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MACCABEES III / ΜΑΚΚΑΒΑΙΩΝ Γ

7

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1 King Ptolemy Philopator to the commanders throughout Egypt, and to all who are set over affairs, joy and strength. 2 We, too, and our children are well; and God has directed our affairs as we wish. 3 Certain of our friends did of malice vehemently urge us to punish the Jews of our realm in a body, with the infliction of a monstrous punishment. 4 They pretended that our affairs would never be in a good state till this took place. Such, they said, was the hatred borne by the Jews to all other people. 5 They brought them fettered in grievous chains as slaves, nay, as traitors. Without enquiry or examination they endeavoured to annihilate them. They buckled themselves with a savage cruelty, worse than Scythian custom. 6 For this cause we severely threatened them; yet, with the clemency which we are wont to extend to all men, we at length permitted them to live. Finding that the God of heaven cast a shield of protection over the Jews so as to preserve them, and that he fought for them as a father always fights for his sons; 7 and taking into consideration their constancy and fidelity towards us and towards our ancestors, we have, as we ought, acquitted them of every sort of charge. 8 And we have dismissed them to their several homes; bidding all men everywhere to do them no wrong, or unrighteously revile them about the past. 9 For know ye, that should we conceive any evil design, or in any way aggrieve them, we shall ever have as our opposite, not man, but the highest God, the ruler of all might. From Him there will be no escape, as the avenger of such deeds. Fare ye well. 10 When they had received this letter, they were not forward to depart immediately. They petitioned the king to be allowed to inflict fitting punishment upon those of their race who had willingly transgressed the holy god, and the law of God. 11 They alleged that men who had for their bellies’ sake transgressed the ordinances of God, would never be faithful to the interests of the king. 12 The king admitted the truth of this reasoning, and commended them. Full power was given them, without warrant or special commission, to destroy those who had transgressed the law of God boldly in every part of the king’s dominions. 13 Their priests, then, as it was meet, saluted him with good wishes, and all the people echoed with the Hallelujah. They then joyfully departed. 