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MACCABEES III / ΜΑΚΚΑΒΑΙΩΝ Γ

4

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1 Wherever this decree was received, the people kept up a revelry of joy and shouting; as if their long-pent-up, hardened hatred, were now to shew itself openly. 2 The Jews suffered great throes of sorrow, and wept much; while their hearts, all things around being lamentable, were set on fire as they bewailed the sudden destruction which was decreed against them. 3 What home, or city, or place at all inhabited, or what streets were there, which their condition did not fill with wailing and lamentation? 4 They were sent out unanimously by the generals in the several cities, with such stern and pitiless feeling, that the exceptional nature of the infliction moved even some of their enemies. These, influenced by sentiments of common humanity, and reflecting upon the uncertain issue of life, shed tears at this their miserable expulsion. 5 A multitude of aged hoary-haired old men, were driven along with halting bending feet, urged onward by the impulse of a violent, shameless force to quick speed. 6 Girls who had entered the bridal chamber quite lately, to enjoy the partnership of marriage, exchanged pleasure for misery; and with dust scattered upon their myrrh-anointed heads, were hurried along unveiled; and, in the midst of outlandish insults, set up with one accord a lamentable cry in lieu of the marriage hymn. 7 Bound, and exposed to public gaze, they were hurried violently on board ship. 8 The husbands of these, in the prime of their youthful vigour, instead of crowns wore halters round their necks; instead of feasting and youthful jollity, spent the rest of their nuptial days in wailings, and saw only the grave at hand. 9 They were dragged along by unyielding chains, like wild beasts: of these, some had their necks thrust into the benches of the rowers; while the feet of others were enclosed in hard fetters. 10 The planks of the deck above them barred out the light, and shut out the day on every side, so that they might be treated like traitors during the whole voyage. 11 They were conveyed accordingly in this vessel, and at the end of it arrived at Schedia. The king had ordered them to be cast into the vast hippodrome, which was built in front of the city. This place was well adapted by its situation to expose them to the gaze of all comers into the city, and of those who went from the city into the country. Thus they could hold no communication with his forces; nay, were deemed unworthy of any civilized accommodation. 12 When this was done, the king, hearing that their brethren in the city often went out and lamented the melancholy distress of these victims, 13 was full of rage, and commanded that they should be carefully subjected to the same (and not one whit milder) treatment. 