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3 Maccabees 7

7King Ptolomaeus Philopator to the generals in Egypt and to all set over his affairs greeting and prosperity. We ourselves and our children prosper, the great God directing our estate as we will. Certain of our friends with evil heart by frequently urging the matter upon us persuaded us to gather together in a body the Jews in the kingdom, and to inflict upon them extraordinary punishments as traitors, urging that our state would never be firmly established, on account of the enmity which they have to all nations, until this was done. And they, bringing them bound with harsh treatment as slaves, or rather traitors, without any inquiry or examination, attempted to put them to death, girding themselves with a cruelty fiercer than Scythian customs. But we severely threatened them for this, and of the clemency which we have to all men scarcely granted them their lives; and knowing that the God of heaven surely protects the Jews, fighting on their side continually as a father for his children, and taking into account the goodwill as of a friend which they have shown unswervingly to us and our ancestors, we have rightly absolved them from all blame on whatsoever account. And we have ordered them each to return to his own home, and that no one in any place should injure them at all or reproach them for their unreasonable sufferings. For know well that if we devise any evil against them, or harm them in any way, we shall have not man but the ruler of all power, the most high God as an adversary to avenge what is done, and that in every way and at all time without being able to escape him. Fare ye well.

10 The Jews receiving this epistle did not at once make haste to prepare for their departure, but desired further of the king that those of the Jewish race who had of their own will transgressed against the holy God [and the law of God] should receive at their hand fitting punishment, 11 urging that those who for their belly’s sake had transgressed against the divine commands would never be well disposed to the king’s commands either. 12 And he acknowledging the truth of what they said and praising them, gave them full indemnity to destroy in every place in his dominions those who had transgressed against the law of God, and this with all freedom without any further authority or inquiry from the king. 13 Then having received his words with applause, as was fitting, their priests and the whole multitude with shouts of hallelujah departed in joy. 14 So as they went on their way they slew whomsoever they met of their countrymen who had been defiled, and put them to death with ignominy. 15 And on that day they slew over three hundred men, and they kept it as a joyful festival, having destroyed the impious. 16 But they themselves who had held fast to God even unto death, and had entered into the full enjoyment of their safe delivery, departed from the city crowned with all manner of fragrant flowers and with cries of joy, in praises and melodious hymns giving thanks to the God of their fathers, the eternal saviour of Israel.

17 And when they had reached Ptolemais, called on account of the peculiarity of the place, The rose-bearing, 18 the fleet according to their general wish waited for them seven days, and they held there a banquet to celebrate their deliverance, the king having generously provided for them all things for their journey until each one had come to his own home. 19 Having reached the end of their voyage in peace with befitting thanksgivings, there too in like manner they determined to observe these days as well as a festival during the time of their sojourning; 20 and having inscribed them as holy on a pillar, and having dedicated a place of prayer on the spot where they had held their festival, they departed unharmed, free, and full of joy, being brought safely on their journey by land and sea and river according to the king’s command, each to his own country, 21 having even greater authority than before in the eyes of their enemies with glory and respect, and being despoiled by no one at all of their goods. 22 And they all recovered the whole of their property according to the registration, so that those who held any of it returned it with great fear, the great God having perfectly wrought great things for their salvation.

23 Blessed be the deliverer of Israel for ever and ever. Amen.

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