2 Maccabees 1, 2
1 “The Jewish brothers in Jerusalem and the land of Judea, to their Jewish brothers in Egypt: Greetings and good peace.
2 “May God do good to you, and may He remember His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, His faithful servants. 3 May He give all of you a heart to worship Him and do His will with a strong heart and willing soul. 4 May He open your heart to His law and His commandments, and may He bring you peace. 5 May He hear your prayers and be reconciled to you, and may He not forsake you in an evil time. 6 We are now praying for you here.
7 “In the one hundred and sixty-ninth year, in the reign of Demetrius, we Jews wrote to you at the culminating point of the affliction that came upon us, in those years from the time Jason and his followers revolted against the holy land and the kingdom, 8 and burned the gate and shed innocent blood. We prayed to the Lord and we were heard. So we offered sacrifice and fine flour, lit the lamps, and set out the loaves. 9 Now then, celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles in the month of Chislev, in the one hundred and eighty-eighth year.”
Letter to Aristobulus and Those in Egypt
10 “Those in Jerusalem and in Judea, and the senate and Judas, to Aristobulus, who is from the family of the anointed priests and is the teacher of Ptolemy the king, and to the Jews who are in Egypt, greetings and good health.
Thanksgiving for Protection
11 “Since we were saved by God from great dangers, we thank Him abundantly as those drawn up in battle order against a king. 12 For He drove out those who fought against the holy city. 13 And when Antiochus their leader reached Persia with a force around him that seemed irresistible, they were cut to pieces in the temple of Nanea through a deception employed by the priests of Nanea. 14 For Antiochus, together with his friends, arrived at the temple to marry her, for the sake of obtaining most of its treasures as a dowry. 15 When the priests of the temple of Nanea set out the treasures, and Antiochus, with a few men, had come inside the enclosed wall of the sacred precinct, they closed the temple as soon as he entered it. 16 Then they opened the secret door of the ceiling and threw stones. They struck down the governor and his men, dismembered them, and took their heads and threw them to the people outside. 17 Blessed in every way be our God, who delivered up the ungodly men.
The Holy Fire
18 “Since on the twenty-fifth day of Chislev we will celebrate the purification of the temple, we thought it needful to notify you that you might also celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles and the feast of the fire, when Nehemiah, who built the temple and the altar, offered sacrifices. 19 For when our fathers were led captive to Persia, the pious priests of that time took some of the fire off the altar and hid it secretly in the hollow of a dry well, where they sealed it, so the place would be unknown to anyone. 20 But after enough years had passed, when it pleased God, Nehemiah was sent away by the king of Persia, and he appointed the descendants of the priests who hid the fire to get it. When they reported to us that they had not found the fire but rather a thick liquid, he commanded them to dip it out and bring it. 21 But when the things of the sacrifices were brought to be offered, Nehemiah told the priests to sprinkle the liquid on the wood and the things laid upon it. 22 When this was done and some time had elapsed, and the sun, which had been clouded over, shone forth, a great fire flared up, causing everyone to marvel. 23 While the sacrifice was being consumed, the priests and everyone offered prayer. Jonathan led and all the rest responded, as did Nehemiah.
The Prayer of Nehemiah
24 “The prayer was offered as follows: ‘O Lord, Lord God, Creator of all things, fearful, mighty, righteous, and merciful, the only King and Good One, 25 You only are bountiful, alone righteous, almighty, and eternal. You save Israel from every evil, and You chose our fathers and sanctified them. 26 Accept this sacrifice on behalf of all Your people Israel, and protect Your portion, and sanctify it. 27 Gather our scattered people, free those enslaved among the Gentiles, look upon the rejected and despised, and make the Gentiles know that You are our God. 28 Torment the oppressors and those insolent with arrogance. 29 Plant Your people in Your holy place, as Moses said.’
30 “Then the priests sang hymns, 31 and when the things of the sacrifice were consumed, Nehemiah ordered that the remaining liquid should be poured upon large stones. 32 When this was done, a flame flared up; but when a light from the altar shone in turn, the flame went out. 33 Now when this became known, the matter was reported to the king of the Persians. He was told that in the place where the exiled priests had hidden the fire, the liquid had appeared from which Nehemiah and his men purified the sacrifice. 34 So the king investigated the matter, enclosed the place, and made it sacred. 35 Then the king exchanged many excellent gifts with those he favored. 36 Nehemiah and his men called this ‘nephthar,’ which means ‘purification,’ but by most people it is called ‘nephtha.’
