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The Torture of the Seventh Brother

12 When he also, thrown into the caldron, had died a blessed death, the seventh and youngest of all came forward. Even though the tyrant had been fearfully reproached by the brothers, he felt strong compassion for this child when he saw that he was already in fetters. He summoned him to come nearer and tried to console him, saying, “You see the result of your brothers’ stupidity, for they died in torments because of their disobedience. You too, if you do not obey, will be miserably tortured and die before your time, but if you yield to persuasion you will be my friend and a leader in the government of the kingdom.” When he had so pleaded, he sent for the boy’s mother to show compassion on her who had been bereaved of so many sons and to influence her to persuade the surviving son to obey and save himself. But when his mother had exhorted him in the Hebrew language, as we shall tell a little later, he said, “Let me loose, let me speak to the king and to all his friends that are with him.” Extremely pleased by the boy’s declaration, they freed him at once. 10 Running to the nearest of the braziers, 11 he said, “You profane tyrant, most impious of all the wicked, since you have received good things and also your kingdom from God, were you not ashamed to murder his servants and torture on the wheel those who practice religion? 12 Because of this, justice has laid up for you intense and eternal fire and tortures, and these throughout all time[a] will never let you go. 13 As a man, were you not ashamed, you most savage beast, to cut out the tongues of men who have feelings like yours and are made of the same elements as you, and to maltreat and torture them in this way? 14 Surely they by dying nobly fulfilled their service to God, but you will wail bitterly for having slain without cause the contestants for virtue.” 15 Then because he too was about to die, he said, 16 “I do not desert the excellent example[b] of my brothers, 17 and I call on the God of our fathers to be merciful to our nation;[c] 18 but on you he will take vengeance both in this present life and when you are dead.” 19 After he had uttered these imprecations, he flung himself into the braziers and so ended his life.[d]


  1. 4 Maccabees 12:12 Gk throughout the whole age
  2. 4 Maccabees 12:16 Other ancient authorities read the witness
  3. 4 Maccabees 12:17 Other ancient authorities read my race
  4. 4 Maccabees 12:19 Gk and so gave up; other ancient authorities read gave up his spirit or his soul

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