4 Maccabees Chapter 16 (from The Five Books of Maccabees)


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P. 267 – 270 Book 4 B.C. 167 [PDF: 317/320 of p.524]

CHAPTER 16

(i) The praises of the mother of the seven brethren.

1 If then a woman, and she an old one, and the mother of seven children, endured to behold the tortures of her children even unto death : confessedly religious Principle is perfect master of the passions.

2 Now I have shewn, that not only men have mastered the passions, but even that a woman 3 nobly disregarded the greatest torments. And not so furious were Daniel’s lions ; nor so fiercely flamed the furnace of Misael with most devouring[1]P. 267 Foot Note a. Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] which Pindar calls Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] (Pyth. III. 69.) The same phrase is used by Oppian. fire ; as the natural love of her children burned in p. 268 her, while she beheld her seven sons exposed to torments. But through the principle of religion, 4 the mother quite extinguished such and so powerful affections.

5 For we must also take this into the account; that if the woman had been faint-hearted, as being a mother, she would have lamented over them ; and perhaps might have said thus : 6 ” O wretched I ! thrice, many times, miserable ! who, having brought forth seven children, am now come to be mother of none ! O useless 7 seven labours, and unprofitable seven pregnancies[2]P. 268 Foot Note b. Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] where observe the last word, signifying ten months instead of nine.! and fruitless nursings, and miserable givings of suck ! In vain, my children, have I 8 sustained for you many pangs of childbirth, and still more painful anxieties for your bringing up. Alas ! of my children, some never 9 married ; others married to no purpose : I shall not behold your children, nor shall I be deemed happy in being saluted as a grandmother[3]P. 268 Foot Note c. Gr. [ click on image to enlarge].. Alas ! 10 I who had so many[4]P. 268 Foot Note d. Gr. [  click on image to enlarge] Gregory Nazianzen calls this band of brothers, Gr. [https://fourcornerministries.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/P.268-4.Macca_.16-FN-d-02-00-20mm-h.fw_-300x20.png 300w" sizes="(max-width: 324px) 100vw, 324px" /> click on image to enlarge] Orat. XXII. p. 400., so beautiful children, am now a widow, solitary, and oppressed with grief. Nor if I die, shall I have a single one of my sons to bury me.”

11 But not one of them did the holy and religious mother bewail with this lament. Nor did she dissuade any one of them from undergoing death, nor grieve for them as they died. But, as if she 12 possessed a mind of adamant, and was again p. 269 bringing forth[5]P. 269 Foot Note e. Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] [var. lect. Gr. [ click on image to enlarge]. the entire number of her sons to an immortal life, she rather besought and exhorted them to a death in the cause of religion.

13 O mother, soldier of God for religion ! thou, a female, an aged woman, through perseverance hast vanquished a tyrant ; and hast been proved both in deeds and words more powerful than a 14 man. For when thou wast seized, together with thy children, thou stoodest looking upon Eleazar under torture, and saidst to thy sons in the 15 Hebrew tongue ; ” O my sons, the contest is a noble one ; to which, seeing that you are called, for a testimony to your nation, exert yourselves in it with alacrity in defence of your country’s 16 law. For indeed it would be shameful, that this old man should bravely endure pains for religion’s sake, but that you, who are younger, 17 should be dismayed at the torments. Remember that through God you received admission into the world, and have enjoyed existence. And on this account you owe the endurance of every 18 suffering for God’s sake. For whom also our father Abraham was ready to sacrifice his son Isaac, who was to be the father of our nation[6]P. 269 Foot Note f. Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] a word scarcely to be found except in this book, though a very legitimate compound. and Isaac shrank not on seeing the paternal hand, armed with a knife, descending upon him. 19 And Daniel the Just was cast to the lions : and Ananias, and Azarias, and Misael, were thrown violently[7]P. 269/270 Foot Note g. Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] were cast as stones out of a sling. The same figure of speech is found in Scripture, where Abigail says to David, p.270 ” the souls … Continue reading into the fiery furnace, and endured it p. 270 for God’s sake. Do you therefore, having the 20 same faith towards God, make no complaint. For it is unreasonable that they who are instructed in religion should not bear up against troubles.”

21 With these arguments the mother of the seven encouraging each one of her sons, persuaded them to die rather than transgress the command of God : especially as they knew this, that those who 22 die in God’s cause really live to God[8]P. 270 Foot Note h. According to the words of our Saviour, ” Now that the dead are raised, even Moses shewed at the bush, when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of … Continue reading, as Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the patriarchs.


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. 267 Foot Note a. Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] which Pindar calls Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] (Pyth. III. 69.) The same phrase is used by Oppian.
2 P. 268 Foot Note b. Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] where observe the last word, signifying ten months instead of nine.
3 P. 268 Foot Note c. Gr. [ click on image to enlarge].
4 P. 268 Foot Note d. Gr. [  click on image to enlarge] Gregory Nazianzen calls this band of brothers, Gr. [https://fourcornerministries.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/P.268-4.Macca_.16-FN-d-02-00-20mm-h.fw_-300x20.png 300w" sizes="(max-width: 324px) 100vw, 324px" /> click on image to enlarge] Orat. XXII. p. 400.
5 P. 269 Foot Note e. Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] [var. lect. Gr. [ click on image to enlarge].
6 P. 269 Foot Note f. Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] a word scarcely to be found except in this book, though a very legitimate compound.
7 P. 269/270 Foot Note g. Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] were cast as stones out of a sling. The same figure of speech is found in Scripture, where Abigail says to David, p.270 ” the souls of thine enemies the Lord thy God shall sling out, as out of the middle of a sling.” 1 Samuel xxv. 29.
8 P. 270 Foot Note h. According to the words of our Saviour, ” Now that the dead are raised, even Moses shewed at the bush, when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. For He is not a God of the dead, but of the living ; for all live to Him.” Luke xx. 37.

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