4 Maccabees 14Common English Bible (CEB)
14 More than this, they encouraged them to put up with abuse, not only ignoring their own pain but also controlling the feelings of brotherly love.
2 How clear thinking is more royal than a king, and it is freer than a free person! 3 How holy and harmonious was the symphony of the seven brothers for the sake of their godly way of life! 4 None of the seven boys gave in to fear or hesitated in the face of death. 5 Instead, all of them rushed to face death by torture, as if they were running a race toward immortality. 6 They were like our hands and feet that move together in harmony, led by the mind. So also these holy boys moved together in harmony toward death as if they were moved by the spirit of respect for God that lasts forever. They were moved to make an agreement with death for the sake of that life.
7 How holy was this group of seven, these brothers in harmony! They were like the seven days of creation that danced together around the godly way of life. 8 So also these boys surrounded and destroyed their fear of torture when they danced in a circle of seven.
9 Now we tremble when we hear about the trials of these young men. They not only saw what was going on but heard the threats directed against them and had to bear the suffering, and this included the pain of being burned by fire. 10 What could possibly be more painful than this? The power of fire is strong and fast. It destroys bodies quickly.
The mother is the best example
11 Don’t think it’s surprising that clear thinking had full control over these men during their torture, since even a woman’s mind held contempt for even more varied suffering. 12 The mother of these seven young men endured the torture of each one of her children.
13 You see how a mother’s love for her children is a very complex feeling. Everything is focused on a sympathy that she feels for them deep down inside. 14 Even animals without understanding have sympathy and love for their young, just as human beings do. 15 For example, birds do this. The tame ones protect their young by building their nests on the roof of a house. 16 Other birds build their nests on mountain peaks, in steep canyons, and in the holes of trees or treetops, so they can hatch the baby birds and stop anything from coming too close. 17 If they can’t stop something from coming too close, they do whatever they can to help their young. They fly in circles around their young driven by anguished love, warning their young with their calls. 18 But why is it necessary to demonstrate the fact that animals without understanding have sympathy for their young? 19 When it is time to build their hive, even the bees defend themselves against those who come too close. They sting like an iron dart anyone who comes near the hive, and fight even to the death. 20 But the young men’s mother wasn’t moved by sympathy for her children. She had the same heart as Abraham.