14 Then they punished and destryed with ignominy every polluted Jew that fell in their way; 15 slaying thus, in that day, above three hundred men, and esteeming this destruction of the wicked a season of joy. 16 They themselves having held fast their God unto death, and having enjoyed a full deliverance, departed from the city garlanded with sweet-flowered wreaths of every kind. Uttering exclamations of joy, with songs of praise, and melodious hymns they thanked the God of their fathers, the eternal Saviour of Israel. 17 Having arrived at Ptolemais, called from the specialty of that district Rose-bearing, where the fleet, in accordance with the general wish, waited for them seven days, 18 they partook of a banquet of deliverance, for the king generously granted them severally the means of securing a return home. 19 They were accordingly brought back in peace, while they gave utterance to becoming thanks; and they determined to keep these days during their sojourn as days of joyfulness. 20 These they registered as sacred upon a pillar, when they had dedicated the place of their festivity to be one of prayer. They departed unharmed, free, abundant in joy, preserved by the king’s command, by land, by sea, and by river, each to his own home. 21 They had more weight than before among their enemies; and were honoured and feared, and no one in any way robbed them of their goods. 22 Every man received back his own, according to inventory; those who had obtained their goods, giving them up with the greatest terror. For the greatest God wrought with perfectness wonders for their salvation. 23 Blessed be the Redeemer of Israel unto everlasting. Amen. «ΒΑΣΙΛΕΥΣ Πτολεμαῖος ὁ Φιλοπάτωρ τοῖς κατ᾿ Αἴγυπτον στρατηγοῖς καὶ πᾶσι τοῖς τεταγμένοις ἐπὶ πραγμάτων χαίρειν καὶ ἐρρῶσθαι· 2 ἐρρώμεθα δὲ καὶ αὐτοὶ καὶ τὰ τέκνα ἡμῶν, κατευθύναντος ἡμῖν τοῦ μεγάλου Θεοῦ τὰ πράγματα καθὼς προαιρούμεθα. 3 τῶν φίλων τινές, κακοηθείᾳ πυκνότερον ἡμῖν παρακείμενοι, συνέπεισαν ἡμᾶς εἰς τὸ τοὺς ὑπὸ τὴν βασιλείαν ᾿Ιουδαίους συναθροίσαντας σύστημα κολάσασθαι ξενιζούσαις ἀποστατῶν τιμωρίαις, 4 προσφερόμενοι μήποτε εὐσταθήσειν τὰ πράγματα ἡμῶν, δι᾿ ἣν ἔχουσιν οὗτοι πρὸς πάντα τὰ ἔθνη δυσμένειαν, μέχρις ἂν συντελεσθῇ τοῦτο. 5 οἳ καὶ δεσμίους καταγαγόντες αὐτοὺς μετὰ σκυλμῶν ὡς ἀνδράποδα, μᾶλλον δὲ ὡς ἐπιβούλους, ἄνευ πάσης ἀνακρίσεως καὶ ἐξετάσεως ἐπεχείρησαν ἀνελεῖν, νόμου Σκυθῶν ἀγριωτέραν ἐμπεπορπημένοι ὠμότητα. 6 ἡμεῖς δὲ ἐπὶ τούτοις σκληρότερον διαπειλησάμενοι, καθ᾿ ἣν ἔχομεν πρὸς ἅπαντας ἀνθρώπους ἐπιείκειαν, μόγις τὸ ζῆν αὐτοῖς χαρισάμενοι καὶ τὸν ἐπουράνιον Θεὸν ἐγνωκότες ἀσφαλῶς ὑπερησπικότα τῶν ᾿Ιουδαίων, ὡς πατέρα ὑπὲρ υἱῶν διαπαντὸς ὑπερμαχοῦντα, 7 τήν τε τοῦ φίλου ἣν ἔχουσι πρὸς ἡμᾶς βεβαίαν καὶ τοὺς προγόνους ἡμῶν εὔνοιαν ἀναλογισάμενοι, δικαίως ἀπολελύκαμεν πάσης καθ᾿ ὁντινοῦν αἰτίας τρόπον 8 καὶ προστετάχαμεν ἑκάστῳ πάντας εἰς τὰ ἴδια ἐπιστρέφειν, ἐν παντὶ τόπῳ μηθενὸς αὐτοὺς τὸ σύνολον καταβλάπτοντος, μήτε ὀνειδίζειν περὶ τῶν γεγενημένων παρὰ λόγον. 