Cotton H.Sir :
P. 286 – 288 Book 5 B.C. 169 [PDF: 336/338 of p.524]
CHAPTER 4.Foot note p. 286 a. Compare this chapter with 3 Mace. vi. 18—31. and with 4 Mace. v. and vi.
(i) The history of the death of Eleazar the priest.
1 Afterwards was seized Eleazar, [B.C. 167] who had gone with the doctors unto PtolemyFoot note p. 286 b. See 5 Mace.ii. 4., and was then a very old man, ninety years of age ; and he was placed before Faelix ; who said 2 to him, ” Eleazar, truly you are a wise and prudent man ; and indeed I have loved you for many years, and therefore I should not wish your death : therefore obey the king, and 3 worship his image, and eat of his sacrifices, and depart in safety.” To whom Eleazar replied; 4 “I am not about to forsake my obedience to God, p. 287 5 in order to obey the king.” And Faelix, coming up, whispered to him, “Take care to send for some one to bring you flesh from your own 6 offerings, which place upon my table : and eat some part of that in the presence of the people, that they may know that you have obeyed the king : and you will save your life, without any 7 harm done to your religion.” Eleazar answered him, “I do not obey God under any kind of fraud, but rather I will endure this your violence. For inasmuch as I am an old man of ninety years, my bones are now weakened, and my body has 8 wasted away. If I therefore shall with a brave spirit endure those torments, from which even the bravest young men shrink back in fear ; my people and the youths of my nation will bravely 9 imitate me, and will say ; ‘ How is it that we may not endure the pains, which one, who is inferior to us in strength, and less substantial in 10 flesh and bones, has undergone?’ which indeed will be better for me, than to deceive them by a 11 feigned obedience to the king : for they will then say, ‘ If that decrepid old man, wise and prudent as he is, is clinging to life and overcome by the pain of temporary mattersFoot note p. 287 c. Or, “is afflicted by the painful thought of bidding adieu temporal affairs.”, abdicating his religion ; truly that will be lawful for us which was lawful for him, since he is an old man and a wise one, and one whom we ought 12 to follow.’ Wherefore I would rather die, leaving to them a constancy in religion and patience against tyranny ; than live, after having weakened their constancy in obeying their Lord and p. 288 following his commands ; so that through me they may be rendered happy, not unhappy.”
Now when Faelix had heard the determination 13 of Eleazar, he was violently enraged with him, and commanded him to be tortured in a variety of ways : so that he came into the most desperate mortal struggle, and said ; “Thou, O God, 14 knowest that I might have delivered myself from the troubles into which I have fallen, by obeying another rather than Thee. 15 This however I have not done ; but I have preferred obeying Thee, and have esteemed all the violence offered me as light, for the sake of constancy in obedience to Thee. And now I think 16 little of the things which have happened to me according to thy good pleasure, and support them as well as I can. I therefore pray Thee 17 that Thou wilt accept this from me, and cause me to die before I become weaker in endurance.” And God heard his prayers ; and immediately he 18 died. But he left his people devoted to the 19 worship of their God, and endued with a sound fortitude, and perseverance in religion, and patience to bear up against the trials which awaited them.
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