had been so established, the brothers were the more sympathetic to one another.

24: Since they had been educated by the same law and trained in the same virtues and brought up in right living, they loved one another all the more.

25: A common zeal for nobility expanded their goodwill and harmony toward one another,

26: because, with the aid of their religion, they rendered their brotherly love more fervent.

27: But although nature and companionship and virtuous habits had augmented the affection of brotherhood, those who were left endured for the sake of religion, while watching their brothers being maltreated and tortured to death.

Chapter 14

1: Furthermore, they encouraged them to face the torture, so that they not only despised their agonies, but also mastered the emotions of brotherly love.

2: O reason, more royal than kings and freer than the free!

3: O sacred and harmonious concord of the seven brothers on behalf of religion!

4: None of the seven youths proved coward or shrank from death,

5: but all of them, as though running the course toward immortality, hastened to death by torture.

6: Just as the hands and feet are moved in harmony with the guidance of the mind, so those holy youths, as though moved by an immortal spirit of devotion, agreed to go to death for its sake.

7: O most holy seven, brothers in harmony! For just as the seven days of creation move in choral dance around religion,

8: so these youths, forming a chorus, encircled the sevenfold fear of tortures and dissolved it.

9: Even now, we ourselves shudder as we hear of the tribulations of these young men; they not only saw what was happening, yes, not only heard the direct word of threat, but also bore the sufferings patiently, and in agonies of fire at that.

10: What could be more excruciatingly painful than this? For the power of fire is intense and swift, and it consumed their bodies quickly.

11: Do not consider it amazing that reason had full command over these men in their tortures, since the mind of woman despised even more diverse agonies,

12: for the mother of the seven young men bore up under the rackings of each one of her children.

13: Observe how complex is a mother's love for her children, which draws everything toward an emotion felt in her inmost parts.

14: Even unreasoning animals, like mankind, have a sympathy and parental love for their offspring.

15: For example, among birds, the ones that are tame protect their young by building on the housetops,

16: and the others, by building in precipitous chasms and in holes and tops of trees, hatch the nestlings and ward off the intruder.

17: If they are not able to keep him away, they do what they can to help their young by flying in circles around them in the anguish of love, warning them with their own calls.

18: And why is it necessary to demonstrate sympathy for children by the example of unreasoning animals,

19: since even bees at the time for making honeycombs defend themselves against intruders as though with an iron dart sting those who approach their hive and defend it even to the death?

20: But sympathy for her children did not sway the mother of the young men; she was of the same mind as Abraham.

Chapter 15

1: O reason of the children, tyrant over the emotions! O religion, more desirable to the mother than her children!

2: Two courses were open to this mother, that of religion, and that of preserving her seven sons for a time, as the tyrant had promised.

3: She loved religion more, religion that preserves them for eternal life according to God's promise.

4: In what manner might I express the emotions of parents who love their children? We impress upon the character of a small child a wondrous likeness both of mind and of form. Especially is this true of mothers, who because of their birthpangs have a deeper sympathy toward their offspring than do the fathers.

5: Considering that mothers are the weaker sex and give birth to many, they are more devoted to their children.

6: The mother of the seven boys, more than any other mother, loved her children. In seven pregnancies she had implanted in herself tender love toward them,

7: and because of the many pains she suffered with each of them she had sympathy for them;

8: yet because of the fear of God she disdained the temporary safety of her children.

9: Not only so, but also because of the nobility of her sons and their ready obedience to the law she felt a greater tenderness toward them.

10: For they were righteous and self-controlled and brave and magnanimous, and loved their brothers and their mother, so that they obeyed her even to death in keeping the ordinances.

11: Nevertheless, though so many factors influenced the mother to suffer with them out of love for her children, in the case of none of them were the various tortures strong enough to pervert her reason.

12: Instead, the mother urged them on, each child singly and all together, to death for the sake of religion.

13: O sacred nature and affection of parental love, yearning of parents toward offspring, nurture and indomitable suffering by mothers!

14: This mother, who saw them tortured and burned one by one, because of religion did not change her attitude.

15: She watched the flesh of her children consumed by fire, their toes and fingers scattered on the ground, and the flesh of the head to the chin exposed like masks.

16: O mother, tried now by more bitter pains than even the birth-pangs you suffered for them!

17: O woman, who alone gave birth to such complete devotion!

18: When the first-born breathed his last it did not turn you aside, nor when the second in torments looked at you piteously nor when the third expired;

19: nor did you weep when you looked at the eyes of each one in his tortures gazing boldly at the same agonies, and saw in their nostrils the signs of the approach of death.

20: When you saw the flesh of children burned upon the flesh of other children, severed hands upon hands, scalped heads upon heads, and corpses fallen on other corpses and when you saw the place filled with many spectators of the torturings, you did not shed tears.

21: Neither the melodies of sirens nor the songs of swans attract the attention of their hearers as did the voices of the children in torture calling to their mother.

22: How great and how many torments the mother then suffered as her sons were tortured on the wheel and with the hot irons!

23: But devout reason, giving her heart a man's courage in the very midst of her emotions, strengthened her to disregard her temporal love for her children.

24: Although she witnessed the destruction of seven children and the ingenious and various rackings, this noble mother disregarded all these because of faith in God.

25: For as in the council chamber of her own soul she saw mighty advocates -- nature, family, parental love, and the rackings of her children --

26: this mother held two ballots, one bearing death and the other deliverance for her children.

27: She did not approve the deliverance which would preserve the seven sons for a short time,

28: but as the daughter of God-fearing Abraham she remembered his fortitude.

29: O mother of the nation, vindicator of the law and champion of religion, who carried away the prize of the contest in your heart!

30: O more noble than males in steadfastness, and more manly than men in endurance!

31: Just as Noah's ark, carrying the world in the universal flood, stoutly endured the waves,

32: so you, O guardian of the law, overwhelmed from every side by the flood of your emotions and the violent winds, the torture of your sons, endured nobly and withstood the wintry storms that assail religion.

Chapter 16

1: If, then, a woman, advanced in years and mother of seven sons, endured seeing her children tortured to death, it must be admitted that devout reason is sovereign over the emotions.

2: Thus I have demonstrated not only that men have ruled over the emotions, but also that a woman has despised the fiercest tortures.

3: The lions surrounding Daniel were not so savage, nor was the raging fiery furnace of Mishael so intensely hot, as was her innate parental love, inflamed as she saw her seven sons tortured in such varied ways.

4: But the mother quenched so many and such great emotions by devout reason.

5: Consider this also. If this woman, though a mother, had been fainthearted, she would have mourned over them and perhaps spoken as follows:

6: "O how wretched am I and many times unhappy! After bearing seven children, I am now the mother of none!

7: O seven childbirths all in vain, seven profitless pregnancies, fruitless nurturings and wretched nursings!

8: In vain, my sons, I endured many birth-pangs for you, and the more grievous anxieties of your upbringing.

9: Alas for my children, some unmarried, others married and without offspring. I shall not see your children or have the happiness of being called grandmother.

10: Alas, I who had so many and beautiful children am a widow and alone, with many sorrows.

11: Nor when I die, shall I have any of my sons to bury me."

12: Yet the sacred and God-fearing mother did not wail with such a lament for any of them, nor did she dissuade any of them from dying, nor did she grieve as they were dying,

13: but, as though having a mind like adamant and giving rebirth for immortality to the whole number of her sons, she implored them and urged them on to death for the sake of religion.

14: O mother, soldier of God in the cause of religion, elder and woman! By steadfastness you have conquered even a tyrant, and in word and deed you have proved more powerful than a man.

15: For when you and your sons were arrested together, you stood and watched Eleazar being tortured, and said to your sons in the Hebrew language,

16: "My sons, noble is the contest to which you are called to bear witness for the nation. Fight zealously for our ancestral law.

17: For it would be shameful if, while an aged man endures such agonies for the sake of religion, you young men were to be terrified by tortures.

18: Remember that it is through God that you have had a share in the world and have enjoyed life,

19: and therefore you ought to endure any suffering for the sake of God.

20: For his sake also our father Abraham was zealous to sacrifice his son Isaac, the ancestor of our nation; and when Isaac saw his father's hand wielding a sword and descending upon him, he did not cower.

21: And Daniel the righteous was thrown to the lions, and Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael were hurled into the fiery furnace and endured it for the sake of God.

22: You too must have the same faith in God and not be grieved.

