Day 204 – 2 Maccabees 7:1-8:20; Psalm 24:1–11; Proverbs 4:19–23; Acts 23:12–35

2 Maccabees 7:1-8:20

1 It came about also that seven brothers with their mother were arrested and forced by the king to be bound and tortured with whips and cords until they partook of the unlawful swine’s flesh. 2 One of them, acting as spokesman, said, “What do you intend to ask and learn from us? For we are ready to die rather than transgress the laws of our fathers.”
3 The king became enraged, and commanded that pans and caldrons be heated. 4 These were heated immediately; and he commanded them to cut out the spokesman’s tongue, and to scalp him and cut off his hands and feet, while the rest of the brothers and the mother watched. 5 When he was utterly helpless, the king ordered them to take him to the fire, while he was still breathing, and to fry him in a pan. As the smoke from the pan spread out broadly, the brothers and their mother encouraged one another to die bravely, saying, 6 “The Lord God is taking notice of us and in truth is encouraging us, as Moses proclaimed in his song which he sang, bearing witness against the people to their faces: ‘And God will have compassion on His servants.’ ”
7 After the first brother died in this manner, they brought forward the second for their sport. They tore away the skin of his head with the hair, and asked him, “Will you eat pork rather than have your body punished limb by limb?” 8 But he replied in the language of his fathers and said to them, “No.” Therefore this brother in turn underwent the same torture as the first. 9 So when he was at his last breath, he said, “You accursed wretch! You set us free from this present life, but the King of the world will raise us to an everlasting renewal of life, because we die for His laws.”
10 After him, the third fell prey to their sport. When it was demanded, he quickly put out his tongue and courageously stretched forth his hands, 11 and said bravely, “I received these from heaven, and because of His laws I disregard them, and from Him I hope to get them back again.” 12 As a result the king himself and those with him were astonished at the young man’s spirit, for he regarded his sufferings as nothing.
13 When he died, they tortured and tormented the fourth in the same way. 14 So when he was near death, he said, “One may be chosen to die at the hands of men and to look for the hope that God gives of being raised again by Him. But for you there shall be no resurrection to life.”
15 Next they led forward the fifth and tormented him. 16 But he looked at the king and said, “Because you have authority among men, mortal though you are, you do what you please; but do not think that God has forsaken our people. 17 Continue, and behold how His mighty power will torture you and your seed!”
18 After him they led forward the sixth. When he was about to die, he said, “Do not deceive yourself, for we are suffering these things on our own account because of our sins against our own God. Therefore things worthy of wonder have happened. 19 But do not think that you shall be innocent for trying to fight against God!”
20 The mother was especially admirable and worthy of good memory. Though she saw her seven sons perish in the span of a single day, she bore it courageously because of her hope in the Lord. 21 She encouraged each of them in the language of their fathers. Filled with a noble spirit, she stirred her womanly reasoning with manly courage, saying to them, 22 “I do not know how you came into being in my womb. It was not I who gave you breath and life, nor I who arranged in order the elements within each of you. 23 Therefore the Creator of the world, who formed man in the beginning and devised the origin of all things, will give both breath and life back to you again in His mercy, since you now disregard yourselves for the sake of His laws.”
  24 Antiochus supposed that he was being treated with contempt, and suspected her speech was insulting him personally. Thus, since the youngest brother was still alive, not only did he appeal to him in words, but at the same time guaranteed him with oaths that he would make him rich and enviable if he would turn away from his fathers, and that he would consider him a friend and entrust him with public affairs. 25 But when the young man refused to pay any attention to him, the king called his mother to him and urged her to advise the boy to save himself. 26 After much urging from him, she agreed to persuade her son. 27 But she leaned close to him and mocked the cruel tyrant, speaking in their native tongue, saying, “My son, have mercy on me. I carried you for nine months in my womb, and nursed you for three years. I reared you and brought you up to this point in your life, and have taken care of you. 28 I beseech you, my child, to look at heaven and earth and see everything in them, and know that God made them out of nothing; so also He made the race of man in this way. 29 Do not fear this executioner! But be worthy of your brothers and accept death, that in God’s mercy I may receive you back again with your brothers.”
