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MACCABEES III / ΜΑΚΚΑΒΑΙΩΝ Γ

6

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1 And Eleazar, an illustrious priest of the country, who had attained to length of day, and whose life had been adorned with virtue, caused the presbyters who were about him to cease to cry out to the holy God, and prayed thus: 2 O king, mighty in power, most high, Almighty God, who regulates the whole creation with thy tender mercy, 3 look upon the seed of Abraham, upon the children of the sanctified Jacob, thy sanctified inheritance, O Father, now being wrongfully destroyed as strangers in a strange land. 4 Thou destroyedst Pharaoh, with his hosts of chariots, when that lord of this same Egypt was uplifted with lawless hardihood and loud-sounding tongue. Shedding the beams of thy mercy upon the race of Israel, thou didst overwhelm him with his proud army. 5 When Sennacherim, the grievous king of the Assyrians, glorying in his countless hosts, had subdued the whole land with his spear, and was lifting himself against thine holy city, with boastings grievous to be endured, thou, O Lord, didst demolish him and didst shew forth thy might to many nations. 6 When the three friends in the land of Babylon of their own will exposed their lives to the fire rather than serve vain things, thou didst send a dewy coolness through the fiery furnace, and bring the fire upon all their adversaries. 7 It was thou who, when Daniel was hurled, through slander and envy, as a prey to lions down below, didst bring him back against unhurt to light. 8 When Jonah was pining away in the belly of the sea-bred monster, thou didst look upon him, O Father, and recover him to the sight of his own. 9 And now, thou who hatest insolence; thou who dost abound in mercy; thou who art the protector of all things; appear quickly to those of the race of Israel, who are insulted by abhorred, lawless gentiles. 10 If our life has during our exile been stained with iniquity, deliver us from the hand of the enemy, and destroy us, O Lord, by the death which thou preferrest. 11 Let not the vain-minded congratulate vain idols at the destruction of thy beloved, saying, Neither did their god deliver them. 12 Thou, who art All-powerful and Almighty, O Eternal One, behold! have mercy upon us who are being withdrawn from life, like traitors, by the unreasoning insolence of lawless men. 13 Let the heathen cower before thine invincible might today, O glorious One, who hast all power to save the race of Jacob. 