5 Maccabees Chapter 05 (from The Five Books of Maccabees)


Cotton H.Sir : 

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P. 288 – 294 Book 5 B.C. 167 [PDF: 338/344 of p.524]

CHAPTER 51)Foot Note p. 288 a. Compare with this chapter, 3 Mace. vii. and 4 Mace. viii—xii..

(i) The history of’ the death of the seven brethren.

1 After this, seven brothers were seized, and their mother; and they were sent to the king; for he had not yet gone far away from Jerusalem. And 2 when they had been carried to the king, one of them was brought into his presence ; whom he p. 289 3 ordered to renounce his religion : but he refusing said to him, “If you think to teach us the truth 4 for the first time, the matter is not so : for truth is that which we have learned from our fathers, and by which we have bound ourselves to embrace the worship of God only, and constantly to observe the law ; and from this we in no 5 wise will depart.” And king Antiochus was angry at these words, and commanded an iron frying pan to be brought, and to be placed on the 6 fire. Then he ordered the young man’s tongue to be cut out, and his hands and feet to be cut off, and the skin of his head to be flayed off, and to be placed in the pan : and they did so to him. 7 Then he commanded a large brazen caldron to be brought and set over the fire, into which the 8 rest of his body was thrown. And when the man was near dying, he ordered the fire to be removed from him, that he might be tortured the longer : intending by these acts to terrify his 9 mother and his brethren. But in fact by this he gave them additional courage and strength, to maintain their religion with constancy, and to bear all those torments which tyranny could inflict upon them. 10 So when the first was dead, the second was brought before him : to whom some of the attendants said, “Obey those orders which the king will give you, lest you perish even as your brother perished.” 11 But he answered, ” I am not weaker in spirit than my brother, nor behind him in my faith. Bring forward your fire and sword ; and do not diminish ought of that which you did to my brother.” And they did to him p. 290 as had been done to his brother. And he called 12 out to the king, and said to him ; ” Hear, O thou monster of cruelty towards men, and know that thou gainest nothing of ours except our bodies but our souls thou dost by no means obtain; and these shortly will go to their Creator, whom 13 He will restore to their bodies, when He shall raise to life2)Foot Note p. 290 b. There appears here a manifest allusion to the words of the prophet Isaiah, ch. xxvi. 19, ” Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.” Also, to a striking passage in Ezechiel, ch. xxxvii. 1—14. the dead men of his nation and the slain ones of his people.” 

And the third was brought out ; who 14 beckoning with his hand said to the king ; “Why dost thou frighten us, O enemy ? know that this is 15 sent upon us from heaven, which also we under go as such, giving we hope for our reward.” And the king, and thanks to God, and from Him 16 those who stood near him, admired the courage of  the youth, and the firmness of his mind, and his fair discourse. Then he gave orders, and he was slain.

And the fourth was brought out, who said: 17 For God’s religion we set our lives to sale, and hire them out, that we may require payment from Him, on that day when you shall have no excuse in the judgment, and shall not be able to endure your tortures.” The king commanded, 18 and he was put to death.

And the fifth was brought out, who said to him; 19 Think not within thyself that God has forsaken us, because of the things which He has sent p. 296 upon us. 20 But truly his will is, to shew us honour and love by these things ; and He will 21 avenge us of thee and of thy posterity.” And the king commanded, and he was slain.

22 And the sixth was brought out, who said; “I confess indeed my offences to God, but I believe that they shall be forgiven me through this my 23 death. But you have now opposed God, by slaying those who embrace His religion: and surely He will repay you according to your works, and will root you out from his earth.” And he gave orders for him, and he was slain.

