Translation:3 Maccabees

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For other English-language translations of this work, see 3 Maccabees.
3 Maccabees , translated by Wikisource
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Chapter I[edit]

1 But when [Ptolemy IV] Philopator learnt from those who had returned about the annexation of the places he ruled by Antiochos, he summoned all his infantry and cavalry forces and brought along his sister Arsinoe too, and marched to the places near Raphia, where Antiochos and his forces had blocked the way. 2 Then a certain Theodotos, who intended to carry out a plot, received the most powerful part of the Ptolemaic army which had been placed under his control and by night he came into Ptolemy's tent, in order to single-handedly kill him and thereby bring an end to the war. 3 But he had been led away by Dositheos, who was called the son of Drimylos and was of Jewish descent although he subsequently abandoned [Jewish] custom and the laws of his ancestors. Dositheos had an undistinguished man sleep in the tent, who suffered the chastisement [meant for] Ptolemy. 4 When the mighty battle had begun and things had gone more in Antiochos' favour, Arsinoe came forward and implored the forces to help themselves, unbinding her hair with wailing and tears. Then she announced that she would give two mnai of gold to each of the victors. 5 And so it happened that the opponenets were destroyed in the hand-to-hand fighting and that they took many war-captives. 6 Since the plot had been overcome, he [Ptolemy?] decided to go to the nearby cities and call upon them. 7 When he had done this and distributed gifts to the sanctuaries, he made his subjects confident.

8 The Jews sent to him from the council of elders men who saluted him and brought tribute and congratulations for the way things had turned out, which made him more eager to visit them as soon as possible. 9 When he came into Jerusalem, sacrificed to the greatest God, rendered thanks, did an appropriate thing at the place, then went into the place and was struck by its sumptuousness and majesty. 10 He was also amazed at the good condition of the temple and desired to discuss going into the temple building. 11 When they said that it was not appropriate to do this, because it was not allowed for people outside the race [of the Jews] to enter, nor for any of the priests to do so, with the sole exception of the principle high priest, and him only once a year, he was not willing to obey them at all. 12 When the law was read out to him, he did not change his mind at all, objecting that he had to go in and even if they were deprived of this honour, he should not be. 13 And he asked why no one had prevented him from going into every [other] sanctuary. 14 Then someone thoughtlessly said that he was wrong to treat this as an omen. 15 But he said, since this had taken place, why shouldn't he enter, whether they wanted him to or not? 16 When the priests in their holy clothes fell down before him and begged the greatest God to help in this dire situation and to divert his desires from this evil plan and they filled the temple with wailing and tears, 17 the men who had been left in the city came running out in a disorderly manner because they thought something uncertain had happened. 18 And the girls who were shut up in their chambers with their mothers, rushed out and covered their heads with mud and dust, as wailing and groaning filled the streets. 19 And the women who recently married abandoned the chambers that had been prepared for their intercourse and reverent betrothal, forming a disorderly mob in the city. 20 Newborn children were abandoned by their mothers and wetnurses in various places - some in their houses, some in the streets - as they thronged heedlessly to the paramount temple. 21 The begging of the people who gathered there against the king's unlawful undertakings was made up of many different voices. 22 Along with these people, some bold citizens would not allow the completion of what he intended or the fulfillment of the plan which he had in mind.23 They shouted for him to carry out his desire in the face of their weapons and that they would die courageously for their ancestral law, making enough ruckus there that they were barely restrained by the old men and the elders and made to take the same position of begging. 24 The mass of people, as previously, returned to begging about these things. 25 The elders with the king attempted several times to turn his arrogant mind away from the plan which had captivated him. 26 But he spiritedly ignored everything and attempted to enter, intending to bring completion to his earlier words. 27 So those with him, seeing these things, along with our people, were turned to invoking the one who has all power to protect those present, and not overlook this unlawful and haughty action. 28 From the bitter and pained screaming came a single indescribable shout. 29 For it seemed that not just the people but the walls and the ground cried out, since everyone was willing to pay with death at that moment rather than allow the profanation of the place.

