Eleazar (2 Maccabees)

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The Martyrdom of Eleazar the Scribe by Gustave Doré, 1866.

Eleazar was a Jewish man whose story is portrayed in 2 Maccabees 6. Verse 18 describes him as "one of the leading teachers of the law," and "of distinguished bearing."[1] We learn from verse 24 that he was ninety at the time of his death. Under a persecution instigated by Antiochus IV Epiphanes, Eleazar was forced to open his mouth and eat pork, but he spat it out and submitted to flogging.[2] He was then privately permitted to eat meat that he could pretend was pork, but he refused and was flogged to death. The narrator relates that in his death he left "a heroic example and a glorious memory," (verse 31).[1]

Along with the woman with seven sons depicted in the following chapter, Eleazar, although not actually a Maccabee, is celebrated as one of the "Holy Maccabean Martyrs" by the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches. Their feast day is August 1.


  1. ^ a b New English Bible
  2. ^ The New English Bible uses the word "flogged" in verses 19 and 28, whereas the Authorised Version has "torment." The original word is tympanum, which was a "circular drum-like rack on which the martyr was broken to death." The Old Testament According to the Authorised Version With Brief Commentary by Various Authors. The Apocryphal Books: Esdras to Maccabees (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1902).