There were also seven brothers who were arrested along with their mother. The king was trying to compel them to eat the forbidden pork by torturing them with whips and cords.
One of them, speaking on behalf of the others, said, "What do you hope to ask and learn from us? We are prepared to die rather than sin against our ancestral laws."
The king became angry and commanded frying pans and cauldrons to be heated.
As soon as they were hot, he commanded that the one acting as spokesman have his tongue cut out, be scalped, and have his hands and feet cut off while the rest of his brothers and his mother watched.
After the brother was maimed and utterly helpless, the king commanded him to be brought to the fire and fried alive. Although the smoke from the pan had spread widely, the brothers and their mother encouraged each other to die honorably, saying,
"The Lord God truly watches over us and will come to our aid, just as Moses' song personally bore witness against them, clearly saying, ‘God will have compassion on his servants.'"a7
After the first brother died in this manner, they led forward the second one with mockery. They ripped off the skin of his head along with the hair and demanded, "Will you eat before every part of your body is punished limb by limb?"
But he answered in his native language, "Not at all." Therefore, this brother also received in turn the same punishment as the first.
With his last breath he said, "You, who are marked out for vengeance, may take our present life, but the king of the universe for whose laws we die will resurrect us again to eternal life."
After this, the third one was mocked. When it was demanded, he put out his tongue quickly, extended his hands courageously,
and stated with dignity, "I have received these limbs from heaven, and I give them up for the sake of God's laws. But I hope to recover them from God again."
The king and those with him marveled at the young man's spirit, since he considered his agonies nothing.
After this one had died, the tormenters tortured the fourth brother as well.
When the end was approaching, he said, "Death at the hands of humans is preferable, since we look forward to the hope that God gives of being raised by him. But for you there will be no resurrection to life."
Immediately afterward, they led the fifth brother forward and began to torture him.
While looking at the king he said, "You, though human, have power among human beings and do what you want. But don't think that God has abandoned our people.
Just wait and observe his great strength, when God will torture you and your children."
After him they brought forward the sixth brother. As he was about to die, he said, "Don't deceive yourself in vain. We suffer these things because of our own sins against our God. Things worthy of wonder have happened.
But don't think you will escape unpunished after trying to fight against God."
The mother was particularly amazing and worthy of an honorable memory. She watched her seven sons die in the course of a single day but accepted it with a stout heart because of her hope in the Lord.
She encouraged each of them in their native language. Filled with noble thoughts, she fired up her womanly reasoning with manly courage, saying to them,
"I don't know how you grew in my womb, nor did I grant the breath of life to you or arrange what makes you who you are.
For this reason, the creator of the world—who brought about the beginning of humanity and searched out the origin of all things—will again mercifully give you both spirit and life, since you disregard yourselves because of his laws."
Antiochus thought that he was being treated with contempt and was suspicious of the tone of her voice. So he appealed to the youngest son, since he was still alive, not only through words but also through solemn pledges. If the young man turned from his ancestral practices, Antiochus promised him, he would make him both rich and prosperous, he would be considered a political advisor,b and he would be entrusted with public affairs.
When the young man wouldn't accept the offer by any means, the king appealed to the mother to counsel the boy to save himself.
After a great deal of urging, she agreed to try to persuade her son.
By leaning toward her son and mocking the savage tyrant, she spoke in their native language: "Son, pity me who carried you in the womb nine months, nursed you for three years, nurtured you, and brought you into this stage of life with care.
I beg you, child, to look at heaven and earth. See everything that is in them and know that God made these things from nothing, and created humankind in the same way.
Don't fear this killer but prove worthy of your brothers. Accept death so that in God's mercy I should recover you with your brothers."
Just at the moment when she finished speaking,c the young man said, "What are you all waiting for? I don't intend to obey the king's order, but I hear the command of the Law given to our ancestors through Moses.
But you, King, who have invented all sorts of evil against the Hebrews, will by no means escape God's power.
We are suffering because of our own sins.
If our living Lord is angry for a short time in order to rebuke and discipline us, he will again be reconciled with his own servants.
But you, unholy man, the most bloodstained of all people, don't be so proud without having cause. Bloated by futile hope, you raise up your hand against the children of heaven.
You haven't at all escaped the judgment of the almighty God, who oversees all.
Now our brothers, who endured pain for a short time, have been given eternal life under God's covenant, but you will suffer the penalty of your arrogance by the righteous judgment of God.
Just like my brothers, I give up both body and life for the ancestral laws. I call upon God to be merciful to the nation without delay, and to make you confess, after you suffer trials and diseases, that only he is God.
Also I hope through me and my brothers to stop the anger of the almighty, who is justly punishing our entire nation."
Bitterly annoyed at the young boy's contempt, the king grew angry and treated him worse than the others.
And this brother then died with integrity, trusting entirely in the Lord.
Last, after her sons, the mother died.
So then with regard to the eating of sacrificial meats and the extreme tortures they suffered, let this account be sufficient.