4 Maccabees Chapter 09 (from The Five Books of Maccabees)


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P. 247 – 250 Book 4 B.C. 167 [PDF: 297/300 of p.524]

CHAPTER 9

(i) The noble address of the young men. The first and second are put to death.

1 Why waitest thou1)P. 247 Foot Note a. Compare ch. vi. 19, above, This prompt and resolute reply breathes the same spirit as was exhibited at an earlier period to king Nebuchadnezzar by Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, when they were exposed to a similar alternative, of idolatry or death., O tyrant ? for we are ” prepared to die, rather than transgress the 2 commands of our fathers. For we feel, and justly, that we disgrace our ancestors, if we follow not obedience to the law and Moses2)P. 247 Foot Note b. The Greek text varies, between Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] and Gr. [ click on image to enlarge]. as our guide. 3 Do not, O tyrant, who advisest us to violate the law ; — do not, while you hate us, pity us more 4 than we pity ourselves. For we consider your compassionate wish, that we should save our lives by transgressing the law, to be worse than 5 death3)P. 247 Foot Note c. Compare ch. vi. 13, and the note there. itself. And you think to frighten us, threatening us with a death by torture, as though we had not lately learned4)P. 247 Foot Note d. The Greek is Gr. [ click on image to enlarge], which probably ought to be Gr. [ click on image to enlarge]. this from 6 Eleazar. But if aged men of the Hebrews have died, and even after enduring torturings, for religion’s sake ; with more justice we young men ought to die, despising the torments of your persecutions, which even the old man, who is our instructor, overcame. p. 248 

7 Make the experiment, therefore, O tyrant ! and even if you take away our lives for religion’s sake, think not that you hurt us by these torments. For we indeed, through this suffering 8 and endurance, shall hereafter receive the rewards of virtue ; and shall be5)P. 248 Foot Note e. The last clause of this verse is omitted in the Oxford 8vo. Septuagint of 1817: but it occurs in Grabe’s edition, taken from the Alexandrian MS. with God, in whose cause we are suffering. But you, on 9 account of the wilful foul murder of us, shall suffer from Divine vengeance eternal torment by fire.”

10 When they had thus spoken, the tyrant was not only vexed with them as disobedient, but also was wroth with them as being ungrateful6)P. 248 Foot Note f. It is probable that he felt personally nettled,, at having: taken in vain the trouble of expressing his anxiety for their welfare., and offering them life and security on terms which he fancied must be accepted joyfully; but which they, from a principle of religion, spurned with the bitterest contempt. persons. So that the guards being commanded 11 brought out the eldest of them ; and having rent off his coat, they bound his hands and arms to each side of his body with leather thongs. And when 12 they had tired themselves by beating him with scourges, producing no effect, they threw him upon the wheel. Upon the circumference of which the 13 noble youth being extended had his joints dislocated. And while he was being fractured in every 14 limb, he inveighed against Antiochus, saying : ” O most foul tyrant, enemy of heavenly justice, 15 and cruel-minded ; you do not maltreat me in this manner for having committed murder or sacrilege, but for standing up in defence of the p. 249 16 Divine Law. And when the guards said, Consent to eat, that you may be released from 17 torments ; he said to them,  Your wheel, O ye accursed ministers, is not so powerful as to break7)P. 249 Foot Note g. details here Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] But Josephus has Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] ” to choke,” or ” stifle.” Either of the two expressions is sufficiently apposite. my Principle. Cut up my limbs, and burn my flesh, and wrench my joints asunder. 18 For throughout all your tortures I will cause you to believe that the children of the Hebrews alone are invincible in virtue’s cause.”

