The Second Book of the Maccabees
The Second Book of the Maccabees is recognized as Deuterocanonical Scripture by the Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, and Russian Orthodox Churches.
1 The kindred, the Jews who are in Jerusalem and those who are in the country of Judea, send greetings and good peace to the kindred, the Jews who are throughout Egypt. 2 May God do good to you, and remember his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, his faithful servants, 3 and give you all a heart to worship him and do his will with a strong heart and a willing soul. 4 May God open your heart to his law and his statutes, and make peace, 5 and listen to your requests, and be reconciled with you, and not forsake you in an evil time. 6 Now we are praying for you here.
7 In the reign of Demetrius, in the one hundred sixty-ninth year, we the Jews have already written to you in the suffering and in the distress 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 gate on fire, and shed innocent blood. We prayed to the Lord, and were heard. We offered sacrifices and meal offerings. We lit the lamps. We set out the show bread.† Gr. loaves 9 Now see that you keep the days of the feast of tabernacles in the month Chislev in the one hundred eighty-eighth year.
10 The people of Jerusalem and those who are in Judea, with the senate and Judas, to Aristobulus, King Ptolemy’s teacher, who is also of the stock of the anointed priests, and to the Jews who are in Egypt, we send greetings and health.
11 Having been saved by God out of great perils, as men arrayed against a king, we thank him greatly. 12 For he threw out into Persia those who fought against us in the holy city. 13 For when the prince had come there, with an army 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 friends who were with him, that they might take a large part of the treasures as a dowry. 15 And when the priests of Nanaea’s temple had set the treasures out, and he had come there with a small company within the wall of the sacred precinct, they locked the temple when Antiochus had come in. 16 Opening the secret door of the panelled ceiling, they threw stones and struck down the prince. They cut him and his company in pieces, and cut off their heads, and threw them to the people who were outside. 17 Blessed be our God in all things, who handed over those who had committed impiety.
18 Since we are now about to celebrate the purification of the temple in the month Chislev, on the twenty-fifth day, we thought it necessary to notify you, so that you may also keep a feast of tabernacles, and remember the fire which was given when Nehemiah offered sacrifices, after he had built 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 some of the fire of the altar, and hid it secretly in the hollow of a well that was without water, where they made sure that the place was unknown to anyone. 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 who hid it. When they declared to us that they had found no fire, but thick liquid, 21 he commanded them to draw some of it out and bring it to him. When the sacrifices had been offered, Nehemiah commanded the priests to sprinkle with that liquid both the wood and the things laid on it. 22 When that was done and some time had passed, and the sun shone out, which before was hidden with clouds, a great blaze was kindled, so that all men marveled. 23 The priests made a prayer while the sacrifice was being consumed—both the priests and all the others. Jonathan led and the rest responded, as Nehemiah did.
24 The prayer was like this: “O Lord, Lord God, the Creator of all things, who are awesome, strong, righteous, and merciful, who alone are King and gracious, 25 who alone supply every need, who alone are righteous, almighty, and eternal, you who save Israel out of all evil, who chose the ancestors and sanctified them, 26 accept the sacrifice for all your people Israel, and preserve your own portion, and consecrate it. 27 Gather together our scattered people, set at liberty those who are in bondage among the heathen, look upon those who are despised and abhorred, and let the heathen know that you are our God. 28 Punish those who oppress us and in arrogance shamefully entreat us. 29 Plant your people in your holy place, even as Moses said.”
30 Then the priests sang the hymns. 31 As soon as the sacrifice was consumed, then Nehemiah commanded that the rest of the liquid be poured on large stones. 32 When this was done, a flame was kindled; but when the light from the altar shone back, it went out. 33 When the matter became known, and it was told the king of the Persians that, in the place where the priests who were led away had hid the fire, the liquid appeared which Nehemiah and those who were with him purified the sacrifice, 34 then the king enclosed the place and made it sacred after he had investigated the matter. 35 When the king would show favor to any, he would exchange many presents and give them some of this liquid. 36 Nehemiah and those who were with him called this thing “Nephthar”, which is by interpretation, “Cleansing”; but most men call it Nephthai.
†1:8 Gr. loaves