The Second Book of the Maccabees
The brethren, the Jews that be at Jerusalem and in the land
of Judea, wish unto the brethren, the Jews that are throughout
Egypt health and peace:
God be gracious unto you, and remember his covenant that he
made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, his faithful servants;
And give you all an heart to serve him, and to do his will,
with a good courage and a willing mind;
And open your hearts in his law and commandments, and send
And hear your prayers, and be at one with you, and never
forsake you in time of trouble.
And now we be here praying for you.
What time as Demetrius reigned, in the hundred threescore and
ninth year, we the Jews wrote unto you in the extremity of
trouble that came upon us in those years, from the time that
Jason and his company revolted from the holy land and kingdom,
And burned the porch, and shed innocent blood: then we prayed
unto the Lord, and were heard; we offered also sacrifices and
fine flour, and lighted the lamps, and set forth the loaves.
And now see that ye keep the feast of tabernacles in the
In the hundred fourscore and eighth year, the people that
were at Jerusalem and in Judea, and the council, and Judas, sent
greeting and health unto Aristobulus, king Ptolemeus' master,
who was of the stock of the anointed priests, and to the Jews
that were in Egypt:
Insomuch as God hath delivered us from great perils, we thank
him highly, as having been in battle against a king.
For he cast them out that fought within the holy city.
For when the leader was come into Persia, and the army with
him that seemed invincible, they were slain in the temple of
Nanea by the deceit of Nanea's priests.
For Antiochus, as though he would marry her, came into the
place, and his friends that were with him, to receive money in
name of a dowry.
Which when the priests of Nanea had set forth, and he was
entered with a small company into the compass of the temple,
they shut the temple as soon as Antiochus was come in:
And opening a privy door of the roof, they threw stones like
thunderbolts, and struck down the captain, hewed them in pieces,
smote off their heads and cast them to those that were without.
Blessed be our God in all things, who hath delivered up the
Therefore whereas we are now purposed to keep the
purification of the temple upon the five and twentieth day of
the month Casleu, we thought it necessary to certify you
thereof, that ye also might keep it, as the feast of the
tabernacles, and of the fire, which was given us when Neemias
offered sacrifice, after that he had builded the temple and the
For when our fathers were led into Persia, the priests that
were then devout took the fire of the altar privily, and hid it
in an hollow place of a pit without water, where they kept it
sure, so that the place was unknown to all men.
Now after many years, when it pleased God, Neemias, being
sent from the king of Persia, did send of the posterity of those
priests that had hid it to the fire: but when they told us they
found no fire, but thick water;
Then commanded he them to draw it up, and to bring it; and
when the sacrifices were laid on, Neemias commanded the priests
to sprinkle the wood and the things laid thereupon with the
When this was done, and the time came that the sun shone,
which afore was hid in the cloud, there was a great fire
kindled, so that every man marvelled.
And the priests made a prayer whilst the sacrifice was
consuming, I say, both the priests, and all the rest, Jonathan
beginning, and the rest answering thereunto, as Neemias did.
And the prayer was after this manner; O Lord, Lord God,
Creator of all things, who art fearful and strong, and
righteous, and merciful, and the only and gracious King,
The only giver of all things, the only just, almighty, and
everlasting, thou that deliverest Israel from all trouble, and
didst choose the fathers, and sanctify them:
Receive the sacrifice for thy whole people Israel, and
preserve thine own portion, and sanctify it.
Gather those together that are scattered from us, deliver
them that serve among the heathen, look upon them that are
despised and abhorred, and let the heathen know that thou art
Punish them that oppress us, and with pride do us wrong.
Plant thy people again in thy holy place, as Moses hath
And the priests sung psalms of thanksgiving.
Now when the sacrifice was consumed, Neemias commanded the
water that was left to be poured on the great stones.
When this was done, there was kindled a flame: but it was
consumed by the light that shined from the altar.
So when this matter was known, it was told the king of
Persia, that in the place, where the priests that were led away
had hid the fire, there appeared water, and that Neemias had
purified the sacrifices therewith.
Then the king, inclosing the place, made it holy, after he
had tried the matter.
