1Then Eleazar, an illustrious priest of the country, who had attained to length of days, and whose life had been adorned with virtue, caused the elders who were around him to cease to cry out to the holy God, and prayed this:
2“O king, mighty in power, most high, Almighty God, who regulates the whole creation with your tender mercy,
3look at the seed of Abraham, at the children of the sanctified Jacob, your sanctified inheritance, O Father, now being wrongfully destroyed as foreigners in a foreign land.
4You destroyed Pharaoh with his army of chariots when that lord of this same Egypt was uplifted with lawless daring and loud-sounding tongue. Shedding the beams of your mercy upon the race of Israel, you overwhelmed him and his proud army.
5When Sennacherim, the grievous king of the Assyrians, exulting in his countless army, had subdued the whole land with his spear and was lifting himself against your holy city with boastings grievous to be endured, you, O Lord, demolished him and displayed your might to many nations.
6When the three friends in the land of Babylon of their own will exposed their lives to the fire rather than serve vain things, you sent a moist coolness through the fiery furnace, and brought the fire on all their adversaries.
7It was you who, when Daniel was hurled, through slander and envy, as a prey to lions down below, brought him back again unharmed to light.
8When Jonah was pining away in the belly of the sea-born monster, you looked at him, O Father, and recovered him to the sight of his own.
9Now, you who hate insolence, you who abound in mercy, you who are the protector of all things, appear quickly to those of the race of Israel, who are insulted by abhorred, lawless gentiles.
10If our life during our exile has been stained with iniquity, deliver us from the hand of the enemy, and destroy us, O Lord, by the death which you prefer.
11Don’t let the vain-minded congratulate vain idols at the destruction of your beloved, saying, ‘Their god didn’t deliver them.’
12You who are All-powerful and Almighty, O Eternal One, behold! Have mercy on us who are being withdrawn from life, like traitors, by the unreasoning insolence of lawless men.
13Let the heathen cower before your invincible might today, O glorious One, who have all power to save the race of Jacob.
14The whole band of infants and their parents ask you with tears.
15Let it be shown to all the nations that you are with us, O Lord, and have not turned your face away from us, but as you said that you would not forget them even in the land of their enemies, so fulfil this saying, O Lord.”
16Now, at the time that Eleazar had ended his prayer, the king came along to the hippodrome with the wild animals, and with his tumultuous power.
17When the Jews saw this, they uttered a loud cry to heaven so that the adjacent valleys resounded and caused an irrepressible lamentation throughout the army.
18Then the all-glorious, all-powerful, and true God, displayed his holy countenance, and opened the gates of heaven, from which two angels, dreadful of form, came down and were visible to all but the Jews.
19They stood opposite, and filled the enemies’ army with confusion and cowardice, and bound them with immoveable shackles.
20A cold shudder came over the person of the king, and oblivion paralysed the vehemence of his spirit.
21They turned back the animals on the armed forces who followed them; and the animals trampled them and destroyed them.
22The king’s wrath was converted into compassion; and he wept at the things he had devised.
23For when he heard the cry, and saw them all on the verge of destruction, with tears he angrily threatened his friends, saying,
24“You have governed badly, and have exceeded tyrants in cruelty. You have laboured to deprive me, your benefactor, at once of my dominion and my life, by secretly devising measures injurious to the kingdom.
25Who has gathered here, unreasonably removing each from his home, those who, in fidelity to us, had held the fortresses of the country?
26Who has consigned to unmerited punishments those who in good will towards us from the beginning have in all things surpassed all nations, and who often have engaged in the most dangerous undertakings?
27Loose, loose the unjust bonds! Send them to their homes in peace, begging pardon for what has been done.
28Release the sons of the almighty living God of heaven, who from our ancestors’ times until now has granted a glorious and uninterrupted prosperity to our affairs.”
29He said these things, and they, released the same moment, having now escaped death, praised God their holy Saviour.
30The king then departed to the city, and called his financier to himself, and asked him provide a seven days’ quantity of wine and other materials for feasting for the Jews. He decided that they should keep a cheerful festival of deliverance in the very place in which they expected to meet with their destruction.
31Then they who were before despised and near to hades, yes, rather advanced into it, partook of the cup of salvation, instead of a grievous and lamentable death. Full of exultation, they apportioned the place intended for their fall and burial into banqueting booths.
32Ceasing their miserable strain of woe, they took up the subject of their fatherland, singing in praise to God their wonder-working Saviour. All groans and all wailing were laid aside. They formed dances as a sign of peaceful joy.
33So the king also collected a number of guests for the occasion, and returned unceasing thanks with much magnificence for the unexpected deliverance afforded him.
34Those who had marked them out as for death and for carrion, and had registered them with joy, howled aloud, and were clothed with shame, and had the fire of their rage ingloriously put out.
35But the Jews, as we just said, instituted a dance, and then gave themselves up to feasting, glad thanksgiving, and psalms.
36They made a public ordinance to commemorate these things for generations to come, as long as they should be sojourners. They thus established these days as days of mirth, not for the purpose of drinking or luxury, but because God had saved them.
37They requested the king to send them back to their homes.
38They were being enrolled from the twenty-fifth of Pachon to the fourth of Epiphi, a period of forty days. The measures taken for their destruction lasted from the fifth of Epiphi till the seventh, that is, three days.
39The Ruler over all during this time manifested his mercy gloriously, and delivered them all together unharmed.
40They feasted upon the king’s provision up to the fourteenth day, then asked to be sent away.
41The king commended them, and wrote the following letter, of magnanimous import for them, to the commanders of every city: