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Hannah and Her Seven Sons
(A Chanukah Play)
Written Originally in Hebrew
J. S. FRISHBERG
50 Canal Street
New York City
uNlVErITY OF FOIDKI Ilf 11
JIBg S" Druckerman.
Antiochus, King of Greece.
Apollonius, General of Antiochus.
Hannah, a Jewess.
Saul, her first son
Nachshon, her second son.
Abiezer, her third son
Shamah, her fourth son
Jehoram, her sixth son.
Jehorom, her sixth son.
The seventh son.
(The soldiers are standing in a group
conversing. Apollonius walks about. The
herald comes in with a trumpet in his
Herald: Tu-tu-tu! Tu-tu-tu! (Announces)
Get ready! The King is coming.
Apollonius: Fall in line (Antiochus enters)
Apollonius: Spears upward! Apollonius
points with his spear upward, and
the soldiers follow him).
Antiochus: (Giving the sign to lower spears,
turning to Arpollonius. Is there any-
thing new around here? Do the Jews
obey my command, or are they still
obstinate and refuse to fulfill the
King's order? Do they still observe
the Torah of their God? Inform me!
Apollonius (prostrating himself before the
King): Our great King! We followed
your orders strictly. We have entered
the secret places where were hidden
the rebels. Our sword destroyed the
lives of many, and thousands were
slain by us. But as for the Jews, they
still adhere to their Torah, they fear
no death, and they silently bear the
fiercest and most cruel tortures, as
though their flesh was iron. They will
not abandon their religion.
Antiochus (angered): They will not Iban-
don! Blood and fire! I! 1 will show
them my mighty hand, and then shall
they know how to disoby a King's
order. Are there not sufficient trees
in this land? Let each tree serve..as
gallows. Let the entire land be filled
with Jews hanging on gallows' Let
all rivers flow with blood. Then, then
shall they reconsider it and obey my
command. Kill! Kill them without
mercy, and they shall listen to me.
What insolence Great, powerful na-
tions become my slaves. Shall then
this small despised people not be con-
quered by me? No, it shall not be!
Apollonius: If it please my lord the King!
This very day we caught a Jewish
famiy. A mother with seven children.
They are very insolent' They observe
their own religion and refuse to obey
the King's command.
Antiochus (stamping his foot in great fury):
What! A Jewess with seven children?
Where are they ? Bring them in in-
stantly! Let us see! Are they really
mightier than I am? A woman and
children! Am I indeed unable to con-
quer a woman and children? Make
haste! Bring in the mother!
(Exeunt two soldiers)
Antiochus (walking to and fro in a rage
and talking to himself in a subdued
but angered tone): Cursed! (Clinching
his fist) I! I will show them my mighty
(Enter the two soldiers with the woman)
Apollonius: May it please my lord king! This
is the Jewish woman who refuses to
obey your command.
Antiochus (standing in front of Hannah
and speaking angrily): Art thou the
woman who dares disobey my order?
Hannah (courageously facing the King): I
am unable to obey your command, for
then I would be forced to violate the
law of my God.
Antiochus: And thinkest thou that thy God
will save thee this time from my hand?
Oh, cruel mother! Why hast thou no
pity on thy tender children?
Hannah: Hear, Oh King! I bore these chil-
dren. I raised them with the blood of
my heart and with the tears of my
eyes. They are more precious to me
than my own life, but only as long as
they remain my children, the children
of a Jewish mother, Jewish children!
Do you understand? Only when they
are children of their pectple' But
should they become idol worshippers,
then I do not care to know them, for
they are total strangers to me. No!
I will not permit my children to fore-
sake their people. I would rather that
they be killed, than that they should
deny their own God.
Antiochus: Silence, thou cursed. We shall
soon see who will be victorious. We
shall soon see if also thy children shall
speak thus to me. (Turning to the
soldiers) Bring in the oldest son!
(Exit soldier; the king walking to and
fro exclaiming continually): we shall
soon see who will be victorious'
(Enter soldier with eldest son)
Hannah (stretching out her hands to her
son): My son! My darling! Fear not
death! Be not afraid of the sword! Be
firm. Also your father gave up his
life to sanctify the name of God. Lo!