Jeremiah Hides the Text
1 “One finds in the records, as it is noted, that Jeremiah the prophet ordered those migrating to take some of the fire. 2 The prophet also gave the law to those migrating and commanded them not to forget the Lord’s ordinances, nor be led astray in their thoughts when they happened to see the gold and silver statues and their adornment. 3 He also spoke other such words and urged them not to depart from the law in their hearts.
4 “It was also written that the prophet received an oracle and ordered that the tabernacle and the ark should accompany him when he went to the mountain where Moses had gone up and had seen the inheritance of God. 5 So when Jeremiah went there and found a cave, he brought the tabernacle, the ark, and the altar of incense, and then sealed up the entrance. 6 Some who followed him came to mark the way, but they were unable to find it. 7 Now when Jeremiah learned of this, he rebuked them and said, ‘The place shall be unknown until God gathers His people again and shows His mercy. 8 Then the Lord will disclose these things, and the glory of the Lord and the cloud will be seen, as they were shown to Moses, and as Solomon deemed it worthy that the place should be specially consecrated.’
9 “It was also made clear that Solomon in his wisdom offered sacrifice for the consecration and completion of the temple. 10 Just as Moses prayed to the Lord and fire came down from heaven and consumed the sacrifice, so Solomon also prayed, and the fire came down and consumed the whole burnt offerings. 11 Moses said, ‘They were consumed because the sin offering had not been eaten.’ 12 Likewise Solomon also celebrated the eight days.
Memoirs of Nehemiah
13 “The same things are reported in the records and in the memoirs of Nehemiah, and also that he founded a library and gathered books about the kings and the prophets, and the writings of David, and letters of kings about votive offerings. 14 Likewise Judas also collected all the books, lost on account of the war that came upon us; so they are in our possession. 15 Thus if you have need of them, send people to bring them to you.
16 “Since then we are about to celebrate the purification, we write to you. Therefore you will do well to celebrate the days. 17 For it is God who saved all His people, and gave back the inheritance to all, and the kingdom, the priesthood, and the consecration, 18 as He promised through the law. For we hope in God that He will have mercy upon us soon and gather us from everywhere under heaven into His holy place; for He delivered us from great evils and has purified the place.”
19 Now the account of Judas Maccabeus and his brothers, the purification of the great temple, and the consecration of the altar, 20 and moreover, the wars against Antiochus Epiphanes and his son Eupator, 21 and the interventions that came from heaven to those who behaved courageously on behalf of Judaism, who although few in number plundered the whole country and pursued the barbarian multitudes, 22 and recovered control of the temple famous throughout the world, freed the city, and restored the laws that were about to be dissolved, while the Lord with great goodness was merciful to them— 23 all this, which was made clear by Jason of Cyrene in five books, we shall attempt to abridge into a single book.
24 We realize that a confused mass of material and subject matter makes it too hard on most people who wish to plunge into the narrative of history. 25 Thus we have aimed to help those who wish to read with delight, to make it easy for those who are inclined to memorize, and to appeal to those who read for profit. 26 Therefore for us who have undertaken the difficult task of brevity, this is no easy matter, but one demanding sweat and loss of sleep, 27 as is the case with one who prepares a banquet seeking the benefit of others. All the same, for the sake of the gratitude of many we will gladly endure the uncomfortable toil, 28 leaving the intricate examination of exact details to the compiler, while devoting our labor to arriving at the outlines of the abridgement.
29 Just as the architect of a new house must be concerned with the whole construction, while the one who decorates it and paints it needs to consider only what is suitable for its adornment, so it seems to me is the case with us. 30 It is fitting for the originator of a history to enter into a thorough discussion of words and be inquisitive about every detail, 31 but one who pursues brevity of narrative must be permitted to forgo exhaustive treatment. 32 Therefore from hereon let us begin our narrative, adding only so much to what has already been said; for it is foolish to lengthen the preface of a history, but cut short the history itself.
1 For the End; concerning help in the morning; a psalm by David.
2 O God, my God, hear me; why have You forsaken me?
The words of my transgressions are far from my salvation.
