The high priest Simon at the altar (Sir 50:11-50:15)

“When he put on

His glorious robe,

He clothed himself

In perfect splendor.

When he went up

To the holy altar,

He made the court

Of the sanctuary glorious.

When he received the portions

From the hands of the priests,

He stood by the hearth of the altar.

There was a garland

Of brothers around him.

He was

Like a young cedar on Lebanon.

They surrounded him

Like the trunks of palm trees.

All the sons of Aaron

In their splendor

Held the Lord’s offering

In their hands

Before the whole congregation of Israel.

Finishing the service at the altars,

They arranged

The offering to the Most High,

The Almighty.

He held out his hand for the cup.

He poured a drink offering

Of the blood of the grape.

He poured it out

At the foot of the altar.

It was a pleasing odor

To the Most High,

The King of all.”

Sirach explains that the high priest Simon put on his splendid glorious robe. Then he went to the holy altar in the sanctuary. He received the sacrificial gifts from the priests at the foot of the altar. He was like a Lebanon cedar tree among his brother priests who were like palm trees. All the sons of Aaron were there in their splendor as they held the Lord’s offering in their hands before the whole congregation. They arranged the offering to the Most High God, the Almighty one. Simon held out his hand and took the cup. He poured the blood of the grape drink at the foot of the altar, so that it was a pleasing odor to the King of all, the Most High God.

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The speech of Eleazar (2 Macc 6:24-6:28)

“Eleazar said.

‘Such pretense is not worthy of our time of life.

Many of the young should suppose

That Eleazar in his ninetieth year

Has gone over to an alien religion.

Through my pretense,

For the sake of living a brief moment longer,

They should be led astray because of me.

While I defile and disgrace my old age.

Even if for the present I should avoid the punishment of mortals,

Yet whether I live or die

I will not escape the hands of the Almighty.

Therefore, by bravely giving up my life now,

I will show myself worthy of my old age.

I will leave to the young

A noble example of how

To die a good death willingly and nobly

For the revered and holy laws.’”

Much like Socrates, Eleazar gave a speech talking about an honorable death. He too was old man in his 90s. He did not have to corrupt the youth by giving the impression that he was worshiping an alien god. What was the use of doing this for a few more moments of life? Why should he disgrace his old age? Whether he lived or died, he could not escape the hands of the Almighty one. He wanted to leave a noble example of following the law for the young people. So he was willing to die for the law.