30 While she continued speaking, the young man said to the king, “What are you waiting for? I will not obey the king’s command, but I obey the command of the law, given to our fathers through Moses. 31 But you, who have invented all manner of evil against the Hebrews, will not escape the hands of God, 32 for we are suffering because of our own sins. 33 So if for the sake of reproof and discipline, our living Lord is angry for a little while, He will again be reconciled with His own servants. 34 But you, O unholy man and most defiled of all men, do not be elated in vain and puffed up by uncertain hopes when you raise your hand against the children of heaven. 35 You have not yet escaped the judgment of the almighty, all-seeing God. 36 For now our brothers have endured a brief suffering and then passed on into everlasting life under God’s covenant. But you, by God’s judgment, will receive just punishments for your haughtiness. 37 Like my brothers, I give up body and soul for the laws of our fathers, crying out to God, that He may soon show His mercy to our nation, and by afflictions and calamities make you confess that He alone is God, 38 and through my brothers and me bring to an end the wrath of the Almighty which has justly come upon our entire nation.”
39 Then the king became bitterly enraged at his contempt and treated him worse than the others. 40 So, putting his trust completely in the Lord, he died in his innocence. 41 Last of all, the mother died, after her sons.
42 Let this be enough, then, about the eating of sacrifices and the extreme tortures.
The Revolt of Judas Maccabeus
1 But Judas, also called Maccabeus, and those with him secretly infiltrated the villages and summoned their kinsmen. They called together those who had continued in the Jewish religion and took them as companions. So they gathered about six thousand men. 2 They invoked the Lord to look upon the people, who were trampled underfoot by all, to have compassion on the temple, which had been profaned by ungodly men, 3 to have mercy on the city, which was being destroyed and was about to be leveled to the ground, and to hearken to the blood that cried out to Him. 4 They also invoked Him to remember the lawless destruction of the sinless babies and the blasphemies committed against His name, and to show His hatred of evil.
5 As soon as Maccabeus had his army in order, he was not to be withstood by the Gentiles, for the wrath of the Lord had turned to mercy. 6 He came without notice to towns and villages and set them on fire. At opportune times he regained places and put to flight not a few of the enemy. 7 He found the night the best time for such hostilities. So talk of his manliness spread everywhere.
Nicanor Attacks Judea
8 When Philip realized that Judas was making progress little by little and that he was advancing with more frequent efficiency, he wrote to Ptolemy, the governor of Coelesyria and Phoenicia, for aid to the king’s government. 9 And Ptolemy quickly appointed Nicanor the son of Patroclus, the foremost of his friends. He sent him in command of no fewer than twenty thousand Gentiles of all nations to get rid of all the people of Judea. He sent Gorgias with him, a general and a man experienced in the affairs of war. 10 Nicanor determined to make up for the king the taxes due to the Romans—two thousand talents—from the capture of the Jews. 11 He immediately sent word to the cities by the sea, inviting them to buy Jewish slaves and promising to hand over ninety slaves for a talent, not expecting that the judgment of the Almighty was about to fall upon him.
  12 Now word came to Judas concerning Nicanor’s impending attack; and when he told those with him about the arrival of the army, 13 those who were cowardly and distrustful of God’s justice ran off and removed themselves from that place. 14 Others sold all their remaining property, and at the same time entreated the Lord to rescue those sold by the ungodly Nicanor before he even met them. 15 They entreated Him, not for their own sake, but for the sake of the covenants made with their fathers, and because they were called by His holy and magnificent name. 16 But Maccabeus gathered those around him, six thousand in number, and exhorted them neither to be panic-stricken by the enemy nor to fear the great multitude of Gentiles who were unjustly coming against them, but to contend bravely. 17 He also exhorted them to keep before their eyes the lawless outrage committed against the holy place by the Gentiles, and the torture of the mocked city, and still more the dissolution of their ancestral way of life. 18 “For they trust in arms and bold acts,” he said, “but we trust in Almighty God, who with only one nod is able to overthrow both those who come against us and the entire world.”
19 He also spoke to them of the times help came to their forefathers, how the one hundred and eighty-five thousand perished under Sennacherib, 20 and how in the time when the battle took place in Babylonia against the Galatians, eight thousand in all entered the fray, along with four thousand Macedonians. But when the Macedonians were perplexed, the eight thousand destroyed the one hundred and twenty thousand because of the help that came to them from heaven. Then they took many spoils.
Psalm 24:1–11

1 A psalm by David.

To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul, O my God.