And the king took many gifts, and bestowed thereof on those
whom he would gratify.
And Neemias called this thing Naphthar, which is as much as
to say, a cleansing: but many men call it Nephi.
It is also found in the records, that Jeremy the prophet
commanded them that were carried away to take of the fire, as it
hath been signified:
And how that the prophet, having given them the law, charged
them not to forget the commandments of the Lord, and that they
should not err in their minds, when they see images of silver
and gold, with their ornaments.
And with other such speeches exhorted he them, that the law
should not depart from their hearts.
It was also contained in the same writing, that the prophet,
being warned of God, commanded the tabernacle and the ark to go
with him, as he went forth into the mountain, where Moses
climbed up, and saw the heritage of God.
And when Jeremy came thither, he found an hollow cave,
wherein he laid the tabernacle, and the ark, and the altar of
incense, and so stopped the door.
And some of those that followed him came to mark the way, but
they could not find it.
Which when Jeremy perceived, he blamed them, saying, As for
that place, it shall be unknown until the time that God gather
his people again together, and receive them unto mercy.
Then shall the Lord shew them these things, and the glory of
the Lord shall appear, and the cloud also, as it was shewed
under Moses, and as when Solomon desired that the place might be
It was also declared, that he being wise offered the
sacrifice of dedication, and of the finishing of the temple.
And as when Moses prayed unto the Lord, the fire came down
from heaven, and consumed the sacrifices: even so prayed Solomon
also, and the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt
And Moses said, Because the sin offering was not to be eaten,
it was consumed.
So Solomon kept those eight days.
The same things also were reported in the writings and
commentaries of Neemias; and how he founding a library gathered
together the acts of the kings, and the prophets, and of David,
and the epistles of the kings concerning the holy gifts.
In like manner also Judas gathered together all those things
that were lost by reason of the war we had, and they remain with
Wherefore if ye have need thereof, send some to fetch them
Whereas we then are about to celebrate the purification, we
have written unto you, and ye shall do well, if ye keep the same
We hope also, that the God, that delivered all his people,
and gave them all an heritage, and the kingdom, and the
priesthood, and the sanctuary,
As he promised in the law, will shortly have mercy upon us,
and gather us together out of every land under heaven into the
holy place: for he hath delivered us out of great troubles, and
hath purified the place.
Now as concerning Judas Maccabeus, and his brethren, and the
purification of the great temple, and the dedication of the
And the wars against Antiochus Epiphanes, and Eupator his
And the manifest signs that came from heaven unto those that
behaved themselves manfully to their honour for Judaism: so
that, being but a few, they overcame the whole country, and
chased barbarous multitudes,
And recovered again the temple renowned all the world over,
and freed the city, and upheld the laws which were going down,
the Lord being gracious unto them with all favour:
All these things, I say, being declared by Jason of Cyrene in
five books, we will assay to abridge in one volume.
For considering the infinite number, and the difficulty which
they find that desire to look into the narrations of the story,
for the variety of the matter,
We have been careful, that they that will read may have
delight, and that they that are desirous to commit to memory
might have ease, and that all into whose hands it comes might
Therefore to us, that have taken upon us this painful labour
of abridging, it was not easy, but a matter of sweat and
Even as it is no ease unto him that prepareth a banquet, and
seeketh the benefit of others: yet for the pleasuring of many we
will undertake gladly this great pains;
Leaving to the author the exact handling of every particular,
and labouring to follow the rules of an abridgement.
For as the master builder of a new house must care for the
whole building; but he that undertaketh to set it out, and paint
it, must seek out fit things for the adorning thereof: even so I
think it is with us.
To stand upon every point, and go over things at large, and
to be curious in particulars, belongeth to the first author of
But to use brevity, and avoid much labouring of the work, is
to be granted to him that will make an abridgment.
Here then will we begin the story: only adding thus much to
that which hath been said, that it is a foolish thing to make a
long prologue, and to be short in the story itself.
