4 Maccabees Chapter 15 (from The Five Books of Maccabees)


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P. 262 – 267 Book 4 B.C. 167 [PDF: 312/317 of p.524]

CHAPTER 15

(i) An eulogy of the mother, for her most noble behaviour.

1 Nevertheless[1]P. 262 Foot Note a. The Greek text in these two verses is confused, and probably faulty., sympathy for her children did not move aside from her fixed purpose the mother of the young men, who had a spirit[2]P. 263 Foot Note b. Gr. [ click on image to enlarge]. equal 2 to that of her forefather Abraham. O Principle, sovereign of the passions ! and Piety, dearer to a 3 mother than even her children ! The mother, when two things were set before her ; religion, or the saving of her sons for a time, according to the tyrant’s promise ; rather chose religion, which saveth to eternal life[3]P. 263 Foot Note c. How closely does this sentiment correspond with the comforting address of our Saviour to his disciples, as given at Matth. X. 39; xvi. 25; Luke xvii. 33 ; and John xii. 25. … Continue reading with God.

4 O ! in what way can I morally pourtray[4]P. 263 Foot Note d. Gr. [ click on image to enlarge]. the affections of parents to their children ? which wondrously stamp[5]P. 263 Foot Note e. The meaning of this passage is not very clear. The text is, Gr. [
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300w, https://fourcornerministries.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/P.263-4.Macca_.15-FN-e-01-line-1-00-20mm-h.fw_-500x13.png 500w" sizes="(max-width: 747px) 100vw, 747px" />
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click on image to enlarge] There is some variety of reading in the latter part of the verse.
 a similarity, both of mind and form, on that small distinctive character which each possesses, namely, of being a child ! as mothers especially sympathise more strongly than 5 fathers in the sufferings of their children. For inasmuch as mothers are more tender-minded and more fond[6]P. 263 Foot Note f. The Greek varies, between Gr. [ and  click on image to enlarge] but the latter can scarcely be maintained. of that which is born of them, so much more affection do they bear towards their 6 children. But this mother of the seven youths was 7 more fond of her children than all mothers : who, growing in affection towards them through seven child-births, and forced by her many pains with each one to have a sympathy of feeling with them ; yet through the fear of God regarded not the temporary saving of her sons[7]P. 264 Foot Note g. The Greek text of this verse is very faulty, in the edition of 1817..

8 Not but that, on account of her sons’ noble conduct, and their obedience to the law, she felt a still greater yearning of affection towards them. For they were both just, and temperate, and 9 brave, and high-minded, and fond of their brothers ; and fond of their mother to such a degree that they obeyed her even unto death, by keeping the injunctions of the law. But yet, although there 10 were so many circumstances of affection which drew on a mother to sympathy : in the case of no one of them were the various tortures able to turn astray her principle. But each child separately, 11 and all of them together, the mother actually encouraged to the death for religion’s sake.

12 O holy disposition, and charms of parental love, and affectionate feeling[8]P. 264 Foot Note h. Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] but the edit. 1817 reads Gr. [ click on image to enlarge]., and the influence[9]P. 264 Foot Note i. The Greek text gives the single word Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] with a conciseness of expression which our language will not reach. of having bred up children, and the indomitable affections of mothers ! The mother beholding[10]P. 264 Foot Note k. Gregory Nazianzen, in his fine animated oration on this subject, thus powerfully describes the moral courage of this parent: Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] (Orat. … Continue reading them 13 one by one racked and burned, changed not herself, through religion. She beheld the flesh of 14 her children consuming in the fire, and their toes and fingers quivering on the ground, and the flesh of their heads stripped off[11]P. 264 Foot Note l. See above, ch. ix. 28., even down to the beards, and hanging down like masks.

