Chronicles of Jerahmeel, by M. Gaster , at sacred-texts.com
LXXXIX. (1) Seven brothers with their mother were then seized and sent to the king, for the king had not yet departed from Jerusalem, and because the swine's flesh was abhorred by the Jews and stank and was despised by them, therefore the cruelties against them were increased, and he tore their flesh as that of an ox.
(2) When the first son was brought before the king, he said, 'Why waste words to teach us, for we have already been taught by our forefathers? We are prepared to suffer death for the Lord and His law.' The king was furious at this, and, ordering a pan of brass to be brought, placed it on the fire. Then, ordering his tongue to be cut out, his hands and legs and the skin of his head to be cut off, he placed them all in the frying-pan in the sight of his brothers; the rest of his body they cast in a large brass pot placed upon the hot coals. When he was near death the king commanded the fire to be removed from under the pot so that he should not die too quickly, so as to terrify his brothers and his mother. But they, on the contrary, encouraged each other and fortified each other when they saw that their brother gave up his life for the Lord and His Torah, and said to each other, 'See what Moses, the servant of the Lord, said in his song, "He shall be comforted in His servants." Even now the Lord is comforted in us for all the evil which He has purposed to do to His people, and He will have compassion upon them.'
(3) As soon as the first died, the second brother was brought. They said to him, 'Listen to the command of the king. Why die in great torture as thy brother?' And he replied, 'Make haste with the sword and with the fire, and do not do one whit less to me than ye did to my brother, for I do not fall short of my brother in piety and the fear of God.' Every limb was then commanded to be cut off and placed in the frying-pan on the fire. He then said, 'Hear me, thou cruel king: art thou able to bind up these our souls which thou robbest us of? Behold, they shall walk to God, who has given them to us—to the light that is with the Lord. We shall yet live a life that has no limit or end when He awakeneth the dead of His people and the slain of His servants.'
(4) Thus died the second brother. When the third was brought, he looked at the king, and, stretching out his right hand towards the king, said, 'What business of thine is it to destroy us, O thou enemy and foe? All this comes from Heaven, and we receive it with love, but thy tortures are despicable in our eyes, as nothing before us, since we expect honour and favour from Heaven. He will grant us the reward of our actions.' The king and all his princes were astonished at the bravery of the youth.
(5) After his death the fourth brother was brought. 'What,' said he, 'have I to do with thee, O thou wicked man? We die for the Lord, and He will again bring us back to life, but thou shalt never rise again.'
(6) When the fifth was brought, he said, 'Do not imagine that God has forsaken us, for on account of His great love has He brought us to this honour. Thou reviler and blasphemer, the Lord hates thee and stirs thee up to do unto us whatever thou wilt, but a great vengeance will be taken upon thee and thy seed, and His anger will be kindled against thee and all thy household.'
(7) After his death the sixth brother was brought before the king, and he said, 'We know our wickedness, for we have sinned against the Lord, and now our souls are given over to death as an atonement for our people; but now because
thy heart prompts thee to do this thing to the servants of our God and to fight against God; behold, He shall fight against thee and uproot thee from the face of the earth.'
(8) The seventh and last brother was but a young lad, yet the mother, who had seen her seven sons slain on one day, neither feared nor trembled, but, standing upright by the corpses of her sons, she lifted up her voice and cried, saying, 'O my son! O my son! I do not know how you were formed in my womb, nor did I give you the breath and soul which you had, nor bring you out of my womb, nor raise you, nor make you grow, or your flesh which is now offered as a sacrifice; God formed it. He wove the sinews and covered it with skin, and caused hair to grow upon it. He then breathed in your nostrils the breath of life. And since you give up all this for His sake, He will restore them to you, and will renew your body. He will give you the reward of your actions, and happy are ye, my sons, for all this.'
(9) At this the king was very much taken aback, in that the woman had subdued him. 'Bring me the seventh one,' said he, 'and perhaps, as he is but a young lad, I may be able to entice him with soft words to do our will, but do not let this woman boast of me, saying, 'I have conquered King Antiochus in exhorting my sons to die for our God.'
(10) According to the king's command, the seventh lad was brought, and the king implored him, and took an oath to enrich him with silver and gold, with cattle and many servants, to make him viceregent, and to let him rule over the whole kingdom. But when the lad despised the words of the king, the king summoned the mother to him, and said, 'O good woman, have pity upon this child, and be merciful to the fruit of thy womb; induce him to perform my will and to escape.' And the woman answered, 'Give him to me, and I shall entice him with kind words.' This being done, she led him aside, and having kissed him, and rejoiced at the king's shame and confusion, said, 'O my son, thou whom I carried in my womb for nine months,
and whom I suckled for three years, after which I sustained thee with food until this very day, give up all this proffered honour, and fear the God of whom I taught thee. (11) Now, O my son, look toward the heaven, and behold the land, the sea, the waters, and the fire, which by the word of the Lord were created. But man is merely flesh and blood and as nothing before Him. Do not fear this cruel man, but give up thy life for the sake of the Lord. Go the same way as thy brothers. Would that I could now see where thy brothers are, and the greatness of their glory before the Lord. My son, cleave to thy brothers, and thy lot shall be cast in their glory. I shall go there with you, and rejoice with you as on the days of your marriage. I shall be with you in your righteousness.'
(12) While she was yet speaking the lad answered, and said, 'Why do you delay me, and will not leave me to go and join my holy brothers? I will not listen to the king, but to the law of our God, which He has given through the hand of Moses to the people of Israel, which this cruel enemy of God has put to shame and reviled. Woe unto thee, woe unto thee! Whither wilt thou go? whither wilt thou flee? whither wilt thou run? and where wilt thou hide thyself from our God, O enemy, foe, and wicked man, for He still keeps us alive, and has glorified and exalted us over all nations? But thou who art insolent enough to stretch forth thy hand against His servants, it were better thou hadst not been born. Thou wicked fool Antiochus, who wast begotten of tainted folly, hast committed evil against thyself, but Thou hast done good unto us, and if we endure and bear these tortures in this world, we shall be taken to the life and light of the world where there is no darkness, but eternal life without death. (13) But thou wilt be the abomination of all creatures, and wilt be abhorred of our God when He takes vengeance upon thee. Thou shalt die an unnatural death, plagued with dreadful plagues. Thou shalt descend to the bottom of hell. Thou shalt be drawn into darkness, where there is no life or light, but darkness and shades; where there
is no repose or; rest, but trouble, sorrow, brimstone, and fire. This will be thy portion of the Lord and thy lot from our God, O man of blood and wicked man. But God will have mercy upon His people. Until now His wrath has rested upon us, but He will henceforth be angry no longer with His people, but will repent of what He has done to us at the beginning, although He did so in truth and in righteousness, for we acted wickedly. He will return and have mercy upon us, and will grant us eternal life.' King Antiochus now became exceedingly angry because he would not perform his will, and therefore increased the tortures, and acted much more cruelly to him than he had done to the others. Thus died the seventh.
(14) The mother then stood by the corpses of her sons, and, spreading out her hands, she said, 'O exalted and awe-inspiring God, O God of the universe, now will I come; now will I die with my sons in the place which Thou hast prepared for them.' While she was yet speaking she finished her days upon earth, falling upon the dead bodies of her sons, her spirit went forth, and she died with them.