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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.

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.

Edna: Apocrypha

In the Book of Tobit, Edna is Raguel’s wife, Sarah’s mother, and the mother-in-law of Tobias, Tobit’s son. Edna has no biblical namesake; unlike the other women named in Tobit (Anna, Deborah, Eve, Sarah), her name does not evoke images from the Hebrew Bible. Perhaps the author of Tobit means to recall Eden’s idyllic existence, or, more likely, to convey by the name something about the type of woman, wife, and mother Edna is.


How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Apocrypha." (Viewed on December 15, 2018) <>.


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