38So their registration was carried out from the twenty-fifth of Pachon to the fourth of Epeiph,* for forty days; and their destruction was set for the fifth to the seventh of Epeiph,* the three days 39on which the Lord of all most gloriously revealed his mercy and rescued them all together and unharmed. 40Then they feasted, being provided with everything by the king, until the fourteenth day,* on which also they made the petition for their dismissal. 41The king granted their request at once and wrote the following letter for them to the generals in the cities, magnanimously expressing his concern:
7King Ptolemy Philopator to the generals in Egypt and all in authority in his government, greetings and good health:
2 We ourselves and our children are faring well, the great God guiding our affairs according to our desire. 3Certain of our friends, frequently urging us with malicious intent, persuaded us to gather together the Jews of the kingdom in a body and to punish them with barbarous penalties as traitors; 4for they declared that our government would never be firmly established until this was accomplished, because of the ill will that these people had towards all nations. 5They also led them out with harsh treatment as slaves, or rather as traitors, and, girding themselves with a cruelty more savage than that of Scythian custom, they tried without any inquiry or examination to put them to death. 6But we very severely threatened them for these acts, and in accordance with the clemency that we have towards all people we barely spared their lives. Since we have come to realize that the God of heaven surely defends the Jews, always taking their part as a father does for his children, 7and since we have taken into account the friendly and firm goodwill that they had towards us and our ancestors, we justly have acquitted them of every charge of whatever kind. 8We also have ordered all people to return to their own homes, with no one in any place* doing them harm at all or reproaching them for the irrational things that have happened. 9For you should know that if we devise any evil against them or cause them any grief at all, we always shall have not a mortal but the Ruler over every power, the Most High God, in everything and inescapably as an antagonist to avenge such acts. Farewell.
10 On receiving this letter the Jews* did not immediately hurry to make their departure, but they requested of the king that at their own hands those of the Jewish nation who had wilfully transgressed against the holy God and the law of God should receive the punishment they deserved. 11They declared that those who for the bellys sake had transgressed the divine commandments would never be favourably disposed towards the kings government. 12The king* then, admitting and approving the truth of what they said, granted them a general licence so that freely, and without royal authority or supervision, they might destroy those everywhere in his kingdom who had transgressed the law of God. 13When they had applauded him in fitting manner, their priests and the whole multitude shouted the Hallelujah and joyfully departed. 14And so on their way they punished and put to a public and shameful death any whom they met of their compatriots who had become defiled. 15On that day they put to death more than three hundred men; and they kept the day as a joyful festival, since they had destroyed the profaners. 16But those who had held fast to God even to death and had received the full enjoyment of deliverance began their departure from the city, crowned with all sorts of very fragrant flowers, joyfully and loudly giving thanks to the one God of their ancestors, the eternal Saviour* of Israel, in words of praise and all kinds of melodious songs.
The New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized Edition), copyright 1989, 1995 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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10 February 2011