3 O my God, I will cry out by day, but You will not hear me;
And by night, but not for a lack of understanding in me.
4 But You dwell among the saints, O praise of Israel.
5 Our fathers hoped in You;
They hoped in You, and You delivered them.
6 They cried out to You and were saved;
They hoped in You and were not ashamed.
7 But I am a worm, and not a man;
A reproach of man and despised by the people.
8 All who see me mock me;
They speak with their lips and shake their head,
9 Saying, “He hoped in the Lord, let Him rescue him;
Let Him save him since He delights in him.”
10 For You are He who drew me from the womb,
My hope from my mother’s breasts;
11 I was cast upon You from the womb,
From my mother’s womb You are my God.
12 Do not stand off from me, for affliction is near;
There is no one to help.
13 Many young bulls surrounded me;
Fat bulls encircled me.
14 They opened their mouths against me
Like a raging and roaring lion.
15 I am poured out like water,
And all my bones are shattered;
My heart is like wax, melting into my stomach.
16 My strength is dried up like an earthen vessel;
My tongue cleaves to my throat;
And You led me into the dust of death.
17 For many dogs surrounded me;
An assembly of evildoers enclosed me;
They pierced my hands and my feet.
18 I numbered all my bones,
And they look and stare at me.
19 They divided my garments among themselves,
And for my clothing they cast lots.
1 Hear, my children, the instruction of your father,
And pay attention, that you might know his thinking;
2 For I offer a good gift to you;
Do not forsake my law.
3 For I was a son, and I was obedient to my father,
And beloved in the presence of my mother,
4 Who taught me, saying,
“Let our word become firmly planted in your heart;
5 Guard our commandments; do not forget them;
Neither disregard the word of my mouth,
6 Nor forsake it, and it shall cleave to you;
Love it, and it will keep you.
7 Secure it, and it shall exalt you;
Honor it, that it may embrace you,
8 And give your head a crown of graces,
And cover you with a crown of delight.”
17 And when we had come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. 18 On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. 19 When he had greeted them, he told in detail those things which God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. 20 And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord. And they said to him, “You see, brother, how many myriads of Jews there are who have believed, and they are all zealous for the law; 21 but they have been informed about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs. 22 [d]What then? The assembly must certainly meet, for they will hear that you have come. 23 Therefore do what we tell you: We have four men who have taken a vow. 24 Take them and be purified with them, and pay their expenses so that they may shave their heads, and that all may know that those things of which they were informed concerning you are nothing, but that you yourself also walk orderly and keep the law. 25 But concerning the Gentiles who believe, we have written and decided [e]that they should observe no such thing, except that they should keep themselves from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from [f]sexual immorality.”
26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day, having been purified with them, entered the temple to announce the [g]expiration of the days of purification, at which time an offering should be made for each one of them.
27 Now when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews from Asia, seeing him in the temple, stirred up the whole crowd and laid hands on him, 28 crying out, “Men of Israel, help! This is the man who teaches all men everywhere against the people, the law, and this place; and furthermore he also brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place.” 29 (For they had [h]previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian with him in the city, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple.)
30 And all the city was disturbed; and the people ran together, seized Paul, and dragged him out of the temple; and immediately the doors were shut. 31 Now as they were seeking to kill him, news came to the commander of the [i]garrison that all Jerusalem was in an uproar. 32 He immediately took soldiers and centurions, and ran down to them. And when they saw the commander and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul. 33 Then the commander came near and took him, and commanded him to be bound with two chains; and he asked who he was and what he had done. 34 And some among the multitude cried one thing and some another.
So when he could not ascertain the truth because of the tumult, he commanded him to be taken into the barracks. 35 When he reached the stairs, he had to be carried by the soldiers because of the violence of the mob. 36 For the multitude of the people followed after, crying out, “Away with him!”
37 Then as Paul was about to be led into the barracks, he said to the commander, “May I speak to you?”
He replied, “Can you speak Greek? 38 Are you not the Egyptian who some time ago stirred up a rebellion and led the four thousand assassins out into the wilderness?”
39 But Paul said, “I am a Jew from Tarsus, in Cilicia, a citizen of no [j]mean city; and I implore you, permit me to speak to the people.”
40 So when he had given him permission, Paul stood on the stairs and motioned with his hand to the people. And when there was a great silence, he spoke to them in the Hebrew language, saying,