14 The whole nation was now to be registered. Every individual was to be specified by name; not for that hard servitude of labour which we have a little before mentioned, but that he might expose them to the before-mentioned tortures; and finally, in the short space of a day, might extirpate them by his cruelties 15 The registering of these men was carried on cruelly, zealously, assiduously, from the rising of the sun to its going down, and was not brought to an end in forty days. 16 The king was filled with great and constant joy, and celebrated banquets before the temple idols. His erring heart, far from the truth, and his profane mouth, gave glory to idols, deaf and incapable of speaking or aiding, and uttered unworthy speech against the Greatest God. 17 At the end of the above-mentioned interval of time, the registrars brought word to the king that the multitude of the Jews was too great for registration, 18 inasmuch as there were many still left in the land, of whom some were in inhabited houses, and others were scattered about in various places; so that all the commanders in Egypt were insufficient for the work. 19 The king threatened them, and charged them with taking bribes, in order to contrive the escape of the Jews: but was clearly convinced of the truth of what had been said. 20 They said, and proved, that paper and pens had failed them for the carrying out of their purpose. 21 Now this was an active interference of the unconquerable Providence which assisted the Jews from heaven. ΠΑΝΤΗ δέ, ὅπου προσέπιπτε τοῦτο τὸ πρόσταγμα, δημοτελὴς συνίστατο τοῖς ἔθνεσιν εὐωχία μετὰ ἀλαλαγμῶν καὶ χαρᾶς, ὡς ἂν τῆς προκατεσκιρρωμένης αὐτοῖς πάλαι κατὰ διάνοιαν μετὰ παρρησίας συνεκφαινομένης ἀπεχθείας. 2 τοῖς δὲ ᾿Ιουδαίοις ἀνήκεστον πένθος ἦν καὶ πανόδυρτος μετὰ δακρύων βοή, στεναγμοῖς πεπυρωμένης τῆς αὐτῶν πάντοθεν καρδίας, ὀλοφυρομένων τὴν ἀπροσδόκητον ἐξαίφνης ἐπικριθεῖσαν αὐτοῖς ὀλεθρίαν. 3 τίς νομὸς ἢ πόλις ἢ τίς τὸ σύνολον οἰκητὸς τόπος ἢ τίνες ἀγυιαὶ κοπετοῦ καὶ γόων ἐπ’ αὐτοῖς οὐκ ἐνεπιπλῶντο; 4 οὕτω γὰρ μετὰ πικρίας ἀνοίκτου ψυχῆς ὑπὸ τῶν κατὰ πόλιν στρατηγῶν ὁμοθυμαδὸν ἐξαπεστέλλοντο, ὥστε ἐπὶ ταῖς ἐξάλλοις τιμωρίαις καί τινας τῶν ἐχθρῶν λαμβάνοντας πρὸ τῶν ὀφθαλμῶν τὸν κοινὸν ἔλεον καὶ λογιζομένους τὴν ἄδηλον τοῦ βίου καταστροφήν, δακρύειν αὐτῶν τὴν τρισάθλιον ἐξαποστολήν. 5 ἤγετο γὰρ γεραιῶν πλῆθος πολιᾷ πεπυκασμένων, τὴν ἐκ τοῦ γήρως νωθρότητα ποδῶν ἐπίκυφον ἀνατροπῆς ὁρμῇ βιαίας ἁπάσης αἰδοῦς ἄνευ πρὸς ὀξεῖαν καταχρωμένων πορείαν. 