Chapter II[edit]

1 So then the High Priest, Simon, came out of the temple building, knelt down on his knees, stretched out his hands in an orderly way, and begged like this, 2 "Lord, Lord, King of the skies and master of all creation, holy among holies, sole ruler, all-powerful, hold out [your hand] to us, since we are oppressed by an unlawful and profane man, who is puffed up with boldness and power. 3 For you, the creator of all things and ruler of everything are a just master and you judge those who act with insolence and arrogance. 4 You destroyed those who acted unjustly in the past, including even giants who were pre-eminent in strength and boldness, bringing endless water upon them. 5 The Sodomites who acted haughtily and became most clearly evil, you burnt up with divine fire, making an example of them for posterity. 6 When bold Pharaoh enslaved your people, holy Israel, you tested him with many different punishments, making him aware of your dominion; in those things you made him aware of your great power. 7 When he pursued in his chariot with a great multitude, you drowned him with the depth of the sea, but you preserved those who trusted in you, master of all creation, safely. 8 They witnessed the deeds of your hand and praised you as all-powerful. 9 You, king, creator of the boundless and endless earth, chose this city and made this place holy to your name, you who have no need of anything, and you glorified it with manifest magnificence, making a foundation here for the glory of your great and venerated name. 10 Since you loved the house of Israel, you promised that if disaster should happen to us, if difficulty should take hold of us, if we were in need once we had come to this place, you would heed our prayer. 11 And indeed you are trusty and true. 12 When our fathers were oppressed, frequently, you helped them in their abasement and you rescued them from massive dangers, 13 see even now, holy king, we are punished for our many great errors and conquered by our enemies and we are left in powerlessness. 14 But in our calamity, this bold, profane man intends to abuse the holy place established in the land for your name of glory. 15 For your home is the sky of the sky, unreachable by humans. 16 But since you approve of your repute among your people - Israel - you made this place holy, 17 don't punish us for the impurity of these men, don't chasten us for the profanation, lest the sinners be puffed up in their spirit, lest they rejoice in their haughtiness, saying in their language, 18 "we trampled down the house of the sanctification, just as the houses of the accursed were trampled down." 19 Wipe out out mistakes and scatter our sins, and display your pity at this time. 20 Let your compassion grasp us quickly, and put praises into the mouths of the fallen and crushed souls, and make peace for us."

21 Then God, who watches over everything and is holy among the holies before all, heard the prayer and flogged the king who had been massively influenced by insolence and rashness. 22 He swung him this way and that like a reed in the wind, so that he was immobile on the ground, with his limbs paralysed and was not even able to make a sound - stricken by righteous judgement. 23 Therefore his friends and bodyguards, seeing the speed and sharpness of the his punishment were afraid that he had not even been left alive and they quickly dragged him away, stricken by an overwhelming terror. 24 Sometime later he recovered, not having developed any regrets at all, and he departed with bitter threats.

25 When he had returned to Egypt and his evil impulse had increased and because the drinking-buddies and companions which he had chosen earlier drained away all justice, 26 he not only carried out countless acts of violence, but even became so bold that he set up slanders in the towns and many of his friends, fixated on the intent of the king and followed his will. 27 He tasked the public with passing a censure against the race [of the Jews]. Then he set up a stele on the tower in the courtyard [of the Temple], chiseling an inscription, 28 saying that no one who was not sacrificing could go into the holy places, that all the Jews were to be enrolled in a poll tax and given servile status, and that those who resisted with force were to be removed from life, 29 and those who were enrolled were to be marked with fire on their bodies with the symbol of Dionysos - an ivy-leaf - and they also were assigned to their earlier, humbled status. 30 But so that he would not appear detestable to everyone he added that, if anyone preferred to be converted into one of those who had been initiated into the mystic rites, they would be equal to Alexandrian citizens.

31 So some in the city, showing their hatred for the means of maintaining the piety of the city, unscrupulously surrendered themselves, as if they were gaining a share of something great - glory from their future interaction with the king. 32 But the majority were empowered with a noble spirit and did not abandon their piety and exchanged their money for their lives, they fearlessly attempted to protect themselves from the registration. 33 They remained hopeful that they would receive assistance and they detested those who abandoned them, considering them enemies of the race and refused to live alongside them or give them assistance.