14 The whole band of infants and their parents with tears beseech thee. 15 Let it be shewn to all the nations that thou art with us, O Lord, and hast not turned thy face away from us; but as thou saidst that thou wouldst not forget them even in the land of their enemies, so do thou fulfil this saying, O Lord. 16 Now, at the time that Eleazar had ended his prayer, the king came along to the hippodrome, with the wild beasts, and with his tumultuous power. 17 When the Jews saw this, they uttered a loud cry to heaven, so that the adjacent valleys resounded, and caused an irrepressible lamentation throughout the army. 18 Then the all-glorious, all-powerful, and true God, displayed his holy countenance, and opened the gates of heaven, from which two angels, dreadful of form, came down and were visible to all but the Jews. 19 And they stood opposite, and filled the enemies’ host with confusion and cowardice; and bound them with immoveable fetters. 20 And a cold shudder came over the person of the king, and oblivion paralysed the vehemence of his spirit. 21 They turned back the animals upon the armed forces which followed them; and the animals trod them down, and destroyed them. 22 The king’s wrath was converted into compassion; and he wept at his own machinations. 23 For when he heard the cry, and saw them all on the verge of destruction, with tears he angrily threatened his friends, saying, 24 Ye have governed badly; and have exceeded tyrants in cruelty; and me your benefactor ye have laboured to deprive at once of my dominion and my life, by secretly devising measures injurious to the kingdom. 25 Who has gathered here, unreasonably removing each from his home, those who, in fidelity to us, had held the fortresses of the country? 26 Who has thus consigned to unmerited punishments those who in good will towards us from the beginning have in all things surpassed all nations, and who often have engaged in the most dangerous undertakings? 27 Loose, loose the unjust bonds; send them to their homes in peace, and deprecate what has been done. 28 Release the sons of the almighty living God of heaven, who from our ancestors’ times until now has granted a glorious and uninterrupted prosperity to our affairs. 29 These things he said; and they, released the same moment, having now escaped death, praised God their holy Saviour. 30 The king then departed to the city, and called his financier to him, and bade him provide a seven days’ quantity of wine and other materials for feasting for the Jews. He decided that they should keep a gladsome festival of deliverance in the very place in which they expected to meet with their destruction. 31 Then they who were before despised and nigh unto hades, yea, rather advanced into it, partook of the cup of salvation, instead of a grievous and lamentable death. Full of exultation, they parted out the place intended for their fall and burial into banqueting booths. 