6 αἱ δὲ ἄρτι πρὸς βίου κοινωνίαν γαμικὸν ὑπεληλυθυῖαι παστὸν νεάνιδες, ἀντὶ τέρψεως μεταλαβοῦσαι γόους καὶ κόνει τὴν μυροβραχῆ πεφυρμέναι κόμην, ἀκαλύπτως δὲ ἀγόμεναι, θρῆνον ἀνθ’ ὑμεναίων ὁμοθυμαδὸν ἐξῆρχον ὡς ἐσπαραγμέναι σκυλμοῖς ἀλλοεθνέσι· 7 δέσμιαι δὲ δημόσιαι μέχρι τῆς εἰς τὸ πλοῖον ἐμβολῆς εἵλκοντο μετὰ βίας. 8 οἵ τε τούτων συζυγεῖς βρόχοις ἀντὶ στεφέων τοὺς αὐχένας περιπεπλεγμένοι μετὰ ἀκμαίας καὶ νεανικῆς ἡλικίας, ἀντὶ εὐωχίας καὶ νεωτερικῆς ῥαθυμίας τὰς ἐπιλοίπους τῶν γάμων ἡμέρας ἐν θρήνοις διῆγον, παρὰ πόδας ἤδη τὸν ᾅδην ὁρῶντες κείμενον. 9 κατήχθησαν δέ θηρίων τρόπον ἀγόμενοι σιδηροδέσμοις ἀνάγκαις, οἱ μὲν τοῖς ζυγοῖς τῶν πλοίων προσηλωμένοι τοὺς τραχήλους, οἱ δὲ τοὺς πόδας ἀρρήκτοις κατησφαλισμένοι πέδαις, 10 ἔτι καὶ τῷ καθύπερθε πυκνῷ σανιδώματι διακειμένῳ, ὅπως πάντοθεν ἐσκοτισμένοι τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς ἀγωγὴν ἐπιβούλων ἐν παντὶ τῷ κατάπλῳ λαμβάνωσι. 11 Τούτων δὲ ἐπὶ τὴν λεγομένην Σχεδίαν ἀχθέντων καὶ τοῦ παράπλου περανθέντος, καθὼς ἦν δεδογματισμένον τῷ βασιλεῖ, προσέταξεν αὐτοὺς ἐν τῷ πρὸ τῆς πόλεως ἱπποδρόμῳ παρεμβαλεῖν ἀπλέτῳ καθεστῶτι περιμέτρῳ καὶ πρὸς παραδειγματισμὸν ἄγαν εὐκαιροτάτῳ καθεστῶτι πᾶσι τοῖς καταπορευομένοις εἰς τὴν πόλιν καὶ τοῖς ἐκ τούτων εἰς τὴν χώραν στελλομένοις πρὸς ἐκδημίαν πρὸς τὸ μηδὲ ταῖς δυνάμεσιν αὐτοῦ κοινωνεῖν, μηδὲ τὸ σύνολον καταξιῶσαι περιβόλων. 12 ὡς δὲ τοῦτο ἐγενήθη, ἀκούσας τοὺς ἐκ τῆς πόλεως ὁμοεθνεῖς κρυβῇ ἐκπορευομένους πυκνότερον ἀποδύρεσθαι τὴν ἀκλεᾶ τῶν ἀδελφῶν ταλαιπωρίαν, 13 διοργισθεὶς προσέταξε καὶ τούτοις ὁμοῦ τὸν αὐτὸν τρόπον ἐπιμελῶς ὡς ἐκείνοις ποιῆσαι μὴ λειπομένοις κατὰ μηδένα τρόπον τῆς ἐκείνων τιμωρίας, 14 ἀπογραφῆναι δὲ πᾶν τὸ φῦλον ἐξ ὀνόματος, οὐκ εἰς τὴν ἔμπροσθε βραχεῖ προδεδηλωμένην τῶν ἔργων κατάπονον λατρείαν, στρεβλωθέντας δὲ ταῖς παρηγγελμέναις αἰκίαις τὸ τέλος ἀφανίσαι μιᾶς ὑπὸ καιρὸν ἡμέρας. 15 ἐγίνετο μὲν οὖν ἡ τούτων ἀπογραφὴ μετὰ πικρᾶς σπουδῆς καὶ φιλοτίμου προσεδρείας ἀπὸ ἀνατολῶν ἡλίου μέχρι δυσμῶν, ἀνήνυτον λαμβάνουσα τὸ τέλος ἐπὶ ἡμέρας τεσσαράκοντα. - 16 Μεγάλως δὲ καὶ διηνεκῶς ὁ βασιλεὺς χαρᾷ πεπληρωμένος, συμπόσια ἐπὶ πάντων τῶν εἰδώλων συνιστάμενος, πεπλανημένῃ πόρρω τῆς ἀληθείας φρενὶ καὶ βεβήλῳ στόματι, τὰ μέν κωφὰ καὶ μὴ δυνάμενα αὐτοῖς λαλεῖν ἢ ἀρήγειν ἐπαινῶν, εἰς δὲ τὸν μέγιστον Θεὸν τὰ μὴ καθήκοντα λαλῶν. 17 μετὰ δὲ τὸ προειρημένον τοῦ χρόνου διάστημα προσηνέγκαντο οἱ γραμματεῖς τῷ βασιλεῖ μηκέτι ἰσχύειν τὴν τῶν ᾿Ιουδαίων ἀπογραφὴν ποιεῖσθαι διὰ τὴν ἀμέτρητον αὐτῶν πληθύν, 18 καίπερ ὄντων κατὰ τὴν χώραν ἔτι τῶν πλειόνων, τῶν μὲν κατὰ τὰς οἰκίας ἔτι συνεστηκότων, τῶν δὲ καὶ κατὰ τόπον, ὡς ἀδυνάτου καθεστῶτος πᾶσι τοῖς ἐπ’ Αἴγυπτον στρατηγοῖς. 19 ἀπειλήσαντος δὲ αὐτοῖς σκληρότερον ὡς δεδωροκοπημένοις εἰς μηχανὴν τῆς ἐκφυγῆς, συνέβη σαφῶς αὐτὸν περὶ τούτου πεισθῆναι, 20 λεγόντων μετὰ ἀποδείξεως καὶ τὴν χαρτηρίαν ἤδη καὶ τοὺς γραφικοὺς καλάμους, ἐν οἷς ἐχρῶντο, ἐκλελοιπέναι. 21 τοῦτο δὲ ἦν ἐνέργεια τῆς τοῦ βοηθοῦντος τοῖς ᾿Ιουδαίοις ἐξ οὐρανοῦ προνοίας ἀνικήτου.

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