Chapter III[edit]

1 When the ungodly man[1] learnt these things he was so angry that not only did he rage at those in Alexandria, but he even opposed those deep in the countryside and he ordered that all those who were zealous should be gathered together in the same place and be executed in the worst way possible. 2 While these things were being organised, a hateful rumour about the [Jewish] people was spread by people who were conspiring to do them evil, with the starting point being given for their disposition by [the claim] that [the Jews] were preventing them from following their customary practices. 3 The Jews were preserving their unchangeable goodwill and faith towards the kings 4 but they worshiped God and conducted their affairs according to his laws, maintaining a distinction in accordance with the law about foods, for which reason they seemed hateful to some people. 5 But since they conducted their interactions with all people with the good conduct of the just, they had achieved good repute. 6 So then the foreigners did not reckon up the good conduct of the [Jewish] race which was commonly chattered about by everyone; 7 instead, they chattered about the separation of their worship and their food, saying that they were not people who made the same sacrifices to the king and the powers and that they ill-willed to them and deeply opposed to their affairs. And they attacked them with extraordinary criticism. 8 Since the Greeks in the city had not been wronged at all, when they saw the unexpected fuss about the [Jewish] people and unexpected riots taking place, they were not able to help, because of the tyrannical government, but they consoled them, felt terrible and assumed that these [orders] would be changed, 9 for such a great community which had made no mistakes would not be overlooked in this way. 10 But now, some neighbours, friends, and co-workers drew some of them in secretly,[2] giving promises that they would vouch for them and would contribute everything eagerly in support.

11 Then that man,[1] proud of his present prosperity and not perceiving the power of the greatest God, but continuing to assume that he could maintain this policy, wrote this letter against them: 12 "King Ptolemy Philopator to the Generals and soldiers in Egypt and every [other] place, greetings and good health! 13 I myself am well and so are our affairs. 14 Since our campaign into Asia, as you yourselves know, has naturally been brought to the best possible conclusion by the unwavering alliance of the gods with us and by our own strength, 15 we consider that we have tended to the peoples inhabiting Koile Syria and Phoenicia with fairness and a lot of benevolence, not with the force of the spear, and that we have gladly done good. 16 We distributed plenty of income to the temples in the cities, advancing even to Jerusalem, where we went up to honour the temple of the sinners who never cease from foolishness. 17 While they welcomed our presence in words, in deeds [they revealed] their insincerity, and when we desired to go into their temple building and honour it with splendid and beautiful dedications, 18 they offered ancient nonsense as a pretext for preventing us from entering, escaping our might, because of the benevolence we maintain towards all men. 19 Then they made clear their ill-will towards us, as absolutely uniquely among the peoples, they scorned kings and the benefactions they had received, being unwilling to treat anything appropriately. 20 We indulged their foolishness, went back to Egypt in victory, having behaved benevolently to all peoples; we acted entirely appropriately. 21 In these matters we proved before their eyes our lack of vengefulness to all, and, as a result of the alliance and the numerous matters entrusted to them with sincerity from the beginning, we went so far as to change their state completely, deciding to reward them with citizenship of Alexandria and to make them participants in all our holy things. 22 But they reacted in the opposite manner and thrust away this beautiful thing in favour of their innate evil behaviour, continually turning to badness.23 Not only did they reject the priceless citizenship, but they even despised (out loud and silently) the few among them who behaved properly towards us, in every case they act with suspicion, because of their entirely inglorious way of life, that we will overturn correct behaviour with speed. 24 And because we have been entirely convinced by the evidence that they are hostile to our character in every respect and we foresee that at some point in the future when a sudden crisis faces us, we will find them impious backstabbers and barbarous enemies, 25 we have ordered that at the moment that this letter arrives, the inhabitants, along with the women and children, shall be sent to us with abuse and harassment, in iron chains, from wherever they have been hidden, for an unavoidable and inglorious death, befitting hostile peoples.26 For, once they have all been punished, we will have finally managed to bring our affairs into stability and the best condition, for all time. 27 Whoever hides one of the Jews, whether old, young, or infants, will be annihilated with the most shameful torture, along with their whole family. 28 Anyone who is willing to inform [on them], will receive in exchange the property of the person who comes under judgement and two thousand drachmas of royal silver, will get their freedom, and will be crowned. 29 Any place whatsoever in which a Jew is found to be hiding, shall be made desolate and burnt up, and shall be rendered useless in every way to all mortal beings for all time."

