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2 Maccabees 9

9Now about that time it happened that Antiochus had to beat a disorderly retreat from the region of Persia. He had entered the city called Persepolis and tried to rob temples and get hold of the city; whereupon the people flew to arms and routed him, with the result that Antiochus was put to flight by the people of the country and broke up his camp in disgrace. And while he was at Ecbatana, news reached him of what had happened to Nicanor and the forces of Timotheus. So, in a transport of rage, he determined to wreak vengeance on the Jews for the defeat which he had suffered at the hands of those who had forced him to fly, and ordered his charioteer to drive on without halting till the journey was ended. Verily the judgement of heaven upon him was imminent! For thus he spoke in his arrogance: When I reach Jerusalem, I will make it a common sepulchre of Jews. But the all-seeing Lord, the God of Israel, smote him with a fatal and unseen stroke; the words were no sooner out of his mouth than he was seized with an incurable pain in the bowels, and his internal organs gave him cruel torture—a right proper punishment for one who had tortured the bowels of other people with many an exquisite pang. He did not cease from his wild insolence, however, but waxed more arrogant than ever, breathing fire and fury against the Jews, and giving orders to hurry on with the journey. And it came to pass that he dropped from his chariot as it whirled along, so that the bad fall racked every limb of his body. Thus he who in his overweening haughtiness had supposed the waves of the sea were at his bidding and imagined he could weigh the high mountains in his scales, was now prostrate, carried along in a litter—a manifest token to all men of the power of God. Worms actually swarmed from the impious creature’s body; his flesh fell off, while he was still alive in pain and anguish; and the stench of his corruption turned the whole army from him with loathing. 10 A man who shortly before had thought he could touch the stars of heaven, none could now endure to carry, such was his intolerable stench. 11 Then it was that, broken in spirit, he began to abate hisarrogance, for the most part, and to arrive at some knowledge of the truth. For, as he suffered more and more anguish under the scourge of God, unable even to bear his own stench, he said: 12 Right is it that mortal man should be subject to God, and not deem himself God’s equal. 13 The vile wretch also made a vow to the Lord (who would not now have pity on him), 14 promising that he would proclaim the holy city free—the city which he was hurrying to lay level with the ground and to make a common sepulchre—that he would make all the Jews equal to citizens of Athens—the Jews whom he had determined to throw out with their children to the beasts, 15 for the birds to devour, 16 as unworthy even to be buried—that he would adorn with magnificent offerings the holy sanctuary which he had formerly rifled, restoring all the sacred vessels many times over, and defraying from his own revenue the expense of the sacrifices; furthermore, 17 that he would even become a Jew and travel over the inhabited world to publish abroad the might of God. 18 But when his sufferings did not cease by any means (for God’s judgement had justly come upon him), he gave up all hope of himself and wrote the following letter, with its humble supplication, to the Jews:

19 To his citizens, the loyal Jews, Antiochus their king and general wisheth great joy and health and prosperity. 20 If you and your children fare well and your affairs are to your mind, I give thanks to God, as my hope is in heaven. 21 As for myself, I am sick. Your esteem and goodwill I bear in loving memory. On my way back from Persia I have fallen seriously ill, 22 and I think it needful to take into consideration the common safety of all my subjects—not that I despair of myself (for, on the contrary, I have good hopes of recovery), 23 but in view of the fact that when my father marched into the upper country, 24 he appointed his successor, in order that, in the event of anything unexpected occurring or any unwelcome news arriving, the residents at home might know whom the State had been entrusted to, and so be spared any disturbance. 25 Besides these considerations, as I have noticed how the princes on the borders and the neighbours of my kingdom are on the alert for any opportunity and anticipate the coming event, I have appointed my son Antiochus to be king. I have often committed and commended him to most of you, when I hurried to the upper provinces. 26 I have also written to him what I have written below. I therefore exhort and implore you to remember the public and private benefits you have received and to preserve, each of you, your present goodwill toward me and my son. 27 For I am convinced that with mildness and kindness he Will adhere to my policy and continue on good terms with you.

28 So this murderer and blasphemer, after terrible suffering such as he had inflicted on other people, ended his life most miserably among the mountains in a foreign land. 29 His bosom-friend Philip brought the corpse home; and then, fearing the son of Antiochus, he betook himself to Ptolemy Philometor in Egypt.

10:1–8. The temple purified and the feast of dedication instituted.

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