Rounding up the Jews
11 When these people had been brought to the place called Schedia, and the voyage was finished, just as the king had decreed, Ptolemy ordered the captives to be encamped on the outskirts of the city in the racecourse. This stadium had been built with an immense perimeter and was very well placed for providing a public spectacle to all those returning home to the city and to those setting out from the city into the country for a trip abroad. The captives had no communication at all with the king’s forces, nor were they considered worthy of the protection of the city wall. 12 When this was done, the king heard that their fellow Jews were frequently going forth from the city in secret to express sympathy for the shameful misery of their kindred. 13 He became very angry and gave an order to deal with these people in exactly the same thorough fashion as the others, not leaving out any part of their punishment. 14 The entire tribe was to be registered by name—no longer for the service of hard labor described earlier, but to be tortured with the prescribed punishments and, in the end, to be killed within a single day. 15 So the process of drawing up a list of these people was carried out with cruel eagerness and intense diligence from the rising of the sun until its setting, coming to an end, though still incomplete, after forty days.
16 Filled with constant joy, the king organized banquets at the sites of all his idols. With a mind that had strayed far from the truth and with a polluted mouth, he praised objects that were deaf and unable to speak or give aid, but he spoke improper words against the supreme God. 17 At the end of the forty days, the clerks reported to the king that they were no longer able to complete the task of drawing up a list of all the Jews because of their countless number. 18 Though the majority were still in the country, some still in their homes, and some even on-site,[b] the job had become impossible for all the generals in Egypt. 19 After the king had threatened the clerks severely, claiming that they had accepted money to arrange a plan of escape, he came to be convinced 20 when they explained and offered proof that both the paper supply and the reed pens that they were using had already run out. 21 But this happened by the invincible providence of the one who was giving the Jews help from heaven.
- 3 Maccabees 4:6 Some manuscripts read as though torn asunder by the lion’s whelps of a foreign nation.
- 3 Maccabees 4:18 Other manuscripts have on the way.