3 Maccabees 7 (The king cancels extermination of the Jews)

3 Maccabees Chapter 7

The king cancels extermination of the Jews
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1 King Ptolemy Philopater to the commanders throughout Egypt, and to all who are set over affairs, joy and strength. 2 We, too, and our children are well; and God has directed our affairs as we wish.

3 Certain of our friends did of malice vehemently urge us to punish the Jews of our realm in a body, with the infliction of a monstrous punishment. 4 They pretended that our affairs would never be in a good state till this took place. Such, they said, was the hatred borne by the Jews to all other people. 5 They brought them fettered in grievous chains as slaves, nay, as traitors. Without enquiry or examination they endeavoured to annihilate them. They buckled themselves with a savage cruelty, worse than Scythian custom.

6 For this cause we severely threatened them; yet, with the clemency which we are wont to extend to all men, we at length permitted them to live. Finding that the God of heaven cast a shield of protection over the Jews so as to preserve them, and that he fought for them as a father always fights for his sons; 7 and taking into consideration their constancy and fidelity towards us and towards our ancestors, we have, as we ought, acquitted them of every sort of charge. 8 And we have dismissed them to their several homes; bidding all men everywhere to do them no wrong, or unrighteously revile them about the past. 9 For know ye, that should we conceive any evil design against, or in any manner agrieve them, we shall ever have as our opposite, not man, but the highest God, the ruler of all might. From Him there will be no escape, as the avenger of such deeds. Fare ye well.

10 When they had received this letter, they were not forward to depart immediately. They petitioned the king to be allowed to inflict fitting punishment upon those of their race who had willingly transgressed the holy God, and the law of God. 11 They alleged that men who had for their bellies' sake transgressed the ordinances of God, would never be faithful to the interest of the king.

12 The king admitted the truth of this reasoning, and commended them. Full power was given them, without warrant or special commission, to destroy those who had transgressed the law of God boldly in every part of the king's dominions. 13 Their priests, then, as it was meet, soluted him with good wishes, and all the people echoed with the Hallelujah. Then they joyfully departed.

14 Then they punished and destroyed with ignominy every polluted Jew that fell in their way; 15 slaying thus, in that day, above three hundred men, and esteeming this destruction of the wicked a season of joy. 16 They themselves having held fast their God unto death, and having enjoyed a full deliverance, departed from the city garlanded with sweet-flowered wreaths of every kind. Uttering exclamations of joy, with songs of praise, and melodious hymns they thanked the God of their fathers, the eternal Saviour of Israel.

17 Having arrived at Ptolemais, called from the specialty of that district Rose-bearing, where the fleet, in accordance with the general wish, waited for them seven days, 18 they partook of a banquet of deliverance, for the king generously granted them severally the means of securing a return home. 19 They were accordingly brought back in peace, while they gave utterance to becoming thanks; and they determined to keep these days during their sojourn as days of joyfulness. 20 These they registered as sacred upon a pillar, when they had dedicated the place of their festivity to be one of prayer. They departed unharmed free, abundant in joy, preserved by the king's command, by land, by sea, and by river, each to his own home.

21 They had more weight than before among their enemies; and were honoured and fared, and no one in any way robbed them of their goods. 22 Every man received back his own, according to inventory; those who had obtained their goods, giving them up with the greatest terror. For the greatest God wrought with perfectness wonders for their salvation. 23 Blessed be the Redeemer of Israel unto everlasting. Amen.

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