3 Maccabees 5
1 Then the king, filled with wrath and anger and inflexible in every respect, summoned Hermon, the keeper of the elephants. 2 On the following day, he ordered that he take all the elephants—five hundred in number—and get them drunk with plenty of unmingled wine and abundant handfuls of frankincense. Then after they had grown wild from the bounteous abundance of drink, he was to lead them where the Jews would meet their fate. 3 When he had issued these directives, he resumed his feasting, alone with those of his friends and of the army who were particularly hostile toward the Jews. 4 Then Hermon, caretaker of the elephants, obediently carried out all his orders. 5 The servants responsible for the Jews went out at evening, binding the hands of these unfortunate people, and managed to keep them in custody all night. They expected the whole nation would meet a final destruction. 6 But the Jews, thinking they were deprived of all protection from the Gentiles because of being bound on all sides, 7 called out to the Lord Almighty, Sovereign of all authority, their merciful God and Father. With tears and with a cry not easily silenced, they prayed 8 that He divert the unholy plot against them with a vengeance by a glorious appearance, and save them from the fate now present before them. 9 Their supplication went up earnestly to heaven.
10 Now Hermon got his pitiful elephants drunk by filling them up with a great abundance of wine and frankincense. Then he came to the court early in the morning to make his report to the king. 11 But God sent on the king a deep sleep, that good gift from the beginning of time which he has cast on those He favors during both night and the day. 12 Thus the king was restrained from his awful plan by the sweet and deep sleep from the Lord. He was disappointed in his lawless and unbending scheme. 13 But when the Jews escaped the appointed hour, they praised their holy God, and again beseeched Him who is easily reconciled to show the strength of His almighty hand to the haughty Gentiles.
14 By now it was almost the middle of the tenth hour, and the man in charge of banquet invitations arranged the guests together, came forward, and nudged the king. 15 As soon as he finally roused him, he made a report about what was happening and informed him that the hour of the banquet had already passed. 16 But as the king considered this, he returned to his drinking, and commanded those around him at the banquet to locate opposite him. 17 When this was done, he urged them to give themselves to still more eating and drinking, so the effect of the banquet would be still more raucous. 18 As the festivities progressed, the king summoned Hermon and with a direct threat asked why the Jews had made it alive through the present day. 19 But when Hermon declared that while it was still night he had done what was ordered, the king’s friends confirmed this. 20 Then overcome with a savagery worse than that of Phalaris, the king said that because of the day’s sleep they received favor; but without delay on the coming day, Hermon must ready the elephants for the extermination of the godless Jews. 21 So when the king had spoken, all the guests present willingly and joyfully agreed with the plan; then each departed for home. 22 However, they did not use the night for sleep, but to devise all sorts of insults for those they assumed had met their doom.
God Delivers His People
23 As soon as the cock crowed at dawn, Hermon harnessed the beasts and set them in motion in the great colonnade. 24 Crowds had gathered around the city for this pitiful sight, even before dawn. 25 But the Jews, at their last breath and at the last moment, made a tearful supplication in mournful songs. They stretched out their hands to heaven, and prayed to the Almighty God to quickly help them again. 26 The rays of the sun were not yet spreading when Hermon stood by and called the king and his friends, who were waiting. He pointed to the door and showed that what the king desired was ready. 27 But when the king received the report, he was terrified at the unusual invitation to come out. Completely overcome with bewilderment, he asked what this was which had been done so quickly. 28 This was an act of God, Master over all things, who placed a forgetfulness in the king’s mind about what had been plotted before.
29 But Hermon and all the king’s friends told him, “The beasts and the troops are ready, O king, according to your eager purpose.” 30 But at these words, he was filled with deep anger, because his whole plot had been scattered from his mind by God’s providence. Then he glared at them and threatened, 31 “If your parents or children were here, I would furnish them as a lavish feast for the wild beasts, instead of these innocent people, who have shown me and my fathers complete and unbending loyalty in everything asked of them. 32 In fact, if it were not for my familiarity with you and your usefulness, you would be deprived of life rather than them.”
33 Thus, Hermon endured an unexpected and dangerous threat, and his eyes shifted and his countenance fell. 34 Then one by one the king’s friends slunk away sullenly, and each one returned to his own business. 35 But when the Jews heard what the king said, they praised God as the revealed Lord and King of kings, since this happened to them because of His help.
