2 Maccabees Chapter 9
Death of the persecutor

1 By that time, Antiochus had to return without glory from the regions of Persia.

2 When he entered a city called Persepolis, and tried to plunder the temple and seize the city, its inhabitants rebelled and took up arms against him. This people threw Antiochus and his men out. They fled and returned very much humiliated.

3 When Antiochus came to Ec ba tana, he was informed of what had happened to the two generals ¨C Nicanor and Timotheus ¨C in Israel.

4 He was infuriated and determined to take revenge on the Jews for the offense he had just received in Persepolis when they forced him to flee. He ordered the chariot driver to hurry up and not to stop until the journey¡¯s end. But the judgment of God was coming upon him, for he said in his pride, ¡°As soon as I arrive in Jeru salem, I shall turn it into a cemetery of the Jews.¡±

5 Then the Lord who sees all, the God of Israel, punished him with an incurable sickness of an internal nature.

6 He had barely finished speaking when he felt an unbearable pain in his stomach and began to be afflicted all over his body. This was indeed just for one who had tortured others in the same way with countless new punishments.

7 But this did not diminish his arrogance. In his rage against the Jews, he gave orders to journey ahead with even more speed. Yet, because his chariot was running very fast, Antiochus fell and his physical condition worsened.

8 Not long before, in his conceit and sense of superiority he thought of giving orders to the sea and measuring the heights of the mountains. Now he lay down and had to be brought on a stretcher, giving to all a clear testimony of the power of God.

9 Worms began to teem in the body of the impious and though he was still alive, his flesh tore off into pieces, leaving him in agonizing pain. The stench of his decay was so intolerable that his whole army shunned him.

10 No one went near him who not long before thought he could touch the stars of heaven with his hand.

11 Only when he was beaten by the divine scourge did he begin to shed his arrogance. His pains grew worse, and he realized this was the punishment of God.

12 He himself could no longer endure his stench. He said, ¡°It is right to submit to God. Mortals should not try to be equal with him.¡±

13 And the wretch made a vow to the Lord who would no longer take pity on him.

14 He had marched to Jerusalem to level it and turn it into a cemetery. But now he even promised to declare it a free city.

15 Moreover, he who before had refused burial to the Jews and wished to throw them with their children to the wild beasts, now of fered to make them equal with the Athenians. He had plundered the temple and profaned the Sacred Place;

16 but now he promised to decorate it lavishly, to return a great number of the sacred vessels, and to pay for all the expenses of the sacrifices.

17 And he promised to become a Jew and to proclaim in all the inhabited countries the power of God.

18 His pains however did not diminish, for the just judgment of God had come upon him. He lost hope of recovery and wrote to the Jews this letter of supplication,

19 ¡°To the honorable Jews, our citizens, good health, prosperity and all good things from the king and general, Antiochus.

20 If you and your children are well and your wishes are fulfilled, we give thanks to Heaven, for we remember your token of affection and kindness.

21 On my return from Persia, I became gravely ill, and because of this, I thought it necessary to be concerned for the common security of all of you.

22 I do not de spair of my condition, and even have great hope of recovering from this illness.

23 But I thought of how my father would designate his successor whenever he set out for any military expedition into the uplands,

24 so that his subjects would not be upset if anything unexpected should happen or any misfortune should befall him. Everyone would know who is in power.

25 I am aware that the kings of all the neighboring countries around are watching the turn of events and waiting for an opportune time. Therefore, I have designated my son, Antiochus, as king. I already presented and commended him to most of you, when I set out for the northern regions. And now I communicate to him this letter I am sending you.

26 I ask you, then, to take into account the favors each and everyone of you has received from me and maintain the same kindness toward me and my son.

27 I am sure that following my own policies of moderation and humanity, he shall live in good accord with you.¡±

28 In this way that blasphemer and murder er ended, suffering the terrible torments he had inflicted on others. He died miser ably in the mountains of a foreign land.

29 His companion, Philip, brought his body and then withdrew to Egypt to the court of Ptolemy Philometor, because he feared the son of Antiochus.


Comments 2 Maccabees, Chapter 9

• 9.1 The way God does justice. Antio chus¡¯ death is told differently in 1 Maccabees 6, which leads us to think that everything is not correct in this popular story. However, the author made no mistake in showing the change that illness and suffering bring about in the powerful.

At that moment, they see themselves as they really are, and they become aware of their pride. They discover the connection between their pre sent humiliation and those they inflicted on others. They promise to change their ways, though a bit late, as long as God grants them life.

The end of the persecutor shows that, if indeed God¡¯s real punishment is for the afterlife, there are also sins so abominable that they are punished in this world, as an example for others and to console the afflicted and the oppressed.