23: It is unreasonable for people who have religious knowledge not to withstand pain."

24: By these words the mother of the seven encouraged and persuaded each of her sons to die rather than violate God's commandment.

25: They knew also that those who die for the sake of God live in God, as do Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the patriarchs.

Chapter 17

1: Some of the guards said that when she also was about to be seized and put to death she threw herself into the flames so that no one might touch her body.

2: O mother, who with your seven sons nullified the violence of the tyrant, frustrated his evil designs, and showed the courage of your faith!

3: Nobly set like a roof on the pillars of your sons, you held firm and unswerving against the earthquake of the tortures.

4: Take courage, therefore, O holy-minded mother, maintaining firm an enduring hope in God.

5: The moon in heaven, with the stars, does not stand so august as you, who, after lighting the way of your star-like seven sons to piety, stand in honor before God and are firmly set in heaven with them.

6: For your children were true descendants of father Abraham.

7: If it were possible for us to paint the history of your piety as an artist might, would not those who first beheld it have shuddered as they saw the mother of the seven children enduring their varied tortures to death for the sake of religion?

8: Indeed it would be proper to inscribe upon their tomb these words as a reminder to the people of our nation:

9: "Here lie buried an aged priest and an aged woman and seven sons, because of the violence of the tyrant who wished to destroy the way of life of the Hebrews.

10: They vindicated their nation, looking to God and enduring torture even to death."

11: Truly the contest in which they were engaged was divine,

12: for on that day virtue gave the awards and tested them for their endurance. The prize was immortality in endless life.

13: Eleazar was the first contestant, the mother of the seven sons entered the competition, and the brothers contended.

14: The tyrant was the antagonist, and the world and the human race were the spectators.

15: Reverence for God was victor and gave the crown to its own athletes.

16: Who did not admire the athletes of the divine legislation? Who were not amazed?

17: The tyrant himself and all his council marveled at their endurance,

18: because of which they now stand before the divine throne and live through blessed eternity.

19: For Moses says, "All who are consecrated are under your hands."

20: These, then, who have been consecrated for the sake of God, are honored, not only with this honor, but also by the fact that because of them our enemies did not rule over our nation,

21: the tyrant was punished, and the homeland purified -- they having become, as it were, a ransom for the sin of our nation.

22: And through the blood of those devout ones and their death as an expiation, divine Providence preserved Israel that previously had been afflicted.

23: For the tyrant Antiochus, when he saw the courage of their virtue and their endurance under the tortures, proclaimed them to his soldiers as an example for their own endurance,

24: and this made them brave and courageous for infantry battle and siege, and he ravaged and conquered all his enemies.

Chapter 18

1: O Israelite children, offspring of the seed of Abraham, obey this law and exercise piety in every way,

2: knowing that devout reason is master of all emotions, not only of sufferings from within, but also of those from without.

3: Therefore those who gave over their bodies in suffering for the sake of religion were not only admired by men, but also were deemed worthy to share in a divine inheritance.

4: Because of them the nation gained peace, and by reviving observance of the law in the homeland they ravaged the enemy.

5: The tyrant Antiochus was both punished on earth and is being chastised after his death. Since in no way whatever was he able to compel the Israelites to become pagans and to abandon their ancestral customs, he left Jerusalem and marched against the Persians.

6: The mother of seven sons expressed also these principles to her children:

7: "I was a pure virgin and did not go outside my father's house; but I guarded the rib from which woman was made.

8: No seducer corrupted me on a desert plain, nor did the destroyer, the deceitful serpent, defile the purity of my virginity.

9: In the time of my maturity I remained with my husband, and when these sons had grown up their father died. A happy man was he, who lived out his life with good children, and did not have the grief of bereavement.

10: While he was still with you, he taught you the law and the prophets.

11: He read to you about Abel slain by Cain, and Isaac who was offered as a burnt offering, and of Joseph in prison.

12: He told you of the zeal of Phineas, and he taught you about Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael in the fire.

13: He praised Daniel in the den of the lions and blessed him.

14: He reminded you of the scripture of Isaiah, which says, `Even though you go through the fire, the flame shall not consume you.'

15: He sang to you songs of the psalmist David, who said, `Many are the afflictions of the righteous.'

16: He recounted to you Solomon's proverb, `There is a tree of life for those who do his will.'

17: He confirmed the saying of Ezekiel, `Shall these dry bones live?'

18: For he did not forget to teach you the song that Moses taught, which says,

19: `I kill and I make alive: this is your life and the length of your days.'"

20: O bitter was that day -- and yet not bitter -- when that bitter tyrant of the Greeks quenched fire with fire in his cruel caldrons, and in his burning rage brought those seven sons of the daughter of Abraham to the catapult and back again to more tortures,

21: pierced the pupils of their eyes and cut out their tongues, and put them to death with various tortures.

22: For these crimes divine justice pursued and will pursue the accursed tyrant.

23: But the sons of Abraham with their victorious mother are gathered together into the chorus of the fathers, and have received pure and immortal souls from God,

24: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Fourth Book of Maccabees

Dr. S. C. Malan and Dr. E. Trumpp. short version


An outline of philosophy from ancient times concerning Inspired Reason. Civilization has never achieved higher thought. A discussion of "Repressions." Verse 48 sums up the whole Philosophy of mankind.

PHILOSOPHICAL in the highest degree is the question I propose to discuss, namely whether the Inspired Reason is supreme ruler over the passions; and to the philosophy of it I would seriously entreat your earnest attention.

2 For not only is the subject generally necessary as a branch of knowledge, but it includes the praise of the greatest of virtues, whereby I mean self-control.

3 That is to say, if Reason is proved to control the passions adverse to temperance, gluttony and lust, it is also clearly shown to be lord over the passions, like malevolence, opposed to justice, and over those opposed to manliness, namely rage and pain and fear.

4 But, some may ask, if the Reason is master of the passions, why does it not control forgetfulness and ignorance? their object being to cast ridicule.

5 The answer is that Reason is not master over defects inhering in the mind itself, but over the passions or moral defects that are adverse to justice and manliness and temperance and judgement; and its action in their case is not to extirpate the passions, but to enable us to resist them successfully.

6 I could bring before you many examples, drawn from various sources, where Reason has proved itself master over the passions, but the best instance by far that I can give is the noble conduct of those who died for the sake of virtue, Eleazar, and the Seven Brethren and the Mother.

7 For these all by their contempt of pains, yea, even unto death, proved that Reason rises superior to the passions.

8 I might enlarge here in praise of their virtues, they, the men with the Mother, dying on this day we celebrate for the love of moral beauty and goodness, but rather would I felicitate them on the honours they have attained.

9 For the admiration felt for their courage and endurance, not only by the world at large but by their very executioners, made them the authors of the downfall of the tyranny under which our nation lay, they defeating the tyrant by their endurance, so that through them was their country purified.

10 But I shall presently take opportunity to discuss this, after we have begun with the general theory, as I am in the habit of doing, and I will then proceed to their story, giving glory to the all-wise God.

11 Our enquiry, then, is whether the Reason is supreme master over the passions.

12 But we must define just what the Reason is and what passion is, and how many forms of passion there are, and whether the Reason is supreme over all of them.

13 Reason I take to be the mind preferring with clear deliberation the life of wisdom.

14 Wisdom I take to be the knowledge of things, divine and human, and of their causes.

15 This I take to be the culture acquired under the Law, through which we learn with due reverence the things of God and for our worldly profit the things of man.

16 Now wisdom is manifested under the forms of judgement and justice, and courage, and temperance.

17 But judgement or self-control is the one that dominates them all, for through it, in truth, Reason asserts its authority over the passions.

18 But of the passions there are two comprehensive sources, namely, pleasure and pain, and either belongs essentially also to the soul as well as to the body.

19 And with respect both to pleasure and pain there are many cases where the passions have certain sequences.

20 Thus while desire goes before pleasure, satisfaction follows after, and while fear goes before pain, after pain comes sorrow.

21 Anger, again, if a man will retrace the course of his feelings, is a passion in which are blended both pleasure and pain.

22 Under pleasure, also, comes that moral debasement which exhibits the widest variety of the passions.

23 It manifests itself in the soul as ostentation, and covetousness, and vain-glory, and contentiousness, and backbiting, and in the body as eating of strange meat, and gluttony, and gormandizing in secret.

