2 Maccabees 7

7It also carne to pass that seven brothers and their mother were arrested and shamefully lashed with whips and scourges, by the king’s orders, that they might be forced to taste the abominable swine’s flesh. But one of them spoke up for the others and said, Why question us? What wouldst thou learn from us? We are prepared to die sooner than transgress the laws of our fathers. Then the king, in his exasperation, ordered pans and cauldrons to be heated, and, when they were heated immediately, ordered the tongue of the speaker to be torn out, had him scalped and mutilated before the eyes of his brothers and mother, and then had him put on the fire, all maimed and crippled as he was, but still alive, and set to fry in the pan. And as the vapour from the pan spread abroad, they and their mother exhorted one another to die nobly, uttering these words: The Lord God beholdeth this, and truly hath compassion on us, even as Moses declared in his Song which testifieth against them to their face, saying,

And he shall have compassion on his servants.

And when the first had died after this manner, they brought the second to the shameful torture, tearing off the skin of his head with the hair and asking him, Wilt thou eat, before we punish thy body limb by limb? But he answered in the language of his fathers and said to them, No. So he too underwent the rest of the torture, as the first had done. And when he was at the last gasp, he said, Thou cursed miscreant! Thou dost dispatch us from this life, but the King of the world shall raise us up, who have died for his laws, and revive us to life everlasting. 10 And after him the third was made a mocking-stock. And when he was told to put out his tongue, he did so at once, stretching forth his hands courageously, with the noble words, 11 These I had from heaven; for His name’s sake I count them naught; from Him I hope to get them back again. 12 So much so that the king himself and his company were astounded at the spirit of the youth, for he thought nothing of his sufferings. 13 And when he too was dead, they tortured the fourth in the same shameful fashion. 14 And when he was near his end, he said: ’Tis meet for those who perish at men’s hands to cherish hope divine that they shall be raised up by God again; but thou—thou shalt have no resurrection to life. 15 Next they brought the fifth and handled him shamefully. 16 But he looked at the king and said, Holding authority among men, thou doest what thou wilt, poor mortal; but dream not that God hath forsaken our race. 17 Go on, and thou shalt find how His sovereign power will torture thee and thy seed! And after him they brought the sixth. 18 And when he was at the point of death he said, Deceive not thyself in vain! We are suffering this on our own account, for sins against our own God. 19 That is why these awful horrors have befallen us. But think not thou shalt go unpunished for daring to fight against God! 20 The mother, however, was a perfect wonder; she deserves to be held in glorious memory, for, thanks to her hope in God, she bravely bore the sight of seven sons dying in a single day. 21 Full of noble spirit and nerving her weak woman’s heart with the courage of a man, she exhorted each of them in the language of their fathers, saying, How you were ever conceived in my womb, I cannot tell! 22 ’Twas not I who gave you the breath of life or 23 fashioned the elements of each! 23 ’Twas the Creator of the world who fashioneth men and deviseth the generating of all things, and he it is who in mercy will restore to you the breath of life even as you now count yourselves naught for his laws’ sake. 24 Now Antiochus felt that he was being humiliated, but, overlooking the taunt of her words, he made an appeal to the youngest brother, who still survived, and even promised on oath to make him rich and happy and a Friend and a trusted official of State, if he would give up his fathers’ laws. 25 As the young man paid no attention to him, he summoned his mother and exhorted her to counsel the lad to save himself. 26 So, after he had exhorted her at length, she agreed to persuade her son. 27 She leant over to him and, befooling the cruel tyrant, spoke thus in her fathers’ tongue: My son, have pity on me. Nine months I carried thee in my womb, three years I suckled thee; I reared thee and brought thee up to this age of thy life. 28 Child, I beseech thee, lift thine eyes to heaven and earth, look at all that is therein, and know that God did not make them out of the things that existed. So is the race of men created. 29 Fear not this butcher, but show thyself worthy of thy brothers, and accept thy death, that by God’s mercy I may receive thee again together with thy brothers. 30 Ere she had finished, the young man cried, What are you waiting for? I will not obey the king’s command, I will obey the command of the law given by Moses to our fathers. 31 But thou, who hast devised all manner of evil against the Hebrews, thou shalt not escape the hands of God. 32 We are suffering for our own sins, and though our living Lord is angry for a little, 33 in order to rebuke and chasten us, he will again be reconciled to his own servants. 34 But thou, thou impious wretch, vilest of all men, be not vainly uplifted with thy proud, 35 uncertain hopes, raising thy hand against the heavenly children; thou hast not yet escaped the judgement of the Almighty God who seeth all. 36 These our brothers, after enduring a brief pain, have now drunk of everflowing life, in terms of God’s covenant, but thou shalt receive by God’s judgement the just penalty of thine arrogance. 37 I, like my brothers, give up body and soul for our fathers’ laws, calling on God to show favour to our nation soon, and to make thee acknowledge, 38 in torment and plagues, that he alone is God, and to let the Almighty’s wrath, justly fallen on the whole of our nation, end in me and in my brothers. 39 Then the king fell into a passion and had him handled worse than the others, so exasperated was he at being mocked. 40 Thus he also died unpolluted, trusting absolutely in the Lord. 41 Finally after her sons the mother also perished.

42 Let this suffice for the enforced sacrifices and the excesses of barbarity.

8:1–36. Revolt and early successes of Judas Maccabaeus.

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