Letter to the Jews of Egypt about the Feast of Dedication
1The brethren, the Jews that be at Jerusalem and in the land of Judea, wish unto the brethren, the Jews that are throughout Egypt, health and peace: 2#Gen 15.18; 26.3; 35.12. God be gracious unto you, and remember his covenant that he made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, his faithful servants; 3and give you all an heart to serve him, and to do his will, with a good courage and a willing mind; 4and open your hearts in his law and commandments, and send you peace, 5and hear your prayers, and be at one with you, and never forsake you in time of trouble. 6And now we be here praying for you. 7#2 Macc 4.7-20. What time as Deme´tri-us reigned, in the hundred threescore and ninth year, we the Jews wrote unto you in the extremity of trouble that came upon us in those years, from the time that Jason and his company revolted from the holy land and kingdom, 8#2 Macc 8.33. and burned the porch, and shed innocent blood: then we prayed unto the Lord, and were heard; we offered also sacrifices and fine flour, and lighted the lamps, and set forth the loaves. 9#1 Macc 4.59; 2 Macc 10.1-8. And now see that ye keep the feast of tabernacles in the month Chislev.
Letter to Aristobulus about the Feast of Dedication
10In the hundred fourscore and eighth year, the people that were at Jerusalem and in Judea, and the council, and Judas, sent greeting and health unto Aristob´ulus, king Ptolemy's master, who was of the stock of the anointed priests, and to the Jews that were in Egypt: 11insomuch as God hath delivered us from great perils, we thank him highly, as having been in battle against a king. 12For he cast them out that fought within the holy city. 13#1 Macc 6.1-4; 2 Macc 9.1-4. For when the leader was come into Persia, and the army with him that seemed invincible, they were slain in the temple of Nane´a by the deceit of Nane´a's priests. 14#1 Macc 2.18. For An-ti´ochus, as though he would marry her, came into the place, and his friends that were with him, to receive money in name of a dowry. 15Which when the priests of Nane´a had set forth, and he was entered with a small company into the compass of the temple, they shut the temple as soon as An-ti´ochus was come in: 16and opening a privy door of the roof, they threw stones like thunderbolts, and struck down the captain, hewed them in pieces, smote off their heads, and cast them to those that were without. 17Blessed be our God in all things, who hath delivered up the ungodly. 18#Neh 8.13-18. Therefore whereas we are now purposed to keep the purification of the temple upon the five and twentieth day of the month Chislev, we thought it necessary to certify you thereof, that ye also might keep it, as the feast of the tabernacles, and of the fire, which was given us when Nehemi´ah offered sacrifice, after that he had builded the temple and the altar.
How Nehemiah Obtained Fire for the Altar
19For when our fathers were led into Persia, the priests that were then devout took the fire of the altar privily, and hid it in an hollow place of a pit without water, where they kept it sure, so that the place was unknown to all men. 20#Neh 2.7,8. Now after many years, when it pleased God, Nehemi´ah, being sent from the king of Persia, did send of the posterity of those priests that had hid it to the fire: but when they told us they found no fire, but thick water; 21then commanded he them to draw it up, and to bring it; and when the sacrifices were laid on, Nehemi´ah commanded the priests to sprinkle the wood and the things laid thereupon with the water. 22When this was done, and the time came that the sun shone, which afore was hid in the cloud, there was a great fire kindled, so that every man marveled. 23#Neh 12.11. And the priests made a prayer whilst the sacrifice was consuming, I say, both the priests, and all the rest, Jonathan beginning, and the rest answering thereunto, as Nehemi´ah did.
24And the prayer was after this manner; O Lord, Lord God, Creator of all things, who art fearful and strong, and righteous, and merciful, and the only and gracious King, 25#Gen 12.1-3; Deut 14.2; Mal 1.2. the only giver of all things, the only just, almighty, and everlasting, thou that deliverest Israel from all trouble, and didst choose the fathers, and sanctify them: 26#Deut 32.9. receive the sacrifice for thy whole people Israel, and preserve thine own portion, and sanctify it. 27#Ps 147.2. Gather those together that are scattered from us, deliver them that serve among the heathen, look upon them that are despised and abhorred, and let the heathen know that thou art our God. 28Punish them that oppress us, and with pride do us wrong. 29#Deut 30.3-5. Plant thy people again in thy holy place, as Moses hath spoken. 30And the priests sung psalms of thanksgiving. 31Now when the sacrifice was consumed, Nehemi´ah commanded the water that was left to be poured on the great stones. 32When this was done, there was kindled a flame: but it was consumed by the light that shone from the altar. 33So when this matter was known, it was told the king of Persia, that in the place, where the priests that were led away had hid the fire, there appeared water, and that Nehemi´ah had purified the sacrifices therewith. 34Then the king, inclosing the place, made it holy, after he had tried the matter. 35And the king took many gifts, and bestowed thereof on those whom he would gratify. 36And Nehemi´ah called this thing Naphthar, which is as much as to say, a cleansing: but many men call it naphtha.