4 Maccabees 16 Common English Bible (CEB)
16 So if a woman who was an elderly mother of seven sons put up with seeing her children tortured to death, then without question godly thinking is the master of the emotions. 2 I have shown that not only men have control over their emotions but also a woman scorned the greatest torture. 3 The lions that surrounded Daniel weren’t as wild, and Mishael’s fiery furnace wasn’t as burning hot as this mother’s natural love for her children. Her love was stirred up inside her as she saw her seven sons tortured in so many ways. 4 But the mother put out the fire of her feelings that were so many and so strong with clear thinking.
5 Think about this too: If this woman, even though she was a mother, had been weak-spirited, she would have mourned for them. Maybe she would have said something like this:
6 “Look at how miserable I am with one sorrow piled on another! I gave birth to seven children, and now I’m nobody’s mother!
7 “Look at how I gave birth seven times all for nothing! Seven pregnancies, without anything to show for it! Years of fruitless childcare and years of miserable nursing! 8 My sons, I bore the long pains of labor for you and even more stress in raising you for no reason!
9 “Look at my children! Some aren’t married, others are married, but none of them have children! Now I will never see your children or have the pleasure of being a grandmother. 10 I had so many and such beautiful children, and now I’m a widow and left all alone in my many sorrows. 11 When I die, I won’t have any of my sons to bury me.”
12 But this holy and devout mother didn’t cry for any of her sons with funeral songs. She didn’t try to talk any of them out of dying, and she didn’t grieve for those who were already dying. 13 Instead, she had a mind that was as tough as nails.[a] She gave all of her sons a second birth into a life without end. She encouraged them, urging them on to death for the sake of respect for God.
14 Mother, you were a soldier for God in the cause of the godly way of life, though you were old and a woman! You even conquered a tyrant with your resolution. You have proved to be stronger than a man in both speech and action! 15 When you and your sons had been arrested and you were watching Eleazar being tortured, you began to say to your children in the Hebrew language:
16 “My sons, you have been summoned to an honorable contest, in which you will give evidence that will prove your nation’s worth. Compete willingly for the Law of our ancestors. 17 It would really be a disgrace if you young men lost your nerve in the face of this torture after an old man endured so much suffering out of respect for God. 18 Remember that you have had a place in this world and enjoyed life only because of God. 19 Because of this, you owe it to God to put up with any distress for his sake. 20 This is why our father Abraham moved quickly to sacrifice Isaac his son, who was supposed to become the father of a nation. Isaac also didn’t shrink back when he saw the sword in his father’s hand bearing down on him. 21 Daniel, that righteous man, was thrown to the lions and Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael were flung into the blazing furnace and endured it for God. 22 So you must show the same faithfulness toward God and not be angry. 23 After all, it isn’t logical for people who truly know and serve God to not hold out against pain.”
24 By encouraging them with these words, the mother of the seven brothers persuaded each one of her sons to die rather than disobey God’s commandment. 25 They knew very well that those who die for God will also live in God’s presence, just like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the ancestors of the nation.