4 Maccabees 15Common English Bible (CEB)
15 How the clear thinking of these children was a tyrant over their emotions and how respecting God was more precious to the mother than her own children! 2 The mother had two options in front of her: the godly way of living, and saving her seven sons for a while, as the tyrant promised. 3 She preferred the path of respect for God, saving her sons for eternal life, as God promised.
4 How can I describe the emotions of parents who love their children? We stamp a remarkable similarity in heart and in appearance on the character of small children. This is especially true of mothers, who have even more sympathy than fathers toward the feelings of their children because they gave birth to them in great pain. 5 To the extent that mothers are weaker and give birth to many, that’s how much more they love their children. 6 And this mother of seven loved her children more than any other mother. Through seven pregnancies, she planted profound love toward them within herself. 7 She was forced to have sympathy for each one through the multiple pains of giving birth. 8 Yet she ignored her concern for her children’s temporary safety because of her respect for God. 9 Not only that, but the character and conduct her sons showed in the way they were ready to obey the Law only increased her profound love toward them. 10 They showed themselves to be just, self-controlled, brave, high-minded, and devoted to each other. Moreover, they showed how much they loved their mother as they obeyed her by staying true to God’s commands even to the point of death.
11 Though so many forces were pulling against the mother to feel her children’s pain out of her love for them, none of the many tortures they suffered were strong enough to undermine her clear thinking. 12 Rather, the mother urged them individually and all of them together to a death for the sake of their godly way of life.
13 Sacred nature, a love spell cast over parents, devotion to children, tender care, and the unyielding passion that mothers show—how powerful they are! 14 Even though this mother watched her children tortured and burned up one after another, she kept her resolve firm for the sake of their godly way of life. 15 She watched as the fire devoured her children’s flesh, their fingers and toes scattered all over the ground, the flesh of their faces torn off like masks down to their chins.
16 How the mother was tested by pains far worse than the labor pains she suffered for them! 17 How the woman gave birth alone to such perfect devotion! 18 You didn’t change your direction when your oldest son took his last breath, or when your second son was in torment and looked at you pitifully, or when the third son died. 19 You didn’t cry out loud when you looked into each one’s eyes, gripped by their own pain, or when you saw on the faces the signs of death approaching. 20 You didn’t burst into tears when you saw the burned flesh of one child piling up on the burned flesh of the others, severed hands on severed hands, severed heads beside severed heads, bodies piled up on bodies, or when you saw the place filling with many spectators of their torture.
21 The children’s voices calling out to their mother from the midst of their torture held her attention more strongly than the Sirens’ singing or the song of swans captures the attention of those who hear them. 22 How great was the pain that this mother suffered while her sons were being tortured by wheels and hot irons! 23 However, godly thinking strengthened her to ignore her natural love for her children. Godly thinking created in her a masculine courage in the middle of this suffering. 24 Even though she saw the destruction of seven children and the various devices of torture, the excellent mother ignored all these things because of her faithfulness toward God. 25 Her life was like a courtroom, and many powerful voices were speaking out—nature, family, a parent’s love, and the instruments of torture set out for her children. 26 This mother held two ballots in her hand: the first sentenced her children to death; the second rescued them. 27 She chose not to seek the kind of rescue that would keep her seven sons safe for a short time. 28 This daughter of devout Abraham remembered her ancestor’s endurance.
29 You are the mother of the whole nation. You stood up for the Law, defended the godly way of life, and won the contest that was raging deep inside you. 30 You were better than men when it came to determination, and braver than men when it came to endurance! 31 Noah’s ark, which carried the future of the whole world inside of it during the flood that swallowed up creation, steadily endured the waves. In the same way, you, the guardian of the Law, endured the storms honorably for the sake of the godly way of life, 32 though you were battered from every side by the flood of the emotions and by the strong winds of your children’s torture.