Once a Jewish mother with her seven sons suffered martyrdom at the hands
of the Emperor. The sons, when ordered by the latter to do homage to the
idols of the Empire, declined, and justified their disobedience by
quoting each a simple text from the sacred Scriptures. When the seventh
was brought forth, it is related that Caesar, for appearance' sake,
offered to spare him if only he would stoop and pick up a ring from the
ground which had been dropped on purpose. "Alas for thee, O Caesar!"
answered the boy; "if thou art so zealous for thine honor, how much more
zealous ought we to be for the honor of the Holy One--blessed be He!" On
his being led away to the place of execution, the mother craved and
obtained leave to give him a farewell kiss. "Go, my child," said she,
"and say to Abraham, Thou didst build an altar for the sacrifice of one
son, but I have erected altars for seven sons." She then turned away and
threw herself down headlong from the roof and expired, when the echo of
a voice was heard exclaiming (Ps. cxiii. 9), "The joyful mother of
children" (or, the mother of the children rejoiceth).
THE TALMUD, _Gittin_, fol. 57, col. 2.