p. 265 15 O mother, who at this instant wast tried by severer pangs than in thy bearing of them ! O thou woman, who alone hast brought forth entire 16 holiness ! Thy first-born expiring did not move thee : nor the second, piteously regarding thee in his torments : nor the third, yielding up his 17 breath. Nor, when thou didst behold the eyes of each of them fiercely glaring on[12]P. 265 Foot Note m. Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] Thus we read in the Medea of Euripides, Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] and again, Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] and in Aristophanes, … Continue reading the tortures destined for them, and their nostrils snuffing up the gale[13]P. 265 Foot Note n. Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] literally, ” presignifying.” of their own death,—didst thou weep ! 18 When thou beheldest flesh upon flesh of thy children chopped in pieces, hands after hands amputated, and heads upon heads cut off, and corpse falling upon corpse ; and sawest the lately happy band of thy children made a common sepulchre[14]P. 265 Foot Note o. Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] Compare 3 Mace. ix. 4, and the note on that passage. by these tortures,—thou didst not shed one tear. 19 Not so powerfully do the melodies of the sirens nor the notes of swans attract the hearers to listening, as did the voices of these children in 20 torments calling on their mother. With what and how great tortures was the mother herself tormented, while her sons were being tortured by p. 266 racks and burning irons ! But religious Principle, 21 having in the midst of sufferings manfully nerved her mind, gave her energy to look beyond the temporary calls of parental love. Though she 22 beheld the destruction of seven sons[15]P. 266 Foot Note p. Josephus adds here, “and the complicated variety of their tortures ” Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] And the text, if not absolutely corrupt, is … Continue reading : the noble mother stripped off all these feelings, through her faith towards God. For perceiving in her own 23 mind, as in a council-chamber, powerful advisers, namely, nature, and parentage, and maternal affection, and the rackings of her children ; the 24 mother, holding two votes[16]P. 266 Foot Note q. In all cases which were to be determined by suffrage, it was customary among the Greeks for each person to have two Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] or tickets ; one of … Continue reading one fatal to her children, the other preservative of them, decided not for a preservation which would save her seven sons for a short time ; but, being a true daughter of Abraham, she was mindful of religious constancy[17]P. 267 Foot Note r. An example of nearly similar heroism is recorded in the fifth book of Maccabees, chapter xx ; where the mother of John Hyrcanus, having been taken prisoner with two of her … Continue reading.

p. 267  25 O mother of a nation, avenger of the law, champion of religion, and conqueress in a struggle 26 of affections ! O thou who wast more noble in endurance than males, more manly than men in patience ! For, as the ark of Noah in the universal deluge, bearing in it the entire world, 27 sustained the violent waves : so thou, observer of the law, though overwhelmed on all sides by a deluge of troubles, and hard pressed by violent winds, namely, the tortures of thy sons,—didst nobly sustain the storms for religion’s sake.