The Ambivalent King
36 Meanwhile, the king restarted the banquet. He encouraged the guests to resume their merrymaking as before. 37 Then he summoned Hermon and threatened him, saying, “How many times must you be given orders about these same things, you worthless wretch? 38 Equip the elephants once again to crush the Jews tomorrow.” 39 But his administrators who were reclining together with him, curious as to his unstable mind, urged him, saying, 40 “How long, O king, are you going to tease us as if we were irrational, for you commanded now for the third time to destroy them? Then again you took back your command and what seemed good to you. 41 Because of this, the city is in turmoil, expecting you to act, and is in danger of being torn apart by the growing crowds.”
42 At this point, the king, a Phalaris in every way, was filled with insanity, and counting as nothing his changes of mind concerning the care of the Jews, swore a firm oath to send them to Hades without delay, mangled by the feet and knees of the wild beasts. 43 He would then attack the Jewish land and abruptly level it to the ground with fire and the spear, and burn down for all time the temple where they made sacrifices, which had been made inaccessible to him. 44 Then his friends and officials departed joyfully, and confidently assigned the forces to the key places in the city to keep watch.
45 Then the keeper of the elephants brought the beasts almost to a state of madness, so to speak, with the sweetest drinks of wine mixed with frankincense; and he equipped them with frightful devices. 46 So about dawn, when the city was filled with countless hordes of onlookers filling the hippodrome, he went into the court and urged the king to fulfill his purpose. 47 The king then worked up his depraved mind into a fit of wrath, and rushed out in full strength with all the beasts. With hardened heart, he wanted to see with his own eyes the lamentable and evil crushing of the Jews.
48 The Jews saw the cloud of dust stirred up by the elephants as they came out of the gate, the armed forces behind them. They also heard the trampling of the throng and loud, boisterous noise. 49 They considered this the last moment of their lives and the end of their wretched uncertainty. Turning to one another in sorrow, they kissed each other with tears, and embracing their loved ones, they fell on their necks, parents and children and mothers and daughters, women with infants at their breasts drawing their last milk. 50 Nonetheless, when they recalled the help from heaven they had received earlier, they suddenly threw themselves face down, women taking the infants from their breasts, 51 and they cried out in a loud voice, beseeching the Master of all to have mercy on them. For they were standing at the very gates of Hades.
1 For the End; a psalm by David; of ecstasy.
2 In You, O Lord, I hope; may I not be ashamed forever;
In Your righteousness deliver and rescue me.
3 Incline Your ear to me;
Rescue me speedily;
Be to me a God who protects me,
And a house of refuge to save me.
4 For You are my strength and my refuge,
And for Your name’s sake You will guide and sustain me;
5 For You will bring me out from the snare they hid for me;
For You are my protector.
6 Into Your hands I shall entrust my spirit;
You redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.
7 You hate those who maintain their empty vanities,
But I hope in the Lord.
8 I will greatly rejoice and be glad because of Your mercy,
For You beheld my humiliation;
You saved my soul from distress,
9 And did not shut me up into the hands of the enemy;
You set my feet in a wide place.
10 Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am afflicted;
My eye is troubled with anger;
So are my soul and my stomach.
11 For my life is wasted with grief
And my years with sighing;
My strength is weakened with poverty,
And my bones are troubled.
12 I became a reproach among all my enemies,
And especially to all my neighbors,
And a fear to all my acquaintances;
Those who saw me outside fled from me.
13 I am forgotten like one whose heart is lifeless;
I was made like a vessel that is utterly broken.
14 For I heard the blame of many who dwell round about
When they were gathered together against me,
When they plotted to take my life.
7 Compare yourself with the ant, O sluggard,
And be zealous when you see his ways,
And become wiser than he.
8 For although he has no tilled land,
Neither anyone to compel him,
Nor any master to rule him,
9 Yet he prepares all his food in the summer
And makes his provisions abundant in the winter.
10 Or go to the honeybee,
And learn how she is a worker
And how solemnly she does her work,
11 Whose labors kings and common people use for health;
And she is desirable to all and glorious;
12 And although she is weak in bodily strength,
She leads the way in honoring wisdom.
1 Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God 2 which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, 3 concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who [a]was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, 4 and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead. 5 Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name, 6 among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ;
7 To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. 9 For God is my witness, whom I serve [b]with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers, 10 making request if, by some means, now at last I may find a way in the will of God to come to you. 11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established— 12 that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.
13 Now I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that I often planned to come to you (but was hindered until now), that I might have some fruit among you also, just as among the other Gentiles. 14 I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and to unwise. 15 So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also.
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel [c]of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who [d]suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is [e]manifest [f]in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and [g]Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like [h]corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.
24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their [i]women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the [j]men, leaving the natural use of the [k]woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, [l]sexual immorality, wickedness, [m]covetousness, [n]maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 [o]undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, [p]unforgiving, unmerciful; 32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.