The test of the righteous one (Wis 2:17-2:20)

“‘Let us see if his words are true.

Let us test what will happen

At the end of his life.

If the righteous man is God’s son,

He will help him.

He will deliver him

From the hand of his adversaries.

Let us test him with insult.

Let us test him with torture.

Thus we may find out how gentle he is.

Let us make trial of his forbearance.

Let us condemn him to a shameful death.

According to what he says,

He will be protected.’”

They were going to test this righteous one to see if his words were true (λόγοι αὐτοῦ ἀληθεῖς). If he is a true righteous son of God (ὁ δίκαιος υἱὸς Θεοῦ), God will help him. He will deliver him from the hands of his adversaries. They were going to test him with insults and torture to see how gentle he really was. They wanted to condemn him to a shameful death (θανάτῳ ἀσχήμονι). Then they would see if he was protected. Interesting enough, this is some of the same things that were said about Jesus of Nazareth, about a couple of hundred years later.

The cruel painful illness of King Antiochus IV (2 Macc 9:5-9:10)

“But the all-seeing Lord, the God of Israel, struck him an incurable and unseen blow. As soon as he stopped speaking he was seized with a pain in his bowels with sharp internal tortures, for which there was no relief. That was very just, for he had tortured the bowels of others with many and strange inflictions. Yet he did not in any way stop his insolence. He was even more filled with arrogance, breathing fire in his rage against the Jews. He gave orders to drive even faster. So it came about that he fell out of his chariot as it was rushing along. The fall was so hard as to torture every limb of his body. Thus only a little while before, he had thought in his super human arrogance that he could command the waves of the sea. He imagined that he could weigh the high mountains in a balance. Finally, he was brought down to earth. He was carried in a litter, making the power of God manifest to all. Worms swarmed all over the ungodly man’s body. While he was still living in anguish and pain, his flesh rotted away. Because of the stench, the whole army felt revulsion at his decay. Because of his intolerable stench, no one was able to carry the man who a little while before had thought that he could touch the stars of heaven.”

Here the cause of the illness of King Antiochus IV was not depression but the God of Israel who struck him down. Notice that it is the God of Israel not the almighty Shaddai God who struck him down. This biblical author went into great detail about his illness. The king had a bowel problem because he had tortured others with infliction of various stomach disorders. He still wanted to get to Jerusalem so he asked his chariot to go faster. However, then he fell out of the chariot causing him even more pain. King Antiochus IV had been arrogant so that he thought that he could command the sea waves, measure the height of mountains, and touch the stars. However, his body swarmed with worms as it rotted away. There was a terrible smell about him that kept people away from him. The great king was reduced to a smelly sick pain filled old man.

The arrest of the seven brothers with their mother (2 Macc 7:1-7:2)

“It happened also that seven brothers and their mother were arrested. They were being compelled by the king, under torture with whips and thongs, to partake of unlawful swine’s flesh. One of them, acting as their spokesman, said.

“What do you intend to ask and learn from us?

We are ready to die

Rather than transgress the laws of our ancestors.’”

There were 7 brothers with their mother who were arrested. They were being compelled to eat swine flesh that was unlawful for the Jews, much like Eleazar. They would be tortured if they did not eat it. Their response by one of them was that they would rather die than transgress the law of their ancestors. It is clear that eating the unclean pork had become one of the key laws of the Jewish life.