2 Maccabees 1

1To the brethren, the Jews in Egypt, greeting. The brethren, the Jews in Jerusalem and throughout the land of Judaea, wish you perfect peace; yea, may God do good unto you, and remember his covenant with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, his faithful servants; may he give you all a heart to worship him and do his pleasure with hearty courage and a willing soul; may he give you an open heart for his law and for his statutes, and make peace, and hearken to your supplications; may he be reconciled to you, and not forsake you in time of evil. Such, then, are our prayers for you in this place. In the reign of Demetrius, in the hundred threescore and ninth year, we the Jews have already written unto you in the extreme tribulation that came upon us during these years, from the time that Jason and his company revolted from the holy land and the kingdom, setting the porch on fire and shedding innocent blood: but we besought the Lord, and were heard; we offered sacrifice and made the meal offering, we lighted the lamps, and set forth the shewbread. See that ye keep the days of the feast of tabernacles in the month Chislev. 10 Written in the hundred fourscore and eighth year.

1:10b–2:18. Second document.

They that are in Jerusalem and they that are in Judaea and the senate and Judas, unto Aristobulus, king Ptolemy’s teacher, who is also of the stock of the anointed priests, and unto the Jews that are in Egypt, send greeting and health. 11 Having been saved by God out of great perils, we render great thanks, as befits us to thank One who arrayeth himself against a king. 12 For He flung away into Persia those who had arrayed themselves against the holy city. 13 For when the leader arrived, with a force that seemed irresistible, they were cut to pieces in the temple of Nanaea by the treachery of Nanaea’s priests. 14 Antiochus, on the pretext of marrying her, came into the place, he and his Friends who were with him, that they might take a great part of the treasures by way of dowry; 15 but when the priests of the Nanaeon had set the treasures forth, and he had passed with a small company inside the wall of the precincts, they shut to the temple when Antiochus had entered: 16 then opening the secret door in the panelled ceiling, they threw stones and struck down the leader, and hewing the company in pieces threw their heads to those who were outside. 17 Blessed for all things be our God who gave the impious doers for a prey. 18 Whereas we are now about to celebrate the purification of the temple in the month Chislev, on the five and twentieth day, we deem it our duty to inform you, that you too may keep the feast of tabernacles.—Now concerning the fire, on the occasion of Nehemiah offering sacrifices, after he had built both the temple and the altar (, you must know that) when our fathers were to be led into the land of Persia, 19 the godly priests of that time took some of the fire of the altar, and hid it secretly in the hollow of a sort of empty cistern, wherein they made it sure, so that the place was unknown to all men. 20 Well, after many years, when it pleased God, Nehemiah was sent on a mission by the king of Persia, and he sent in quest of the fire the descendants of the priests who had hid it. When they announced that they had found no fire, 21 but thick liquid, he commanded them to draw out some and bring it to him: and when the sacrifices had been duly placed (on the altar), Nehemiah commanded the priests to sprinkle the liquid both on the wood and on the sacrifices. 22 When this was done, after some time had elapsed and the sun, formerly hidden in clouds, had shone out, there was kindled a great blaze, so that all men marvelled. 23 And the priests offered prayer, while the sacrifice was being consumed,—priests and all, Jonathan leading and the rest saying it after him, as did Nehemiah. 24 The following was the prayer: O Lord, Lord God, the creator of all things, who art terrible and strong and righteous and merciful, 25 who alone art King and gracious, who alone suppliest every need, who alone art righteous and almighty and eternal, thou that savest Israel out of all evil, who madest the fathers thine elect, and didst sanctify them: 26 accept this sacrifice for all thy people Israel, guard thine own Portion, and consecrate it. 27 Gather together our dispersion, set at liberty them that are in bondage among the heathen, look upon them that are despised and abhorred, and let the heathen know that thou art our God. 28 Torment them that oppress us and in arrogancy shamefully treat us. 29 Plant thy people in thy holy place, even as Moses said. 30 Then the priests sang the hymns. 31 Now as soon as the sacrifice was consumed, Nehemiah ordered the rest of the liquid to be poured on large stones. 32 And when this was done, a flame was kindled; but, when the light from the altar shone over against it, it was extinguished. 33 And when the matter became known, and it was told the king of the Persians, that, in the place where the captive priests had hid the fire, there had appeared the liquid with which Nehemiah and his company purified the sacrifice, 34 then the king, after verifying the matter, had the place made a sacred enclosure. 35 And the king exchanged gifts with those in his favour. 36 Nehemiah and his company called this thing Nephthar, which is by interpretation, Cleansing; but most people call it Nephthai.

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