2 Maccabees, 1
1. To the brothers, the Jews, who are throughout Egypt: the brothers, the Jews, who are in Jerusalem and in the region of Judea, send greetings and good peace.
2. May God be gracious to you, and may he remember his covenant, which was spoken to Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, his faithful servants.
3. And may he give all of you the heart to worship him, and to do his will, with a great heart and a willing soul.
4. May he throw open your heart with his law and with his precepts, and may he create peace.
5. May he heed your prayers and be reconciled to you, and may he not forsake you in the evil time.
6. And now, in this place, we are praying for you.
7. When Demetrius reigned, in the one hundred and sixty-ninth year, we Jews wrote to you during the tribulation and assaults which overcame us in those years, from the time that Jason withdrew from the holy land and from the kingdom.
8. They burnt the gate, and they shed innocent blood. And we prayed to the Lord and were heard, and we brought forth sacrifices and fine wheat flour, and we kindled the lamps and set forth the loaves.
9. And now, celebrate the days of shelters in the month of Kislev.
10. In the one hundred and eighty-eighth year, from the people who are at Jerusalem and in Judea, and from the Senate and Judas: to Aristobulus, the magistrate of king Ptolemy, who is of the ancestry of anointed priests, and to those Jews who are in Egypt: greetings and good health.
11. Having been freed by God from great peril, we give thanks to him greatly, in as much as we have been struggling against so great a king.
12. For he caused those who fought against us and against the holy city to burst forth from Persia.
13. For when the commander himself was in Persia, and with him an immense army, he fell in the temple of Nanea, having been deceived by the counsel of the priests of Nanea.
14. For Antiochus also came to the place with his friends, as if to live with her, and so that he would receive much money in the name of a dowry.
15. And when the priests of Nanea had made the proposal, and he had entered with a few men into the vestibule of the shrine, they closed the temple,
16. after Antiochus had entered. And throwing open a hidden entrance to the temple, they cast stones, and they struck the leader and those who were with him. And, having severed their limbs and cut off their heads, they threw them outside.
17. Blessed be God through all things, who has delivered up the impious.
18. Therefore, establishing the purification of the temple on the twenty-fifth day of the month of Kislev, we considered it necessary to signify this to you, so that you, likewise, may keep the day of shelters, and the day of the fire that was given when Nehemiah offered sacrifice, after the temple and the altar had been built.
19. For when our fathers were led into Persia, the priests, who at that time were worshippers of God, secretly took the fire from the altar, and they kept it hidden in a valley, where there was a deep and dry pit, and they kept it safe in that place, in such a way that the place would be unknown to all.
20. But when many years had passed, and it pleased God that Nehemiah should be sent by the king of Persia, he sent some of the posterity of those priests who had hidden it to seek the fire. And, just as they told us, they did not find fire, but only deep water.
21. Then he ordered them to draw it up and to carry it to him. And the priest, Nehemiah, ordered the sacrifices, which had been set out, to be sprinkled with the same water, both the wood and those things that were placed on it.
22. And when this was done, and the time came when the sun shined brightly, which before was in a cloud, there was kindled a great fire, so much so that all were filled with wonder.
23. But all the priests were reciting prayer, while the sacrifice was being consumed, with Jonathan beginning and the rest answering.
24. And the prayer of Nehemiah was held in this way: “O Lord God, Creator of all, terrible and strong, just and merciful, you alone are the good King.
25. You alone are excellent, you alone are just, and all-powerful, and eternal, who frees Israel from all evil, who created the chosen fathers and sanctified them.
26. Receive the sacrifice on behalf of all of your people Israel, and preserve and sanctify your portion.
27. Gather together our dispersion, free those who are in servitude to the Gentiles, and respect those who are despised and abhorred, so that the Gentiles may know that you are our God.
28. Afflict those who, in their arrogance, are oppressing us and treating us abusively.
29. Establish your people in your holy place, just as Moses said.”
30. And so the priests sang hymns until the sacrifice had been consumed.
31. But when the sacrifice had been consumed, Nehemiah ordered the remainder of the water to be poured upon the great stones.
32. When this had been done, a flame was kindled from them, but it was consumed by the light that shined brightly from the altar.
33. In truth, when this thing became known, it was reported to the king of Persia that in the place where the fire had been hidden by those priests who had been led away, water appeared, by which Nehemiah, and those who were with him, purified the sacrifices.
34. But the king, considering and examining the matter diligently, made a temple for it, so that he might study what had happened.
35. And when he had studied it, he gave the priests many goods and presents, of one kind or another, and using his own hands, he distributed these.
36. And Nehemiah called this place Nephthar, which is interpreted as Purification. But with many it is called Nephi.