30 So the text of the letter was written like that.

Chapter IV[edit]

1 Everywhere he sent this command, every kind of festivity was organised for the gentiles at public expense, with loud noises and joy, so that they hatred which had long ago entrenched itself in their minds, was made entirely clear with open speech. 2 But the grief of the Jews was incurable and there was a utterly woeful shout with tears, their hearts were inflamed with groans, mourning their unexpected, suddenly determined destruction. 3 What district or city or place of habitation whatsoever, what alley was not filled with lamentation and groans by them? 4 For they were sent off by the generals in each city with bitter, pitiless souls, all in agreement, such that, in light of the extreme punishment, even some of their enemies, when they took in the pitiful sight before their eyes and considered the unexpected end of their lives, mourned their thrice-wretched departure. 5 For a multitude of old men who had grown grey were led away, [despite] the slowness of their feet, bent from age, they were forced by the force of violent destruction, without any shame, into a quick march. 6 The young women, who had just gone into the bridal chamber for the partnership of wedded life, exchanged joy for weeping, covered their perfumed hair with dust, and were led uncovered, all beginning a dirge instead of wedding songs, as if they had been torn asunder by foreign attacks,7 and, publicly bound, they were dragged to the place where the ship departed by force.8 Their husbands, with halters yoked round their necks instead of crowns, at the acme of their youth, instead of festivities and youthful relaxation, spent the remaining days of their weddings in mourning, seeing that doom already lay at their feet. 9 They were herded down in the manner of beasts, by iron-chained necessity, some bound to the benches of the ships by their necks, some battened down by unbreakable shackles around their feet, 10 and even with the tight planking [of the deck] above them, so that they were entirely in the dark, experiencing the treatment on the whole voyage.

11 When they were brought to the place called Schedia,[3] the voyage was over, just as ordained by the king, and he ordered them to cast into the hippodrome in front of the city, which was built with an immense circumference and was very convenient indeed for making demonstrations to everyone who was returning to the city, and everyone of them who had set out for the countryside for out-of-town business, without sharing anything with his troops and without being deemed worthy of [being inside] the city walls at all. 12 When this had happened, he heard that their kinsmen were furtively coming out from the city[4] and weeping bitterly at the wretched dishonour of their brothers, 13 and he furiously ordered them to be brought to the same place as the others, so that they should not escape their punishment in any way, 14 that the whole tribe would be listed by name, not for the toilsome labour on public works project that was mentioned a little earlier, but so that they could be abused with the tortures that he commanded and finally be suppressed in the compass of a single day. 15 So, the census took place with bitter zeal and ambitious focus from dawn to dusk, coming to an end unaccomplished after forty days. 16 The king was continuously filled with great joy, holding drinking parties for all the idols, with his mind wandering far from the truth and his impious mouth, he praised things which were mute and unable to speak or help him and babbled inappropriate things about the greatest God. 17 After the aforementioned passage of time, the secretaries announced to the king that they were no longer able to make the list of the Jews because of the immeasurable number of them, 18 although most of them were still in the countryside, some still holed up in their homes, and some in a place, as he had commanded something impossible for all the generals in Egypt. 19 Then he threatened them very viciously on the grounds that they had been bribed to enable their escape, but he was clearly persuaded 20 when they spoke, after the display of the papyrus rolls and the writing pens which they had used, to abandon this task. 21 This was a deed of the unconquerable heavenly will of the protector of the Jews.