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. 262 Foot Note a. The Greek text in these two verses is confused, and probably faulty.
2 P. 263 Foot Note b. Gr. [ click on image to enlarge].
3 P. 263 Foot Note c. How closely does this sentiment correspond with the comforting address of our Saviour to his disciples, as given at Matth. X. 39; xvi. 25; Luke xvii. 33 ; and John xii. 25. ” He that loveth his life shall lose it : and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.”
4 P. 263 Foot Note d. Gr. [ click on image to enlarge].
5 P. 263 Foot Note e. The meaning of this passage is not very clear. The text is, Gr. [
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click on image to enlarge] There is some variety of reading in the latter part of the verse.
6 P. 263 Foot Note f. The Greek varies, between Gr. [ and  click on image to enlarge] but the latter can scarcely be maintained.
7 P. 264 Foot Note g. The Greek text of this verse is very faulty, in the edition of 1817.
8 P. 264 Foot Note h. Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] but the edit. 1817 reads Gr. [ click on image to enlarge].
9 P. 264 Foot Note i. The Greek text gives the single word Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] with a conciseness of expression which our language will not reach.
10 P. 264 Foot Note k. Gregory Nazianzen, in his fine animated oration on this subject, thus powerfully describes the moral courage of this parent: Gr. [https://fourcornerministries.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/P.264-4.Macca_.15-FN-k-01-00-20mm-h.fw_-300x7.png 300w, https://fourcornerministries.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/P.264-4.Macca_.15-FN-k-01-00-20mm-h.fw_-768x18.png 768w, https://fourcornerministries.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/P.264-4.Macca_.15-FN-k-01-00-20mm-h.fw_-500x12.png 500w" sizes="(max-width: 865px) 100vw, 865px" /> click on image to enlarge] (Orat. XXII. de Maccabæis, p. 400. edit, Paris, fol. ] 1609.).
11 P. 264 Foot Note l. See above, ch. ix. 28.
12 P. 265 Foot Note m. Gr. [https://fourcornerministries.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/P.265-4.Macca_.15-FN-m-01-00-20mm-h.fw_-150x20.png 150w" sizes="(max-width: 158px) 100vw, 158px" /> click on image to enlarge] Thus we read in the Medea of Euripides, Gr. [https://fourcornerministries.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/P.265-4.Macca_.15-FN-m-02-00-20mm-h.fw_-150x20.png 150w" sizes="(max-width: 154px) 100vw, 154px" /> click on image to enlarge] and again, Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] and in Aristophanes, (Ran. 804.) Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] Also, in the Phædo of Plato, Socrates on receiving the cup of hemlock, is described as Gr. [https://fourcornerministries.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/P.265-4.Macca_.15-FN-m-05-00-20mm-h.fw_-300x16.png 300w, https://fourcornerministries.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/P.265-4.Macca_.15-FN-m-05-00-20mm-h.fw_-369x20.png 369w" sizes="(max-width: 382px) 100vw, 382px" /> click on image to enlarge] In this latter passage, however, the sense seems to be somewhat different, and the expression may refer to a fixed steady look, rather than to a fierce or determined one. The Greek classics furnish many cognate expressions: in Ælian we have Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] and again Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] (Var. Hist. XII. 21. et Fragm.)—and Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] (Var. Hist. II. 44. XIII. 1.) &c. &c.
13 P. 265 Foot Note n. Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] literally, ” presignifying.”
14 P. 265 Foot Note o. Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] Compare 3 Mace. ix. 4, and the note on that passage.
15 P. 266 Foot Note p. Josephus adds here, “and the complicated variety of their tortures ” Gr. [https://fourcornerministries.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/P.266-4.Macca_.15-FN-p-01-00-20mm-h.fw_-300x18.png 300w" sizes="(max-width: 328px) 100vw, 328px" /> click on image to enlarge] And the text, if not absolutely corrupt, is certainly imperfect without the insertion, as may be perceived Gr. [https://fourcornerministries.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/P.266-4.Macca_.15-FN-p-02-00-20mm-h.fw_-300x9.png 300w, https://fourcornerministries.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/P.266-4.Macca_.15-FN-p-02-00-20mm-h.fw_-500x15.png 500w, https://fourcornerministries.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/P.266-4.Macca_.15-FN-p-02-00-20mm-h.fw_-640x20.png 640w" sizes="(max-width: 662px) 100vw, 662px" /> click on image to enlarge].
16 P. 266 Foot Note q. In all cases which were to be determined by suffrage, it was customary among the Greeks for each person to have two Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] or tickets ; one of which was called Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] being favourable to the party under judgment, the other Gr. [  click on image to enlarge] which rejected or condemned him, as the case might be. See Lysias, Orat. XIII. There were also two methods of giving these votes ; one, the Gr. [  click on image to enlarge] where the vote was openly and publicly given ; the other, Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] where the ticket was privately put into an urn, to be afterwards drawn out with many others, but without its being known who had voted either one way or the other.  (See the above passage of Lysias ; also an instance of the Gr. [  click on image to enlarge] in Thucydides IV. 74.) The former of these modes resembles our parliamentary and public votings ; the latter is equivalent to the vote by ballot.
17 P. 267 Foot Note r. An example of nearly similar heroism is recorded in the fifth book of Maccabees, chapter xx ; where the mother of John Hyrcanus, having been taken prisoner with two of her sons, by Ptolemy, who had basely murdered their father Simon at a banquet, is brought on the wall of a town where Hyrcanus was besieging Ptolemy, and threatened with her own death and that of her sons, unless Hyrcanus would raise the siege. She however exhorts him manfully to continue his assault, and accordingly is put to death soon after by the tyrant.

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