Now when the holy city was inhabited with all peace, and the
laws were kept very well, because of the godliness of Onias the
high priest, and his hatred of wickedness,
It came to pass that even the kings themselves did honour the
place, and magnify the temple with their best gifts;
Insomuch that Seleucus of Asia of his own revenues bare all
the costs belonging to the service of the sacrifices.
But one Simon of the tribe of Benjamin, who was made governor
of the temple, fell out with the high priest about disorder in
And when he could not overcome Onias, he gat him to
Apollonius the son of Thraseas, who then was governor of
Celosyria and Phenice,
And told him that the treasury in Jerusalem was full of
infinite sums of money, so that the multitude of their riches,
which did not pertain to the account of the sacrifices, was
innumerable, and that it was possible to bring all into the
Now when Apollonius came to the king, and had shewed him of
the money whereof he was told, the king chose out Heliodorus his
treasurer, and sent him with a commandment to bring him the
So forthwith Heliodorus took his journey; under a colour of
visiting the cities of Celosyria and Phenice, but indeed to
fulfil the king's purpose.
And when he was come to Jerusalem, and had been courteously
received of the high priest of the city, he told him what
intelligence was given of the money, and declared wherefore he
came, and asked if these things were so indeed.
Then the high priest told him that there was such money laid
up for the relief of widows and fatherless children:
And that some of it belonged to Hircanus son of Tobias, a man
of great dignity, and not as that wicked Simon had misinformed:
the sum whereof in all was four hundred talents of silver, and
two hundred of gold:
And that it was altogether impossible that such wrongs should
be done unto them, that had committed it to the holiness of the
place, and to the majesty and inviolable sanctity of the temple,
honoured over all the world.
But Heliodorus, because of the king's commandment given him,
said, That in any wise it must be brought into the king's
So at the day which he appointed he entered in to order this
matter: wherefore there was no small agony throughout the whole
But the priests, prostrating themselves before the altar in
their priests' vestments, called unto heaven upon him that made
a law concerning things given to he kept, that they should
safely be preserved for such as had committed them to be kept.
Then whoso had looked the high priest in the face, it would
have wounded his heart: for his countenance and the changing of
his colour declared the inward agony of his mind.
For the man was so compassed with fear and horror of the
body, that it was manifest to them that looked upon him, what
sorrow he had now in his heart.
Others ran flocking out of their houses to the general
supplication, because the place was like to come into contempt.
And the women, girt with sackcloth under their breasts,
abounded in the streets, and the virgins that were kept in ran,
some to the gates, and some to the walls, and others looked out
of the windows.
And all, holding their hands toward heaven, made
Then it would have pitied a man to see the falling down of
the multitude of all sorts, and the fear of the high priest
being in such an agony.
They then called upon the Almighty Lord to keep the things
committed of trust safe and sure for those that had committed
Nevertheless Heliodorus executed that which was decreed.
Now as he was there present himself with his guard about the
treasury, the Lord of spirits, and the Prince of all power,
caused a great apparition, so that all that presumed to come in
with him were astonished at the power of God, and fainted, and
were sore afraid.
For there appeared unto them an horse with a terrible rider
upon him, and adorned with a very fair covering, and he ran
fiercely, and smote at Heliodorus with his forefeet, and it
seemed that he that sat upon the horse had complete harness of
Moreover two other young men appeared before him, notable in
strength, excellent in beauty, and comely in apparel, who stood
by him on either side; and scourged him continually, and gave
him many sore stripes.
And Heliodorus fell suddenly unto the ground, and was
compassed with great darkness: but they that were with him
took him up, and put him into a litter.
Thus him, that lately came with a great train and with all
his guard into the said treasury, they carried out, being unable
to help himself with his weapons: and manifestly they
acknowledged the power of God.
For he by the hand of God was cast down, and lay speechless
without all hope of life.
But they praised the Lord, that had miraculously honoured his
own place: for the temple; which a little afore was full of fear
and trouble, when the Almighty Lord appeared, was filled with
joy and gladness.
Then straightways certain of Heliodorus' friends prayed
Onias, that he would call upon the most High to grant him his
life, who lay ready to give up the ghost.
