A Jewish woman and her seven sons are martyred.
VERSE 1. It came to pass that seven brothers and their mother were at the king’s command taken and shamefully handled with scourges and cords, to compel them to taste of the abominable swine’s flesh.
NAB translation. It also happened that seven brothers with their mother were arrested and tortured with whips and scourges by the king, to force them to eat pork in violation of God’s law.
arrested and tortured. This chapter’s graphic narrative shows the contempt and intolerance that ignorant people have for the Jewish people.
In our day, professing Christians are often the worst of the worse when it comes to Antisemitism.
In this world, we will have trouble. That seems inevitable.
John 16:33. I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (NIV translation)
VERSE 2. One of them made himself the spokesman and said, “What would you ask and learn from us? For we are ready to die rather than transgress the laws of our ancestors.”
we are ready to die. They are true heroes of the faith.
The king fell into a rage. He exhibits narcissistic excess.
VERSE 4. When these were immediately heated, he gave orders to cut out the tongue of him who had been their spokesman, and to scalp him, and to cut off his extremities, with the rest of his brothers and his mother looking on.
his extremities. That is, “his hands and feet” (NAB translation).
VERSE 5. And when he was utterly maimed, the king gave orders to bring him to the fire, being yet alive, and to fry him in the pan. And as the smoke from the pan spread far, they and their mother also exhorted one another to die nobly, saying this:
utterly. In the Greek, “useless.”
VERSE 6. “The Lord God sees, and in truth is entreated for us, as Moses declared in his song, which witnesses against the people to their faces, saying, ‘And he will have compassion on his servants.’ ”
truth is. Or “comforted in.”
he will have compassion on his servants. These Jewish heroes of the faith see the LORD God as full of compassion for them.
VERSE 7. And when the first had died like this, they brought the second to the mocking; and they pulled off the skin of his head with the hair and asked him, “Will you eat, before your body is punished in every limb?”
VERSE 8. But he answered in the language of his ancestors and said to them, “No.” Therefore he also underwent the next torture in succession, as the first had done.
answered in the language of his ancestors. That is, he answered in Hebrew.
VERSE 9. When he was at the last gasp, he said, “You, miscreant, release us out of this present life, but the King of the world will raise us who have died for his laws up to an everlasting renewal of life.”
NAB translation. You accursed fiend, you are depriving us of this present life, but the King of the world will raise us up to live again forever. It is for his laws that we are dying.”
the King of the world will raise us up to live again forever. The New Testament describes heaven and eternal life. But what does the Old Testament say about life after death? Read more »
VERSE 10. After him, the third was made a victim of their mocking. When he was required, he quickly put out his tongue, and stretched out his hands courageously,
VERSE 11. and nobly said, “I got these from heaven. For his laws’ sake I treat these with contempt. From him, I hope to receive these back again.”
VERSE 12. As a result, the king himself and those who were with him were astonished at the young man’s soul, for he regarded the pains as nothing.
he regarded the pains as nothing. That is, “He regarded his sufferings as nothing” (NAB translation).
Hebrews 12:2. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (NIV translation)
VERSE 13. When he too was dead, they shamefully handled and tortured the fourth in the same way.
VERSE 14. Being near to death he said this: “It is good to die at the hands of men and look for the hope which is given by God, that we will be raised up again by him. For as for you, you will have no resurrection to life.”
that we will be raised up again by him. The New Testament describes heaven and eternal life. But what does the Old Testament say about life after death? Read more »
VERSE 15. Next after him, they brought the fifth and shamefully handled him.
VERSE 16. But he looked toward the king and said, “Because you have authority among men, though you are corruptible, you do what you please. But don’t think that our race has been forsaken by God.
the king. In Greek, “him.”
VERSE 17. But hold on to your ways, and see how his sovereign majesty will torture you and your descendants!”
VERSE 18. After him they brought the sixth. When he was about to die, he said, “Don’t be vainly deceived, for we suffer these things for our own doings, as sinning against our own God. Astounding things have come to pass;
VERSE 19. but don’t think you that you will be unpunished, having tried to fight against God!”
VERSE 20. But above all, the mother was marvelous and worthy of honorable memory; for when she watched seven sons perishing within the space of one day, she bore the sight with a good courage because of her hope in the Lord.
the mother was marvelous and worthy of honorable memory. She is an Eishet Chayil, a woman of valor.
