The mother appeals to her youngest son (2 Macc 7:24-7:29)

“King Antiochus felt that he was being treated with contempt. He was suspicious of her reproachful tone. The youngest brother being still alive, King Antiochus not only appealed to him in words, but promised with oaths that he would make him rich and enviable if he would turn from the ways of his ancestors. He would take him for his friend and entrust him with public affairs. Since the young man would not listen to him at all, the king called the mother to him. He urged her to advise the youth to save himself. After much urging on his part, she undertook to persuade her son. But, leaning close to him, she spoke in their native language as follows, deriding the cruel tyrant.

‘My son,

Have pity on me.

I carried you nine months in my womb.

I nursed you for three years.

I have reared you.

I have brought you up to this point in your life.

I have taken care of you.

I beg you,

My child,

To look at the heaven and the earth.

See everything that is in them!

Recognize that God did not make them out of things that existed.

In the same way,

The human race came into being.

Do not fear this butcher!

Prove worthy of your brothers!

Accept death!

So that in God’s mercy

I may get you back again with your brothers.’”

King Antiochus IV was upset at the way things were going. As there was only 1 son left, he urged him to give up his traditional ways. He promised to make him rich and powerful in his kingdom. The son would not listen. Then the king urged the mother to try and convince her son to save his life. Instead she urged him on to resist the king. In a moving passage, she spoke about carrying him for 9 months, nursing him for 3 years, and then bringing him up. Now she wanted him to recognize the creator God in heaven who made the human race. She wanted him to be worthy of his brothers. She wanted him to accept death so that God’s mercy would bring him back to his brothers. These seven sons were like suicide bombers willing to die for the laws of their God. The theology of creation and the afterlife predominated in their views of the ancestral laws. Notice that she spoke in their native language.

Advertisements

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.