Second Maccabees Chapters
1 And it came to pass that seven kindred also with their mother were at the king’s command taken and shamefully handled with scourges and cords, to compel them to taste of the abominable swine’s flesh.
2 But one of them made himself the spokesman and said, What would you ask and learn of us? for we are ready to die rather than transgress the laws of our fathers.
3 And the king fell into a rage, and commanded to heat pans and cauldrons:
4 and when these forthwith were heated, he commanded to cut out the tongue of him that had been their spokesman, and to scalp him, and to cut off his extremities, the rest of his kindred and his mother looking on.
5 And when he was utterly maimed, the king commanded to bring him to the fire, being yet alive, and to fry him in the pan. And as the vapour of the pan spread far, they and their mother also exhorted one another to die nobly, saying thus:
6 The Lord God sees, and in truth is entreated for us, as Moses declared in his song, which witnesses against the people to their faces, saying, And he shall be entreated for his servants.
7 And when the first had died after this manner, they brought the second to the mocking; and they pulled off the skin of his head with the hair and asked him, Wilt you eat, before your body be punished in every limb?
8 But he answered in the language of his fathers and said to them, No. Wherefore he also underwent the next torture in succession, as the first had done.
9 And when he was at the last gasp, he said, You, miscreant, do release us out of this present life, but the King of the world shall raise up us, who have died for his laws, to an eternal renewal of life.
10 And after him was the third made a mocking-stock. And when he was required, he quickly put out his tongue, and stretched forth his hands courageously,
11 and nobly said, From heaven I possess these; and for his laws’ sake I treat these with contempt; and from him I hope to receive these back again:
12 insomuch that the king himself and those who were with him were astonished at the young man’s soul, for that he nothing regarded the pains.
13 And when he too was dead, they shamefully handled and tortured the fourth in like manner.
14 And being come near to death he said thus: It is good to die at the hands of men and look for the hopes which are given by God, that we shall be raised up again by him; for as for you, you shall have no resurrection to life.
15 And next after him they brought the fifth, and shamefully handled him.
16 But he looked towards the king and said, Because you have authority amongst men, though you are yourself corruptible, you do what you will; yet think not that our race has been forsaken of God;
17 but hold you on your way, and behold his sovereign majesty, how it will torture you and your seed.
18 And after him they brought the sixth. And when he was at the point to die he said, Be not vainly deceived, for we suffer these things for our own doings, as sinning against our own God: marvellous things are come to pass;
19 but think not you that you shall be unpunished, having assayed to fight against God.
20 But above all was the mother marvellous and worthy of honourable memory; for when she looked on seven sons perishing within the space of one day, she bare the sight with a good courage for the hopes that she had set on the Lord.
21 And she exhorted each one of them in the language of their fathers, filled with a noble temper and stirring up her womanish thought with manly passion, saying to them,
22 I know not how you° came into my womb, neither was it I that bestowed on you your spirit and your life, and it was not I that brought into order the first elements of each one of you.
23 Therefore the Creator of the world, who fashioned the generation of man and devised the generation of all things, in mercy gives back to you again both your spirit and your life, as you° now treat yourselves with contempt for his laws’ sake.
24 But Antiochus, thinking himself to be despised, and suspecting the reproachful voice, while the youngest was yet alive didn’t only make his appeal to him by words, but also at the same time promised with oaths that he would enrich him and raise him to high estate, if he would turn from the customs of his fathers, and that he would take him for his Friend and entrust him with affairs.
25 But when the young man would in no wise give heed, the king called to him his mother, and exhorted her that she would counsel the lad to save himself.
26 And when he had exhorted her with many words, she undertook to persuade her son.
27 But bending towards him, laughing the cruel tyrant to scorn, she spoke thus in the language of her fathers: My son, have pity upon me that carried you nine months in my womb, and gave you suck three years, and nourished and brought you up to this age, and sustained you.
28 I beseech you, my child, to lift your eyes to the heaven and the earth, and to see all things that are in it, and thus to recognise that God made them not of things that were, and that the race of men in this wise comes into being.
29 Don’t be afraid of this butcher, but, proving yourself worthy of your kindred, accept your death, that in the mercy of God I may receive you again with your kindred.
30 But before she had yet ended speaking, the young man said, Whom wait you° for? I obey not the commandment of the king, but I listen to the commandment of the law that was given to our fathers through Moses.
31 But you, that have devised all manner of evil against the Hebrews, shall in no wise escape the hands of God.
32 For we are suffering because of our own sins;
33 and if for rebuke and chastening our living Lord has been angered a little while, yet shall he again be reconciled with his own servants.
34 But you, O unholy man and of all most vile, be not vainly lifted up in your wild pride with uncertain hopes, raising your hand against the heavenly children;
35 For not yet have you escaped the judgement of the Almighty God that sees all things.
36 For these our kindred, having endured a short pain that brings everlasting life, have now died under God’s covenant; But you, through the judgement of God, shall receive in just measure the penalties of your arrogance.
37 But I, as my kindred, give up both body and soul for the laws of our fathers, calling upon God that he may speedily become gracious to the nation; and that you amidst trials and plagues may confess that he alone is God;
38 and that in me and my kindred you may stay the wrath of the Almighty, which has been justly brought upon our whole race.
39 But the king, falling into a rage, handled him worse than all the rest, being exasperated at his mocking.
40 So he also died pure from pollution, putting his whole trust in the Lord.
41 And last of all after her sons the mother died.
42 Let it then suffice to have said thus much concerning the enforcement of sacrificial feasts and the king’s exceeding barbarities.
First Maccabees First Esdras Prayer of Manasses
Visit Catholic Gallery Main Site