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Martyred Mother with seven sons

Martyred Mother with seven sons (2MACC): Apocrypha

According to 2 Maccabees, in the second century b.c.e. the Seleucid king Antiochus IV outlaws temple worship, observance of Sabbaths and holy days, circumcision, and the keeping of [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:424]Torah[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary], and rules that the Jews who will not adopt Greek customs are to die (2 Macc 6:9). The martyrology in 2 Macc 6:7–7:42 (the first of its kind in the Bible) lists stories of those who choose death over apostasy. The last martyr is the unnamed mother who dies after witnessing each of her seven sons cruelly tortured. Her family story appears here in 7:1–42 and in a considerably expanded version in 4 Maccabees (see that entry). Exactly where the martyrdoms in 2 Maccabees take place is debated. No scene other than Jerusalem and Judea is ever established in the narrative, yet Antioch is a possible setting for chap. 7 since the king seems so thoroughly on his own turf.

Martyred mother with seven sons (4MACC): Apocrypha

4 Maccabees, a first-century c.e. work of a loyalist Jew living perhaps at Antioch in Syria, draws upon the martyrology in 1 Macc 6:7–7:42 to construct its portrayal of the martyred mother and her seven sons.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Martyred Mother with seven sons." (Viewed on April 28, 2017) <>.


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