Chapter 2 (II. Maccabees)

'It is on record that the prophet Jeremiah ordered the deportees to take the fire, as we have described, 2 and how, having given them the Law, the prophet warned the deportees never to forget the Lord's precepts, nor to let their thoughts be tempted by the sight of gold and silver statues or the finery adorning them. 3 Among other similar admonitions, he urged them not to let the Law depart from their hearts. 4 'The same document also describes how the prophet, warned by an oracle, gave orders for the tent and the ark to go with him, when he set out for the mountain which Moses had climbed to survey God's heritage. 5 On his arrival, Jeremiah found a cave-dwelling, into which he put the tent, the ark and the altar of incense, afterwards blocking up the entrance.

6 Some of his companions went back later to mark out the path but were unable to find it. 7 When Jeremiah learned this, he reproached them, "The place is to remain unknown", he said, "until God gathers his people together again and shows them his mercy. 8 Then the Lord will bring these things once more to light, and the glory of the Lord will be seen, and so will the cloud, as it was revealed in the time of Moses and when Solomon prayed that the holy place might be gloriously hallowed." 9 'It was also recorded how Solomon in his wisdom offered the sacrifice of the dedication and completion of the sanctuary. 10 As Moses had prayed to the Lord and fire had come down from heaven and burned up the sacrifice, so Solomon also prayed, and the fire from above consumed the burnt offerings.

11 Moses had said, "Because the sacrifice for sin had not been eaten, it was burnt instead." 12 Solomon similarly observed the eight-day festival. 13 'In addition to the above, it was also recorded, both in these writings and in the Memoirs of Nehemiah, how Nehemiah founded a library and made a collection of the books dealing with the kings and the prophets, the writings of David and the letters of the kings on the subject of offerings. 14 Similarly, Judas made a complete collection of the books dispersed in the late war, and these we still have. 15 If you need any of them, send someone to fetch them.

16 'Since we are about to celebrate the purification, we now write, requesting you to observe the same days. 17 God, who has saved his whole people, conferring heritage, kingdom, priesthood and sanctification on all of us, 18 as he has promised in the Law, will surely, as our hope is in him, be swift to show us mercy and gather us together from everywhere under heaven to the holy place, since he has rescued us from great evils and has purified it.' 19 The story of Judas Maccabaeus and his brothers, the purification of the great Temple, the dedication of the altar, 20 together with the wars against Antiochus Epiphanes and his son Eupator,

21 and the celestial manifestations that came to hearten the brave champions of Judaism, so that, few though they were, they pillaged the whole country, routed the barbarian hordes, 22 recovered the sanctuary renowned the whole world over, liberated the city and re-established the laws by then all but abolished, the Lord showing his favour by all his gracious help to them- 23 all this, already related in five books by Jason of Cyrene, we shall attempt to condense into a single work. 24 Considering the spate of figures and the difficulty encountered, because of the mass of material, by those who wish to immerse themselves in historical records, 25 we have aimed at providing diversion for those who merely want something to read, a saving of labour for those who enjoy committing things to memory, and profit for each and all.

26 For us who have undertaken the drudgery of this abridgement, it has been no easy task but a matter of sweat and midnight oil, 27 comparable to the exacting task of someone organising a banquet, whose aim is to satisfy a variety of tastes. Nevertheless, for the sake of rendering a general service, we remain glad to endure this drudgery, 28 leaving accuracy of detail to the historian, and concentrating our effort on tracing the outlines in this condensed version. 29 Just as the architect of a new house is responsible for the construction as a whole, while the man undertaking the ceramic painting has to take into consideration only the decorative requirements, so, I think, it is with us. 30 To make the subject his own, to explore its by-ways, to be meticulous about details, is the business of the original historian,

31 but the person making the adaptation must be allowed to aim at conciseness of expression and to forgo any exhaustive treatment of his subject. 32 So now let us begin our narrative, without adding any more to what has been said above; there would be no sense in expanding the preface to the history and curtailing the history itself.

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