His soul is now looking at you! Do not
disgrace your father!
Antiochus (interrupting Hannah): Silence,
thou cursed! If not, I shall remove thy
head. (Turning to the soldiers): Re-
move her instantly from here.
(Exeunt soldiers with Hannah)
Antiochus (addressing the oldest son): Art
thou the first-born? Approach! What
is thy name?
Saul (approaching fearlessly) : I am the first-
born; my name is Saul.
Antiochus (pointing to an idol): Saul! Ap-
proach thou the idol immediately and
bow to it!
Saul (remaining where he was): To bow to
the idol? Is it not made of stone?
Wherefore then bow. to it?
Antiochus (clinching his fist): Death,
cursed Jew! If you do not bow to the
idol, thou shalt die instantly.
Saul (standing still and speaking quietly):
I fear not death' Thousands of Jews
have sacrificed their lives for their
religion. Also I shall do the same. You
are able to kill my body, to cut me
limb by limb, but you are unable to
kill my soul. You, the most powerful
King, cannot kill my soul. My soul
will go up to heaven, there she will
stay with all the holy souls, and mock
you with your might together. Tear
me asunder! Cut my body by limbs!
I was born a Jew, and I-shall die a Jew.
Antiochus: Silence, traitor (turning to the
soldiers) Take him. forth to the exe-
(Exit soldier with Saul)
Antiochus: Bring in the next one! (Walking
about in a rage exclaiming continu-
ally) : Cursed Jews.
(Enter first soldier, and second soldier with
the next son).
Antiochus: What is thy name?
- 10 -
Second Son: My name. is Nachshor
Antiochas:, Also thou, Nachshon, wilt have
no pity on thy young life? Lo, thy older
brother refused to bow to the idol, his
head is now wallowing in the mud, and
dogs feast on his flesh. Wilt thou
also refuse to bow?
Nachshon: It is written in our Torah: "Thou
shalt not lNave any other God before
me". Blessed shall be the memory of my
brother who honored God by his act.
Alas! I very much desire to live' But
the life of a heathen is no life at all.
Kill me! I will not bow.
Antiochus: Stubborn people! (to the sol-
diers) Kill him instantly.
(Exit soldier with Nachshon)
Antiochus: Bring in the third one.
(Exit second soldier)
(Enter first soldier)
(Enter second soldier with third son)
Antiochus: What is thy name, lad?
Third Son: My name is Abiezer, a faihtful
son to my people and my God.
Antiochus: Also thy older two brother were
faithful to their God, and my sword
- 11 -
put an ned to their lives with their
faithfulness together. Choose, Abie-
ser: bow to the idol, or you too, in an-
other instant, shall be among the dead
Abiezer: I have already chosen! I shall go
to my holy brothers. And thou tyrant!
Know you that the God who dwells in
heaven will avenge our blood from
Antiochus (crying out to the soldiers):
Take him away instantly to his bro-
thers, and shut his mouth forever.
(Exit soldier with Abiezer)
Antiochus: Bring in the fourth one.
(Enter first soldier)
(Enter second soldier with fourth son)
Antiochus: Do the command of the King
and bow to the idol.
Shamoh: To do the bidding of a mortal, and
becoimertaitor to the supreme king of
kings? As compared with me, you are
a king, but as to Him you are a slave
as I am.
Anntiochus (interrupting him): Decide
instantly! Wilt thou bow? If not, thou
shalt be killed instantly like your older
Shamoh: Kill also the the fourth one.
Antiochus: Bring him forth, and bring in
the fifth one.
(Exeunt two soldiers with Shamoh)
Antiochus (walking about anid continually
exclaiming): A stubborn people.
(Enter soldiers with son)
Antiochus: What is thy name?
Fifth Son: Jonathan.
Antiochus: Hark, Jonathan! Thy four bro-
thers were killed. .
Jonathan (interrupting the king): Killed!
