4 Maccabees 13 Common English Bible (CEB)
Praise for the brothers’ achievements
13 So if the seven brothers rose above suffering to the point of death, everyone should recognize that godly thinking is supreme over the emotions. 2 If they had shown that they were slaves to their emotions by eating the polluting food, we would have admitted that they were conquered by the emotions. 3 But it didn’t turn out that way at all. Instead, they dominated the emotions through the kind of clear thinking that deserves praise in God’s opinion. 4 We can’t fail to notice the mind’s leadership because they had power over both emotions and pain. 5 How can anyone not recognize the ability of good thinking to govern the emotions in such people as these, since they didn’t turn away from the severe pain of fire?
6 The towers at the entrance of harbors hold back the crashing waves and make a calm place for sailors entering the harbor. 7 In the same way, these youths’ ability to reason correctly was seven towers beating back the storm of the emotions and defending the harbor of their godly way of life. 8 Standing together like a holy chorus of the godly way of life, they encouraged each other, saying, 9 “Brothers, let’s die together like brothers for the sake of the Law! Let’s imitate the three young men in Assyria who refused to back down when facing the same fiery test. 10 Let’s not be cowards when we are called to demonstrate religious devotion to God.”
11 One said, “Have courage, brother!” Another said, “Keep going with honor!” 12 Still another reminded them, “Remember where you came from. Remember the father by whose hand Isaac was ready to be killed because of his devotion to God!” 13 All of them were looking at each other with faces that were bright and full of courage, and said, “Let’s set ourselves apart for God with all our hearts. He gave us our lives, so let’s use our bodies as guards around the Law. 14 Let’s not be afraid of the one who wants to kill us; 15 because the soul’s contest is great, the danger of eternal punishment prepared for those who break God’s command is severe. 16 So then, let’s arm ourselves fully with the power that clear thinking gives for the control of the emotions. 17 If we die this way, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will give us a warm welcome, and all the ancestors will praise us.” 18 The brothers who were left behind were calling out to each one as he was being dragged away, “Don’t let us down, brother, or be disloyal to the brothers who have died before us!”
Love between siblings
19 No doubt you are aware of the powerful love that exists between brothers and sisters. Divine and wise providence gives this kind of love through the father and plants it in the mother’s womb. 20 These brothers all spent the same length of time in the same womb. They were formed over the same period of time. They grew from the same blood, and they were brought to full term with the same life. 21 They were born after the same amount of time, and drank milk from the same fountains. The same fond embraces nurtured brotherly love in their souls. 22 They grew more fervent as they were brought up together enjoying each other’s company day after day, and being shaped by the same education, particularly their training in God’s Law.
23 So it is clear, when such mutual sympathy and love for each other had been established, these seven brothers had even more sympathy for each other. 24 They loved each other so much because they had been educated in the same Law, held the same moral values, and were raised together to live a life that is just. 25 Their affection for each other and harmony grew even more because they shared a common passion for good character and conduct. 26 Family love for each other was made even more desirable to them by their godly behavior. 27 Still, even though nature, custom, and good habits made their love toward their brothers stronger, the brothers who were left alive put up with seeing their brothers tortured to death because of their godly way of life.