The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Second Book of Machabees
You shall also find it set down in the dispositions made by the prophet Jeremias, that he bade the exiles rescue the sacred fire, in the manner aforesaid.✻
Strict charge he gave them, the Lord’s commandments they should keep ever in mind, nor let false gods, all gold and silver and fine array, steal away their hearts;
with much else to confirm them in their regard for the law.
And here, in this same document, the story was told, how a divine oracle came to Jeremias, and he must needs go out, with tabernacle and ark to bear him company, to the very mountain Moses climbed long ago, when he had sight of God’s domain.✻
A cave Jeremias found there, in which he set down tabernacle and ark and incense-altar, and stopped up the entrance behind him.
There were some that followed; no time they lost in coming up to mark the spot, but find it they could not.
He, when they told him of it, rebuked their eagerness; Nay, said he, the place must remain ever unknown, till the day when God brings his people together once more, and is reconciled;
then, divinely, the secret shall be made manifest. Then once again the Lord’s majesty shall be seen, and the cloud that enshrines it; the same vision that was granted to Moses, and to Solomon when he prayed that the great God would have his temple on earth;
Solomon, the master of wisdom, that in his wisdom offered sacrifice to hallow the temple he had made.
Prayed Moses, prayed Solomon, and fire came down from heaven to consume the burnt-sacrifice. …
… Uneaten, Moses said, the victim for fault, and so the fire must consume it. …
… No other mind had king Solomon, that for eight days would continue his dedication feast.✻
With all this, dispositions Nehemias made, records Nehemias kept, are in full agreement. He it was founded a library, and there collected histories of king and prophet, and of David himself; dispatches, too, the kings had sent, and inventories of gifts made.
And now Judas in his turn has recovered all such records as were lost to us through the late wars, and they are here in our keeping;
would you be in possession of these, you have but to send and fetch them.
Meanwhile, we notify you by these presents of that cleansing ceremony we mean to perform; do us the courtesy to keep holiday on your part.
See what deliverance God has sent to his people, restoring to us our common domain, our sovereignty, our priesthood, our temple’s sanctity!
Think you not he will fulfil, ere long, the promise made in his law; take pity on us, that are scattered wide as heaven, and on this hallowed soil reunite us?
What meant they else, those great perils overcome, that sanctuary purified at last?…
Speak we of Judas Machabaeus and his brethren, and how the great temple was purified, and the altar hallowed anew;✻
of the battles they fought against Antiochus, called the Illustrious, and Eupator, that was his son.
Speak we of heavenly manifestations, sent to encourage the champions of Jewry, till at last, though so few, they won back their country, and put the hordes of heathendom to flight.
Speak we of that temple, the most famous in all the world, by their means recovered, of a city set free, of forgotten laws re-established, and how the Lord, in his great complaisance, shewed them mercy.
All this, the argument of five books Jason of Cyrene wrote, we have been at pains to abridge within the compass of a single volume.
What would you? There be books a many, and they are hard put to it that would trace the course of history, for the abundance of the matter therein comprised.
And my aim was, if a man would read, read he should and with relish; would a man study, without great ado he should be able to commit all to memory; and so I would serve every man’s turn.
But for me, that undertook the business of abridgement, think you it was light labour? Nay, here was a task all watching and sweat;
yet shoulder the burden I would; host that prepares a banquet must work for other men’s pleasure, and earn nothing but their thanks.
Full information would you have about this or that, I remit you to my author; for myself, I will be true to my own pattern of shortness.
When a house is first in building, the architect must needs bestow pains on every part of it; not such the painter’s care, he will pick out the surfaces that are most apt for adornment. And so, methinks, it is here;
to expatiate, to digress, to indulge curiosity on every point, is for the arch-historian;
your epitomist will ask leave to study brevity, and let long disquisitions be.
And now, to our matter! Here is preface enough; it were ill done to draw out the preamble, and leave our story cramped for room.
The Holy Bible