Third Maccabees Chapters (English Bible : World English Bible – British Edition – WEBBE)
1 And Eleazar, an illustrious priest of the country, who had attained to length of days, and whose life had been adorned with virtue, caused the elders who were around him to cease to cry out to the holy God, and prayed thus:
2 O king, mighty in power, most high, Almighty God, who regulates the whole creation with your tender mercy,
3 look upon the seed of Abraham, upon the children of the sanctified Jacob, your sanctified inheritance, O Father, now being wrongfully destroyed as strangers in a strange land.
4 You destroyed Pharaoh, with his army of chariots, when that lord of this same Egypt was uplifted with lawless daring and loud-sounding tongue. Shedding the beams of your mercy upon the race of Israel, you did overwhelm him with his proud army.
5 When Sennacherim, the grievous king of the Assyrians, exulting in his countless army, had subdued the whole land with his spear, and was lifting himself against your holy city, with boastings grievous to be endured, you, O Lord, did demolish him and did show forth your might to many nations.
6 When the three friends in the land of Babylon of their own will exposed their lives to the fire rather than serve vain things, you did send a moist coolness through the fiery furnace, and bring the fire upon all their adversaries.
7 It was you who, when Daniel was hurled, through slander and envy, as a prey to lions down below, did bring him back against unhurt to light.
8 When Jonah was pining away in the belly of the sea-bred monster, you did look upon him, O Father, and recover him to the sight of his own.
9 And now, you who hate insolence; you who do abound in mercy; you who are the protector of all things; appear quickly to those of the race of Israel, who are insulted by abhorred, lawless gentiles.
10 If our life has during our exile been stained with iniquity, deliver us from the hand of the enemy, and destroy us, O Lord, by the death which you prefer.
11 Let not the vain-minded congratulate vain idols at the destruction of your beloved, saying, Neither did their god deliver them.
12 You, who are All-powerful and Almighty, O Eternal One, behold! have mercy upon us who are being withdrawn from life, like traitors, by the unreasoning insolence of lawless men.
13 Let the heathen cower before your invincible might today, O glorious One, who have all power to save the race of Jacob.
14 The whole band of infants and their parents with tears beseech you.
15 Let it be shown to all the nations that you are with us, O Lord, and have not turned your face away from us; but as you said that you would not forget them even in the land of their enemies, so do you fulfil this saying, O Lord.
16 Now, at the time that Eleazar had ended his prayer, the king came along to the hippodrome, with the wild beasts, and with his tumultuous power.
17 When the Jews saw this, they uttered a loud cry to heaven, so that the adjacent valleys resounded, and caused an irrepressible lamentation throughout the army.
18 Then the all-glorious, all-powerful, and true God, displayed his holy countenance, and opened the gates of heaven, from which two angels, dreadful of form, came down and were visible to all but the Jews.
19 And they stood opposite, and filled the enemies’ army with confusion and cowardice; and bound them with immoveable fetters.
20 And a cold shudder came over the person of the king, and oblivion paralysed the vehemence of his spirit.
21 They turned back the animals upon the armed forces which followed them; and the animals trod them down, and destroyed them.
22 The king’s wrath was converted into compassion; and he wept at his own machinations.
23 For when he heard the cry, and saw them all on the verge of destruction, with tears he angrily threatened his friends, saying,
24 You° have governed badly; and have exceeded tyrants in cruelty; and me your benefactor you° have laboured to deprive at once of my dominion and my life, by secretly devising measures injurious to the kingdom.
25 Who has gathered here, unreasonably removing each from his home, those who, in fidelity to us, had held the fortresses of the country?
26 Who has thus consigned to unmerited punishments those who in good will towards us from the beginning have in all things surpassed all nations, and who often have engaged in the most dangerous undertakings?
27 Loose, loose the unjust bonds; send them to their homes in peace, and deprecate what has been done.
28 Release the sons of the almighty living God of heaven, who from our ancestors’ times until now has granted a glorious and uninterrupted prosperity to our affairs.
29 These things he said; and they, released the same moment, having now escaped death, praised God their holy Saviour.
30 The king then departed to the city, and called his financier to him, and asked him provide a seven days’ quantity of wine and other materials for feasting for the Jews. He decided that they should keep a gladsome festival of deliverance in the very place in which they expected to meet with their destruction.
31 Then they who were before despised and near to hades, yes, rather advanced into it, partook of the cup of salvation, instead of a grievous and lamentable death. Full of exultation, they parted out the place intended for their fall and burial into banqueting booths.
32 Ceasing their miserable strain of woe, they took up the subject of their fatherland, hymning in praise God their wonder-working Saviour. All groans, all wailing, were laid aside: they formed dances in token of serene joy.
33 So, also, the king collected a number of guests for the occasion, and returned unceasing thanks with much magnificence for the unexpected deliverance afforded him.
34 Those who had marked them out as for death and for carrion, and had registered them with joy, howled aloud, and were clothed with shame, and had the fire of their rage ingloriously put out.
35 But the Jews, as we just said, instituted a dance, and then gave themselves up to feasting, glad thanksgiving, and psalms.
36 They made a public ordinance to commemorate these things for generations to come, as long as they should be sojourners. They thus established these days as days of mirth, not for the purpose of drinking or luxury, but because God had saved them.
37 They requested the king to send them back to their homes.
38 They were being enrolled from the twenty-fifth of Pachon to the fourth of Epiphi, a period of forty days: the measures taken for their destruction lasted from the fifth of Epiphi till the seventh, that is, three days.
39 The Ruler over all did during this time manifest forth his mercy gloriously, and did deliver them all together unharmed.
40 They feasted upon the king’s provision up to the fourteenth day, and then asked to be sent away.
41 The king commended them, and wrote the following letter, of magnanimous import for them, to the commanders of every city.