4 Maccabees 16 (The mother’s last words to her sons)

4 Maccabees Chapter 16

The mother’s last words to her sons
Listen to "4 Maccabees 16 - Here were the mother's last words to her sons" on Spreaker.

1 If, then, even a woman, and that an aged one, and the mother of seven children, endured to see her children's torments even unto death, confessedly religious reasoning is master even of the passions.

2 I have proved, then, that not only men have obtained the mastery of their passions, but also that a woman despised the greatest torments. 3 And not so fierce were the lions round Daniel, nor the furnace of Misael burning with most vehement fire, as that natural love of children burned within her, when she beheld her seven sons tortured. 4 But with the reasoning of religion the mother quenched passions so great and powerful.

5 For we must consider also this: that, had the woman been faint-hearted, as being their mother, she would have lamented over them; and perhaps might have spoken thus:

6 Ah! wretched I, and many times miserable; who having born seven sons, have become the mother of none. 7 O seven useless childbirths, and seven profitable periods of labour, and fruitless givings of such, and miserable nursings at the breast. 8 Vainly, for your sakes, O sons, have I endured many pangs, and the more difficult anxieties of rearing. 9 Alas, of my children, some of you unmarried, and some who have marreid to no profit, I shall not see your children, nor be felicitated as a grandmother. 10 Ah, that I who had many fair children, should be a lone widow full of sorrows! 11 Nor, should I die, shall I have a son to burry me.

But with such a lament as this the holy and God-fearing mother bewailed none of them. 12 Nor did she divert any of them from death, nor grieve for them as for the dead. 13 But as one possessed with an adamantine mind, and as one bringing forth again her full number of sons to immortality, she rather with supplications exhorted them to death in behalf of religion. 14 O woman, soldier of God for religion, thou, aged and a female, hast conquered through endurance even a tyrant; and though but weak, hast been found more powerful in deeds and words. 15 For when thou was seized along with thy children, thou stoodest looking upon Eleazar in torments, and saidst to thy sons in the Hebrew tongue,

16 O sons, noble is the contest; to which you being called as a witness for the nation, strive zealously for the laws of your country. 17 For it were disgraceful that this old man should endure pains for the sake of righteousness, and that you who are younger should be afraid of the tortures.

18 Remember that through God ye obtained existence, and have enjoyed it. 19 And on this account ye ought to bear every affliction because of God. 20 For whom also our father Abraham was forward to sacrifice Isaac our progenitor, and shuddered not at the sight of his own paternal hand descending down with the sword upon him. 21 And the righteous Daniel was cast unto the lions; and Ananias, and Azarias, and Misael, were slung out into a furnace of fire; yet they endured through God. 22 You, then, having the same faith towards God, be not troubled. 23 For it is unreasonable that they who know religion should not stand up against troubles.

24 With these arguments, the mother of seven, exhorting each of her sons, over-persuaded them from transgressing the commandment of God. 25 And they saw this, too, that they who die for God, live to God, as Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the patriarchs.

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