The Second Letter to Jewish people in Egypt, continued. Preface.
The Second Book of the Maccabees is recognized as Deuterocanonical Scripture by the Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, and Russian Orthodox Churches.
VERSE 1. It is also found in the records that Jeremiah the prophet commanded those who were carried away to take some of the fire, as has been mentioned,
NAB translation. You will find in the records, not only that Jeremiah the prophet ordered the deportees to take some of the aforementioned fire with them.
Jeremiah the prophet. This refers to the great Jeremiah the prophet.
take some of the fire. We believers need to stay close to the fire. We need to take it with us wherever we go.
VERSE 2. and how that the prophet charged those who were carried away, having given them the law, that they should not forget the statutes of the Lord or be led astray in their minds when they saw images of gold and silver, and their adornment.
VERSE 3. With other such words exhorted he them, that the law should not depart from their hearts.
VERSE 4. It was in the writing that the prophet, being warned by God, commanded that the tabernacle and the ark should follow with him, when he went out to the mountain where Moses had gone up and saw God’s inheritance.
should follow with him. The Greek “and when.” The Greek text here is probably corrupt.
VERSE 5. Jeremiah came and found a cave, he brought the tabernacle, the ark, and the altar of incense into it; then he sealed the entrance.
Jeremiah came and found a cave. Jeremiah the prophet found a place to hide the sacred items.
VERSE 6. Some of those who followed with him came there that they might mark the way, and could not find it.
Some of those who followed. They tried to mark the location of the cave.
VERSE 7. But when Jeremiah learned about that, he rebuked them, saying, “The place shall be unknown until God gathers the people together again and shows mercy.
The place shall be unknown. The location of the cave was to remain secret until …
God gathers the people together again. That is, the Jewish people are returned from exile in Babylon.
VERSE 8. Then the Lord will disclose these things, and the glory of the Lord shall be seen with the cloud, as it was also shown to Moses, also as Solomon implored that the place might be consecrated greatly,
NAB translation. 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.
Then the Lord will disclose these things. After the Jewish people return from exile in Babylon, there will be a divine revelation. It will reveal the location of the cave with the sacred items.
the glory of the Lord will be seen in the cloud. This is the luminescent cloud of the glory of the LORD God.
VERSE 9. and it was also declared that he, having wisdom, offered a sacrifice of dedication, and of the finishing of the temple.
VERSE 10. As Moses prayed to the Lord and fire came down out of heaven and consumed the sacrifice, even so Solomon also prayed, and the fire came down and consumed the burnt offerings.
We want to see God. But we are unable to apprehend the LORD God in all his glory. So at the great moments of biblical history, he appears in the hidden form of a Cloud. Read more »
VERSE 11. Moses said, ‘Because the sin offering had not been eaten, it was consumed in like manner.’
Leviticus 9:24. Fire came out from before the LORD, and consumed the burnt offering and the fat upon the altar. When all the people saw it, they shouted, and fell on their faces.
Leviticus 10:16. Moses diligently inquired about the goat of the sin offering, and, behold, it was burned. He was angry with Eleazar and with Ithamar, the sons of Aaron who were left, saying,
2 Maccabees 2:11. Moses said, ‘Because the sin offering had not been eaten, it was consumed in like manner.’
VERSE 12. Likewise Solomon kept the eight days.”
VERSE 13. The same things were reported both in the public archives and in Nehemiah’s records, and also how he, founding a library, gathered together the books about the kings and prophets, and the writings of David, and letters of kings about sacred gifts.
VERSE 14. In like manner Judas also gathered together for us all those books that had been scattered by reason of the war, and they are still with us.
VERSE 15. If therefore you have need of them, send some people to bring them to you.
VERSE 16. Seeing then that we are about to celebrate the purification, we write to you. You will therefore do well if you celebrate the days.
celebrate the days. This letter is asking them to observe Hanukkah.
VERSE 17. Now God, who saved all his people, and restored the heritage to all, with the kingdom, the priesthood, and the consecration,
VERSE 18. even as he promised through the law— in God have we hope, that he will soon have mercy upon us, and gather us together out of everywhere under heaven into his holy place; for he delivered us out of great evils, and purified the place.
VERSE 19. Now the things concerning Judas Maccabaeus and his brothers, the purification of the greatest temple, the dedication of the altar,
Judas Maccabaeus. He is the hero of this book of 2 Maccabees.
VERSE 20. and further the wars against Antiochus Epiphanes and Eupator his son,
VERSE 21. and the manifestations that came from heaven to those who fought with one another in brave deeds for the religion of the Jews; so that, being but a few, they rescued the whole country, chased the barbarous multitudes,
the manifestations. The NAB translation says “the heavenly manifestations.”
There’s a lot of creative phraseology in the biblical texts. It shows that how we say things is important.
they rescued. The Greek says took for a prey.
VERSE 22. recovered again the temple renowned all the world over, freed the city, and restored the laws which were about to be overthrown, seeing the Lord became gracious to them with all kindness.
gracious. The Greek says propitious.
VERSE 23. These things which have been declared by Jason of Cyrene in five books, we will attempt to abridge in one book.
Jason of Cyrene. He wrote a five-volume work. It is no longer extant.
Second Maccabees is the condensation of that five-volume work by Jason of Cyrene.
VERSE 24. For having in view the confused mass of the numbers, and the difficulty which awaits those who would enter into the narratives of the history, by reason of the abundance of the matter,
NAB translation. 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,
the difficulty. Or “weariness.”
VERSE 25. we were careful that those who choose to read may be attracted, and that those who wish us well may find it easy to recall, and that all readers may benefit.
NAB translation. 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.
VERSE 26. Although to us, who have taken upon ourselves the painful labor of the abridgement, the task is not easy, but a matter of sweat and sleeplessness,
NAB translation. 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,
VERSE 27. even as it is no light thing to him who prepares a banquet, and seeks the benefit of others. Nevertheless, for the sake of the gratitude of the many we will gladly endure the painful labor,
NAB translation. 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,
VERSE 28. leaving to the historian the exact handling of every particular, and again having no strength to fill in the outlines of our abridgement.
NAB translation. while we leave the responsibility for exact details to the original author, and confine our efforts to giving only a summary outline.
VERSE 29. For as the masterbuilder of a new house must care for the whole structure, and again he who undertakes to decorate and paint it must seek out the things fit for its adorning; even so I think it is also with us.
structure. The Greek says “foundation.”
VERSE 30. To occupy the ground, and to indulge in long discussions, and to be curious in particulars, is fitting for the first author of the history;
VERSE 31. but to strive after brevity of expression, and to avoid a labored fullness in the treatment, is to be granted to him who would bring a writing into a new form.
VERSE 32. Here then let’s begin the narration, only adding this much to that which has already been said; for it is a foolish thing to make a long prologue to the history, and to abridge the history itself.
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.