Chapter 7 (III. Maccabees)

King Ptolemy Philopator to the generals throughout Egypt and to all those put in charge of affairs. Greetings and good health. 2 We ourselves and our children also enjoy good health since the great God guides our affairs, as is our desire. 3 Certain of our friends, by frequently urging us out of spite, persuaded us to gather the Jews from throughout the kingdom together in one place and to torment them with unusual punishments as traitors. 4 They insisted that our government would never be stable until this was accomplished, due to the hostility that these people were said to have toward all the nations. 5 These friends also drove them along in chains, treating them harshly as slaves, or rather, as traitors. Without any investigation or trial they attempted to destroy them, displaying a cruelty more savage than the barbarians from Scythia.

6 Now we threatened them sternly for these actions, but we granted them their lives (but just barely!) in keeping with the patience that we show toward all people. Because we have learned that the heavenly God surely shields the Jews and fights alongside them as a father for his children, 7 and because we have considered the constant goodwill that they have shown toward us and our ancestors, we rightly hold them innocent of every charge of whatever kind. 8 We have ordered them all to return, each and every one, to their homes. No one anywhere is to harm them at all, or cast any blame on them regarding these senseless events. 9 You should be aware that, if we ever devise any evil against these people or trouble them in any way, we won't have a human being as our enemy but rather the Most High God, who is Lord over every power. It is he who will enforce the punishment for our actions in every way, and from him there is no escape. Farewell. 10 When the Jews received this letter, they didn't rush to depart. Instead, they petitioned the king that they might carry out the punishment deserved by those Jews who had voluntarily turned aside from the holy God and God's Law.

11 They insisted that those who had broken divine laws for the sake of the belly would never be reliable subjects under the king's government either. 12 The king recognized and agreed that they were speaking the truth. So he gave them a free hand to utterly destroy those who had violated God's Law in every place within his kingdom, and to do so with confidence and without needing royal approval or supervision. 13 Then they applauded him, as was fitting, and their priests and all the crowd shouted the Hallelujah joyously and departed. 14 On their way they punished and killed any fellow Jews they came upon who had polluted themselves, making a public example of them. 15 On that day they killed more than three hundred persons, a day that they also observed as a joyous festival since they had subdued the renegades.

16 But those who had held fast to God to the point of death, having obtained the complete reward of deliverance, set out from the city crowned with all kinds of the most fragrant flowers, celebrating and shouting, giving thanks with praises and beautiful hymns to the God of their ancestors, the eternal savior of Israel. 17 The Jews arrived at Ptolemais, named "Rose-bearing" because of a distinctive feature of the place, where the fleet waited for them for seven days in line with their common desire. 18 There they toasted their rescue, since the king had generously supplied them, each and every one, with all things they needed until their arrival at their own homes. 19 When they had reached their land in peace, there too, in like manner with appropriate expressions of thanks, they decided to observe these days as a festival for as long as they lived in Egypt. 20 They inscribed the record of these events on a pillar and dedicated a place of prayer at the site of the festival. Then they departed unharmed, free, and overjoyed, being safely returned by land, sea, and river to their own homes, by the king's command.

21 They gained more influence among their enemies than they had had previously, and were held in honor and awe. No one at all kept back their possessions from them. 22 The Jews recovered all their property in keeping with the lists that had been previously drawn up, with the result that those who held anything of theirs returned it to them with the greatest deference, for the supreme God had perfectly performed mighty deeds for their salvation. 23 Bless the rescuer of Israel from now to eternity! Amen.

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