Chapter V[edit]

1 Then he summoned Hermon who was in charge of the elephants, full of deep anger and bile, entirely unalterable 2 and he ordered him to give all the elephants (there were five hundred of them) bountiful handfuls of frankincense and lots of undiluted wine to drink. Once they had become wild from the plentiful supply of drink, he was to lead them in, so that the Jews would meet their doom. 3 Once he had ordered these things he turned his attention to feasting, gathering those of his friends and troops who were most hateful towards the Jews. 4 The elephantarch, Hermon, carried out the command attentively. 5 When the servants in charge of these things were about to go out in the evening, they chained up the hands of the miserable Jews and ensured that they were secure overnight, thinking that the [Jewish] people were about to receive the culmination of their destruction. 6 And the Jews seemed to the gentiles to be bereft of all protection, as a result of thecompulsion surrounding them on all sides with chains. 7 But they all called out to the all-powerful Lord who rules over all power, their merciful God and father, with unceasing shouting and tears, 8 begging him to turn the unholy scheme away from them and to protect them with exceptional manifestations of power from doom in their immediate future. 9 So their zealous prayer went up to heaven. 10 But Hermon had provided drink to the pitiless elephants, which were filled with a plentiful supply of wine and were infuriated by the frankincense, and was at court at dawn to announce this to the king. 11 But there is a beautiful creation for all time, which is granted night and day by gracious [God] to everyone he wishes: a bit of sleep, and he sent some to the king.

12 So he fell into a deep, sweet sleep by the power of the Lord; his unlawful plan was entirely thwarted, he was entirely cheated of his unalterable calculation. 13 Then the Jews saw the aforementioned thing and fled. They praised the Holy and merciful God and considered that he had shown the power of his mighty hand to the arrogant gentiles once more. 14 It was now nearly the middle of the tenth hour, and the man charged with making the announcements saw the crowd of people who had been invited, so he went in and prodded the king. 15 He woke him only with difficulty and then informed him that it was already past the time for the drinking party, making his excuses for these things. 16 The king took account of this and turned his thoughts to drinking, calling for the people who had come for the drinking party to come in and lie down opposite him. 17 Once they had, he encouraged them to give themselves over to the festivities and make the current part of the drinking party cheerful by celebrating for a long time. 18 The crowd had been at it for a long time, when the king sent for Hermon and with bitter threats inquired why the Jews had been allowed to survive the day. 19 When he explained that during the night he had brought the order to completion and the friends corroborated his account, 20 the king said, with more savagery than Phalaris, that they owed thanks for the day's sleep, "ready the elephants immediately for tomorrow in the same way in order to blot out those lawless Jews." 21 When the king said this, everyone present happily praised him with joy all at once and then each went off to their own house. 22 But they did not actually use the night for sleep, but for divising every kind of insult against the Jews who appeared doomed.

23 Now a rooster called out the early morning and Hermon had got the beasts organised and set them moving in the massive courtyard. 24 The throng of people in the city gathered for this most pitiable spectacle, awaiting the morning with great concern. 25 The Jews were at the point of death, since time had run out. Stretching out their hands to heaven with tearful prayers in mournful tunes, they begged the greatest God to help them again quickly. 26 The Sun's rays had not yet spread forth, but the king was entertaining his friends; Hermon came up and called for him to come out, indicating that what the king wanted was ready. 27 He received this message and was shocked by the utterly abnormal invitation, since he[5] had been entirely overpowered by incomprehension, he inquired what this thing was that had been done with zeal for him. 28 This was the intervention of God who is master of everything and had caused him to forget the things that had been contrived by him. 29 But Hermon explained (and his friends too), "the beasts and the forces are ready, King, in accordance with your strict command." 30 At these words, he was filled with deep wrath because God's will in this matter was scattering all his thinking, and he said obstinately and threateningly, 31 "If your parents were here or the children of your children, I would cast them to wild beasts as a rich meal, rather than blameless people who accepted my ancestors and always remained solidly faithful, like the Jews. 32 in fact, were it not for my affection for you because we were raised together and your usefulness, you would have lost your life, instead of them." 33 So Hermon endured such an unexpected and dangerous reversal and was abashed in his eyes and face. 34 One by one the friends slipped out sullenly and they sent away the people who had gathered, each to their own business. 35 And the Jews, having heard the words of the king, praised God manifest and king of kings, since they had received his help.

