The First Letter to Jewish people in Egypt, calling them to observe Hanukkah. The Second Letter to Jewish people in Egypt.
The Second Book of the Maccabees is recognized as Deuterocanonical Scripture by the Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, and Russian Orthodox Churches.
VERSE 1. The kindred, the Jews who are in Jerusalem and those who are in the country of Judea, send greetings and good peace to the kindred, the Jews who are throughout Egypt.
NAB translation. The Jews in Jerusalem and in the land of Judea send greetings to their brethren, the Jews in Egypt, and wish them true peace!”
The Jews in Jerusalem. This letter is written by Jewish people living in Jerusalem.
the Jews who are throughout Egypt. This letter is sent to Jewish people living in Egypt.
Judaism is a very international movement at this point.
VERSE 2. May God do good to you, and remember his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, his faithful servants,
VERSE 3. and give you all a heart to worship him and do his will with a strong heart and a willing soul.
ICEL translation. May he give to all of you a heart to worship him and to do his will.
VERSE 4. May God open your heart to his law and his statutes, and make peace,
VERSE 5. and listen to your requests, and be reconciled with you, and not forsake you in an evil time.
we are praying for you. This is intercessory prayer. One person prays on behalf of another.
VERSE 7. In the reign of Demetrius, in the one hundred sixty-ninth year, we the Jews have already written to you in the suffering and in the distress that has come upon us in these years, from the time that Jason and his company revolted from the holy land and the kingdom,
NAB translation. In the reign of Demetrius, the year one hundred and sixty-nine, we Jews wrote to you during the trouble and violence that overtook us in those years after Jason and his followers had revolted against the holy land and the kingdom.”
the reign of Demetrius. This is Demetrius II Nicator. He ruled the Seleucid Empire for two periods:
- From 145 to 139 BC
- From 129 to 125 BC
the year one hundred and sixty-nine. This was 124 BC.
VERSE 8. and set the gate on fire, and shed innocent blood. We prayed to the Lord, and were heard. We offered sacrifices and meal offerings. We lit the lamps. We set out the show bread.
the show bread. The Greek can also be translated as “loaves.”
VERSE 9. Now see that you keep the days of the feast of tabernacles in the month Chislev in the one hundred eighty-eighth year.
VERSE 10. The people of Jerusalem and those who are in Judea, with the senate and Judas, to Aristobulus, King Ptolemy’s teacher, who is also of the stock of the anointed priests, and to the Jews who are in Egypt, we send greetings and health.
The people of Jerusalem. This letter to is written by Jewish people living in Jerusalem.
Aristobulus. He was a Jewish priest, as well as a counselor of King Ptolemy.
to the Jews who are in Egypt. This letter too is sent to Jewish people living in Egypt.
VERSE 11. Having been saved by God out of great perils, as men arrayed against a king, we thank him greatly.
VERSE 12. For he threw out into Persia those who fought against us in the holy city.
VERSE 13. For when the prince had come there, with an army that seemed irresistible, they were cut to pieces in the temple of Nanaea by the treachery of Nanaea’s priests.
VERSE 14. For Antiochus, on the pretense that he would marry her, came into the place, he and his friends who were with him, that they might take a large part of the treasures as a dowry.
2 Maccabees 8:9. Ptolemy quickly appointed Nicanor the son of Patroclus, one of the king’s chief friends, and sent him, in command of no fewer than twenty thousand of all nations, to destroy the whole race of Judea. With him he joined Gorgias also, a captain and one who had experience in matters of war.
VERSE 15. And when the priests of Nanaea’s temple had set the treasures out, and he had come there with a small company within the wall of the sacred precinct, they locked the temple when Antiochus had come in.
set the treasures. The Greek can also be translated as “them.”
VERSE 16. Opening the secret door of the panelled ceiling, they threw stones and struck down the prince. They cut him and his company in pieces, and cut off their heads, and threw them to the people who were outside.
struck down the prince. The Greek can also be translated as “struck down as with a thunderbolt.”
They cut him and his company in pieces. That is, “They dismembered the bodies” (NAB translation).
threw them to the people who were outside. There were people staying outside. They were showered with dismembered body parts. And human heads.
Blessed be our God. The author is praising God for the killing and dismemberment of their enemies.
