The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Second Book of Machabees
Chapter 1
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
To their brethren, the Jews of Egypt, those of Jerusalem and Judaea send brotherly greeting and good health.
God speed you well, the covenant he made with his true worshippers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, never forgetting;
reverent hearts may he give to all of you, brave and generous to perform his will;
with law and precept of his enlarge your thoughts, and send you happiness;
may he listen to your prayer, and be gracious, and in the hour of peril never forsake you!
Take courage, then; we in this land are praying for you.
Time was, in the hundred and sixty-ninth year, when Demetrius was a-reigning, we ourselves were writing to you in the midst of suffering and alarms. Much had we to undergo, when Jason would betray his own country, his own people;
here was the gateway burnt to the ground, here were innocent lives forfeited. Cried we upon the Lord, and all our prayers were answered; burnt-sacrifice and bloodless offering were made, lamps lighted, and loaves set forth in the temple as of old!
Look to it, then, you make bowers and keep holiday in this month of Casleu.
Written in the hundred and eighty-eighth year.

The common folk of Jerusalem and Judaea,✻ their council of elders, and I, Judas, to Aristobulus, of the anointed priestly race, that was master of king Ptolemy, and to the Jews of Egypt, greeting and health.
Great thanks we owe to God, that from the extreme of peril has delivered us; ay, though we had such a king for our adversary,
as could bring in hordes of men from Persia, both us and our holy city to subdue.

What became of him, think you, the general that marched away into Persia with a countless army at his heels? He met his end in the temple of Nanea, through guile of the priests that served it.
Thither Antiochus had come with his friends, putting it about that he would wed the goddess, and laying claim to a great part of her treasures under the title of dowry.
The priests, then, had the money laid out in readiness; into the precincts he came, with a meagre retinue, and they, now that Antiochus was within, shut the temple gates.
Thereupon, letting themselves in by their secret door, they killed the general and his company with throwing of stones, cut them limb from limb, and threw them down headless to the populace without.
Blessed, upon every account, be this God of ours, that denies protection to the sinner!
We, then, on this twenty-fifth day of Casleu, mean to solemnize the purification of the temple, and hold ourselves bound to notify you of it, so that you too may keep holiday, with making of bowers. …

… And of the fire imparted to us, when Nehemias offered sacrifice at the re-building of temple and altar.
Long ago, when our fathers were being carried off into the Persian country, such priests of the true God as held office in those days took away the fire from the altar, and hid it down in the valley, in a pit both deep and dry, so well guarding their secret that none might know where it was to be found.
Years passed, and God’s will was that Nehemias should come back, holding the Persian king’s warrant. Nehemias it was that had search made for the fire, and by the grandsons of those very priests that hid it; but they made report, fire they could find none, only a puddle of water.
And what did Nehemias? He would have some of the water drawn and fetched to him; with this water, once the sacrifice was laid on the altar, both the wood and the offerings themselves must be sprinkled.
Sprinkled they were, and when the sun shone out, that till now was hidden by a cloud, all at once a great fire blazed up, astonishing the beholders.

To prayer fell the priests all around, while sacrifice was done, Jonathan to lead them, and the rest answering;
to prayer fell Nehemias, and this was the manner of his praying: Lord God, that all things madest, the terrible, the strong, the just, the merciful, King gracious as none else;
none else so kindly, none else so just, as thou, the almighty, the eternal! Israel from all peril thou deliverest, thou didst make choice of our fathers, and set them apart for thyself.
For the whole nation of Israel receive our sacrifice; all are thine; thy own domain keep inviolate.
Bring home the exiles; captives of the heathen conquer or set free; to the despised, the outcast grant redress; let the world know what a God is ours!
Crush the oppressor, the tyrant that so mishandles us,
and to thy own sanctuary, as Moses foretold, thy own people restore!

Then, till the sacrifice was consumed, the priests went on with their singing of hymns;
and when all was finished, Nehemias would have them drench great stones with the water that was left.
Thereupon, a flame broke out from them, but died away when the altar fires blazed up again over yonder.
The news travelled, till the Persian king himself was told how water appeared where exiled priests had hidden the fire, how, with this water, Nehemias and his company had bathed the sacrifice.
Good heed he gave to the matter, and after due examination fenced the ground in with a shrine, in witness of what befell there.
Largesse the priests had, and many were the gifts passed from hand to hand, when the truth of the matter was proved.
As for the place, Nehemias himself called it Nephthar, which means Purification; but the vulgar call it Nephi.