36 In accordance with his customs, the king organised the drinking party for cheerfulness once more and summoned everyone to enjoy it. 37 Then he summoned Hermon and spoke threateningly, "How many times must I command you to do these things, you complete wretch? 38 marshal the elephants right now, in order to blot out the Jews tomorrow." 39 Then the kinsmen[6] who were lying next to him, were shocked at his unstable mind, and said these things, 40 "King, for how long are you going to test us, as if we were idiots? you are now commanding for a third to blot them out, having twice cancelled your order on this matter as a result of a change of heart. 41 Thanks to these things, the city is troubled from the apprehension and throngs with mobs, and even now is often in danger of being torn apart." 42 In response to this the King, every bit a Phalaris, was filled with irrationality and considered the changes of heart that had taken place in him as a result of the protector of the Jews to be of no moment, so he swore a very ineffectual oath and ordained that they would be sent to Hades immediately, crushed by the knees and feet of the beasts, 43 and then he would set out on campaign into Judaia, and level it with fire and spear quickly and he would make the temple which was off-limits to him overthrown by fire quickly and empty of those who offered sacrifices there, for all time.44 Then the friends and kinsmen went away very happy and marshaled the forces in the assigned places in the city for observing these commands, faithfully.

45 So the elephantarch made the beasts insane to the point of a physical condition, so to speak, using the most fragrant cups of wine mixed with frankincense, and outfitted them with frightening armour. 46 At dawn, the had already city filled up the hippodrome with uncountable throngs and he went to the courtyard and roused the king for the thing which he had organised. 47 Carrying a cargo of deep fury, the king cast his impious mind out into the depths with the beasts, wanting to see the painful and wretched destruction of the aforementioned people with an impregnable heart and the pupils of his eyes.48 As the elephants went out the gate and armed forces followed after them and the Jews saw the dust they kicked up and heard the deep rumbling roar from their great numbers, 49 it seemed that this was the final moment of their lives, the end of their painful anticipation and they turned to weeping and lamenting, embracing one another and holding their family members close, and bent into their chests - parents with their children, mothers with their girls, others held newborns to their breasts, letting the babies take milk for the last time. 50 since they recognised the protection they had received previously from heaven, they threw themselves down all together, removed the infants from their breasts, 51 and shouted out extremely loudly, praying to the the master of all power, lamenting that they were now clearly at the gates of Hades.

Chapter VI[edit]

1 Now, Eleazar was a distinguished man, one of the priests from the Land, who had now reached old age and had conducted himself with complete excellence throughout his life. He calmed the old men around him to invoke the holy God and prayed like this: 2 "O King, great-powered, highest, all-powerful God, who guides the whole of creation with pity, 3 look down on the seed of Abraham, on the children of sanctified Jacob, your people of the holy land in a foreign land as foreigners being unjustly destroyed, Father! 4 You! When Pharaoh, master of this same Egypt, massed the chariots, induced by unlawful boldness and a big-talking tongue, with an exceptionally large army, they were sea-drowned - you destroyed them, shining the light of your pity on the people of Israel. 5 You! When, proud of his innumerable forces, Sennachereim, the oppressive king of the Assyrians, had brought the whole land into his hands through the spear and went so far as to come against your holy city, babbling oppressively with din and boldness, you, Master, shattered him and made your power clear to many peoples. 6 You! When the three comrades in Babylonia, gave their lives to the fire voluntarily rather than serve empty [idols], you dampened the fiery furnace and preserved them without harm to a single hair on their head, sending all the fire against their opponents. 7 You! When Daniel was thrown down into a pit with the lions as a result of jealous slanders to be prey for the beasts, you led him up unharmed into the light, 8 and when Jonah was being digested in the stomach of a deep-dwelling sea monster, without hesitation you brought him unharmed to all his kin, father. 9 And now, abuse-hater, most merciful, shelterer of all things, quickly show yourself to the people of the family of Israel, who are being abused by despicable, lawless peoples! 10 But if our life has been entangled with impiety in the diaspora, protect us from our enemies' hand, as you chose to previously, Master, and destroy us with death. 11 Don't let these worthless-minded people curse you with worthless words on account of the destruction of your beloved people, saying, "Their God did not protect them." 12 You, who have all the strength and all the power, eternal one, look down now. Have pity on us, who are being removed from life through the irrational arrogance of the lawless in the same way as traitors. 13 May the gentiles cower in fear at your invincible power today, glorious one, for you have the power to save the family of Jacob. 14 The whole crowd of children and their parents supplicate you with tears. 15 May it be accepted be all peoples that you are with us, Lord, and have not turned your face from us. but as you said you would not overlook any of our enemies on Earth, so make it be, Lord."