VERSE 18. Since we are now about to celebrate the purification of the temple in the month Chislev, on the twenty-fifth day, we thought it necessary to notify you, so that you may also keep a feast of tabernacles, and remember the fire which was given when Nehemiah offered sacrifices, after he had built both the temple and the altar.
Nehemiah. This is the Nehemiah who rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem.
VERSE 19. For indeed when our fathers were about to be led into the land of Persia, the godly priests of that time took some of the fire of the altar, and hid it secretly in the hollow of a well that was without water, where they made sure that the place was unknown to anyone.
the fire of the altar. It was to burn continuously:
Leviticus 6:13. Fire shall be kept burning on the altar continually; it shall not go out.
VERSE 20. Now after many years, when it pleased God, Nehemiah, having received a charge from the king of Persia, sent in quest of the fire the descendants of the priests who hid it. When they declared to us that they had found no fire, but thick water,
NAB translation. Many years later, when it so pleased God, Nehemiah, commissioned by the king of Persia, sent the descendants of the priests who had hidden the fire to look for it.
the priests who had hidden the fire. In order for the fire to burn continuously, the priests had to conceal it.
But in our day, who would conceal the fire of God’s in their life?
2 Maccabees 1:20. Many years later, when it so pleased God, Nehemiah, commissioned by the king of Persia, sent the descendants of the priests who had hidden the fire to look for it. (NAB translation)
Matthew 5:15. Neither do you light a lamp, and put it under a measuring basket, but on a stand; and it shines to all who are in the house.
Mark 4:21. He said to them, “Is the lamp brought to be put under a basket or under a bed? Isn’t it put on a stand?
Luke 8:16. “No one, when he has lit a lamp, covers it with a container, or puts it under a bed; but puts it on a stand, that those who enter in may see the light.
VERSE 21. he commanded them to draw some of it out and bring it to him. When the sacrifices had been offered, Nehemiah commanded the priests to sprinkle with that water both the wood and the things laid on it.
the sacrifices. The Greek can also be translated as “the things of the sacrifices.”
VERSE 22. When that was done and some time had passed, and the sun shone out, which before was hid with clouds, a great blaze was kindled, so that all men marveled.
VERSE 23. The priests made a prayer while the sacrifice was being consumed—both the priests and all the others. Jonathan led and the rest responded, as Nehemiah did.
VERSE 24. The prayer was like this: “O Lord, Lord God, the Creator of all things, who are awesome, strong, righteous, and merciful, who alone are King and gracious,
VERSE 25. who alone supply every need, who alone are righteous, almighty, and eternal, you who save Israel out of all evil, who chose the ancestors and sanctified them,
righteous. This prayer says only the Lord God is righteous.
almighty. This prayer says only the Lord God is almighty.
eternal. This prayer says only the Lord God is eternal.
VERSE 26. accept the sacrifice for all your people Israel, and preserve your own portion, and consecrate it.
VERSE 27. Gather together our scattered people, set at liberty those who are in bondage among the heathen, look upon those who are despised and abhorred, and let the heathen know that you are our God.
VERSE 28. Punish those who oppress us and in arrogance shamefully entreat us.
VERSE 29. Plant your people in your holy place, even as Moses said.”
VERSE 30. Then the priests sang the hymns.
VERSE 31. As soon as the sacrifice was consumed, then Nehemiah commanded to pour the rest of the water on large stones.
to pour the rest of the water on large stones. Some authorities read that “great stones should enclose the water that was left.”
Both the Greek text and the meaning of this verse and the next are uncertain.
VERSE 32. When this was done, a flame was kindled; but when the light from the altar shone near it, it went out.
shone near it. The Greek can also be translated as “Or, shone back.”
VERSE 33. When the matter became known, and it was told the king of the Persians that, in the place where the priests who were led away had hid the fire, the water appeared which Nehemiah and those who were with him purified the sacrifice,
VERSE 34. then the king enclosed the place and made it sacred after he had investigated the matter.
VERSE 35. When the king would show favor to any, he would exchange many presents and give them some of this water.
VERSE 36. Nehemiah and those who were with him called this thing “Nephthar”, which is by interpretation, “Cleansing”; but most men call it Nephthai.
Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.