24 Now pleasure and pain being as it were two trees, growing from body and soul, many offshoots of these passions sprout up; and each man's Reason as master-gardener, weeding and pruning and binding up, and turning on the water and directing it hither and thither, brings the thicket of dispositions and passions under domestication.

25 For while Reason is the guide of the virtues it is master of the passions.

26 Observe, now, in the first place, that Reason becomes supreme over the passions in virtue of the inhibitory action of temperance.

27 Temperance, I take it, is the repression of the desires; but of the desires some are mental and some physical, and both kinds are clearly controlled by Reason; when we are tempted towards forbidden meats, how do we come to relinquish the pleasures to be derived from them?

28 Is it not that Reason has power to repress the appetites? In my opinion it is so.

29 Accordingly when we feel a desire to eat water-animals and birds and beasts and meats of every description forbidden to us under the Law, we abstain through the predominance of Reason.

30 For the propensions of our appetites are checked and inhibited by the temperate mind, and all the movements of the body obey the bridle of Reason.

31 And what is there to be surprised at if the natural desire

of the soul to enjoy the fruition of beauty is quenched?

32 This, certainly, is why we praise the virtuous Joseph, because by his Reason, with a mental effort, he checked the carnal impulse. 1 For he, a young man at the age when physical desire is strong, by his Reason quenched the impulse of his passions.

1. See The Testament of Joseph

33 And Reason is proved to subdue the impulse not only of sexual desire, but of all sorts of covetings.

34 For the Law says, 'Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor anything that is thy neighbour's.'

35 Verily, when the Law orders us not to covet, it should, I think, confirm strongly the argument that the Reason is capable of controlling covetous desires, even as it does the passions that militate against justice.

36 How else, can a man, naturally gormandizing and greedy and drunken, be taught to change his nature, if the Reason be not manifestly the master of the passions?

37 Certainly, as soon as a man orders his life according to the Law, if he is miserly he acts contrary to his nature, and lends money to the needy without interest, and at the seventh-year periods cancels the debt.

38 And if he is parsimonious, he is overruled by the Law through the action of Reason, and refrains from gleaning his stubbles or picking the last grapes from his vineyards.

39 And with regard to all the rest we can recognize that Reason is in the position of master over the passions or affections.

40 For the Law ranks above affection for parents, so that a man may not for their sakes surrender his virtue, and it overrides love for a wife, so that if she transgress a man should rebuke her, and it governs love for children, so that if they are naughty a man should punish them, and it controls the claims of friendship, so that a man should reprove his friends if they do evil.

41 And do not think it a paradoxical thing when Reason through the Law is able to overcome even hatred, so that a man refrains from cutting down the enemy's orchards, and protects the property of the enemy from the spoilers, and gathers up their goods that have been scattered.

42 And the rule of Reason is likewise proved to extend through the more aggressive passions or vices, ambition, vanity, ostentation, pride, and backbiting.

43 For the temperate mind repels all these debased passions, even as it does anger, for it conquers even this.

44 Yea, Moses when he was angered against Dathan and Abiram did not give free course to his wrath, but governed his anger by his Reason.

45 For the temperate mind is able, as I said, to win the victory over the passions, modifying some, while crushing others absolutely.

46 Why else did our wise father Jacob blame the houses of Simeon and Levi for their unreasoning slaughter of the tribe of the Shechemites, saying, 'Accursed be their anger!'

47 For had not Reason possessed the power to restrain their anger he would not have spoken thus.

48 For in the day when God created man, he implanted in him his passions and inclinations, and also, at the very same time, set the mind on a throne amidst the senses to be his sacred guide in all things; and to the mind he gave the Law, by the which if a man order himself, he shall reign over a kingdom that is temperate, and just, and virtuous, and brave.


The ruling of Desire and Anger. The story of David's thirst. Stirring chapters of ancient history. Savage attempts to make the Jews eat swine. Interesting references to an ancient bank (Verse 21.)

WELL then, someone may ask, if Reason is master of the passions why is it not master of forgetfulness and ignorance?

2 But the argument is supremely ridiculous. For Reason is not shown to be master over passions or defects in itself, but over those of the body.

3 For example, none of you is able to extirpate our natural desire, but the Reason can enable him to escape being made a slave by desire.

4 None of you is able to extirpate anger from the soul, but it is possible for the Reason to come to his aid against anger.

5 None of you can extirpate a malevolent disposition, but Reason can be his powerful ally against being swayed by malevolence.

6 Reason is not the extirpate of the passions, but their antagonist.

7 The case of the thirst of King David may serve at least to make this clearer.

8 For when David had fought the live-long day against the Philistines, and by the help of our country's warriors had slain many of them, he came at eventide, all fordone with sweat and toil, to the royal tent, around which was encamped the whole army of our ancestors.

9 So all the host fell to their evening meal; but the king, being consumed with an intense thirst, though he had abundance of water, was unable to slake it.

10 Instead, an irrational desire for the water that was in the possession of the enemy with growing intensity burned him up and unmanned and consumed him.

11 Then when his body-guard murmured against the craving of the king, two youths, mighty warriors, ashamed that their king should lack his desire, put on all their armour, and took a water-vessel, and scaled the enemy's ramparts; and stealing undetected past the guards at the gate, they searched through all the enemy's camp.

12 And they bravely found the spring, and drew from it a draught for the king.

13 But David, though still burning with the thirst, considered that such a draught, reckoned as equivalent to blood, was a grievous danger to his soul.

14 Therefore, opposing his Reason to his desire, he poured out the water as an offering to God.

15 For the temperate mind is able to conquer the dictates of the passions, and to quench the fires of desire, and to wrestle victoriously with the pangs of our bodies though they be exceeding strong, and by the moral beauty and goodness of Reason to defy with scorn all the domination of the passions.

16 And now the occasion calls us to set forth the story of the self-controlled Reason.

17 At a time when our fathers enjoyed great peace through the due observance of the Law, and were in happy case, so that Seleucus Nicanor, the king of Asia, sanctioned the tax for the temple-service, and recognized our polity, precisely then, certain men, acting factiously against the general concord, involved us in many and various calamities.

18 Onias, a man of the highest character, being then high priest and having the office for his life, a certain Simon raised a faction against him, but since despite every kind of slander he failed to injure him on account of the people, he fled abroad with intent to betray his country.

19 So he came to Apollonius, the governor of Syria and Phoenicia and Cilicia, and said, 'Being loyal to the king, I am here to inform you that in the treasuries of Jerusalem are stored many thousands of private deposits, not belonging to the temple account, and rightfully the property of King Seleucus.'

20 Apollonius having made inquiry into the details of the matter, praised Simon for his loyal service to the king, and hastening to the court of Seleucus, disclosed to him the valuable treasure; then, after receiving authority to deal with the matter, he promptly marched into our country, accompanied by the accursed Simon and a very powerful army, and announced that he was there by the king's command to take possession of the private deposits in the treasury.

21 Our people were deeply angered by this announcement, and protested strongly, considering it, an outrageous thing for those who had entrusted their deposits to the temple treasury to be robbed of them, and they threw all possible obstacles in his way.

22 Apollonius, however, with threats, made his way into the temple.

23 Then the priests in the temple and the women and children besought God to come to the rescue of his Holy Place that was being violated; and when Apollonius with his armed host marched in to seize the moneys, there appeared from heaven angels, riding upon horses, with lightning flashing from their arms, and cast great fear and trembling upon them.

24 And Apollonius fell down half-dead in the Court of the Gentiles, and stretched out his hands to heaven, and with tears he entreated the Hebrews that they would make intercession for him and stay the wrath of the heavenly host.

25 For he said that he had sinned and was worthy even of death, and that if he were given his life he would laud to all men the blessedness of the Holy Place.

26 Moved by these words, Onias, the high-priest, although most scrupulous in other cases, made intercession for him lest king Seleucus should possibly think that Apollonius had been overthrown by a human device and not by divine justice.

27 Apollonius, accordingly, after his astonishing deliverance departed to report to the king the things that had befallen him.

28 But Seleucus dying, his successor on the throne was his son Antiochus Epiphanes, an overweening terrible man; who dismissed Onias from his sacred office, and made his brother Jason high-priest instead, the condition being that in return for the appointment Jason should pay him three thousand six hundred and sixty talents yearly.