16 When Eleazor stopped speaking, the king came into the hippodrome with the beasts and all the grunting of the his forces. 17 When the Jews saw this, they shouted to the sky, so that the trenches around them made an uncontrollable scream echo through the whole camp. 18 Then the super-glorious, all-powerful and true God showed his holy face, opening the heavenly gates, from which two glorious and fearsome angels descended, visible to everyone except the Jews, 19 and stood in the way, and filled the opponents' forces with disorder and terror and bound them with unmoving shackles. 20 Even the body of the king shuddered a bit and forgetfulness took his deep-spirited boldness. 21 Then the beasts turned upon the armed forces following them, trampled them down, and destroyed them. 22 Then the king's anger was transformed into pity and tears at the things he had previously plotted. 23 For he heard the screams and saw all the people falling headlong into destruction. Weeping with anger, he threatened his friends, saying, 24 "You go beyond royalty and exceed tyrants in harshness and attempt now to remove my rule and my breath from me, your own benefactor, secretly plotting things that are not beneficial to my kingship. 25 Who is it who has removed the men who hold the strongholds of the land in faith for us from their homes and irrationally gathered them here? 26 Who is it who has inflicted such wrongful suffering on people from our realm who have been distinguished from all people from the beginning by their goodwill for us in all things and have often shown themselves to be the best of men in dangerous circumstances? 27 Release them! Remove these unjust chains! Send them out to their own places in peace, after apologising for what has been done! 28 You destoryed the sons of the all-powerful living God who is in heaven, who has provided uninterrupted tranquility with glory to our affairs from the time of our ancestors up till now." 29 So he said these things. The Jews were released right away and praised the holy God, their saviour, since they had escaped death.

30 Then the king returned to the city, summoned the man in charge of revenues and told him to provide wine and the other customary things for feasting to the Jews for seven days, since he had decided that they should stay in the place where it had seemed that they would be destroyed and in that same place celebrate their salvation in complete happiness. 31 Then those who had been treated shamefully up to this point and nearly sent to Hades (or, rather, had been right at its door), instead of a bitter and terribly lamentable death, they held a salvation banquet and laid out couches in the place which had been prepared for their death and burial, making it full of joy. 32 They dropped the wholly mournful tune of the dirge and took up an ancestral song, praising God the saviour and wonderworker; they stopped all wailing and shrieking and formed choruses as a sign of their peaceful happiness. 33 Likewise, the king held an expensive drinking party for these things, incessantly and munificently giving thanks to heaven for his unexpected salvation. 34 The people who had thought that they would be destroyed and scavanged by birds and had registered them with joy, groaned, covered themselves in shame and quenched their fire-breathing daring ingloriously. 35 The Jews, as we mentioned previously, formed the previously mentioned chorus and enjoyed feasting in joyous thanksgiving and psalms. 36 Theylaid down a common law about concerning these things on their whole journey for the generations, deciding to treat the aforementioned days as festive ones, not because of the wine and delicacies, but for the salvation they received from God. 37 Then they met with the king and requested their dismissal to their own homes.