So the high priest, suspecting lest the king should
misconceive that some treachery had been done to Heliodorus by
the Jews, offered a sacrifice for the health of the man.
Now as the high priest was making an atonement, the same
young men in the same clothing appeared and stood beside
Heliodorus, saying, Give Onias the high priest great thanks,
insomuch as for his sake the Lord hath granted thee life:
And seeing that thou hast been scourged from heaven, declare
unto all men the mighty power of God. And when they had spoken
these words, they appeared no more.
So Heliodorus, after he had offered sacrifice unto the Lord,
and made great vows unto him that had saved his life, and
saluted Onias, returned with his host to the king.
Then testified he to all men the works of the great God,
which he had seen with his eyes.
And when the king Heliodorus, who might be a fit man to be
sent yet once again to Jerusalem, he said,
If thou hast any enemy or traitor, send him thither, and thou
shalt receive him well scourged, if he escape with his life: for
in that place, no doubt; there is an especial power of God.
For he that dwelleth in heaven hath his eye on that place,
and defendeth it; and he beateth and destroyeth them that come
to hurt it.
And the things concerning Heliodorus, and the keeping of the
treasury, fell out on this sort.
This Simon now, of whom we spake afore, having been a
betrayer of the money, and of his country, slandered Onias, as
if he ha terrified Heliodorus, and been the worker of these
Thus was he bold to call him a traitor, that had deserved
well of the city, and tendered his own nation, and was so
zealous of the laws.
But when their hatred went so far, that by one of Simon's
faction murders were committed,
Onias seeing the danger of this contention, and that
Apollonius, as being the governor of Celosyria and Phenice, did
rage, and increase Simon's malice,
He went to the king, not to be an accuser of his countrymen,
but seeking the good of all, both publick and private:
For he saw that it was impossible that the state should
continue quiet, and Simon leave his folly, unless the king did
But after the death of Seleucus, when Antiochus, called
Epiphanes, took the kingdom, Jason the brother of Onias laboured
underhand to be high priest,
Promising unto the king by intercession three hundred and
threescore talents of silver, and of another revenue eighty
Beside this, he promised to assign an hundred and fifty more,
if he might have licence to set him up a place for exercise, and
for the training up of youth in the fashions of the heathen, and
to write them of Jerusalem by the name of Antiochians.
Which when the king had granted, and he had gotten into his
hand the rule he forthwith brought his own nation to Greekish
And the royal privileges granted of special favour to the
Jews by the means of John the father of Eupolemus, who went
ambassador to Rome for amity and aid, he took away; and putting
down the governments which were according to the law, he brought
up new customs against the law:
For he built gladly a place of exercise under the tower
itself, and brought the chief young men under his subjection,
and made them wear a hat.
Now such was the height of Greek fashions, and increase of
heathenish manners, through the exceeding profaneness of Jason,
that ungodly wretch, and no high priest;
That the priests had no courage to serve any more at the
altar, but despising the temple, and neglecting the sacrifices,
hastened to be partakers of the unlawful allowance in the place
of exercise, after the game of Discus called them forth;
Not setting by the honours of their fathers, but liking the
glory of the Grecians best of all.
By reason whereof sore calamity came upon them: for they had
them to be their enemies and avengers, whose custom they
followed so earnestly, and unto whom they desired to be like in
For it is not a light thing to do wickedly against the laws
of God: but the time following shall declare these things.
Now when the game that was used every faith year was kept at
Tyrus, the king being present,
This ungracious Jason sent special messengers from Jerusalem,
who were Antiochians, to carry three hundred drachms of silver
to the sacrifice of Hercules, which even the bearers thereof
thought fit not to bestow upon the sacrifice, because it was not
convenient, but to be reserved for other charges.
This money then, in regard of the sender, was appointed to
Hercules' sacrifice; but because of the bearers thereof, it was
employed to the making of gallies.
Now when Apollonius the son of Menestheus was sent into Egypt
for the coronation of king Ptolemeus Philometor, Antiochus,
understanding him not to be well affected to his affairs,
provided for his own safety: whereupon he came to Joppa, and
from thence to Jerusalem:
Where he was honourably received of Jason, and of the city,
and was brought in with torch alight, and with great shoutings:
and so afterward went with his host unto Phenice.