29 So he appointed Jason high-priest and made him chief ruler over the people.

30 And he (Jason) introduced to our people a new way of life and a new constitution in utter defiance of the Law; so that not only did he lay out a gymnasium on the Mount of our fathers, but he actually abolished the service of the temple.

31 Wherefore the divine justice was kindled to anger and brought Antiochus himself as an enemy against us.

32 For when. be was carrying on war with Ptolemy in Egypt and heard that the people of Jerusalem had rejoiced exceedingly over a report of his death, he immediately marched back against them.

33 And when he had plundered the city he made a decree denouncing the penalty of death upon any who should be seen to live after the law of our fathers.

34 But he found all his decrees of no avail to break down the constancy of our people to the Law, and he beheld all his threats and penalties utterly despised, so that even women for circumcising their sons, though they knew beforehand what would be their fate, were flung, together with their offspring, headlong from the rocks.

35 When therefore his decrees continued to be contemned by the mass of the people, he personally tried to force by tortures each man separately to eat unclean meats and thus abjure the Jewish religion.

36 Accordingly, the tyrant Antiochus, accompanied by his councillors, sat in judgement on a certain high place with his troops drawn up around him in full armour, and he ordered his guards to drag there every single man of the Hebrews and compel them to eat swine's flesh and things offered to idols; but if any should refuse to defile themselves with the unclean things, they were to he tortured and put to death.

37 And when many had been taken by force, one man first from among the company was brought before Antiochus, a Hebrew whose name was Eleazar, a priest by birth, trained in knowledge of the law, a man advanced in years and well known to many of the tyrant's court for his philosophy.

38 And Antiochus, looking on him, said: 'Before I allow the tortures to begin for you, O venerable man, I would give you this counsel, that you should eat of the flesh of the swine and save your life; for I respect your age and your grey hairs, although to have worn them so long a time, and still to cling to the Jewish religion, makes me think you no philosopher.

39 For most excellent is the meat of this animal which Nature has graciously bestowed upon us, and why should you abominate it? Truly it is folly not to enjoy innocent pleasures, and it is wrong to reject Nature's favours.

40 But it will be still greater folly, I think, on your part if with idle vapouring about truth you shall proceed to defy even me to your own punishment.

41 Will you not awake from your preposterous philosophy? Will you not fling aside the nonsense of your calculations and, adopting another frame of mind befitting your mature years, learn the true philosophy of expediency, and how to my charitable counsel, and have pity on your own venerable age?

42 For consider this, too, that even if there be some Power whose eye is upon this religion of yours, he will always pardon you for a transgression done under compulsion.'

43 bus urged by the tyrant to the unlawful eating of unclean meat, Eleazar asked permission to speak; and receiving it, he began his speech before the court as follows:

44 'We, O Antiochus, having accepted the Divine Law as the Law of our country, do not believe any stronger necessity is laid upon us than that of our obedience to the Law.

45 Therefore we do surely deem it right not. in any way whatsoever to transgress the Law.

46 And yet, were our Law, as you suggest, not truly divine, while we vainly believed it to be divine, not even so would it be right for us to destroy our reputation for piety.

47 Think it not, then, a small sin for us to eat the unclean thing, for the transgression of the Law, be it in small things or in great, is equally heinous; for in either case equally the Law is despised.

48 And you scoff at our philosophy, as if under it we were living in a manner contrary to reason.

49 Not so, for the Law teaches us self-control, so that we are masters of all our pleasures and desires and are thoroughly trained in manliness so as to endure all pain with readiness; and it teaches justice, so that with all our various dispositions we act fairly, and it teaches righteousness, so that with due reverence we worship only the God who is.

50 Therefore do we eat no unclean meat; for believing our Law to be given by God, we know also that the Creator of the world, as a Lawgiver, feels for us according to our nature.

51 He has commanded us to eat the things that will be convenient for our souls, and he has forbidden us to eat meats that would be the contrary.

52 But it is the act of a tyrant that you should compel us not only to transgress the Law, but should also make us eat in such manner that you may mock at' this defilement so utterly abominable to us.

53 But you shall not mock at me thus, neither will I break the sacred oaths of my ancestors to keep the Law, not even though you tear out mine eyes and bum out mine entrails.

54 I am not so unmanned by old age but that when righteousness is at stake the strength of youth returns to my Reason.

55 So twist hard your racks and blow your furnace hotter. I do not so pity mine old age as to break the Law of my fathers in mine own person.

56 I will not belie thee, O Law that wast my teacher; I will not desert thee, O beloved self-control; I will not put thee to shame, O wisdom-loving Reason, nor will I deny ye, O venerated priesthood and knowledge of the Law.

57 Neither shalt thou sully the pure mouth of mine old age and my lifelong constancy to the Law. Clean shall my fathers receive me, unafraid of thy torments even to the death.

58 For thou indeed mayest be tyrant over unrighteous men, but thou shalt not lord it over my resolution in the matter of righteousness either by thy words or through thy deeds.'


Eleazar, the gentle spirited old man, shows such fortitude that even as we read these words 2000 years later, they seem like an inextinguishable fire.

BUT when Eleazar replied thus eloquently to the exhortations of the tyrants, the guards around him dragged him roughly to the torturing place.

2 And first they unclothed the old man, who was adorned with the beauty of holiness.

3 Then binding his arms on either side they scourged him, a herald standing and shouting out over against him, 'Obey the orders of the king!'

4 But the great-souled and noble man, an Eleazar in very truth, was no more moved in his mind than if he were being tormented in a dream; yea, the old man keeping his eyes steadfastly raised to heaven suffered his flesh to be tom by the scourges till he was bathed in blood and his sides became a mass of wounds; and even when he fell to the ground because his body could no longer support the pain he still kept his Reason erect and inflexible.

5 With his foot then one of the cruet guards as he fell kicked him savagely in the side to make him get up.

6 But he endured the anguish, and despised the compulsion, and bore up under the torments, and like a brave athlete taking punishment, the old man outwore his tormentors.

7 The sweat stood on his brow, and he drew his breath in hard gasps, till his nobility of soul extorted the admiration of his tormentors themselves.

8 Hereupon, partly in pity for his old age, partly in sympathy for their friend, partly in admiration of his courage, some of the courtiers of the king went tip to him and said:

9 'Why, O Eleazar, dost thou madly destroy thyself in this misery? We will bring to thee of the seethed meats, but do thou feign only to partake of the swine's flesh, and so save thyself.'

10 And Eleazar, as if their counsel did but add to his tortures, cried loudly: 'No. May we sons of Abraham never have so evil a thought as with faint heart to counterfeit a part unseemly to us.

11 Contrary to Reason, indeed, were it for us, after living unto the truth till old age, and guarding in lawful guise the repute of so living, now to change and become in our own persons a pattern to the young of impiety, to the end that we should encourage them to eat unclean meat.

12 Shame were it if we should live on a little longer, during that little being mocked of all men for cowardice, and while despised by the tyrant as unmanly should fail to defend the Divine Law unto the death.

13 Therefore, O sons of Abraham, do ye die nobly for righteousness' sake; but as for you, O minions of the tyrant, why pause ye in your work?'

14 So they, seeing him thus triumphant over the tortures and unmoved even by the pity of his executioners, dragged him to the fire.

15 There they cast him on it, burning him with cruelly cunning devices, and they poured broth of evil odour into his nostrils.

16 But when the fire already reached to his bones and he was about to give up the ghost, he lifted up his eyes to God and said:

17 'Thou, O God, knowest that though I might save myself I am dying by fiery torments for thy Law. Be merciful unto thy people, and let our punishment be a satisfaction in their behalf. Make my blood their purification, and take my soul to ransom their souls,,

18 And with these words the holy man nobly yielded up his spirit under the torture I and for the sake of the Law held out by his Reason even against the torments unto death.

19 Beyond question, then, the Inspired Reason is master over the passions; for if his passions or sufferings had prevailed over his Reason we should have credited them with this evidence of their superior power.

20 But now his Reason having conquered his passions, we properly attribute to it the power of commanding them.

21 And it is right that we should admit that the mastery lies with Reason, in cases at least where it conquers pains that come from outside ourselves; for it were ridiculous to deny it.

22 And my proof covers not only the superiority of Reason to pains, but its superiority to pleasures also; neither does it surrender to them.


This so called "Age of Reason" may in this chapter read that the Philosophy of Reason is 2000 years old. The story of seven sons and their mother.

FOR the Reason of our father Eleazar, like a fine steersman steering the ship of sanctity on the sea of the passions, though buffeted by the threats of the tyrant and swept by the swelling waves of the tortures, never shifted for one moment the helm of sanctity until he sailed into the haven of victory over death.

2 No city besieged with many and cunning engines ever defended itself so well as did that holy man when his sacred soul was attacked with scourge and rack and flame, and he moved them who were laying siege to his soul through his Reason that was the shield of sanctity.

3 For our father Eleazar, setting his mind film as a beetling sea-cliff, broke the mad onset of the surges of the passions.

4 O priest worthy of thy priesthood, thou didst not defile thy holy teeth, nor didst thou befoul with unclean meat thy belly that had room only for piety and purity.

5 O confessor of the Law and philosopher of the Divine life! Such should those be whose office is to serve the Law and defend it with their own blood and honourable sweat in the face of sufferings to the death.

6 Thou, O father, didst fortify our fidelity to the Law through thy steadfastness unto glory; and having spoken in honour of holiness thou didst not belie thy speech, and didst confirm the words of divine philosophy by thy deeds, O aged man that wast more forceful than the tortures.

7 O reverend elder that wast tenser-strung than the flame, thou great king over the passions, Eleazar.

8 For as our father Aaron, armed with the censer, ran through the massed congregation against the fiery angel and overcame him, so the son of Aaron, Eleazar, being consumed by the melting heat of the fire, remained unshaken in his Reason.

9 And yet most wonderful of all, he, being an old man, with the sinews of his body unstrung and his muscles relaxed and his nerves weakened, grew a young man again in the spirit of his Reason and with Isaac-like Reason turned the hydra-headed torture to impotence.

10 O blessed age, O reverend grey head, O life faithful to the Law and perfected by the seal of death!

11 Assuredly, then, if an old man despised the torments unto death for righteousness' sake it must be admitted that the Inspired Reason is able to guide the passions.

12 But some perhaps may answer that not all men are masters of the passions because not all men have their Reason enlightened.

13 But as many as with their whole heart make righteousness their first thought, these alone are able to master the weakness of the flesh, believing that unto God they die not, as our patriarchs, Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, died not, but that they live unto God.

14 Therefore there is-nothing contradictory in certain persons appearing to be slaves to passion in consequence of the weakness of their Reason.

15 For who is there that being a philosopher following righteously the whole rule of philosophy, and having put his trust in God, and knowing that it is a blessed thing to endure all hardness for the sake of virtue, would not conquer his passions for the sake of righteousness?

16 For the wise and self-controlled man alone is the brave ruler of the passions.

17 Yea, by this means even young boys, being philosophers by virtue of the Reason which is according to righteousness, have triumphed over yet more grievous tortures.

18 For when the tyrant found himself notably defeated in his first attempt, and impotent to compel an old man to eat unclean meat, then truly in violent rage he ordered the guards to bring others of the young men of the Hebrews, and if they would eat unclean meat to release them after eating it, but if they refused, to torture them yet more savagely.

19 And under these orders of the tyrant seven brethren together with their aged mother were brought prisoners before him, all handsome, and modest, and well-born,--and generally attractive.

20 And when the tyrant saw them there, standing as if they were a festal choir with their mother in the midst, he took notice of them, and struck by their noble and distinguished bearing he smiled at them, and calling them nearer said:

21 'O young men, I wish well to each one of you, and admire your beauty, and honour highly so large a band of brothers; so not only do I advise you not to persist in the madness of that old man who has already suffered, but I even entreat of you to yield to me and become partakers in my friendship.

22 For, as I am able to punish those who disobey my orders, so am I able to advance those who do obey me.

23 Be assured then that you shall be given positions of importance and authority in my service if you will reject the ancestral law of your polity.

24 Share in the Hellenic life, and walk in a new way, and take some pleasure in your youth; for if you drive me to anger with your disobedience you will compel me to resort to terrible penalties and put every single one of you to death by torture.

25 Have pity then on yourselves, whom even I, your opponent, pity for your youth and your beauty.

26 Will you not consider with yourselves this thing, that if you disobey me there is nothing before you but death in torments?'

27 With these words he ordered the instruments of torture to be brought forward in order to persuade them by fear to eat unclean meat.

28 But when the guards had produced wheels, and joint-dislocators, and racks, and bone-crushers, and catapults, and cauldrons, and braziers, and thumb-screws, and iron claws, and wedges, and branding irons, the tyrant spoke again and said:

29 'You had better feel fear, my lads, and the justice you worship will pardon your unwilling transgression.'

30 But they, hearing his persuasions, and seeing his dreadful engines, not only showed no fear but actually arrayed their philosophy in opposition to the tyrant, and by their right Reason did abase his tyranny.

31 And yet consider; supposing some amongst them to have been faint-hearted and cowardly, what sort of language would they have used? would it not have been to this effect?

32 'Alas! miserable creatures that we are and foolish above measure! When the king invites us and appeals to us on terms of kind treatment shall we not obey him?

33 Why do we encourage ourselves with vain desires and dare a disobedience that is to cost us our lives? Shall we not, O men my brothers, fear the dread instruments and weigh well his threats of the tortures, and abandon these empty vaunts and this fatal bragging?

34 Let us take pity on our own youth and have compassion on our mother's age; and let us lay to heart that if we disobey we shall die.

35 And even the divine justice will have mercy on us, if compelled by necessity we yield to the king in fear. Why should we cast away from us this dear life and rob ourselves of this sweet world?

36 Let us not strive against necessity nor with vain confidence invite our torture.

37 Even the Law itself does not willingly condemn us to death, we being in terror of the instruments of torture.

38 Why does such contentiousness inflame us and a fatal obstinacy find favour with us, when we might have a peaceful life by obeying the king?'

39 But no such words escaped these young men at the prospect of the torture, nor did such thoughts enter into their minds.

40 For they were despisers of the passions and masters over pain.


A chapter of horror and torture revealing ancient tyranny at its utmost savagery. Verse 26 is profound truth.

AND thus no sooner did the tyrant conclude his urging of them to eat unclean meat than all with one voice together, and as with one soul, said to him:

2 'Why dost thou delay, O tyrant? We are ready to die rather than transgress the commandments of our fathers.

3 For we should be putting our ancestors also to shame, if we did not walk in obedience to the Law and take Moses as our counsellor.

4 O tyrant that counsellest us to transgress the Law, do not, hating us, pity us beyond ourselves.

5 For we esteem thy mercy, giving. us our life in return for a breach of the Law, a thing harder to bear than death itself.

6 Thou wouldst terrify us with thy threats of death under torture, as if a little while ago thou hadst learned nothing from Eleazar.

7 But if the old men of the Hebrews endured the tortures for righteousness' sake, yea, until they died, more befittingly will we young men die despising the torments of thy compulsion, over which he our aged teacher also triumphed.

8 Make trial therefore, O tyrant. And if thou takest our lives for the sake of righteousness, think not that thou hurtest us with thy tortures.

9 For we through this our evil entreatment and our endurance of it shall win the prize of virtue; but thou for our cruel murder shalt suffer at the hands of divine justice sufficient torment by fire for ever.'

10 These words of the youths redoubled the wrath of the tyrant, not at their disobedience only but at what he considered their ingratitude.

11 So by his orders the scourgers brought forward the eldest of them and stripped him of his garment and bound his hands and arms on either side with thongs.

12 But when they had scourged him till they were weary, and gained nothing thereby, they cast him upon the wheel.

13 And on it the noble youth was racked till his bones were out of joint. And as joint after joint gave way, he denounced the tyrant in these words:

14 'O thou most abominable tyrant, thou enemy of the justice of heaven and bloody-minded, thou dost torment me in this fashion not for manslaying nor for impiety but for defending the Law of God.'

15 And when the guards said to him, 'Consent to eat, that so you may be released from your tortures,' he said to them, 'Your method, O miserable minions, is not strong enough to lead captive my Reason. Cut off my limbs, and burn my flesh, and twist my joints; through all the torments I will show you that in behalf of virtue the sons of the Hebrews alone are unconquerable.'

16 As he thus spake they set hot coals upon him besides, and intensifying the torture strained him yet tighter on the wheel.

17 And all the wheel was besmeared with his blood, and the heaped coals were quenched by the humours of his body dropping down, and the rent flesh ran round the axles of the machine.

