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4 Maccabees 18New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

18 O Israelite children, offspring of the seed of Abraham, obey this law and exercise piety in every way, knowing that devout reason is master of all emotions, not only of sufferings from within, but also of those from without.

Therefore those who gave over their bodies in suffering for the sake of religion were not only admired by mortals, but also were deemed worthy to share in a divine inheritance. Because of them the nation gained peace, and by reviving observance of the law in the homeland they ravaged the enemy. The tyrant Antiochus was both punished on earth and is being chastised after his death. Since in no way whatever was he able to compel the Israelites to become pagans and to abandon their ancestral customs, he left Jerusalem and marched against the Persians.

The Mother’s Address to Her Children

The mother of seven sons expressed also these principles to her children: “I was a pure virgin and did not go outside my father’s house; but I guarded the rib from which woman was made.[a] No seducer corrupted me on a desert plain, nor did the destroyer, the deceitful serpent, defile the purity of my virginity. In the time of my maturity I remained with my husband, and when these sons had grown up their father died. A happy man was he, who lived out his life with good children, and did not have the grief of bereavement. 10 While he was still with you, he taught you the law and the prophets. 11 He read to you about Abel slain by Cain, and Isaac who was offered as a burnt offering, and about Joseph in prison. 12 He told you of the zeal of Phinehas, and he taught you about Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael in the fire. 13 He praised Daniel in the den of the lions and blessed him. 14 He reminded you of the scripture of Isaiah, which says, ‘Even though you go through the fire, the flame shall not consume you.’ 15 He sang to you songs of the psalmist David, who said, ‘Many are the afflictions of the righteous.’ 16 He recounted to you Solomon’s proverb, ‘There is a tree of life for those who do his will.’ 17 He confirmed the query of Ezekiel, ‘Shall these dry bones live?’ 18 For he did not forget to teach you the song that Moses taught, which says, 19 ‘I kill and I make alive: this is your life and the length of your days.’”

20 O bitter was that day—and yet not bitter—when that bitter tyrant of the Greeks quenched fire with fire in his cruel caldrons, and in his burning rage brought those seven sons of the daughter of Abraham to the catapult and back again to more[b] tortures, 21 pierced the pupils of their eyes and cut out their tongues, and put them to death with various tortures. 22 For these crimes divine justice pursued and will pursue the accursed tyrant. 23 But the sons of Abraham with their victorious mother are gathered together into the chorus of the fathers, and have received pure and immortal[c] souls from God, 24 to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.


  1. 4 Maccabees 18:7 Gk the rib that was built
  2. 4 Maccabees 18:20 Other ancient authorities read to all his
  3. 4 Maccabees 18:23 Other ancient authorities read victorious
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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