2 I trust in You; let me not be ashamed;

Let not my enemies laugh at me.

3 For all who wait upon You shall not be ashamed;

Let those be ashamed who act lawlessly in vain.

4 Make known Your ways to me, O Lord,

And teach me Your paths.

5 Lead me in Your truth and teach me,

For You are the God of my salvation,

And on You I wait all the day.

6 Remember Your compassion, O Lord,

And Your mercy, for they are from of old.

7 Do not remember the sins of my youth, nor of my ignorance;

But remember me according to Your mercy,

Because of Your loving-kindness, O Lord.

8 Good and upright is the Lord;

  Therefore He will instruct sinners in His way.

9 He will guide the gentle in judgment;

He will teach the gentle His ways.

10 All the ways of the Lord are mercy and truth

For those who seek His covenant and His testimonies.

11 For Your name’s sake, O Lord,

Pardon my sin, for it is great.

Proverbs 4:19–23

19 My son, give heed to my word

And incline your ear to my words,

20 That your fountains may not fail you;

Guard them in your heart;

21 For they are life to those who find them

And healing for all their flesh.

22 Keep your heart with all watchfulness,

For from these words are the issues of life.

23 Put away from yourself a crooked mouth

And remove unrighteous lips far from you.

Acts 23:12–35

12 And when it was day, some of the Jews banded together and bound themselves under an oath, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul. 13 Now there were more than forty who had formed this conspiracy. 14 They came to the chief priests and elders, and said, “We have bound ourselves under a great oath that we will eat nothing until we have killed Paul. 15 Now you, therefore, together with the council, suggest to the commander that he be brought down to you [c]tomorrow, as though you were going to make further inquiries concerning him; but we are ready to kill him before he comes near.”

16 So when Paul’s sister’s son heard of their ambush, he went and entered the barracks and told Paul. 17 Then Paul called one of the centurions to him and said, “Take this young man to the commander, for he has something to tell him.” 18 So he took him and brought him to the commander and said, “Paul the prisoner called me to him and asked me to bring this young man to you. He has something to say to you.”

19 Then the commander took him by the hand, went aside, and asked privately, “What is it that you have to tell me?”

20 And he said, “The Jews have agreed to ask that you bring Paul down to the council tomorrow, as though they were going to inquire more fully about him. 21 But do not yield to them, for more than forty of them lie in wait for him, men who have bound themselves by an oath that they will neither eat nor drink till they have killed him; and now they are ready, waiting for the promise from you.”

22 So the commander let the young man depart, and commanded him, “Tell no one that you have revealed these things to me.”

23 And he called for two centurions, saying, “Prepare two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen, and two hundred spearmen to go to Caesarea at the third hour of the night; 24 and provide mounts to set Paul on, and bring him safely to Felix the governor.” 25 He wrote a letter in the following manner:

26 Claudius Lysias,

To the most excellent governor Felix:


27 This man was seized by the Jews and was about to be killed by them. Coming with the troops I rescued him, having learned that he was a Roman. 28 And when I wanted to know the reason they accused him, I brought him before their council. 29 I found out that he was accused concerning questions of their law, but had nothing charged against him deserving of death or chains. 30 And when it was told me that [d]the Jews lay in wait for the man, I sent him immediately to you, and also commanded his accusers to state before you the charges against him.


31 Then the soldiers, as they were commanded, took Paul and brought him by night to Antipatris. 32 The next day they left the horsemen to go on with him, and returned to the barracks. 33 When they came to Caesarea and had delivered the letter to the governor, they also presented Paul to him. 34 And when the governor had read it, he asked what province he was from. And when he understood that he was from Cilicia, 35 he said, “I will hear you when your accusers also have come.” And he commanded him to be kept in Herod’s [e]Praetorium.

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