The Holy See
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New American Bible

2002 11 11
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Chapter 2


1 You will find in the records, not only that Jeremiah the prophet ordered the deportees to take some of the aforementioned fire with them,


but also that the prophet, in giving them the law, admonished them not to forget the commandments of the Lord or be led astray in their thoughts, when seeing the gold and silver idols and their ornaments.


With other similar words he urged them not to let the law depart from their hearts.


2 The same document also tells how the prophet, following a divine revelation, ordered that the tent and the ark should accompany him and how he went off to the mountain which Moses climbed to see God's inheritance.


When Jeremiah arrived there, he found a room in a cave in which he put the tent, the ark, and the altar of incense; then he blocked up the entrance.


Some of those who followed him came up intending to mark the path, but they could not find it.


When Jeremiah heard of this, he reproved them: "The place is to remain unknown until God gathers his people together again and shows them mercy.


3 Then the Lord will disclose these things, and the glory of the Lord will be seen in the cloud, just as it appeared in the time of Moses and when Solomon prayed that the Place might be gloriously sanctified."


It is also related how Solomon in his wisdom offered a sacrifice at the dedication and the completion of the temple.


Just as Moses prayed to the Lord and fire descended from the sky and consumed the sacrifices, so Solomon also prayed and fire came down and burned up the holocausts.


4 Moses had said, "Because it had not been eaten, the sin offering was burned up."


Solomon also celebrated the feast in the same way for eight days.


5 Besides these things, it is also told in the records and in Nehemiah's Memoirs how he collected the books about the kings, the writings of the prophets and of David, and the royal letters about sacred offerings.


In like manner Judas also collected for us the books that had been scattered because of the war, and we now have them in our possession.


If you need them, send messengers to get them for you.


As we are about to celebrate the feast of the purification of the temple, we are writing to you requesting you also to please celebrate the feast.


It is God who has saved all his people and has restored to all of them their heritage, the kingdom, the priesthood, and the sacred rites,


as he promised through the law. We trust in God, that he will soon have mercy on us and gather us together from everywhere under the heavens to his holy Place, for he has rescued us from great perils and has purified his Place.


This is the story of Judas Maccabeus and his brothers, of the purification of the great temple, the dedication of the altar,


6 the campaigns against Antiochus Epiphanes and his son Eupator,


and of the heavenly manifestations accorded to the heroes who fought bravely for Judaism, so that, few as they were, they seized the whole land, put to flight the barbarian hordes,


regained possession of the world-famous temple, liberated the city, and reestablished the laws that were in danger of being abolished, while the Lord favored them with all his generous assistance.


All this, which Jason of Cyrene set forth in detail in five volumes, we will try to condense into a single book.


In view of the flood of statistics, and the difficulties encountered by those who wish to plunge into historical narratives where the material is abundant,


we have aimed to please those who prefer simple reading, as well as to make it easy for the studious who wish to commit things to memory, and to be helpful to all.


For us who have taken upon ourselves the labor of making this digest, the task, far from being easy, is one of sweat and of sleepless nights,


just as the preparation of a festive banquet is no light matter for one who thus seeks to give enjoyment to others. Similarly, to win the gratitude of many we will gladly endure these inconveniences,


while we leave the responsibility for exact details to the original author, and confine our efforts to giving only a summary outline.


As the architect of a new house must give his attention to the whole structure, while the man who undertakes the decoration and the frescoes has only to concern himself with what is needed for ornamentation, so I think it is with us.


To enter into questions and examine them thoroughly from all sides is the task of the professional historian;


but the man who is making an adaptation should be allowed to aim at brevity of expression and to omit detailed treatment of the matter.


Here, then, we shall begin our account without further ado; it would be nonsense to write a long preface to a story and then abbreviate the story itself.



1 [1-8] This legendary accout of how Jeremiah hid the sacred tent (which was not mentioned after the time of Solomon!), the ark, and the altar is given for the purpose of explaining why the postexilic temple was the legitimate place of worship even without these sacred objects.

2 [4] The mountain: Nebo; cf Deut 34:1.

3 [8] The Place: the temple of Jerusalem.

4 [11] The statement attributed here to Moses seems to be based on Lev 10:16-20.

5 [13] Nehemiah's Memoirs: a lost apocryphal work.

6 [20] For the account of the campaigns against Antiochus IV Epiphanes, see 2 Macc 4:7- 10:9; and for the account of those against his son Antiochus V Eupator, see 2 Macc 10:10- 13:26.

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