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The Forgotten Books of Eden, by Rutherford H. Platt, Jr., [1926], at


Eleazar, the gentle spirited old man, shows such fortitude that even as we read these words 2000 years later, they seem like an inextinguishable fire.

BUT when Eleazar replied thus eloquently to the exhortations of the tyrants, the guards around him dragged him roughly to the torturing place.

2 And first they unclothed the old man, who was adorned with the beauty of holiness.

3 Then binding his arms on either side they scourged him, a herald standing and shouting out over against him, 'Obey the orders of the king!'

4 But the great-souled and noble man, an Eleazar in very truth, was no more moved in his mind than if he were being tormented in a dream; yea, the old man keeping his eyes steadfastly raised to heaven suffered his flesh to be tom by the scourges till he was bathed in blood and his sides became a mass of wounds; and even when he fell to the ground because his body could no longer support the pain he still kept his Reason erect and inflexible.

5 With his foot then one of the cruet guards as he fell kicked him savagely in the side to make him get up.

6 But he endured the anguish, and despised the compulsion, and bore up under the torments, and like a brave athlete taking punishment, the old man outwore his tormentors.

7 The sweat stood on his brow, and he drew his breath in hard gasps, till his nobility of soul extorted the admiration of his tormentors themselves.

8 Hereupon, partly in pity for his old age, partly in sympathy for their friend, partly in admiration of his courage, some of the courtiers of the king went tip to him and said:

9 'Why, O Eleazar, dost thou madly destroy thyself in this misery? We will bring to thee of the seethed meats, but do thou feign only to partake of the swine's flesh, and so save thyself.'

10 And Eleazar, as if their counsel did but add to his tortures, cried loudly: 'No. May we sons of Abraham never have so evil a thought as with faint heart to counterfeit a part unseemly to us.

11 Contrary to Reason, indeed, were it for us, after living unto the truth till old age, and guarding in lawful guise the repute of so living, now to change and become in our own persons a pattern to the young of impiety, to the end that we should encourage them to eat unclean meat.

12 Shame were it if we should live on a little longer, during that little being mocked of all men for cowardice, and while despised by the tyrant as unmanly should fail to defend the Divine Law unto the death.

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13 Therefore, O sons of Abraham, do ye die nobly for righteousness' sake; but as for you, O minions of the tyrant, why pause ye in your work?'

14 So they, seeing him thus triumphant over the tortures and unmoved even by the pity of his executioners, dragged him to the fire.

15 There they cast him on it, burning him with cruelly cunning devices, and they poured broth of evil odour into his nostrils.

16 But when the fire already reached to his bones and he was about to give up the ghost, he lifted up his eyes to God and said:

17 'Thou, O God, knowest that though I might save myself I am dying by fiery torments for thy Law. Be merciful unto thy people, and let our punishment be a satisfaction in their behalf. Make my blood their purification, and take my soul to ransom their souls,,

18 And with these words the holy man nobly yielded up his spirit under the torture I and for the sake of the Law held out by his Reason even against the torments unto death.

19 Beyond question, then, the Inspired Reason is master over the passions; for if his passions or sufferings had prevailed over his Reason we should have credited them with this evidence of their superior power.

20 But now his Reason having conquered his passions, we properly attribute to it the power of commanding them.

21 And it is right that we should admit that the mastery lies with Reason, in cases at least where it conquers pains that come from outside ourselves; for it were ridiculous to deny it.

22 And my proof covers not only the superiority of Reason to pains, but its superiority to pleasures also; neither does it surrender to them.

Next: Chapter IV