18 And with his bodily frame already in dissolution this great-souled youth, like a true son of Abraham, groaned not at all; but as if he were suffering a change by fire to incorruption, he nobly endured the torment, saying:

19 'Follow my example, O brothers. Do not for ever desert me, and forswear not our brotherhood in nobility of soul.

20 War a holy and honourable warfare on behalf of righteousness, through which may the just Providence that watched over our fathers become merciful unto his people and take vengeance on the accursed tyrant.'

21 And with these words the holy youth yielded up the ghost.

22 But while all were wondering at his constancy of soul, the guards brought forward the second in age of the. sons, and grappling him with sharp-clawed hands of iron they fastened him to the engines and the catapult.

23 But when they heard his noble resolve in answer to their question, 'Would he eat rather than he tortured?' these panther-like beasts tore at his sinews with claws of iron, and rent away all the flesh from his cheeks, and tore off the skin from his head.

24 But he steadfastly enduring this agony said, 'How sweet is every form of death for the sake of the righteousness of our fathers!'

25 And to the tyrant he said, 'O most ruthless of tyrants, doth not it seem to thee that at this moment thou thyself sufferest tortures worse than mine in seeing thy tyranny's arrogant intention overcome by my endurance for righteousness' sake?

26 For I am supported under pain by the joys that come through virtue, whereas thou art in torment whilst glorying in thy impiety; neither shalt thou escape, O most abominable tyrant, the penalties of the divine wrath.'

27 And when he had bravely met his glorious death, the third son was brought forward and was earnestly entreated by many to taste and so to save himself.

28 But he answered in a loud voice, 'Are ye ignorant that the same father begat me and my brothers that are dead, and the same mother gave us birth, and in the same doctrines was I brought up?

29 I do not forswear the noble bond of brotherhood.

30 Therefore if ye have any engine of torment, apply it to this body of mine; for my soul ye cannot reach, not if ye would.'

31 But they were greatly angered at the bold speech of the man, and they dislocated his hands and his feet with their dislocating engines, and wrenched his limbs out of their sockets, and unstrung them; and they twisted round his fingers, and his arms, and his legs, and his elbow-joints.

32 And in no wise being able to strangle his spirit they stripped off his skin, taking the points of the fingers with it, and tore in Scythian fashion the scalp from his head, and straightway brought him to the wheel.

33 And on this they twisted his spine till he saw his own flesh hanging in strips and great gouts of blood pouring down from his entrails.

34 And at the point of death he said, 'We, O most abominable tyrant, suffer thus for our upbringing and our virtue that are of God; but thou for thy impiety and thy cruelty shall endure torments without end.'

35 And when' this man had died worthily of his brothers, they brought up the fourth, and said to him, 'Be not thou also mad with the same madness as thy brethren, but obey the king and save thyself.'

36 But he said unto them, 'For me ye have no fire so exceeding hot as to make me a coward.

37 By the blessed death of my brethren, by the eternal doom of the tyrant, and by the glorious life of the righteous, I will not deny my noble brotherhood.

38 Invent tortures, O tyrant, in order that thou mayest learn thereby that I am brother of those who have been already tortured.'

39 When he heard this the bloodthirsty, murderous, and utterly abominable Antiochus bade them cut out his tongue.

40 But he said, 'Even if thou dost remove my organ of speech, God is a hearer also of the speechless.

41 Lo, I put out my tongue ready: cut it out, for thou shalt not thereby silence my Reason.

42 Gladly do we give our bodily members to be mutilated for the cause of God.

43 But God will speedily pursue after thee; for thou cuttest out the tongue that sang songs of praise unto him.'

44 But when this man also was put to a death of agony with the tortures, the fifth sprang forward saying, 'I shrink not, O tyrant, from demanding the torture for virtue's sake.

45 Yea, of myself I come forward, in order that, slaying me also, thou mayest by yet more misdeeds increase the penalty thou owest to the justice of Heaven.

46 O enemy of virtue and enemy of man, for what crime dost thou destroy us in this way?

47 Doth it seem evil to thee that we worship the Creator of all and live according to his virtuous Law?

48 But these things are worthy of honours not of tortures, if thou didst understand human aspirations and hadst hope of salvation before God.

49 Lo, now thou art God's enemy and makest war on those that worship God.'

50 As he spake thus the guards bound him and brought him before the catapult; and they tied him thereto on his knees, and, fastening them there with iron clamps, they wrenched his loins over the rolling 'wedge' so that he was completely curled back like a scorpion and every joint was disjointed.

51 And thus in grievous strait for breath and anguish of body he exclaimed, 'Glorious, O tyrant, glorious against thy will are the boons that thou bestowest on me, enabling me to show my fidelity to the Law through yet more honourable tortures.'

52 And when this man also was dead, the sixth was brought, a mere boy, who in answer to the tyrant's inquiry whether he was willing to eat and be released, said:

53 'I am not so old in years as my brethren, but I am as old in mind. For we were born and reared for the same purpose and are equally bound also to die for the same cause; so if thou chooseth to torture us for not eating unclean meat, torture.'

54 As he spake these words they brought him to the wheel, and with care they stretched him out and dislocated the bones of his back and set fire under him.

55 And they made sharp skewers red-hot and ran them into his back, and piercing through his sides they burned away his entrails also.

56 But he in the midst of his tortures exclaimed, 'O contest worthy of saints, wherein so many of us brethren, in the cause of righteousness, have been entered for a competition in torments, and have not been conquered!

57 For the righteous understanding, O tyrant, is unconquerable.

58 In the armour of virtue I go to join my brothers in death, and to add in myself one strong avenger more to punish thee, O deviser of the tortures and enemy of the truly righteous.

59 We six youths have overthrown thy tyranny. 'For is not thine impotence to alter our Reason or force us to eat unclean meat an overthrow for thee?

60 Thy fire is cool for us, thy engines of torture torment not, and thy violence is impotent.

61 For the guards have been officers for us, not of a tyrant, but of the Divine Law; and therefore have we our Reason yet unconquered.'


Brotherly bonds and a mother's love.

AND when this one also died a blessed death, being cast into the cauldron, the seventh son, the youngest of them all, came forward.

2 But the tyrant, although fiercely exasperated by his brethren, felt pity for the boy, and seeing him there already bound he had him brought near, and sought to persuade him, saying: 'Thou seest the end of the folly of thy brethren; for through their disobedience they have been racked to death. Thou, too, if thou dost not obey, wilt thyself also be miserably tortured and put to death before thy time; but if thou dost obey thou shalt be my friend, and thou shalt be advanced to high office in the business of the kingdom.'

4 And while thus appealing to him he sent for the boy's mother, in order that in her sorrow for the loss of so many sons she might urge the survivor to obey and be saved.

5 But the mother, speaking in the Hebrew tongue, as I shall tell later on, encouraged the boy, and he said to the guards, 'Loose me, that I may speak to the king and to all his friends with him.'

6 And they, rejoicing at the boy's request, made haste to loose him.

7 And running up to the red-hot brazier, 'O impious tyrant,' he cried, 'and most ungodly of all sinners, art thou not ashamed to take thy blessings and thy kingship at the hands of God, and to slay his servants and torture the followers of righteousness?

8 For which things the divine justice delivers thee unto a more rapid and an eternal fire and torments which shall not leave hold on thee to all eternity.

9 Art thou not ashamed, being a man, O wretch with the heart of a wild beast, to take men of like feelings with thyself, made from the same elements, and tear out their tongues, and scourge and torture them in this manner?

10 But while they have fulfilled their righteousness towards God in their noble deaths, thou shalt miserably cry "Woe is met" for thy unjust slaying of the champions of virtue.'

11 And then standing on the brink of death he said, 'I am no renegade to the witness borne by my brethren.

12 And I call upon the God of my fathers to be merciful unto my nation.

13 And thee will he Punish both in this present life and after that thou art dead.'

14 And with this prayer he cast himself into the red-hot brazier, and so gave up the ghost.

15 If therefore the seven brethren despised the tortures even to the death, it is universally proved that the Inspired Reason is supreme lord over the passions.

16 For if they had yielded to their passions or sufferings and eaten unclean meat we should have said that they had been conquered thereby.

17 But in this cam it was not so; on the contrary by their Reason, which was commended in the sight of God, they rose superior to their passions.

18 And it is impossible to deny the supremacy of the mind; for they won the victory over their passions and their pains.

19 How can we do otherwise than admit right Reason's mastery over passion with these men who shrank not before the agonies of burning?