Three years afterward Jason sent Menelaus, the aforesaid
Simon's brother, to bear the money unto the king, and to put him
in mind of certain necessary matters.
But he being brought to the presence of the king, when he had
magnified him for the glorious appearance of his power, got the
priesthood to himself, offering more than Jason by three hundred
talents of silver.
So he came with the king's mandate, bringing nothing worthy
the high priesthood, but having the fury of a cruel tyrant, and
the rage of a savage beast.
Then Jason, who had undermined his own brother, being
undermined by another, was compelled to flee into the country of
So Menelaus got the principality: but as for the money that
he had promised unto the king, he took no good order for it,
albeit Sostratis the ruler of the castle required it:
For unto him appertained the gathering of the customs.
Wherefore they were both called before the king.
Now Menelaus left his brother Lysimachus in his stead in the
priesthood; and Sostratus left Crates, who was governor of the
While those things were in doing, they of Tarsus and Mallos
made insurrection, because they were given to the king's
concubine, called Antiochus.
Then came the king in all haste to appease matters, leaving
Andronicus, a man in authority, for his deputy.
Now Menelaus, supposing that he had gotten a convenient time,
stole certain vessels of gold out of the temple, and gave some
of them to Andronicus, and some he sold into Tyrus and the
cities round about.
Which when Onias knew of a surety, he reproved him, and
withdrew himself into a sanctuary at Daphne, that lieth by
Wherefore Menelaus, taking Andronicus apart, prayed, him to
get Onias into his hands; who being persuaded thereunto, and
coming to Onias in deceit, gave him his right hand with oaths;
and though he were suspected by him, yet persuaded he him to
come forth of the sanctuary: whom forthwith he shut up without
regard of justice.
For the which cause not only the Jews, but many also of other
nations, took great indignation, and were much grieved for the
unjust murder of the man.
And when the king was come again from the places about
Cilicia, the Jews that were in the city, and certain of the
Greeks that abhorred the fact also, complained because Onias was
slain without cause.
Therefore Antiochus was heartily sorry, and moved to pity,
and wept, because of the sober and modest behaviour of him that
And being kindled with anger, forthwith he took away
Andronicus his purple, and rent off his clothes, and leading him
through the whole city unto that very place, where he had
committed impiety against Onias, there slew he the cursed
murderer. Thus the Lord rewarded him his punishment, as he had
Now when many sacrileges had been committed in the city by
Lysimachus with the consent of Menelaus, and the fruit thereof
was spread abroad, the multitude gathered themselves together
against Lysimachus, many vessels of gold being already carried
Whereupon the common people rising, and being filled with
rage, Lysimachus armed about three thousand men, and began first
to offer violence; one Auranus being the leader, a man far gone
in years, and no less in folly.
They then seeing the attempt of Lysimachus, some of them
caught stones, some clubs, others taking handfuls of dust, that
was next at hand, cast them all together upon Lysimachus, and
those that set upon them.
Thus many of them they wounded, and some they struck to the
ground, and all of them they forced to flee: but as for the
churchrobber himself, him they killed beside the treasury.
Of these matters therefore there was an accusation laid
Now when the king came to Tyrus, three men that were sent
from the senate pleaded the cause before him:
But Menelaus, being now convicted, promised Ptolemee the son
of Dorymenes to give him much money, if he would pacify the king
Whereupon Ptolemee taking the king aside into a certain
gallery, as it were to take the air, brought him to be of
Insomuch that he discharged Menelaus from the accusations,
who notwithstanding was cause of all the mischief: and those
poor men, who, if they had told their cause, yea, before the
Scythians, should have been judged innocent, them he condemned
Thus they that followed the matter for the city, and for the
people, and for the holy vessels, did soon suffer unjust
Wherefore even they of Tyrus, moved with hatred of that
wicked deed, caused them to be honourably buried.
And so through the covetousness of them that were of power
Menelaus remained still in authority, increasing in malice, and
being a great traitor to the citizens.
