2 Maccabees

Chapter 6

  1. 1. Not long after this, the king sent an olde man of Athens, to compell the Iewes to depart from the lawes of their fathers, and not to liue after the Lawes of God:
  2. 2. And to pollute also the Temple in Ierusalem, and to call it the Temple of Iupiter Olympius: and that in Garizim, of Iupiter the defender of strangers, as they did desire that dwelt in the place.
  3. 3. The comming in of this mischiefe was sore and grieuous to the people:
  4. 4. For the Temple was filled with riot and reuelling, by the Gentiles, who dallied with harlots, and had to doe with women within the circuit of the holy places, and besides that, brought in things that were not lawfull.
  5. 5. The Altar also was filled with profane things, which the Law forbiddeth.
  6. 6. Neither was it lawfull for a man to keepe Sabbath dayes, or ancient Feasts, or to professe himselfe at all to be a Iewe.
  7. 7. And in the day of the kings birth, euery moneth they were brought by bitter constraint to eate of the sacrifices; and when the Feast of Bacchus was kept, the Iewes were compelled to goe in procession to Bacchus, carying Iuie.
  8. 8. Moreouer there went out a decree to the neighbour cities of the heathen, by the suggestion of Ptolomee, against the Iewes, that they should obserue the same fashions, and be partakers of their sacrifices.
  9. 9. And whoso would not conforme themselues to the maners of the Gentiles, should be put to death: then might a man hane seene the present misery.
  10. 10. For there were two women brought, who had circumcised their children, whom when they had openly led round about the citie, the babes hanging at their breasts, they cast them downe headlong from the wall.
  11. 11. And others that had run together into caues neere by, to keepe the Sabbath day secretly, being discouered to Philip, were all burnt together, because they made a conscience to helpe themselues, for the honour of the most sacred day.
  12. 12. Now I beseech those that reade this booke, that they be not discouraged for these calamities, but that they iudge those punishments not to be for destruction, but for a chastening of our nation.
  13. 13. For it is a token of his great goodnesse, when wicked doers are not suffered any longtime, but forthwith punished.
  14. 14. For not as with other nations whom the Lord patiently forbeareth to punish, till they be come to the fulnesse of their sinnes, so dealeth he with vs,
  15. 15. Lest that being come to the height of sinne, afterwards hee should take vengeance of vs.
  16. 16. And therfore he neuer withdraweth his mercie from vs: and though he punish with aduersitie, yet doeth he neuer forsake his people.
  17. 17. But let this that we haue spoken be for a warning vnto vs: And nowe will wee come to the declaring of the matter in few words.
  18. 18. Eleazar one of the principall Scribes, an aged man, and of a well fauoured countenance, was constrained to open his mouth, and to eate swines flesh.
  19. 19. But he chusing rather to die gloriously, then to liue stained with such an abomination, spit it forth, and came of his owne accord to the torment,
  20. 20. As it behoued them to come, that are resolute to stand out against such things, as are not lawfull for loue of life to be tasted.
  21. 21. But they that had the charge of that wicked feast, for the olde acquaintance they had with the man, taking him aside, besought him to bring flesh of his owne prouision, such as was lawfull for him to vse, and make as if he did eate of the flesh, taken from the sacrifice commanded by the king,
  22. 22. That in so doing hee might bee deliuered from death, and for the olde friendship with them, find fauour.
  23. 23. But he began to consider discreetly, and as became his age, and the excellencie of his ancient yeeres, and the honour of his gray head, whereunto hee was come, and his most honest education from a child, or rather the holy lawe made, and giuen by God: therefore hee answered accordingly, and willed them straightwaies to send him to the graue.
  24. 24. For it becommeth not our age, said he, in any wise to dissemble, whereby many yong persons might thinke, that Eleazar being fourescore yeres old and ten, were now gone to a strange religion.
  25. 25. And so they through mine hypocrisie, and desire to liue a litle time, and a moment longer, should bee deceiued by me, and I get a staine to mine olde age, and make it abominable.
  26. 26. For though for the present time I should be deliuered from the punishment of men: yet should I not escape the hand of the Almightie, neither aliue nor dead.
  27. 27. Wherefore now manfully changing this life, I will shew my selfe such an one, as mine age requireth,
  28. 28. And leaue a notable example to such as bee yong, to die willingly, and couragiously, for the honourable and holy lawes: and when he had said these words, immediatly he went to the torment,
  29. 29. They that led him, changing the good will they bare him a litle before, into hatred, because the foresaid speaches proceeded as they thought, from a desperate minde.
  30. 30. But when hee was readie to die with stripes, he groned, and said, It is manifest vnto the Lord, that hath the holy knowledge, that wheras I might haue bin deliuered from death, I [now] endure sore paines in body, by being beaten: but in soule am well content to suffer these things, because I feare him.
  31. 31. And thus this man died, leauing his death for an example of a noble courage, and a memoriall of vertue not only vnto yong men, but vnto all his nation.

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