20 For even as towers on harbour-moles repulse the assaults of the waves and offer a calm entrance to those entering the haven, so the seven-towered right Reason of the youths defended the haven of righteousness and repulsed the tempestuousness of the passions.

21 They formed a holy choir of righteousness as they cheered one another on, saying:

22 'Let us die like brothers, O brethren, for the Law.

23 Let us imitate the Three Children at the Assyrian court who despised this same ordeal of the furnace.

24 Let us not turn cravens before the proof of righteousness.'

25 And one said, 'Brother, be of good cheer,' and another, 'Bear it out nobly'; and another recalling the past, 'Remember of what stock ye are, and at whose fatherly hand Isaac for righteousness' sake yielded himself to be a sacrifice.'

26 And each and all of them together, looking at each other brightly and very boldly, said, 'With a whole heart will we consecrate ourselves unto God who gave us our souls, and let us lend our bodies to the keeping of the Law.

27 Let us not fear him who thinketh he kills; for a great struggle and peril of the soul awaits in eternal torment those who transgress the ordinance of God.

28 Let us then arm ourselves with divine Reason's mastery of the passions.

29 After this our passion, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob shall receive us, and all our forefathers shall praise us.'

30 And to each separate one of the brothers, as they were dragged off, those whose turn was yet to come said, 'Do not disgrace us, brother, nor be false to our brethren already dead.'

31 You are not ignorant of the love of brethren, whereof the divine and all-wise Providence has given an inheritance to those who are begotten though their fathers, implanting it in them even through the mother's womb; wherein brethren do dwell the like period, and take their form during the same time, and are nourished from the same blood, and are quickened with the same soul, and are brought into the world after the same space, and they draw milk from the same founts, whereby their fraternal souls are nursed together in arms at the breast; and they are knit yet closer through a common nurture and daily companionship and other education, and through our discipline under the Law of God.

32 The feeling of brotherly love being thus naturally strong, the seven brethren had their mutual concord made yet stronger. For trained in the same Law, and disciplined in the same virtues, and brought up together in the upright life, they loved one another the more abundantly. Their common zeal for moral beauty and goodness heightened their mutual concord, for in conjunction with their piety it rendered their brotherly love more fervent.

33 But though nature, companionship, and their virtuous disposition increased the ardour of their brotherly love, nevertheless the surviving sons through their religion supported the sight of their brethren, who were on the rack, being tortured to death; nay more, they even encouraged them to face the agony, so as not only to despise their own tortures, but also to conquer their passion of brotherly affection for their brethren.

34 O Reasoning minds, more kingly than kings, than freemen more free, of the harmony of the seven brethren, holy and well attuned to the keynote of piety!

35 None of the seven youths turned coward, none shrunk in the face of death, but all hastened to the death by torture as if running the road to immortality.

36 For as hands and feet move in harmony with the promptings of the soul, so those holy youths, as if prompted by the immortal soul of religion, went in harmony to death for its sake.

37 O all-holy sevenfold companionship of brethren in harmony!

38 For as the seven days of the creation of the world do enring religion, so did the youths choir-like enring their sevenfold companionship, and made the terror of the tortures of no account.

39 We now shudder when we hear of the suffering of those youths; but they, not only seeing it with their eyes, nor merely hearing the spoken, imminent threat, but actually feeling the pang, endured it through; and that in the torture by fire, than which what greater agony can be found?

40 For sharp and stringent is the power of fire, and swiftly did it bring their bodies to dissolution.

41 And think it not wonderful if with those men Reason triumphed over the tortures, when even a woman's soul despised a yet greater diversity of pains; for the mother of the seven youths endured the torments inflicted on each several one of her children.

42 But consider how manifold are the yearnings of a mother's heart, so that her feeling for her offspring becomes the centre of her whole world; and indeed,

here, even the irrational animals have for their young an affection and love similar to men's.

43 For example, among the birds, the tame ones sheltering under our roofs defend their nestlings; and those that nest upon the mountain tops, and in the rock clefts, and in the holes of trees, and in the branches, and hatch their young there, do also drive away the intruder.

44 And then, if they be unable to drive him away, they flutter around the nestlings in a passion of love, calling to them in their own speech, and they give succour to their young ones in whatever fashion they can.

45 And what need have we of examples of the love of offspring among irrational animals, when even the bees, about the season of the making of the comb, fend off intruders, and stab with their sting, as with a sword, those who approach their brood, and do battle against them even to the death?

46 But she, the mother of those young men, with a soul like Abraham, was not moved from her purpose by her affection for her children.


A comparison of a mother's and father's affections, in this chapter are some mountain peaks of eloquence.

REASON of the sons, lord over the passions! O religion, that wast dearer to the mother than her children!

2 The mother, having two choices before her, religion and the present saving alive of her seven sons according to the tyrant's promise, loved rather religion, which saveth unto eternal life according to God.

3 O how may I express the passionate love of parents for children? We stamp a marvellous likeness of our soul and of our shape on the tender nature of the child, and most of all through the mother's sympathy with her children being deeper than the father's.

4 For women are softer of soul than men, and the more children they bear the more do they abound in love for them.

5 But, of all mothers, she of the seven sons abounded in love beyond the rest, seeing that, having in seven child-bearings felt maternal tenderness for the fruit of her womb, and having been constrained because of the many pangs in which she bore each to a close affection, she nevertheless through the fear of God rejected the present safety of her children.

6 Ay, and more than that, through the moral beauty and goodness of her sons and their obedience to the Law, her maternal love for them was made stronger.

7 For they were just, and temperate, and brave and great-souled, and lovers of each other and of their mother in such manner that they obeyed her in the keeping of the Law even unto death.

8 But nevertheless, though she had so many temptations to yield to her maternal instincts, in no single instance did the dreadful variety of tortures have power to alter her Reason; but the mother urged each son separately, and all together, to die for their religion.

9 O holy nature, and parental love, and yearning of parents for offspring, and wages of nursing, and unconquerable affection of mothers!

10 The mother, seeing them one by one racked and burned, remained unshaken in soul for religion's sake.

11 She saw the flesh of her sons being consumed in the fire, and the extremities of their hands and feet scattered on the ground, and the flesh-covering, torn off from their heads right to their cheeks, strewn about like masks.

12 O mother, who now knew sharper pangs than the pangs of labour! O woman, alone among women, the fruit of whose womb was perfect religion!

13 Thy firstborn, giving up the ghost, did not alter thy resolution, nor thy second, looking with eyes of pity on thee under his tortures, nor thy third, breathing out his spirit.

14 Neither didst thou weep when thou beheldest the eyes of each amid the torments looking boldly on the same anguish, and sawest in their quivering nostrils the signs of approaching death.

15 When thou sawest the flesh of one son being severed after the flesh of another, and hand after hand being cut off, and head after head being flayed, and corpse cast upon corpse, and the place crowded with spectators on account of the tortures of thy children, thou sheddest not a tear.

16 Not the melodies of the sirens nor the songs of swans with sweet sound do so charm the hearer's ears, as sounded the voices of the sons, speaking to the mother from amid the torments.

17 How many and how great were the tortures with which the mother was tormented while her sons were being tortured with torments of rack and fire!

18 But Inspired Reason lent her heart a man's strength under her passion of suffering, and exalted her to make no account of the present yearnings of mother-love.

19 And although she saw the destruction of her seven children and the many and varied forms of their torments, the noble mother willingly surrendered them through faith in God.

20 For she beheld in her own mind, even as it had been cunning advocates in a council-chamber, nature, and parenthood, and mother-love, and her children on the rack, and it was as if she, the mother, having the choice between two votes in the case of her children, one for their death and one to save them alive, thereupon regarded not the saving of her seven sons for a little time, but, as a true daughter of Abraham, called to mind his God-fearing courage.

21 O mother of the race, vindicator of our Law, defender of our religion, and winner of the prize in the struggle within thyself!

22 O woman, nobler to resist than men, and braver than warriors to endure!

23 For as the Ark of Noah, with the whole living world for her burden in the world-whelming Deluge, did withstand the mighty surges, so thou, the keeper of the Law, beaten upon every side by the surging waves of the passions, and strained as with strong blasts by the tortures of thy sons, didst nobly weather the storms that assailed thee for religion's sake.

24 Thus then, if one both a woman and advanced in years, and the mother of seven sons, endured the sight of her children being tortured to death, the Inspired Reason must confessedly be supreme ruler over the passions.

25 I have proved, accordingly, that not only have men triumphed over their sufferings, but that a woman also has despised the most dreadful tortures.

26 And not so fierce were the lions around Daniel, not so hot was the burning fiery furnace of Mishael, as burned in her the instinct of motherhood at the sight of her seven sons being tortured.

27 But by her religion-guided Reason the mother quenched her passions, many and strong as they were.

28 For there is this also to consider, that had the woman been weak of spirit, despite her motherhood, she might have wept over them, and perchance spoken thus:

29 'Ah, thrice wretched me, and more than thrice wretched! Seven children have I borne and am left childless!

30 In vain was I seven times with child, and to no profit was my ten months' burden seven times borne, and fruitless have been my nursings, and sorrowful my sucklings.

31 In vain for you, O my sons, did I endure the many pangs of labour, and the more difficult cares of your upbringing.

32 Alas, for my sons, that some were yet unwed, and those that were wedded had begotten no children; I shall never see children of yours, nor shall I be called by the name of grandparent.

33 Ah me, that had many beautiful children, and am a widow and desolate in my woe! Neither will there be any son to bury me when I am dead!'

34 But the holy and God-fearing mother wailed not with this lamentation over any one of them, neither besought she any to escape death, nor lamented over them as dying men; but, as though she had a soul of adamant and were bringing forth the number of her sons, for a second time, into immortal life, she besought rather and entreated of them that they should die for religion's sake.

35 O mother, warrior of God in the cause of religion, old and a woman, thou didst both defeat the tyrant by thy endurance, and wast found stronger than a man, in deeds as well as words.

36 For verily when thou wast put in bonds with thy sons, thou stoodest there seeing Eleazar being tortured, and thou spakest to thy sons in the Hebrew tongue:

37 'My sons, noble is the fight; and do ye, being called thereto to bear witness for our nation, fight therein zealously on behalf of the Law of our fathers.

38 For it would be shameful if, while this aged man endured the agony for religion's sake, you that are young men shrank before the pain.

39 Remember that for the sake of God ye have come into the world, and have enjoyed life, and that therefore ye owe it to God to endure all pain for his sake; for whom also our father Abraham made haste to sacrifice his son Isaac, the ancestor of our nation; and Isaac, seeing his father's hand lifting the knife against him, did not shrink.

40 And Daniel, the just man, was cast to the lions, and Ananias, Azarias, and Mishael were flung into the furnace of fire, and they endured for God's sake.

41 And ye also, having the same faith unto God, be not troubled; for it were against Reason that ye, knowing righteousness, should not withstand the pains.'

42 With these words the mother of the seven encouraged every single one of her sons to die rather than transgress the ordinance of God; they themselves also knowing well that men dying for God live unto God, as live Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the patriarchs.


The famous "Athletes of Righteousness." Here ends the story of courage called the Fourth Book of Maccabees.

SOME of the guards declared that when she also was about to be seized and put to death, she cast herself on the pyre in order that no man might touch her body.

2 O mother, that together with thy seven sons didst break the tyrant's force, and bring to nought his evil devices, and gavest an example of the nobleness of faith.

3 Thou wert nobly set as a roof upon thy sons as pillars, and the earthquake of the torments shook thee not at all.

4 Rejoice therefore, pure-souled mother, having the hope of thy endurance certain at the hand of God.

5 Not so majestic stands the moon amid the stars in heaven as thou, having lit the path of thy seven starlike sons unto righteousness, standest in honour with God; and thou art set in heaven with them.

6 For thy child-bearing was from the son of Abraham.

7 And had it been lawful for us to paint, as might some artist, the tale of thy piety, would not the spectators have shuddered at the mother of seven sons suffering for righteousness' sake multitudinous tortures even unto death?

8 And indeed it were fitting to inscribe these words over their resting-place, speaking for a memorial to future generations of our people:










9 For truly it was a holy war which was fought by them. For on that day virtue, proving them through endurance, set before them the prize of victory in incorruption in everlasting life.

10 But the first in the fight was Eleazar, and the mother of the seven sons played her part, and the brethren fought.

11 The tyrant was their adversary and the world and the life of man were the spectators.

12 And righteousness won the victor and gave the crown to her athletes. Who but wondered at the athletes of the true Law?

13 Who were not amazed at them? The tyrant himself and his whole council admired their endurance, whereby they now do both Stand beside the throne of God and live the blessed age.

14 For Moses says, 'All also who have sanctified themselves are under thy hands.'

15 And these men, therefore, having sanctified themselves for God's sake, not only have received this honour, but also the honour that through them the enemy had no more power over our people, and the tyrant suffered punishment, and our country was purified, they having as it were become a ransom for our nation's sin; and through the blood of these righteous men and the propitiation of their death, the divine Providence delivered Israel that before was evil entreated.

16 For when the tyrant Antiochus saw the heroism of their virtue, and their endurance under the tortures, he publicly held up their endurance to his soldiers as an example; and he thus inspired his men with a sense of honour and heroism on the field of battle and in the labours of besieging, so that he plundered and overthrew all his enemies.

17 O Israelites, children born of the seed of Abraham, obey this Law, and be righteous in all ways, recognizing that Inspired Reason is lord over the passions, and over pains, not only from within, but from without ourselves; by which means those men, delivering up their bodies to the torture for righteousness' sake, not only won the admiration of mankind, but were deemed worthy of a divine inheritance.

18 And through them the nation obtained peace and restoring the observance of the Law in our country hath captured the city from the enemy.

19 And vengeance hath pursued the tyrant Antiochus upon earth, and in death he suffers punishment.

20 For when he failed utterly to constrain the people of Jerusalem to live like Gentiles and abandon the customs of our fathers, he thereupon left Jerusalem and marched away against the Persians.

21 Now these are the words that the mother of the seven sons, the righteous woman, spake to her children:

22 'I was a pure maiden, and I strayed not from my father's house, and I kept guard over the rib that was builded into Eve.

23 No seducer of the desert, no deceiver in the field, corrupted me; nor did the false, beguiling Serpent sully the purity of my maidenhood; I lived with my husband all the days of my youth; but when these my sons were grown up, their father died.

24 Happy was he; for he lived a life blessed with children, and he never knew the pain of their loss.

25 Who, while he was yet with us, taught you the Law and the prophets. He read to us of Abel who was slain by Cain, and of Isaac who was offered as a burnt-offering, and of Joseph in the prison.

26 And he spake to us of Phineas, the zealous priest, and he taught you the song of Ananias, Azarias, and Mishael in the fire.

27 And he glorified also Daniel in the den of lions, and blessed him; and he called to your minds the saying of Isaiah,

28 "Yea even though thou pass through the fire, the flame shall not hurt thee."

29 He sang to us the words of David the psalmist, "Many are the afflictions of the just."

30 He quoted to us the proverb of Solomon, "He is a tree of life to all them that do his will."

31 He confirmed the words of Ezekiel, "Shall these dry bones live?" For he forgat not the song that Moses taught, which teaches, "I will slay and I will make alive. This is your life and the blessedness of your days."'

32 Ah, cruel was the day, and yet not cruel, when the cruel tyrant of the Greeks set the fire blazing for his barbarous braziers, and with his passions boiling brought to the catapult and back again to his tortures the seven sons of the daughter of Abraham, and blinded the eyeballs of their eyes, and cut out their tongues, and slew them with many kinds of torment.

33 For which cause the judgement of God pursued, and shall pursue, the accursed wretch.

34 But the sons of Abraham, with their victorious mother, are gathered together unto the place of their ancestors, having received pure and immortal souls from God, to whom be glory for ever and ever.


* Apocrypha - (from the Greek word απόκρυφα meaning "those having been hidden away") are texts of uncertain authenticity or writings where the authorship is questioned. These texts may have been used in some churches by were never considered as part of the Bible

** Pseudepigrapha = (from Greek pseudes = "false", "epigraphe" = "inscription") are texts falsely attributed to biblical characters or times. These books were never part of the Bible & were never considered as scripture by the church at any time despite being published under such titles of "The Lost Books of the Bible" or "The Hidden Gospels". The church has always known about them & they were never "Hidden" & could be read at any University or college. There is no deep dark secret here, just publishers trying to make a buck with interesting book titles.

*** Noncanonical Literature =  Never part of the Canon or Bible.