(starting to run about like one mad)
My dear brothers! Alas, my dear bro-
(Soldier grabs Jonathan by his hand and
brings him back to his place).
Antiochus: Stand still and listen. If you
want to live, go and bow to the idol"
Jonathan: You have slain my dear brothers?
Tyrant! Murderer! You have slain
small children? You, the mighty king,
have slain small children? No! They,
my brothers, are the heroes, and you
- 13 -
are a mean and wicked man. Dis-
grace upon you, tyrant! Here is my
neck! Slay me!
Antiochus: This one is certainly rebelious.
Hurry cast him out to the dogs.
(Exeunt two soldiers with Jonathan)
Antiochus (Walking about): Revenge! I
shall kill every one of them.
(Enter the two soldiers with the sixth son)
Antiochus: Tell what is thy name?
Sixth son: My name is Jehoram.
Antiochus: Honor thy king, Jehoram, and
hearken to his words, Bow to the
idol; if not, thou wilt die in a few mo-
Jehoram (not looking at the King): I learned
in the Torah: "And thou shalt love thy
God with all thy heart and with all
thy soul." If you desire to take my
life, do so! (Stepping forth courage-
ously and putting forth his chest).
Antiochus (angrily): Oh rebelious children!
Also the little ones are as inflexible
as iron! (turning to Jehoram) Lo!
Before it is too late; you can still say
"Yes" and be saved.
- 14 -
Antiochus (to the soldiers): To death with
him! Bring in the seventh son.
Antiochus (walking about and exclaiming):
Only one more left' Will he also dis-
obey my order? What will be then?
How shall I be able to hide my shame?
(Enters soldiers with seventh son)
Antiochus (patting the child on his head,
and speaking softly): Tell me, little
boy, how old are you?
Seventh Son: I am six years old.
Antiochus: Thou art indeed but a small
child. Dost thou know who I am?
Seventh son: Where is my mother? I want
to see my mother.
Antiochus: Hark, child, thou shalt see thy
mother, if thou dost listen to me, for
I am the king.
Seventh son: What 'do you want from me?
Antiochus (patting the child's head): Just
bow for one instance to this idol, and
I will give you a beautiful present.
Seventh Son: God forbid! I have learned in
the Torah that it is forbidden to worship
Antiochus: Hark now! I shall throw down
my ring, and thou shalt stoop down to
pick it up. All the people will then
think that thou hast bowed to the idol.
Seventh Son: I do not want the people to
think so evil of me.
Antiochus: But is it better that the people
should think that a little boy like you
has rebelled against the King?
Seventh son: But God is greater than you
are, and you rebel against Him.
Antiochus: All thy brothers have already
been murdered. . (the child trem-
bles upon hearing the word "mur-
dered") thou art yet a little boy, thou
hast not yet tasted the pleasures of life,
why then die in thy youth? Bow to the
idol, and I will give thee much silver
and gold, and when thou wilt grow up,
I will make thee a great officer in my
Seventh Son: I do not care for this; give me
Antiochus: Bring in his mother.
(Exeunt soldiers and return with mother)
Antiochus (to Hannah): Cruel mother! This
little one is the last one that was left
of all thy children. Pity him, and tell
him to bow to the idol. Do you want
him to die in your presence?
(The mother and the child embrace one an-
Hannah: My son! My darling! Do not listen
to this wicked man' Die bravely, as
your holy brothers did. Go up to your
brothers in heaven, and tell them; Be-
hold, our mother, too, is coming to us.
(Turning to the King) And you, mur-
derer, you have killed all my children,
now kill me together wth my last son.
(She embraces her son).
Antiochus (to the soldiers) : Take away from
her the rebelious son and kill him.
(Three soldiers try to break away the child
from its mother)
Hannah: Die, my child! Go to our father
Abraham, and tell him: "You were
willing to sacrifice one child to God, but
our mother sacrificed seven sons. "Go,
my son, go*
(Soldiers take away the seventh son).
Hannah: My God! My God! Take me to
heaven! (she falls dead to the ground).