32 Ceasing their miserable strain of woe, they took up the subject of their fatherland, hymning in praise God their wonder-working Saviour. All groans, all wailing, were laid aside: they formed dances in token of serene joy. 33 So, also, the king collected a number of guests for the occasion, and returned unceasing thanks with much magnificence for the unexpected deliverance afforded him. 34 Those who had marked them out as for death and for carrion, and had registered them with joy, howled aloud, and were clothed with shame, and had the fire of their rage ingloriously put out. 35 But the Jews, as we just said, instituted a dance, and then gave themselves up to feasting, glad thanksgivings, and psalms. 36 They made a public ordinance to commemorate these things for generations to come, as long as they should be sojourners. They thus established these days as days of mirth, not for the purpose of drinking or luxury, but because God had saved them. 37 They requested the king to send them back to their homes. 38 They were being enrolled from the twenty-fifth of Pachon to the fourth of Epiphi, a period of forty days: the measures taken for their destruction lasted from the fifth of Epiphi till the seventh, that is, three days. 39 The Ruler over all did during this time manifest forth his mercy gloriously, and did deliver them all together unharmed. 40 They feasted upon the king’s provision up to the fourteenth day, and then asked to be sent away. 41 The king commended them, and wrote the subjoined letter, of magnanimous import for them, to the commanders of every city. ΕΛΕΑΖΑΡΟΣ δέ τις ἀνὴρ ἐπίσημος τῶν ἀπὸ τῆς χώρας ἱερέων, ἐν πρεσβείῳ τὴν ἡλικίαν ἤδη λελογχὼς καὶ πάσῃ τῇ κατὰ τὸν βίον ἀρετῇ κεκοσμημένος, τοὺς περὶ αὐτὸν καταστείλας πρεσβυτέρους ἐπικαλεῖσθαι τὸν ἅγιον Θεὸν προσηύξατο τάδε· 2 βασιλεῦ μεγαλοκράτωρ, ὕψιστε, παντοκράτωρ Θεὲ τὴν πᾶσαν διακυβερνῶν ἐν οἰκτιρμοῖς κτίσιν, 3 ἔπιδε ἐπὶ ῾Αβραὰμ σπέρμα, ἐπὶ ἡγιασμένου τέκνα ᾿Ιακώβ, μερίδος ἡγιασμένης σου λαὸν ἐν ξένῃ γῇ ξένον ἀδίκως ἀπολλύμενον, πάτερ. 4 σὺ Φαραὼ πληθύνοντα ἅρμασι, τὸν πρὶν Αἰγύπτου ταύτης δυνάστην, ἐπαρθέντα ἀνόμῳ θράσει καὶ γλώσσῃ μεγαλορρήμονι, σὺν τῇ ὑπερηφάνῳ στρατιᾷ ποντοβρόχους ἀπώλεσας, φέγγος ἐπιφάνας ἐλέους ᾿Ισραὴλ γένει. 5 σὺ τὸν ἀναριθμήτοις δυνάμεσι γαυρωθέντα Σενναχηρείμ, βαρὺν ᾿Ασσυρίων βασιλέα, δόρατι τὴν πᾶσαν ὑποχείριον ἤδη λαβόντα γῆν καὶ μετεωρισθέντα ἐπὶ τὴν ἁγίαν σου πόλιν, βαρέα λαλοῦντα κόμπῳ καὶ θράσει σύ, Δέσποτα, ἔθραυσας, ἔκδηλον δεικνὺς ἔθνεσι πολλοῖς τὸ σὸν κράτος. 