That phrase is from Proverbs 31:10-31. It is sung at every Shabbat.
VERSE 21. She exhorted each one of them in the language of their fathers, filled with a noble spirit and stirring up her woman’s thoughts with manly courage, saying to them,
in the language of their fathers. That is, in Hebrew.
VERSE 22. “I don’t know how you came into my womb. It wasn’t I who gave you your spirit and your life. It wasn’t I who brought into order the first elements of each one of you.
your spirit. Or “your breath.”
VERSE 23. Therefore the Creator of the world, who shaped the first origin of man and devised the first origin of all things, in mercy gives back to you again both your spirit and your life, as you now treat yourselves with contempt for his laws’ sake.”
your spirit. Or “your breath.”
VERSE 24. But Antiochus, thinking himself to be despised, and suspecting the reproachful voice, while the youngest was yet alive didn’t only make his appeal to him by words, but also at the same time promised with oaths that he would enrich him and‡ raise him to high honor if he would turn from the ways of his ancestors, and that he would take him for his friend and entrust him with public affairs.
thinking himself to be despised. That is, “thinking himself to be ridiculed.” Antiochus perceives this whole situation from the perspective of his own self-centered ego.
raise him to high honor. In Greek, “make him one that is counted happy.”
VERSE 25. But when the young man would in no way listen, the king called to him his mother, and urged her to advise the youth to save himself.
VERSE 26. When he had urged her with many words, she undertook to persuade her son.
VERSE 27. But bending toward him, laughing the cruel tyrant to scorn, she spoke this in the language of her fathers: “My son, have pity upon me who carried you nine months in my womb, and nursed you three years, and nourished and brought you up to this age, and sustained you.
VERSE 28. I beg you, my child, to lift your eyes to the sky and the earth, and to see all things that are in it, and thus to recognize that God made them not of things that were, and that the race of men in this way comes into being.
VERSE 29. Don’t be afraid of this butcher, but, proving yourself worthy of your brothers, accept your death, that in God’s mercy I may receive you again with your brothers.”
NAB translation. Do not be afraid of this executioner, but be worthy of your brothers and accept death, so that in the time of mercy I may receive you again with them.”
This is a Woman of God!
VERSE 30. But before she had finished speaking, the young man said, “What are you all waiting for? I don’t obey the commandment of the king, but I listen to the commandment of the law that was given to our fathers through Moses.
VERSE 31. But you, who have devised all kinds of evil against the Hebrews, will in no way escape God’s hands.
VERSE 32. For we are suffering because of our own sins.
VERSE 33. If for rebuke and chastening, our living Lord has been angered a little while, yet he will again be reconciled with his own servants.
VERSE 34. But you, O unholy man and of all most vile, don’t be vainly lifted up in your wild pride with uncertain hopes, raising your hand against the heavenly children.
VERSE 35. For you have not yet escaped the judgment of the Almighty God who sees all things.
VERSE 36. For these our brothers, having endured a short pain that brings everlasting life, have now died under God’s covenant. But you, through God’s judgment, will receive in just measure the penalties of your arrogance.
a short pain that brings everlasting life. In Greek, “a short pain of ever-flowing life.”
have now died. In Greek, “have now fallen.”
By the omission of one Greek letter the words would signify “having endured a short pain, have now drunk of ever-flowing life under God’s covenant.”
VERSE 37. But I, as my brothers, give up both body and soul for the laws of our fathers, calling upon God that he may speedily become gracious to the nation, and that you, amidst trials and plagues, may confess that he alone is God,
gracious. In Greek, “propitious.”
you … may confess that he alone is God. The Old Testament foresee Gentiles coming to faith in the One God of Israel and bringing gifts to Jerusalem. Here are the key Bible verses about this »
VERSE 38. and that in me and my brothers you may bring to an end the wrath of the Almighty which has been justly brought upon our whole race.”
you may bring to an end. Some authorities read “may be stayed.”
VERSE 39. But the king, falling into a rage, handled him worse than all the rest, being exasperated at his mocking.
the king, falling into a rage. He exhibits narcissistic excess.
VERSE 40. So he also died pure, putting his whole trust in the Lord.
VERSE 41. Last of all, after her sons, the mother died.
VERSE 42. Let it then suffice to have said thus much concerning the sacrificial feasts and the extreme tortures.
Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.