3 Maccabees 3

3The impious king perceiving this was so greatly enraged that he was not only wroth with those who dwelt at Alexandria, but was even more bitterly hostile to those in the country, and ordered that they should all be speedily gathered together, and put an end to by the most cruel death. While this was being arranged a malicious report was noised abroad against the Jewish nation on the part of men who agreed together to do them hurt, an occasion being afforded for representing that they hindered them from the observance of the laws. But the Jews continued to maintain their goodwill towards the kings and their unswerving fidelity. Yet worshipping God, and living according to his law, they held themselves apart in the matter of food; and for this reason they were disliked by some; but adorning their conversation by the good practice of righteousness they were established in the good report of all. But of this good practice, which was the common talk of all men with regard to the nation, the foreigners took no account; but they talked continually of the difference they made with regard to worship and food, alleging that they were friendly neither to the king nor his army, but ill-disposed, and bitterly hostile to his interests; thus they cast no small opprobrium upon them. But the Greeks in the city having been in no way injured by them, seeing the unexpected disturbance about them, and the unlooked-for concourse, were not able to help them—for they lived under a tyranny—but tried to comfort them and were indignant, expecting that this affair would take a change for the better; for so great a community could not be thus allowed to perish when it had committed no fault. 10 And already some of their neighbours and friends and business associates, taking aside some of the Jews secretly, gave pledges of their protection and earnest endeavours for their assistance.

11 So the king, puffed up by his present prosperity, and regarding not the power of the most high God, but supposing that he himself would always hold firmly to the same purpose, wrote this letter against them. 12 King Ptolemy Philopator to his generals and soldiers in Egypt and every place greeting and prosperity. 13 I myself and our affairs prosper. 14 Our expedition into Asia, of which you yourselves are aware, having been brought to an expected conclusion by the help of the Gods granted us deliberately, 15 we thought, not by force of arms, but by kindness and much benevolence to foster the peoples of Coele-Syria and Phoenicia, bestowing benefits upon them with all readiness. 16 And having granted large revenues to the temples in the cities, we came to Jerusalem as well, going up thither to show honour to the temple of the accursed people who never cease from their folly. 17 Seemingly they welcomed our presence, but their welcome was insincere; for when we were eager to enter their shrine and to honour it with magnificent and beautiful offerings, 18 carried away by their ancient pride they prevented us from going in, being left unhurt by our power on account of the benevolence we have to all. 19 But they show plainly their ill-will towards us, and standing alone among nations in their stiff-necked resistance to kings and their own benefactors, they refuse to take anything in a proper spirit. 20 We accommodated ourselves to their folly, and returning victoriously to Egypt, and treating all nations with kindness, have acted as was right. 21 And under these circumstances, making known to all our ready forgiveness of their fellow-countrymen, on account of their alliance, and the numerous matters which have been freely entrusted to them from of old, we have ventured to make a change, and have made up our mind to hold them worthy even of Alex andrian citizenship, and to give them a share in our religious rites from time to time. 22 But they taking this in the opposite spirit and rejecting the good offer with their inborn ill-feeling, and continually inclining to evil, 23 not only refused the invaluable citizenship, but also show their contempt silently and by words for the few among them who behave properly towards us, in every case secretly expecting that through their infamous behaviour we should speedily alter our policy. 24 Therefore having good proof for our persuasion that they are evilly disposed towards us in every way, and taking precautions lest when some sudden tumult is raised against us hereafter we should have these impious people behind our backs as traitors and barbarous foes, 25 we give order that, as soon as this epistle reaches you, you shall at once send to us with harsh and violent treatment those who dwell among you with women and children, binding them fast in every way with iron chains, to meet a terrible and ignominious death, as befits traitors. 26 For we believe that when they have been punished together, our estate will be established for the future in the surest and best condition. 27 And whoever shall harbour any Jew, old man or child or very suckling, shall with all his house be tortured to death with the most horrible torments. 28 Information may be given by any one; the informer to receive the estate of the guilty party, with two thousand drachmae from the royal treasury, and to be honoured with freedom. 29 And every place where a Jew shall be detected at all in concealment shall be made a waste and burnt with fire, and shall become entirely useless to any mortal creature for all time. 30 Thus ran the letter.

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