Text copied!
World English Bible (Catholic) - 2 Maccabees

2 Maccabees 6

Help us?
Click on verse(s) to share them!
1Not long after this, the king sent out an old man of Athens to compel the Jews to depart from the laws of their fathers and not to live by the laws of God,
2and also to pollute the sanctuary in Jerusalem and to call it by the name of Olympian Zeus, and to call the sanctuary in Gerizim by the name of Zeus the Protector of foreigners, even as the people who lived in that place did.
3The visitation of this evil was harsh and utterly grievous.
4For the temple was filled with debauchery and reveling by the heathen, who dallied with prostitutes, and had intercourse with women within the sacred precincts, and moreover brought inside things that were not appropriate.
5The altar was filled with those abominable things which had been prohibited by the laws.
6A man could neither keep the Sabbath, nor observe the feasts of their ancestors, nor so much as confess himself to be a Jew.
7On the day of the king’s birth every month, they were led along with bitter constraint to eat of the sacrifices. When the feast of Dionysia came, they were compelled to go in procession in honor of Dionysus, wearing wreaths of ivy.
8A decree went out to the neighboring Greek cities, by the suggestion of Ptolemy, that they should observe the same conduct against the Jews, and should make them eat of the sacrifices,
9and that they should kill those who didn’t choose to go over to the Greek rites. So the present misery was for all to see.
10For example, two women were brought in for having circumcised their children. These, when they had led them publicly around the city with the babes hung from their breasts, they threw down headlong from the wall.
11Others who had run together into the caves nearby to keep the seventh day secretly, were betrayed to Philip and were all burned together, because their piety kept them from defending themselves, in view of the honor of that most solemn day.
12I urge those who read this book to not be discouraged because of the calamities, but recognize that these punishments were not for the destruction, but for the chastening of our race.
13For indeed it is a sign of great kindness that those who act impiously are not let alone for a long time, but immediately meet with retribution.
14For in the case of the other nations, the Sovereign Lord waits patiently to punish them until they have attained to the full measure of their sins; but not with us,
15that he may not take vengeance on us afterward, when we be come to the height of our sins.
16Therefore he never withdraws his mercy from us; but though he chastens with calamity, he doesn’t forsake his own people.
17However let this that we have spoken suffice to remind you; but after a few words, we must come to the narrative.
18Eleazar, one of the principal scribes, a man already well advanced in years, and of a noble countenance, was compelled to open his mouth to eat swine’s flesh.

19But he, welcoming death with honor rather than life with defilement, advanced of his own accord to the instrument of torture, but first spat out the flesh,
20as men ought to come who are resolute to repel such things as not even for the natural love of life is it lawful to taste.
21But those who had the charge of that forbidden sacrificial feast took the man aside, for the acquaintance which of old times they had with him, and privately implored him to bring flesh of his own providing, such as was proper for him to use, and to make as if he did eat of the flesh from the sacrifice, as had been commanded by the king;
22that by so doing he might be delivered from death, and so his ancient friendship with them might be treated kindly.
23But he, having formed a high resolve, and one that became his years, the dignity of old age, and the gray hairs which he had reached with honor, and his excellent education from a child, or rather the holy laws of God’s ordaining, declared his mind accordingly, bidding them to quickly send him to Hades.
24“For it doesn’t become our years to dissemble,” he said, “that many of the young should suppose that Eleazar, the man of ninety years, had gone over to an alien religion;
25and so they, by reason of my deception, and for the sake of this brief and momentary life, would be led astray because of me, and I defile and disgrace myself in my old age.
26For even if for the present time I would remove from me the punishment of men, yet whether I live or die, I wouldn’t escape the hands of the Almighty.
27Therefore, by bravely parting with my life now, I will show myself worthy of my old age,
28and leave behind a noble example to the young to die willingly and nobly a glorious death for the revered and holy laws.” When he had said these words, he went immediately to the instrument of torture.
29When they changed the good will they bore toward him a little before into ill will because these words of his were, as they thought, sheer madness,
30and when he was at the point to die with the blows, he groaned aloud and said, “To the Lord, who has the holy knowledge, it is manifest that, while I might have been delivered from death, I endure severe pains in my body by being scourged; but in soul I gladly suffer these things because of my fear of him.”
31So this man also died like this, leaving his death for an example of nobleness and a memorial of virtue, not only to the young but also to the great body of his nation.