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4 Maccabees 11Common English Bible (CEB)

The fifth brother’s torture and response

11 When the fourth brother had died from cruel torture, the fifth rushed forward and said, “I’m not about to refuse to be tortured for the sake of moral character, you tyrant! I’ve come forward of my own free will so that by killing me, you will receive even more severe punishment at the hands of God’s justice for more crimes! Enemy of moral character! Enemy of the human race! For what crime are you destroying us in this way? For honoring the creator of all things and living according to his moral Law? Such things deserve honor, not torture!”[a] While he was still speaking, the guards tied him up and dragged him to the catapult. 10 They forced him down onto his knees, bound him to the machine, and placed iron clamps on his thighs. They began to work the wheel, drawing him backward around a wedge until he was curled back all the way like a scorpion. With all his bones pulled out of joint, 11 gasping for air and racked by pain in his body, 12 he said: “Tyrant, you are doing us a huge favor without intending to, because you are giving us the chance to show our firm commitment to the Law through this honorable suffering.”

The sixth brother’s torture and response

13 After he had died, the sixth brother, still just a boy, was brought forward. The tyrant asked him if he was willing to eat pork and so be set free. 14 He replied, “I may be younger than my brothers in age, but I’m their equal in understanding. 15 We were born and raised to live by these principles, so we should die together for their sake. 16 If you think torturing me for not eating polluting food is the right thing to do, then torture away!” 17 When he said this, they marched him up to the wheel. 18 They stretched him tight until his back broke, and they roasted him from underneath with fire. 19 They ran sharp spits, which they had heated in the fire, through his ribs and burned through his guts. 20 In the middle of this torture he said, “This contest is suitable for our godly way of life. So many of us brothers have been called to an arena of suffering because we respect God and we remain undefeated! We haven’t been defeated in this contest! 21 Godly knowledge can never be beaten, you tyrant. 22 I will die with my brothers also because I’m fully armed with moral character. 23 I myself will call for an avenger to come against you. You invent new ways to torture people, and you are an enemy of those who are truly devout! 24 The six of us boys have brought your tyranny to an end. 25 You haven’t been able to make us change our minds or to force us to eat polluting food. Isn’t this a sign that your rule of tyranny is over? 26 Your hot fires feel cold to us; your catapults are painless; your violence has no real power. 27 The guards of the divine Law are set over us, not the guards of a tyrant. Because of this, our clear thinking remains undefeated.”


  1. 4 Maccabees 11:6 Some manuscripts add 11:7–8 If you had feeling for your fellow human beings and any hope of salvation from God—but as it is you are a stranger to God and mistreat God’s servants.
Common English Bible (CEB)

Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible


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