THE SECOND BOOK OF THE
1 THE brethren, the Jews that are in Jerusalem and they that are in the country of Judaea, send greeting to the brethren, the Jews that are throughout Egypt, and wish them good peace: 2 and may God do good to you, and remember his covenant with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, his faithful servants; 3 and give you all a heart to worship him and do his * Gr. wills. pleasure with a great heart and a willing soul; 4 and open your heart in his law and in his statutes, and make peace, 5 and hearken to your supplications, and be reconciled with you, and not forsake you in an evil time. 6 And now we here are praying for you. 7 In the reign of Demetrius, in the hundred threescore and ninth year, we the Jews have already written to you in the tribulation and in the extremity that has come upon us in these years, from the time that Jason and his company revolted from the holy land and the kingdom, 8 and set the † Or, porch gate on fire, and shed innocent blood: and we implored the Lord, and were heard; and we offered sacrifice and meal offering, and we lighted the lamps, and we set forth the ‡ Gr. loaves show bread. 9 And now see that you⌃ keep the days of the feast of tabernacles of the month Chislev. 10 Written in the hundred fourscore and eighth year.
THEY that are in Jerusalem and they that are in Judaea and the senate and Judas, to Aristobulus, king Ptolemy’s teacher, who is also of the stock of the anointed priests, and to the Jews that are in Egypt, send greeting and health. 11 Having been saved by God out of great perils, as men arrayed against a king, we thank him greatly. 12 For himself cast forth into Persia them that arrayed themselves against us in the holy city. 13 For when the prince was come there, and the army with him that seemed irresistible, they were cut to pieces in the temple of Nanaea by the treachery of Nanaea’s priests. 14 For Antiochus, on the pretense that he would marry her, came into the place, he and his § See 2 Maccabees 8:9 Friends that were with him, that they might take a great part of the treasures in name of a dowry. 15 And when the priests of Nanaea’s temple had set ** Gr. them. the treasures forth, and he was come there with a small company within the wall of the precincts, they shut to the temple when Antiochus was come in: 16 and opening the secret door of the panelled cieling, they threw stones and †† Gr. struck down as with a thunderbolt. struck down the prince, and they hewed ‡‡ Or, his company him and his company in pieces, and struck off their heads, and cast them to those that were without. 17 Blessed be our God in all things, who gave for a prey them that had committed impiety.
18 Whereas we are now about to keep the purification of the temple in the month Chislev, on the five and twentieth day, we thought it necessary to certify you thereof, that §§ The Greek text here is corrupt. you⌃ also may keep a feast of tabernacles, and a memorial of the fire which was given when Nehemiah offered sacrifices, after that he had builded both the temple and the altar. 19 For indeed when our fathers were about to be led into the land of Persia, the godly priests of that time took of the fire of the altar, and hid it privily in the hollow of a well that was without water, wherein they made it sure, so that the place was unknown to all men. 20 Now after many years, when it pleased God, Nehemiah, having received a charge from the king of Persia, sent in quest of the fire the descendants of the priests that hid it. When they declared to us that they had found no fire, but thick water, 21 he commanded them to draw out thereof and bring to him: and when *** Gr. the things of the sacrifices. Similarily in verses 31, 33, and 2 Maccabees 2:10. the sacrifices had been offered on the altar, Nehemiah commanded the priests to sprinkle with the water both the wood and the things laid thereupon. 22 And when it was done, and some time had passed, and the sun shone out, which before was hid with clouds, there was kindled a great blaze, so that all men marveled. 23 And the priests made a prayer while the sacrifice was consuming, both the priests and all others, Jonathan leading and the rest answering, as Nehemiah did. 24 And the prayer was after this manner:
O Lord, Lord God, the Creator of all things, who are terrible and strong and righteous and merciful, who alone are King and gracious, 25 who alone suppliest every need, who alone are righteous and almighty and eternal, you that save Israel out of all evil, who made the fathers your chosen, and did sanctify them: 26 accept the sacrifice for all your people Israel, and guard your 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 you are our God. 28 Torment them that oppress us and in arrogancy shamefully entreat us. 29 Plant your people in your holy place, even as Moses said.
30 And thereupon the priests sang the hymns. 31 And as soon as the sacrifice was consumed, then Nehemiah commanded ††† Some authorities read that great stones should inclose the water that was left. Both the Greek text and the meaning of this verse and the next are uncertain. to pour on great stones the water that was left. 32 And when this was done, a flame was kindled; ‡‡‡ Or, but it spent itself, whereas the...shone still. but when the light from the altar §§§ Or, shone back shone over against it, all was consumed. 33 And when the matter became known, and it was told the king of the Persians, that, in the place where the priests that were led away had hid the fire, there appeared the water, wherewith also Nehemiah and they that were with him purified the sacrifice, 34 then the king, inclosing the place, made it sacred, after he had proved the matter. 35 And when the king would show favor to any, he would take from them many presents and give them some of this water. 36 And Nehemiah and they that were with him called this thing Nephthar, which is by interpretation, Cleansing; but most men call it Nephthai.