19 As he was saying this, they placed fire under him8)P. 249 Foot Note h. The text of this verse in the edition of 1817 is thus : Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] which is probably corrupt, and ought to be (as in Grabe), Gr. [ click on image to enlarge].; and turned the wheel about with great 20 violence, extending him at length upon it. And the wheel was besprinkled with blood on every side ; and the heap of hot coals was extinguished by the droppings of gore ; and pieces of his flesh 21 flew about the axles of the machine. And although he already had the frame of his bones wrenched and mangled, the high-minded youth, true son9)P. 249 Foot Note i. Gr. [ click on image to enlarge]. of Abraham, never uttered a groan. 22 But, as if he were being transformed by fire into 23 immortality, he nobly endured the rackings : saying, ” Follow my example, brethren: desert not10)P. 249 Foot Note k. Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] a phrase which does not admit a close rendering into English. the post of honour which my life exhibits ; nor forswear your fraternal fellowship with me in 24 magnanimity. War a holy and noble warfare11)P. 249/250 Foot Note l. details here Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] Precisely the same advice, and almost in the selfsame words, is p.250 given by St. Paul to Timothy, Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] 1 Tim. i. 18. p. 250 for Religion ; by which means the providence of our Just Father, becoming appeased towards our nation, may take vengeance on the execrable tyrant.” And having spoken thus, the holy 25 admirable youth breathed out his soul.

26 And when all had wondered at his persevering spirit, the officers brought out the one who was next to him in age ; and having fitted on themselves iron gauntlets12)P. 250 Foot Note m. Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] The officers or executioners put on these gloves, or gauntlets, or claws, that they might tear his flesh from the bones, as shewn at verse 28. with sharp nails, they bound him to the machines called catapeltæ. And 27 when, on asking whether he would consent to eat before he were tortured, they heard his noble sentiment ; tearing him with the iron claws from the 28 muscles of his neck, the savage beasts like panthers13)P. 250 Foot Note n. Gr. [  click on image to enlarge] Athenæus uses the word Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] to express the same idea. The metaphor is familiar to most of the Greek classic authors. drew off all the flesh to the chin, and the skin of his head. But he with gravity bearing 29 this pain, said : How pleasant is every form of death in behalf of our country’s Religion ! And to 30 the tyrant he said, ” Do you not think, most inhuman of all tyrants, that you are now suffering torments greater than mine, on seeing the haughty calculations of your tyranny defeated by our endurance in Religion’s cause ? For I 31 truly lighten my own pains with the delights which virtue yields. But you are tormented with the apprehensions of impiety : and you shall not escape, O most infamous tyrant, the Divine wrath !”


Original Source: Transcribed from PDF copy of Book "The Five Books of Maccabees in English. With Notes and Illustrations", by HENRY COTTON, D.C.L.(Sir) Archdeacon of Cashel, and Late Student of Christ Church, Oxford. Publication date 1832 | PDF


References   [ + ]

1. P. 247 Foot Note a. Compare ch. vi. 19, above, This prompt and resolute reply breathes the same spirit as was exhibited at an earlier period to king Nebuchadnezzar by Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, when they were exposed to a similar alternative, of idolatry or death.
2. P. 247 Foot Note b. The Greek text varies, between Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] and Gr. [ click on image to enlarge].
3. P. 247 Foot Note c. Compare ch. vi. 13, and the note there.
4. P. 247 Foot Note d. The Greek is Gr. [ click on image to enlarge], which probably ought to be Gr. [ click on image to enlarge].
5. P. 248 Foot Note e. The last clause of this verse is omitted in the Oxford 8vo. Septuagint of 1817: but it occurs in Grabe’s edition, taken from the Alexandrian MS.
6. P. 248 Foot Note f. It is probable that he felt personally nettled,, at having: taken in vain the trouble of expressing his anxiety for their welfare., and offering them life and security on terms which he fancied must be accepted joyfully; but which they, from a principle of religion, spurned with the bitterest contempt.
7. P. 249 Foot Note g. details here Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] But Josephus has Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] ” to choke,” or ” stifle.” Either of the two expressions is sufficiently apposite.
8. P. 249 Foot Note h. The text of this verse in the edition of 1817 is thus : Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] which is probably corrupt, and ought to be (as in Grabe), Gr. [ click on image to enlarge].
9. P. 249 Foot Note i. Gr. [ click on image to enlarge].
10. P. 249 Foot Note k. Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] a phrase which does not admit a close rendering into English.
11. P. 249/250 Foot Note l. details here Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] Precisely the same advice, and almost in the selfsame words, is p.250 given by St. Paul to Timothy, Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] 1 Tim. i. 18.
12. P. 250 Foot Note m. Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] The officers or executioners put on these gloves, or gauntlets, or claws, that they might tear his flesh from the bones, as shewn at verse 28.
13. P. 250 Foot Note n. Gr. [  click on image to enlarge] Athenæus uses the word Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] to express the same idea. The metaphor is familiar to most of the Greek classic authors.

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