6 σὺ τοὺς κατὰ τὴν Βαβυλωνίαν τρεῖς ἑταίρους, πυρὶ τὴν ψυχὴν αὐθαιρέτως δεδωκότας εἰς τὸ μὴ λατρεῦσαι τοῖς κενοῖς, διάπυρον δροσίσας κάμινον ἐρρύσω μέχρι τριχὸς ἀπημάντους, φλόγα πᾶσιν ἐπιπέμψας τοῖς ὑπεναντίοις. 7 σὺ τὸν διαβολαῖς φθόνου λέουσι κατὰ γῆς ῥιφέντα θηρσὶ βορὰν Δανιὴλ εἰς φῶς ἀνήγαγες ἀσινῆ, 8 τόν τε βυθοτρεφοῦς ἐν γαστρὶ κήτους ᾿Ιωνᾶν τηκόμενον ἀφειδῶς ἀπήμαντον πᾶσιν οἰκείοις ἀνέδειξας, πάτερ. 9 καὶ νῦν μίσυβρι, πολυέλεε, τῶν ὅλων σκεπαστά, τὸ τάχος ἐπιφάνηθι τοῖς ἀπὸ ᾿Ισραὴλ γένους, ὑπὸ δὲ ἐβδελυγμένων ἀνόμων ἐθνῶν ὑβριζομένοις. 10 εἰ δὲ ἀσεβείαις κατὰ τὴν ἀποικίαν ὁ βίος ἡμῶν ἐνέσχηται, ρυσάμενος ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ ἐχθρῶν χειρός, ὡς προαιρῇ, Δέσποτα, ἀπόλεσον ἡμᾶς μόρῳ. 11 μὴ τοῖς ματαίοις οἱ ματαιόφρονες εὐλογησάτωσαν ἐπὶ τῇ τῶν ἠγαπημένων σου ἀπωλείᾳ λέγοντες· οὐδὲ ὁ Θεὸς αὐτῶν ἐρρύσατο αὐτούς. 12 σὺ δὲ ὁ πᾶσαν ἀλκὴν καὶ δυναστείαν ἔχων ἅπασαν, αἰώνιε, νῦν ἔπιδε· ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς τοὺς καθ᾿ ὕβριν ἀνόμων ἀλόγιστον ἐκ τοῦ ζῆν μεθιστανομένους ἐν ἐπιβούλων τρόπῳ. 13 πτηξάτω δὲ ἔθνη σὴν δύναμιν ἀνίκητον σήμερον, ἔντιμε, δύναμιν ἔχων ἐπί σωτηρίᾳ ᾿Ιακὼβ γένους. 14 ἱκετεύει σε τὸ πᾶν πλῆθος τῶν νηπίων καὶ οἱ τούτων γονεῖς μετὰ δακρύων. 15 δειχθήτω πᾶσιν ἔθνεσιν, ὅτι μεθ᾿ ἡμῶν εἶ, Κύριε, καὶ οὐκ ἀπέστρεψας τὸ πρόσωπόν σου ἀφ᾿ ἡμῶν, ἀλλὰ καθὼς εἶπας ὅτι οὐδ᾿ ἐν τῇ γῇ τῶν ἐχθρῶν αὐτῶν ὄντων ὑπερεῖδες αὐτούς, οὕτως ἐπιτέλεσον, Κύριε. 16 Τοῦ δὲ ᾿Ελεαζάρου λήγοντος ἄρτι τῆς προσευχῆς, ὁ βασιλεὺς σὺν τοῖς θηρίοις καὶ παντὶ τῷ τῆς δυνάμεως φρυάγματι κατὰ τὸν ἱππόδρομον παρῆγε. 17 καὶ θεωρήσαντες οἱ ᾿Ιουδαῖοι μέγα εἰς οὐρανὸν ἀνέκραξαν, ὥστε καὶ τοὺς παρακειμένους αὐλῶνας συνηχήσαντας ἀκατάσχετον οἰμωγὴν ποιῆσαι παντὶ τῷ στρατοπέδῳ. 18 τότε ὀ μεγαλόδοξος παντοκράτωρ καὶ ἀληθινὸς Θεός, ἐπιφάνας τὸ ἅγιον αὐτοῦ πρόσωπον, ἠνέῳξε τὰς οὐρανίους πύλας, ἐξ ὧν δεδοξασμένοι δύο φοβεροειδεῖς ἄγγελοι κατέβησαν φανεροὶ πᾶσι, πλὴν τοῖς ᾿Ιουδαίοις, 19 καὶ ἀντέστησαν καὶ τὴν δύναμιν τῶν ὑπεναντίων ἐπλήρωσαν ταραχῆς καὶ δειλίας καὶ ἀκινήτοις ἔδησαν πέδαις. 20 καὶ ὑπόφρικον καὶ τὸ τοῦ βασιλέως σῶμα ἐγενήθη καὶ λήθη τὸ θράσος αὐτοῦ τὸ βαρύθυμον ἔλαβε. 21 καὶ ἀπέστρεψαν τὰ θηρία ἐπὶ τὰς συνεπομένας ἐνόπλους δυνάμεις καὶ κατεπάτουν αὐτὰς καὶ ὠλόθρευον. 22 καὶ μετεστράφη τοῦ βασιλέως ἡ ὀργὴ εἰς οἶκτον καὶ δάκρυα ὑπὲρ τῶν ἔμπροσθεν αὐτῷ μεμηχανευμένων. 23 ἀκούσας γὰρ τῆς κραυγῆς καὶ συνιδῶν πρηνεῖς ἅπαντας εἰς τὴν ἀπώλειαν, δακρύσας μετὰ ὀργῆς τοῖς φίλοις διηπειλεῖτο λέγων· 24 παραβασιλεύετε καὶ τυράννους ὑπερβεβήκατε ὠμότητι καὶ ἐμὲ αὐτὸν τὸν ὑμῶν εὐεργέτην ἐπιχειρεῖτε τῆς ἀρχῆς ἤδη καὶ τοῦ πνεύματος μεθιστᾶν, λάθρα μηχανώμενοι τὰ μὴ συμ‘φεροντα τῇ βασιλείᾳ. 