2 Maccabees 6

Geneva(i) 1 Not long after this, sent the king an olde man of Athens, for to compell the Iewes, to transgresse the Lawes of the fathers, and not to be gouerned by the Lawe of God, 2 And to defile the Temple that was at Ierusalem, and to call it the Temple of Iupiter Olympius, and that of Garizin, according as they did that dwelt at that place, Iupiter, that keepeth hospitalitie. 3 This wicked gouernment was sore and grieuous vnto the people. 4 For the Temple was full of dissolution, and gluttonie of the Gentiles, which dallied with harlots, and had to doe with women within the circuit of the holy places, and brought in such thinges as were not lawfull. 5 The altar also was ful of such things, as were abhominable and forbidden by the Lawe. 6 Neither was it lawful to keepe the Sabbaths, nor to obserue their ancient feastes, nor plainely to confesse himselfe to be a Iewe. 7 In the day of the kings birth they were grieuously compelled perforce euery moneth to banket, and when the feast of Bacchus was kept, they were constrained to goe in the procession of Bacchus with garlands of yuie. 8 Moreouer through the councell of Ptolemeus, there went out a commaundement vnto the next cities of the heathen against the Iewes, that the like custome, and banketting should be kept. 9 And who so would not coforme themselues to the maners of ye Gentiles, should be put to death: then might a man haue seene the present miserie. 10 For there were two women brought foorth, that had circumcised their sonnes, whom when they had led rounde about the citie (the babes hanging at their breastes) they cast them downe headlong ouer the walles. 11 Some that were runne togither into dennes to keepe the Sabbath day secretely, were discouered vnto Philip, and were burnt together, because that for the reuerence of the honourable day they were afraide to helpe themselues. 12 Now I beseech those which read this boke, that they bee not discouraged for these calamities, but that they iudge these afflictions, not to be for destruction, but for a chastening of our nation. 13 For it is a token of his great goodnesse not to suffer sinners long to cotinue, but straight waies to punish them. 14 For the Lord doeth not long waite for vs, as for other nations, whome hee punisheth when they are come to the fulnesse of their sinnes. 15 But thus hee dealeth with vs, that our sinnes shoulde not be heaped vp to the full, so that afterward he should punish vs. 16 And therefore hee neuer withdraweth his mercy from vs: and though he punish with aduersitie, yet doeth he neuer forsake his people. 17 But let this bee spoken nowe for a warning vnto vs: and nowe will we come to the declaring of the matter in fewe wordes. 18 Eleazar then one of the principall scribes, an aged man, and of a well fauoured countenance, was constrained to open his mouth, and to eate swines flesh. 19 But he desiring rather to die gloriously then to liue with hatred, offred himselfe willingly to the torment, and spit it out. 20 As they ought to goe to death which suffer punishment for such thinges, as it is not lawfull to taste of for the desire to liue. 21 But they that had the charge of this wicked banket, for that olde friendship of the man, tooke him aside priuilie, and praied him, that he woulde take such flesh, as was lawfull for him to vse, and as hee woulde prepare for himselfe, and dissemble as though hee had eaten of the things appoynted by the king, euen the flesh of the sacrifice, 22 That in so doing he might be deliuered from death, and that for the olde friendship that was among them, he would receiue this fauour. 23 But he began to consider discreetely, and as became his age, and the excellencie of his ancient yeres, and the honour of his graie heares, whereunto he was come, and his most honest conuersation from his childehoode, but chiefly the holy Lawe made and giuen by God: therefore hee answered consequently, and willed them straight wayes to send him to the graue. 24 For it becommeth not our age, sayde he, to dissemble, whereby many young persons might thinke, that Eleazar being foure score yere old and ten were nowe gone to another religion, 25 And so through mine hypocrisie (for a little time of a transitorie life) they might be deceiued by me, and I should procure malediction, and reproche to mine olde age. 26 For though I were now deliuered from the torments of men, yet could I not escape the hande of the Almightie, neither aliue nor dead. 27 Wherefore I will nowe change this life manfully, & wil shew my self such as mine age requireth, 28 And so will leaue a notable example for such as be yong, to die willingly & courageously for the honourable and holy Lawes; when he had said these wordes, immediatly he went to torment. 29 Nowe they that led him, changed the loue which they bare him before, into hatred, because of the wordes that he had spoken: for they thought it had beene a rage. 30 And as hee was ready to giue the ghost because of the strokes, he sighed and sayde, The Lorde that hath the holy knowledge, knoweth manifestly, that whereas I might haue beene deliuered fromdeath, I am scourged and suffer these sore paynes of my body: but in my minde I suffer them gladly for his religion. 31 Euen now after this maner ended he his life, leauing his death for an example of a noble courage, & a memoriall of vertue, not only vnto yong men, but vnto all his nation.