About the same time Antiochus prepared his second voyage into
And then it happened, that through all the city, for the
space almost of forty days, there were seen horsemen running in
the air, in cloth of gold, and armed with lances, like a band of
And troops of horsemen in array, encountering and running one
against another, with shaking of shields, and multitude of
pikes, and drawing of swords, and casting of darts, and
glittering of golden ornaments, and harness of all sorts.
Wherefore every man prayed that that apparition might turn to
Now when there was gone forth a false rumour, as though
Antiochus had been dead, Jason took at the least a thousand men,
and suddenly made an assault upon the city; and they that were
upon the walls being put back, and the city at length taken,
Menelaus fled into the castle:
But Jason slew his own citizens without mercy, not
considering that to get the day of them of his own nation would
be a most unhappy day for him; but thinking they had been his
enemies, and not his countrymen, whom he conquered.
Howbeit for all this he obtained not the principality, but at
the last received shame for the reward of his treason, and fled
again into the country of the Ammonites.
In the end therefore he had an unhappy return, being accused
before Aretas the king of the Arabians, fleeing from city to
city, pursued of all men, hated as a forsaker of the laws, and
being had in abomination as an open enemy of his country and
countrymen, he was cast out into Egypt.
Thus he that had driven many out of their country perished in
a strange land, retiring to the Lacedemonians, and thinking
there to find succour by reason of his kindred:
And he that had cast out many unburied had none to mourn for
him, nor any solemn funerals at all, nor sepulchre with his
Now when this that was done came to the king's car, he
thought that Judea had revolted: whereupon removing out of Egypt
in a furious mind, he took the city by force of arms,
And commanded his men of war not to spare such as they met,
and to slay such as went up upon the houses.
Thus there was killing of young and old, making away of men,
women, and children, slaying of virgins and infants.
And there were destroyed within the space of three whole days
fourscore thousand, whereof forty thousand were slain in the
conflict; and no fewer sold than slain.
Yet was he not content with this, but presumed to go into
the most holy temple of all the world; Menelaus, that traitor to
the laws, and to his own country, being his guide:
And taking the holy vessels with polluted hands, and with
profane hands pulling down the things that were dedicated by
other kings to the augmentation and glory and honour of the
place, he gave them away.
And so haughty was Antiochus in mind, that he considered not
that the Lord was angry for a while for the sins of them that
dwelt in the city, and therefore his eye was not upon the place.
For had they not been formerly wrapped in many sins, this
man, as soon as he had come, had forthwith been scourged, and
put back from his presumption, as Heliodorus was, whom Seleucus
the king sent to view the treasury.
Nevertheless God did not choose the people for the place's
sake, but the place far the people's sake.
And therefore the place itself, that was partaker with them
of the adversity that happened to the nation, did afterward
communicate in the benefits sent from the Lord: and as it was
forsaken in the wrath of the Almighty, so again, the great Lord
being reconciled, it was set up with all glory.
So when Antiochus had carried out of the temple a thousand
and eight hundred talents, he departed in all haste unto
Antiochia, weening in his pride to make the land navigable, and
the sea passable by foot: such was the haughtiness of his mind.
And he left governors to vex the nation: at Jerusalem,
Philip, for his country a Phrygian, and for manners more
barbarous than he that set him there;
And at Garizim, Andronicus; and besides, Menelaus, who worse
than all the rest bare an heavy hand over the citizens, having a
malicious mind against his countrymen the Jews.
He sent also that detestable ringleader Apollonius with an
army of two and twenty thousand, commanding him to slay all
those that were in their best age, and to sell the women and the
Who coming to Jerusalem, and pretending peace, did forbear
till the holy day of the sabbath, when taking the Jews keeping
holy day, he commanded his men to arm themselves.
And so he slew all them that were gone to the celebrating of
the sabbath, and running through the city with weapons slew
But Judas Maccabeus with nine others, or thereabout, withdrew
himself into the wilderness, and lived in the mountains after
the manner of beasts, with his company, who fed on herbs
continually, lest they should be partakers of the pollution.
