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4 Maccabees 17Common English Bible (CEB)

17 Some of the guards reported that, just as they were about to grab the mother and put her to death as well, she threw herself into the fire before anyone could touch her body.

Mother, together with your seven sons, you made the tyrant’s violence look like nothing! You defeated his evil plans, and displayed dignity and bravery by your faithfulness. You were set with honor like a roof on top of seven pillars, your sons. You held them firm without moving as you endured the earthquake of their torture. So therefore be confident, holy-minded mother! Keep firm that hope in God that fueled your endurance. The moon that is in heaven with the stars is not as royal as you. You lit the path of respect for God for your seven sons who are like stars, and you now stand in front of God in honor, firmly set in heaven along with them. Your sons were true descendants of our father Abraham! If we had the skill of an artist to paint a picture showing the story of your commitment to God, wouldn’t those who viewed the painting tremble to see a mother enduring the experience of seven children being tortured to death in so many ways?

The martyrs’ achievements

What would be an appropriate message that could be carved on their tomb to remind our nation’s people? Perhaps these words:

here lie buried an old priest, an old woman, and seven children because of the violence of a tyrant who wished to destroy the hebrew way of life.

10 they won justice for their nation by fixing their eyes on god and enduring torture to the point of death.

11 The competition in which they were engaged was truly divine. 12 Moral character itself handed out awards that day, having proved their worth through their endurance. Victory brought immortality through an endless life. 13 Eleazar was the first competitor. The mother of the seven children and the brothers competed also. 14 The tyrant was the opponent, and the world and the human race were the audience. 15 Respect for God won the day and crowned its champions. 16 Who wasn’t amazed at the athletes who were competing in the name of the divine Law? Who wasn’t astonished?

17 The tyrant himself, along with all his political advisors, was amazed at their resistance, 18 for which they now stand in front of God’s throne and live a blessed life forever. 19 Moses says, “All those who have set themselves apart for you are in your care.” 20 These people who have dedicated themselves to God are honored, therefore, not only with this privilege but also because they kept our enemies from ruling our nation. 21 The tyrant was punished, and our nation was cleansed through them. They exchanged their lives for the nation’s sin. 22 Divine providence delivered Israel from its former abuse through the blood of those godly people. Their deaths were a sacrifice that finds mercy[a] from God.

23 When he saw their extraordinary courage and their commitment in the face of torture, the tyrant Antiochus held up their endurance as an example to his own soldiers. 24 This made them dignified and brave when they fought battles or destroyed villages, and so they conquered and raided all of their enemies.

Footnotes:

  1. 4 Maccabees 17:22 Or a propitiation
Common English Bible (CEB)

Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible

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