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2 Maccabees 2

2It is also found in the records, that Jeremiah the prophet commanded them that were carried away to take some of the fire, as has been already noted: and how that the prophet charged them that were carried away, after giving them the law, that they should not forget the statutes of the Lord, neither be led astray in their minds, when they saw images of gold and silver, and the adornment thereof. And with other such words exhorted he them, that the law should not depart from their heart. This also was in the writing, that the prophet, being warned by God, commanded the tabernacle and ark to accompany him, and that he went away to the mountain which Moses had climbed to view the inheritance of God. On reaching it Jeremiah found a cavernous chamber, in which he placed the tabernacle, and the ark, and the altar of incense; and he made fast the door. And some of his followers drew near in order to mark the road, but they could not find it. Now when Jeremiah came to know this, he blamed them, saying, Unknown shall the spot be until God gather the people again together, and mercy come; then indeed shall the Lord disclose these things, and the glory of the Lord shall be seen, even the Cloud, as in the days of Moses it was visible, and as when Solomon prayed that the Place might be consecrated with solemn splendour. It was also narrated how he, in his wisdom, 10 sacrificed at the consecration and completion of the temple; as Moses prayed to the Lord, and fire descended from heaven to consume the sacrifice, so Solomon also prayed, 11 and the fire descended and burned up the holocaust; [and Moses said, Because the sin offering had not been eaten, 12 it was consumed in like manner with the rest;] and Solomon kept the eight days.

13 These things were narrated also in the archives or memoirs of Nehemiah; as well as how he founded a library and collected the books about the kings and the prophets, and the books of David, and letters of kings about sacred gifts. 14 Even so did Judas collect for us all the writings which had been scattered owing to the outbreak of war. 15 They are still with us. So, if you need them, send some messengers to fetch them for you.

16 Seeing therefore that we are about to keep the purification, we write thus to you. You will do well, then, to keep the days (of the festival). 17 Now God, who saved all his people, and restored to all the heritage, 18 and the kingdom, and the priesthood, and the hallowing, even as he promised through the law,—in God have we hope, that he will speedily have mercy upon us, and gather us together from under the (wide) heaven to the holy place: for he did deliver us out of great evils, and did purify the place.

2:19–32. The preface of the epitomist.

19 Now the things concerning Judas Maccabaeus and his brothers, and the purification of the great temple, 20 and the dedication of the altar, and further the wars against Antiochus Epiphanes and Eupator his son, 21 and the heavenly apparitions vouchsafed to those that vied with one another in manful deeds for the religion of the Jews—so that, in spite of their small numbers, they plundered the whole country, 22 and routed the barbarian hordes, and regained the temple renowned all the world over, and freed the city, and restored the laws which were on the verge of abolition, since the Lord showed favour graciously to them: 23 (all) this, recounted by Jason in five books, we will try to compress into a single volume. 24 For, in view of the flood of statistics and the difficulties presented by the mass of material to those who desire to go into the narratives of the history, 25 we have aimed at attracting those who are fond of reading, at smoothing the path for those who like to memorize their facts, and at being of some service to our readers in general. 26 As for ourselves, we have not found this self-imposed task of abridging to be a light business. 27 On the contrary, we have sweated and sat up late over it—just as there is no lack of work for any one who has to superintend a banquet and look after the interests of others. Still, to reap the gratitude of many, we will cheerfully undertake this toilsome labour; 28 leaving the historian to investigate details, we will exert ourselves to prepare an epitome upon the usual lines. 29 For as the masterbuilder of a new house has to look after the entire edifice, while the decorator who undertakes to inlay and paint it has only to look out what is suitable for embellishing the house, so, methinks, is it with us. 30 To enter into details and general discussions and elaborate researches is the business of the original historian; 31 on the other hand, any one who simply recasts the material must be allowed to aim at conciseness of expression and to eschew any thoroughgoing treatment of the subject.

32 Well now, let us begin the story. We have no more to add, by way of preface; for it is truly stupid to expatiate in introducing a history and then cut short the history itself.

3:1–39. The miraculous discomfiture of Seleucus and Heliodorus in their attack upon the temple at Jerusalem.

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