Not long after this the king sent an old man of Athens to
compel the Jews to depart from the laws of their fathers, and
not to live after the laws of God:
And to pollute also the temple in Jerusalem, and to call it
the temple of Jupiter Olympius; and that in Garizim, of Jupiter
the Defender of strangers, as they did desire that dwelt in the
The coming in of this mischief was sore and grievous to the
For the temple was filled with riot and revelling by the
Gentiles, who dallied with harlots, and had to do with women
within the circuit of the holy places, and besides that brought
in things that were not lawful.
The altar also was filled with profane things, which the law
Neither was it lawful for a man to keep sabbath days or
ancient fasts, or to profess himself at all to be a Jew.
And in the day of the king's birth every month they were
brought by bitter constraint to eat of the sacrifices; and when
the fast of Bacchus was kept, the Jews were compelled to go in
procession to Bacchus, carrying ivy.
Moreover there went out a decree to the neighbour cities of
the heathen, by the suggestion of Ptolemee, against the Jews,
that they should observe the same fashions, and be partakers of
And whoso would not conform themselves to the manners of the
Gentiles should be put to death. Then might a man have seen the
For there were two women brought, who had circumcised their
children; whom when they had openly led round about the city,
the babes handing at their breasts, they cast them down headlong
from the wall.
And others, that had run together into caves near by, to keep
the sabbath day secretly, being discovered by Philip, were all
burnt together, because they made a conscience to help
themselves for the honour of the most sacred day.
Now I beseech those that read this book, that they be not
discouraged for these calamities, but that they judge those
punishments not to be for destruction, but for a chastening of
For it is a token of his great goodness, when wicked doers
are not suffered any long time, but forthwith punished.
For not as with other nations, whom the Lord patiently
forbeareth to punish, till they be come to the fulness of their
sins, so dealeth he with us,
Lest that, being come to the height of sin, afterwards he
should take vengeance of us.
And therefore he never withdraweth his mercy from us: and
though he punish with adversity, yet doth he never forsake his
But let this that we at spoken be for a warning unto us. And
now will we come to the declaring of the matter in a few words.
Eleazar, one of the principal scribes, an aged man, and of a
well favoured countenance, was constrained to open his mouth,
and to eat swine's flesh.
But he, choosing rather to die gloriously, than to live
stained with such an abomination, spit it forth, and came of his
own accord to the torment,
As it behoved them to come, that are resolute to stand out
against such things, as are not lawful for love of life to be
But they that had the charge of that wicked feast, for the
old acquaintance they had with the man, taking him aside,
besought him to bring flesh of his own provision, such as was
lawful for him to use, and make as if he did eat of the flesh
taken from the sacrifice commanded by the king;
That in so doing he might be delivered from death, and for
the old friendship with them find favour.
But he began to consider discreetly, and as became his age,
and the excellency of his ancient years, and the honour of his
gray head, whereon was come, and his most honest education from
a child, or rather the holy law made and given by God: therefore
he answered accordingly, and willed them straightways to send
him to the grave.
For it becometh not our age, said he, in any wise to
dissemble, whereby many young persons might think that Eleazar,
being fourscore years old and ten, were now gone to a strange
And so they through mine hypocrisy, and desire to live a
little time and a moment longer, should be deceived by me, and I
get a stain to mine old age, and make it abominable.
For though for the present time I should be delivered from
the punishment of men: yet should I not escape the hand of the
Almighty, neither alive, nor dead.
Wherefore now, manfully changing this life, I will shew
myself such an one as mine age requireth,
And leave a notable example to such as be young to die
willingly and courageously for the honourable and holy laws. And
when he had said these words, immediately he went to the
They that led him changing the good will they bare him a
little before into hatred, because the foresaid speeches
proceeded, as they thought, from a desperate mind.
But when he was ready to die with stripes, he groaned, and
said, It is manifest unto the Lord, that hath the holy
knowledge, that whereas I might have been delivered from death,
I now endure sore pains in body by being beaten: but in soul am
well content to suffer these things, because I fear him.
And thus this man died, leaving his death for an example of a
noble courage, and a memorial of virtue, not only unto young
men, but unto all his nation.