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4 Maccabees 15

15O reason of the children, tyrant over the emotions! O religion, more desirable to the mother than her children! 2Two courses were open to this mother, that of religion, and that of preserving her seven sons for a time, as the tyrant had promised. 3She loved religion more, the religion that preserves them for eternal life according to God’s promise.* 4In what manner might I express the emotions of parents who love their children? We impress upon the character of a small child a wondrous likeness both of mind and of form. Especially is this true of mothers, who because of their birth pangs have a deeper sympathy towards their offspring than do the fathers. 5Considering that mothers are the weaker sex and give birth to many, they are more devoted to their children.* 6The mother of the seven boys, more than any other mother, loved her children. In seven pregnancies she had implanted in herself tender love towards them, 7and because of the many pains she suffered with each of them she had sympathy for them; 8yet because of the fear of God she disdained the temporary safety of her children. 9Not only so, but also because of the nobility of her sons and their ready obedience to the law, she felt a greater tenderness towards them. 10For they were righteous and self-controlled and brave and magnanimous, and loved their brothers and their mother, so that they obeyed her even to death in keeping the ordinances.

11 Nevertheless, though so many factors influenced the mother to suffer with them out of love for her children, in the case of none of them were the various tortures strong enough to pervert her reason. 12But each child separately and all of them together the mother urged on to death for religion’s sake. 13O sacred nature and affection of parental love, yearning of parents towards offspring, nurture and indomitable suffering by mothers! 14This mother, who saw them tortured and burned one by one, because of religion did not change her attitude. 15She watched the flesh of her children being consumed by fire, their toes and fingers scattered* on the ground, and the flesh of the head to the chin exposed like masks.

16 O mother, tried now by more bitter pains than even the birth pangs you suffered for them! 17O woman, who alone gave birth to such complete devotion! 18When the firstborn breathed his last, it did not turn you aside, nor when the second in torments looked at you piteously nor when the third expired; 19nor did you weep when you looked at the eyes of each one in his tortures gazing boldly at the same agonies, and saw in their nostrils the signs of the approach of death. 20When you saw the flesh of children burned upon the flesh of other children, severed hands upon hands, scalped heads upon heads, and corpses fallen on other corpses, and when you saw the place filled with many spectators of the torturings, you did not shed tears. 21Neither the melodies of sirens nor the songs of swans attract the attention of their hearers as did the voices of the children in torture calling to their mother. 22How great and how many torments the mother then suffered as her sons were tortured on the wheel and with the hot irons! 23But devout reason, giving her heart a man’s courage in the very midst of her emotions, strengthened her to disregard, for the time, her parental love.

24 Although she witnessed the destruction of seven children and the ingenious and various rackings, this noble mother disregarded all these* because of faith in God. 25For as in the council chamber of her own soul she saw mighty advocates—nature, family, parental love, and the rackings of her children— 26this mother held two ballots, one bearing death and the other deliverance for her children. 27She did not approve the deliverance that would preserve the seven sons for a short time, 28but as the daughter of God-fearing Abraham she remembered his fortitude.

29 O mother of the nation, vindicator of the law and champion of religion, who carried away the prize of the contest in your heart! 30O more noble than males in steadfastness, and more courageous than men in endurance! 31Just as Noah’s ark, carrying the world in the universal flood, stoutly endured the waves, 32so you, O guardian of the law, overwhelmed from every side by the flood of your emotions and the violent winds, the torture of your sons, endured nobly and withstood the wintry storms that assail religion.

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v 2.2.8
14 July 2018

From the oremus Bible Browser http://bible.oremus.org v2.2.8 14 July 2018.