25 τίς τοὺς κρατήσαντας ἡμῶν ἐν πίστει τὰ τῆς χώρας ὀχυρώματα, τῆς οἰκίας ἀποστήσας ἕκαστον ἀλόγως ἤθροισεν ἐνθάδε; 26 τίς τοὺς ἐξ ἀρχῆς εὐνοίᾳ πρὸς ἡμᾶς κατὰ πάντα διαφέροντας πάντων ἐθνῶν καὶ τοὺς χειρίστους πλεονάκις ἀνθρώπων ἐπιδεδεγμένους κινδύνους, οὕτως ἀθέσμοις περιέβαλεν αἰκίαις; 27 λύσατε, ἐκλύσατε ἄδικα δεσμά· εἰς τὰ ἴδια μετ᾿ εἰρήνης ἐξαποστείλατε, τὰ προπεπραγμένα παραιτησάμενοι. 28 ἀπολύσατε τοὺς υἱοὺς τοῦ παντοκράτορος ἐπουρανίου Θεοῦ ζῶντος, ὃς ἀφ᾿ ἡμετέρων μέχρι τοῦ νῦν προγόνων ἀπαραπόδιστον μετὰ δόξης εὐστάθειαν παρέχει τοῖς ἡμετέροις πράγμασιν. 29 ὁ μὲν οὖν ταῦτα ἔλεξεν· οἱ δὲ ἐν ἀμερεῖ χρόνῳ λυθέντες τὸν ἅγιον σωτῆρα Θεὸν αὐτῶν εὐλόγουν, ἄρτι τὸν θάνατον ἐκπεφευγότες. 30 Εἶτα ὁ βασιλεὺς εἰς τὴν πόλιν ἀπαλλαγείς, τὸν ἐπὶ τῶν προσόδων προσκαλεσάμενος, ἐκέλευσεν οἴνους τε καὶ τὰ λοιπὰ πρὸς εὐωχίαν ἐπιτήδεια τοῖς ᾿Ιουδαίοις χορηγεῖν ἐπὶ ἡμέρας ἑπτά, κρίνας αὐτοὺς ἐν ᾧ τόπῳ ἔδοξαν τὸν ὄλεθρον ἀναλαμβάνειν, ἐν τούτῳ ἐν εὐφροσύνῃ πάσῃ σωτήρια ἄγειν. 31 τότε οἱ πρὶν ἐπονείδιστοι καὶ πλησίον τοῦ ᾅδου, μᾶλλον δ᾿ ἐπ᾿ αὐτῷ βεβηκότες, ἀντὶ πικροῦ καὶ δυσαιάκτου μόρου, κώθωνα σωτήριον συστησάμενοι, τὸν εἰς πτῶσιν αὐτοῖς καὶ τάφον ἡτοιμασμένον τόπον κλισίαις κατεμέρισαν πλήρεις χαρμονῆς. 32 καταλήξαντες δὲ θρήνου πανόδυρτον μέλος ἀνέλαβον ᾠδὴν πάτριον, τὸν σωτῆρα καὶ τερατοποιὸν αἰνοῦντες Θεόν· οἰμωγήν τε πᾶσαν καὶ κωκυτὸν ἀπωσάμενοι χοροὺς συνίσταντο εὐφροσύνης εἰρηνικῆς σημεῖον. 33 ὡσαύτως δὲ καὶ ὁ βασιλεὺς περὶ τούτων συμπόσιον βαρὺ συναγαγών, ἀδιαλείπτως εἰς οὐρανὸν ἀνθωμολογεῖτο μεγαλοπρεπῶς ἐπὶ τῇ παραδόξῳ γενηθείσῃ αὐτῷ σωτηρίᾳ. 34 οἵ τε πρὶν εἰς ὄλεθρον καὶ οἰωνοβρώτους αὐτοὺς ἔσεσθαι τιθέμενοι, μετὰ χαρᾶς ἀπογραψάμενοι κατεστέναξαν, αἰσχύνην ἐφ᾿ ἑαυτοῖς περιβαλλόμενοι καὶ τὴν πυρίπνουν τόλμαν ἀκλεῶς ἐσβεσμένοι. 35 οἵ τε ᾿Ιουδαῖοι, καθὼς προειρήκαμεν, συστησάμενοι τὸν προειρημένον χορόν, μετ᾿ εὐωχίας ἐν ἐξομολογήσεσιν ἱλαραῖς καὶ ψαλμοῖς διῆγον, 36 καὶ κοινὸν ὁρισάμενοι περὶ τούτων θεσμὸν ἐπὶ πᾶσαν τὴν παροικίαν αὐτῶν εἰς γενεάς, τὰς προειρημένας ἡμέρας ἄγειν ἔστησαν εὐφροσύνους, οὐ πότου χάριν καὶ λιχνείας, σωτηρίας δὲ τῆς διὰ Θεὸν γενομένης αὐτοῖς. 37 ἐνέτυχον δὲ τῷ βασιλεῖ τὴν ἀπόλυσιν αὐτῶν εἰς τὰ ἴδια αἰτούμενοι. 38 ἀπογράφονται δὲ αὐτοὺς ἀπὸ πέμπτης καὶ εἰκάδος τοῦ Παχὼν ἕως τῆς τετάρτης τοῦ ᾿Επιφί, ἐπὶ ἡμέρας τεσσαράκοντα, συνίστανται δὲ αὐτῶν τὴν ἀπώλειαν ἀπὸ πέμπτης τοῦ ᾿Επιφὶ ἕως ἑβδόμης, ἡμέραις τρισίν, 39 ἐν αἷς καὶ μεγαλοδόξως ἐπιφάνας τὸ ἔλεος αὐτοῦ ὁ τῶν ὅλων δυνάστης ἀπταίστους αὐτοὺς ἐρρύσατο ὁμοθυμαδόν. 40 εὐωχοῦντο δὲ πάνθ᾿ ὑπὸ τοῦ βασιλέως χορηγούμενοι μέχρι τῆς τεσσαρεσκαιδεκάτης, ἐν ᾗ καὶ τὴν ἐντυχίαν ἐποιήσαντο περὶ τῆς ἀπολύσεως αὐτῶν. 41 συναινέσας τε αὐτοῖς ὁ βασιλεὺς ἔγραψεν αὐτοῖς τὴν ὑπογεγραμμένην ἐπιστολὴν πρὸς τοὺς κατὰ πόλιν στρατηγοὺς μεγαλοψύχως τὴν ἐκτενίαν ἔχουσαν.

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