38 They registered them from the twenty-fifth of Pachon until the fourth of Epiphi,[7] for forty days, then they were gathered for their destruction from the fifth of Epiphi until the seventh - three days, 39 during which the master of all things super-gloriously displayed his mercy and wholeheartedly preserved them intact. 40 They feasted and were provided with everything by the king until the fourteenth, on which they had the meeting about their dismissal. 41 The king granted this to them and wrote the following letter to the generals in each city, generously and earnestly.

Chapter VII[edit]

1 King Ptolemy Philopator to the generals in Egypt and all those in charge of affairs, greetings and well-wishes. 2 We ourselves are well and so are our children, since the greatest God has set straight our affairs, just as we desire. 3 Some of our friends, pushing us too bitterly into a bad disposition, persuaded us to gather up all the Jews in the kingdom to punish them with the outlandish punishments of rebels, 4 claiming that our affairs would never be at peace, on account of the enmity which they have for all peoples, until this was done. 5 Then they brought them down in chains with violence, like slaves (more like traitors actually), without any trial or investigation and attempted ti kill them, cloaking themselves in a harshness more savage than the law of the Skythians. 6 We chastised [the friends responsible for this] very harshly for these things, on account of the reasonableness which we maintain for all people, barely letting them live, since we knew that heavenly God watches over the Jews attentively, fighting for them through everything like a father for his sons, 7 we reckoned up the firm goodwill of a friend which they have for us and our ancestors, so we have justly released them from any kind of blame whatsoever 8 and we have instructed everyone to return all of them to their homes, with no one hurting them at all anywhere, nor to insult them for the things that have happened irrationally. 9 So understand that in these things, if we devise some wretched evil thing or harm them at all, we will have not a man but God the highest who is master of all power, as an opponent seeking vengeance against all our affairs implacably forever. Farewell."

10 So they took this letter and were not eager to be quick about the departure, but asked the king also that those people from the race of the Jews who had voluntarily transgressed against the holy God and God's law for their own benefit receive punishment, 11 claiming that, since they had transgressed the divine commands, they would never ever be well-disposed towards the affairs of the king. 12 And he thought that they spoke the truth and agreed to give them complete license to utterly destroy those who had transgressed against the law of God, in every place subject to his kingship, with free speech and without any royal control or oversight. 13 Then their priests applauded him, as was fitting, and the whole crowd cried out the allelouia and departed joyfully. 14 Then they punished all of the polluted men of their own race who encountered them on the way and they killed them as public examples. 15 So on that day they killed over three hundred men and they were happy with joy because they had subdued the unhallowed people. 16 But they had stayed with God to the death and had got the total enjoyment of salvation, and they departed from the city decked out with all kinds of good-smelling flowers, with happiness and shouting, giving thanks with honourific and entirely sweet songs to the God of their fathers for the eternal salvation of Israel.

17 When they came to Ptolemais, which is called 'rose-bearing' due to the special character of the place, at which the expedition stayed in order to take counsel together for six days,[8] 18 they had a salvation drink there, since the king had kindly provided each of them with everything for the journey all the way to their own homes. 19 Then returned home peacefully making appropriate thanksgiving, as they had decided treat these days as festive, along with the period of their time away. 20 They sacralised them on a stele at the place of the drinking party which they set up with a prayer, and went away secure, free, rejoicing, returning safely by land, sea, and river thanks to the command of the king, each to their own home 21 with more power over the enemies than before, with glory and fear, entirely undisturbed by any of the sub-rulers. 22 Then everyone recovered everything of theirs from the list, so that those who had something surrendered it to them with the greatest fear, since the greatest God had brought to completion the greatest things for their salvation.

23 Let the protector of Israel be praised for all time. Amen.

Notes[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 i.e. the king
  2. Or "enticed some of them with mystic rites"
  3. Near w:Canopus, Egypt.
  4. Alexandria
  5. grammatically, this is a different individual from the previous 'he', but no sense is made unless they are the same.
  6. A title, indicating the most important courtiers
  7. These are the 9th and 11th months of the Egyptian/Coptic calendar
  8. Presumably this is w:Acre, although it isn't really on the way back to Jerusalem...