9 γινώσκετε γὰρ ὅτι κατὰ τούτων, ἐάν τι κακοτεχνήσωμεν πονηρὸν ἢ ἐπιλυπήσωμεν αὐτοὺς τὸ σύνολον, οὐκ ἄνθρωπον, ἀλλὰ τὸν πάσης δεσπόζοντα δυνάμεως Θεὸν ὕψιστον ἀντικείμενον ἡμῖν ἐπ᾿ ἐκδικήσει τῶν πραγμάτων κατὰ πᾶν ἀφεύκτως διὰ παντὸς ἕξομεν. ἔρρωσθε». 10 Λαβόντες δὲ τὴν ἐπιστολὴν ταύτην οὐκ ἐσπούδασαν εὐθέως γενέσθαι περὶ τὴν ἄφοδον, ἀλλὰ τὸν βασιλέα προσηξίωσαν τοὺς ἐκ τοῦ γένους τῶν ᾿Ιουδαίων τὸν ἅγιον Θεὸν αὐθαιρέτως παραβεβηκότας καὶ τοῦ Θεοῦ τὸν νόμον τυχεῖν δι᾿ αὐτῶν τῆς ὀφειλομένης κολάσεως, 11 προφερόμενοι τοὺς γαστρὸς ἕνεκεν τὰ θεῖα παραβεβηκότας προστάγματα μηδέποτε εὐνοήσειν μηδὲ τοῖς τοῦ βασιλέως πράγμασιν. 12 ὁ δὲ τἀληθὲς αὐτοὺς λέγειν παραδεξάμενος καὶ συναινέσας ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς ἄδειαν πάντων, ὅπως τοὺς παραβεβηκότας τοῦ Θεοῦ τὸν νόμον ἐξολοθρεύσωσι κατὰ πάντα τὸν ὑπὸ τὴν βασιλείαν αὐτοῦ τόπον μετὰ παρρησίας ἄνευ πάσης βασιλικῆς ἐξουσίας καὶ ἐπισκέψεως. 13 τότε κατευφημήσαντες αὐτόν, ὡς πρέπον ἦν, οἱ τούτων ἱερεῖς καὶ πᾶν τὸ πλῆθος ἐπιφωνήσαντες τὸ ἀλληλούϊα, μετὰ χαρᾶς ἀνέλυσαν. 14 τότε τὸν ἐμπεσόντα τῶν μεμιασμένων ὁμοεθνῆ κατὰ τὴν ὁδὸν ἐκολάζοντο καὶ μετὰ παραδειγματισμῶν ἀνῄρουν. 15 ἐκείνῃ δὲ τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ἀνεῖλον ὑπὲρ τοὺς τριακοσίους ἄνδρας καὶ ἤγαγον εὐφροσύνην μετὰ χαρᾶς τοὺς βεβήλους χειρωσάμενοι. 16 αὐτοὶ δὲ οἱ μέχρι θανάτου τὸν Θεὸν ἐσχηκότες, παντελῆ σωτηρίας ἀπόλαυσιν εἰληφότες, ἀνέζευξαν ἐκ τῆς πόλεως παντοίοις εὐωδεστάτοις ἄνθεσι κατεστεμμένοι μετ᾿ εὐφροσύνης καὶ βοῆς, ἐν αἴνοις καὶ παμμελέσιν ὕμνοις εὐχαριστοῦντες τῷ Θεῷ τῶν πατέρων αὐτῶν αἰωνίῳ σωτῆρι τοῦ ᾿Ισραήλ. 17 Παραγενηθέντες δὲ εἰς Πτολεμαΐδα τὴν ὀνομαζομένην διὰ τὴν τοῦ τόπου ἰδιότητα ῥοδοφόρον, ἐν ᾗ προσέμεινεν αὐτούς ὁ στόλος κατὰ κοινὴν αὐτῶν βουλὴν ἡμέρας ἑπτά, 18 ἐκεῖ ἐποίησαν πότον σωτήριον, τοῦ βασιλέως χορηγήσαντος αὐτοῖς εὐψύχως τὰ πρὸς τὴν ἄφιξιν πάντα ἑκάστῳ ἕως εἰς τὴν ἰδίαν οἰκίαν. 19 καταχθέντες δὲ μετ᾿ εἰρήνης ἐν ταῖς πρεπούσαις ἐξομολογήσεσιν, ὡσαύτως κἀκεῖ ἔστησαν καὶ ταύτας ἄγειν τὰς ἡμέρας ἐπὶ τὸν τῆς παροικίας αὐτῶν χρόνον εὐφροσύνους. 20 ἃς καὶ ἀνιερώσαντες ἐν στήλῃ κατὰ τὸν συμποσίας τόπον προσευχῆς καθιδρύσαντες, ἀνέλυσαν ἀσινεῖς, ἐλεύθεροι, ὑπερχαρεῖς, διά τε γῆς καὶ θαλάσσης καὶ ποταμοῦ ἀνασωζόμενοι τῇ τοῦ βασιλέως ἐπιταγῇ, ἕκαστος εἰς τὴν ἰδίαν 21 καὶ πλείστην ἢ ἔμπροσθεν ἐν τοῖς ἐχθροῖς ἐξουσίαν ἐσχηκότες μετὰ δόξης καὶ φόβου, τὸ σύνολον ὑπὸ μηδενὸς διασεισθέντες τῶν ὑπαρχόντων. 22 καὶ πάντα τὰ ἑαυτῶν πάντες ἐκομίσαντο ἐξ ἀπογραφῆς, ὥστε τούς ἔχοντάς τι μετὰ φόβου μεγίστου ἀποδοῦναι αὐτοῖς, τὰ μεγαλεῖα τοῦ μεγίστου Θεοῦ ποιήσαντος τελείως ἐπὶ σωτηρίᾳ αὐτῶν. 23 εὐλογητὸς ὁ ρύστης ᾿Ισραὴλ εἰς τοὺς ἀεὶ χρόνους. ᾿Αμήν.

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