24 And the seventh was brought out, who was a boy. 25 Then his mother arose, fearless and unmoved, and looked upon3)Foot Note p. 291 c. Compare what is related of her firmness and fortitude, in book IV. ch. xv. 13—23. the corpses of her children: 26 and she said, “My sons, I know not how I conceived each one of you, when I did conceive him. Nor had I the power of giving him breath ; or of bringing him forth to the light of this world ; or of bestowing on him courage 27 and understanding : but indeed the great and good God himself formed him according to his own will : and gave to him a form according to 28 his good pleasure : and brought him into the world by his power ; appointing to him a term of life, and good rules, and a dispensation of 29 religion, as it pleaseth Him. But you now have sold to God your bodies which he himself formed, and your souls which he created : and you have acquiesced in his judgements which he 30 hath decreed. Wherefore, happy are ye, in the things which happily you have obtained ; and p. 292 blessed are ye, for the things in which you have been victorious.” Now Antiochus had supposed, when he beheld 31 her rise up, that she had done this through being overcome by fear for her child ; and he wholly thought that she was about to enjoin him obedience to the king, that he might not perish as his brethren had perished. But when he had heard 32 her words, he was ashamed, and blushed, and commanded the boy to be brought to him ; that he might exhort him, and persuade him to love life, and deter him from death : lest all those 33 should be seen to oppose his authority, and very many others should follow their example. 34 Therefore, when he was brought to him, he exhorted him by discourse, and promised him riches, and sware to him that he would make him viceroy to himself. But when the boy was not at all moved 35 by his words, and took no heed of them ; the king turned to his mother, and said to her; “Happy woman, pity this thy son, whom alone 36 thou hast surviving ; and exhort him to comply with my orders, and to escape those sufferings which have happened to his brethren.” And 37 she said, “Bring him hither, that I may exhort him in the words of God.” And when they had brought him to her, she 38 went aside from the crowd : then she kissed him, and laughed to scorn the things which had been said to her by Antiochus : and then said to him; 39 My son, come now, be obedient to me, because have brought you forth, and suckled you, and educated you, and taught you divine religion. Look up now to the heaven, and the earth, and 40 p. 293 the water, and the fire ; and understand that the one true God himself created these ; and formed man of flesh and blood, who lives a 41 short time, and then will die. Wherefore fear the true God, who dieth not : and obey the true 42 Being, who changeth not his promises : and fear not this mere giant4)Foot Note p. 293 d. Lat. “Gigantem vulgarem.”: and die for God’s religion 43 as your brothers have died. For if you could see, my son, their honourable dwelling-place, and the light of their habitation5)Foot Note p. 293 e.  This circumstance, as betokening a state of comfort and happiness, is frequently brought forward in the holy Scriptures. Thus, while actual darkness overspread the land of Egypt, we read that “all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.” Exod. x. 23. And the same expression, in a figure, is of constant occururence: “that David my servant may have a light always:” “—” the light shall shine on thy ways: “—” Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us: “—” The Lord is my light,” &c. &c. &c. So St. Paul speaks of “the inheritance of the saints in light.” But I do not purpose to quote the New Testament here. See 5 Macca verse 48. , and to what glory they have attained, you would not endure 44 not to follow them : and in truth I also hope that the great and good God will prepare me, and that I shall closely follow you.” 45 Then said the boy; “Know ye that I will obey God, and will not obey the commands of Antiochus : wherefore, delay not to let me follow my brothers ; hinder me not from departing to 46 the place whither they have gone.” Then to the king he said; “Woe to thee from God ! whither wilt thou fly from Him ? where wilt thou seek for refuge? or whose help wilt thou implore, that He may not take vengeance on thee ? p. 294 Truly thou hast done us a kindness, when thou 47 hadst designed to do us evil : thou hast done evil to thine own soul, and hast destroyed it, while thou thoughtest to do it good. Now we 48 are on our way to a life which death shall never follow; and shall dwell in light which darkness shall never put away. But your dwelling 49 shall be in the infernal regions, with exquisite punishments from God. And I trust, that the 50 wrath of God will depart from his people, on account of what we have suffered for them : but 51 that you He will torment in this world, and bring you to a wretched death ; and that afterwards you will depart into eternal torments.”

And Antiochus was angry, seeing that the boy 52 opposed his authority ; wherefore he commanded him to be tortured even more than his brothers. And this was done, and he died. But their 53 mother intreated God, and besought Him that she might follow her sons ; and immediately she died. 

Then Antiochus departed into his country 54 Macedonia : and he wrote to Feelix, and to the other governors6)Foot Note p. 294 f.  See 3 Mace. v. 22—24. in Syria, that they should slay all the Jews, except those who should embrace his religion. And his servants obeyed his command, 55 putting a multitude of men to death.


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. Foot Note p. 288 a. Compare with this chapter, 3 Mace. vii. and 4 Mace. viii—xii.
2. Foot Note p. 290 b. There appears here a manifest allusion to the words of the prophet Isaiah, ch. xxvi. 19, ” Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.” Also, to a striking passage in Ezechiel, ch. xxxvii. 1—14.
3. Foot Note p. 291 c. Compare what is related of her firmness and fortitude, in book IV. ch. xv. 13—23.
4. Foot Note p. 293 d. Lat. “Gigantem vulgarem.”
5. Foot Note p. 293 e.  This circumstance, as betokening a state of comfort and happiness, is frequently brought forward in the holy Scriptures. Thus, while actual darkness overspread the land of Egypt, we read that “all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.” Exod. x. 23. And the same expression, in a figure, is of constant occururence: “that David my servant may have a light always:” “—” the light shall shine on thy ways: “—” Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us: “—” The Lord is my light,” &c. &c. &c. So St. Paul speaks of “the inheritance of the saints in light.” But I do not purpose to quote the New Testament here. See 5 Macca verse 48.
6. Foot Note p. 294 f.  See 3 Mace. v. 22—24.

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