A Story about Jeremiah
The Letter Continues:
1One of our writings#2.1 One of our writings: Probably the Letter of Jeremiah. says that it was Jeremiah the prophet who ordered our people to hide some of the altar fire before we were forced to go to Persia,#2.1 Persia: See the note at 1.19. just as I have already told you.
2We also know from this writing that Jeremiah taught these Jews the Law of the Lord. He warned them never to forget the Lord's commands after they arrived in Persia, and he also begged our people not to be tricked into worshiping idols, even the ones decorated with gold and silver. 3He said many similar things, while urging them to always think about the teachings of the Law.
4 # Dt 34.1. This same writing tells us that Jeremiah had a vision, in which he was ordered to take the sacred tent and the sacred chest to the mountain that Moses had climbed to look at the land God had promised us.
5After Jeremiah came to the mountain, he found a big cave, where he hid the tent, the chest, and the altar for burning incense. Then he blocked the entrance to the cave.
6Meanwhile, a few of our people had followed Jeremiah, hoping to mark the path to the cave, but they could not. 7Jeremiah got angry with them when he discovered what they had tried to do, and he said:
“No one can know about the cave until the Lord God has pity on us again and brings our people back home. 8#Ex 16.10; 24.16; 40.34; 1 K 8.10,11. At that time, he will show where these things are hidden. A cloud will appear, blazing with God's own dazzling light, just as it did when he came to Moses. This is also how the Lord came to King Solomon,#2.8 Solomon: See 1 Kings 8.8,10,11. when Solomon asked him to make the holy temple glorious and acceptable as a place for worship.”
Solomon and Moses
The Letter Continues:
9We also know that Solomon was wise and built our temple, then offered a sacrifice to make it completely acceptable. 10When Solomon prayed, some fire came down from heaven and burned up his sacrifices.#2.10 sacrifices: See 2 Chronicles 7.1. This is the same thing that happened#2.10 happened: See Leviticus 9.23,24. when Moses prayed, 11“I am offering a sacrifice for sin. So it must be completely burned, and none of it eaten.”#2.11 eaten: One possible meaning for the difficult Greek text of verse 11.
12Solomon's festival lasted for eight days.
Nehemiah Builds a Library
The Letter Continues:
13You will find all this information in our record books as well as in the writings of Nehemiah, who built a library and filled it with the writings about prophets and kings. The books of King David and the letters that the kings wrote about offerings are also in his library.
14 # 1 Macc 1.56. Judas Maccabeus collected all the books we had lost track of during the war, and we still have them here. 15Send someone after these books if you ever need them.
Celebrating a Festival
The Letter Concludes:
16 # 1 Macc 4.59. We are ready to celebrate the Temple Festival, and so we are writing to say that you should celebrate it as well.
17God has rescued his nation and returned our sacred land that we inherited from our ancestors. God has also given us back our kingdom, our priests, and our sacred way of life,#2.17 our sacred way of life: Or “our temple services.” 18#Ex 19.5,6. just as he promised in the Law of Moses. He has saved us from dreadful danger and made our temple holy again. Because of this, we will always trust in the kindness of God, who will bring us back home from every nation on earth and lead us to his holy temple.
The Five Books of Jason
19-23Jason of Cyrene#2.19-23 Jason of Cyrene: An unknown Jewish author whose writings are lost. wrote five books about Judas Maccabeus and his brothers in which he told how they made our great temple an acceptable place of worship once again and how they dedicated its altar. He also told us about the wars they fought against Antiochus Epiphanes and his son Eupator.#2.19-23 Antiochus … Eupator: Antiochus Epiphanes is also known as Antiochus IV (ruled 175–164 b.c.). His son Eupator is also known as Antiochus V (ruled 164–162 b.c.).
Jason described some visions these brave warriors were given from heaven as they defended our Jewish way of life.#2.19-23 Jewish way of life: The Greek has “Judaism,” a term referring to the complete teachings and way of life of the Jews. He also explained how our small army made raids across the whole country, forcing the cruel barbarians to run for their lives. And because of the Lord's kindness and mercy, our troops recaptured our world-famous temple. They also freed Jerusalem and put back into effect the laws that those barbarians had hoped to wipe out.
I will now try to summarize Jason's books in one volume. 24They are so full of facts and details that they discourage readers who want to learn about these events. 25My shorter version will please everyone—people who read for pleasure will enjoy it, and those who like to memorize things will find it easy to remember.
26-27Writing a short version of a long book is like trying to prepare a banquet for a crowd of people with different tastes. So I worked night and day and lost a lot of sleep. But that's all right, because I am glad to work hard in order to satisfy my readers.
28My story is merely a summary of the main events included in Jason's account. 29He was like a builder who had to know every detail about the new house he was constructing. I am simply a decorator whose only job is to make things look beautiful.
30Historians learn as much as possible about their subjects, then present every side of a story, without leaving out a thing. 31But writers who summarize books are allowed to be brief and to leave out many of the details.
32Enough said is enough said! Now is the time to begin the story itself. How foolish it would be to write such a long introduction that I would have to leave out part of the history.