1Then, indeed, vehemently swayed with passion, he commanded to bring others of the adult Hebrews, and if they would eat of the unclean thing, to let them go when they had eaten; but if they objected, to torment them more grievously.
2The tyrant having given this charge, seven brethren were brought into his presence, along with their aged mother, handsome, and modest, and wellborn, and altogether comely.
3Whom, when the tyrant beheld, encircling their mother as in a dance, he was pleased at them; and being struck with their becoming and ingenuous mien, smiled upon them, and calling them near, said,
4O youths, with favorable feelings, I admire the beauty of each of you; and greatly honoring so numerous a band of brethren, I not only counsel you not to share the madness of the old man who has been tortured before,
5but I do beg you to yield, and to enjoy my friendship; for I possess the power, not only of punishing those who disobey my commands, but of doing good to those who obey them.
6Put confidence in me, then, and you shall receive places of authority in my government, if you forsake your national ordinance,
7and, conforming to the Greek mode of life, alter your rule, and revel in youth’s delights.
8For if you provoke me by your disobedience, you will compel me to destroy you, every one, with terrible punishments by tortures.
9Have mercy, then, upon your own selves, whom I, although an enemy, compassionate for your age and comeliness.
10Will you not reason upon this—that if you disobey, there will be nothing left for you but to die in tortures?
11Thus speaking, he ordered the instruments of torture to be brought forward, that very fear might prevail upon them to eat unclean meat.
12And when the spearman brought forward the wheels, and the racks, and hooks, and catapults, and caldrons, pans, and finger racks, and iron hands, and wedges, and bellows, the tyrant continued:
13Fear, young men, and the Righteousness which ye worship will be merciful to you if you err from compulsion.
14Now they having listened to these words of persuasion, and seeing the fearful instruments, not only were not afraid, but even answered the arguments of the tyrant, and through their good reasoning destroyed his power.
15Now let us consider the matter: had any of them been weak spirited and cowardly among them, what reasonings would they have employed but such as these?
16O wretched that we are, and exceeding senseless! when the king exhorts us, and calls us to his bounty, should we not obey him?
17Why do we cheer ourselves with vain counsels, and venture upon a disobedience bringing death?
18Shall we not fear, O brethren, the instruments of torture, and weigh the threatenings of torment, and shun this vainglory and destructive pride?
19Let us have compassion upon our age and relent over the years of our mother.
20And let us bear in mind that we shall be dying as rebels.
21And Divine Justice will pardon us if we fear the king through necessity.
22Why withdraw ourselves from a most sweet life, and deprive ourselves of this pleasant world?
23Let us not oppose necessity, nor seek vainglory by our own excruciation.
24The law itself is not forward to put us to death, if we dread torture.
25Whence has such angry zeal taken root in us, and such fatal obstinacy approved itself to us, when we might live unmolested by giving ear to the king?
26But nothing of this kind did the young men say or think when about to be tortured.
27For they were well aware of the sufferings, and masters of the pains. So that as soon as the tyrant had ceased counseling them to eat the unclean, they altogether with one voice, as from the same heart, said: