The first letter
1To our Jewish brothers and sisters in Egypt.
Greetings! Your Jewish brothers and sisters in Jerusalem and in the country of Judea wish you prosperous peace.
2May God do good for you and remember the covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, his faithful servants.
3May God give to all of you the passion to worship him and to do his will with a whole heart and a willing spirit.
4May God open your heart to his Law and commands, and give you peace.
5May God listen to your prayers and be reconciled with you and not abandon you in an evil time. 6We are praying for you here.
7In the year 169#143 BCE, during the rule of Demetrius, we Jews wrote to you during a critical period of suffering that happened to us in the years after Jason and his followers revolted from the holy land and the kingdom. 8They burned down the gate and murdered innocent people. We pleaded to the Lord, and the Lord heard us. We offered sacrifices and fine flour, lit the lamps, and set out the sacred loaves. 9So now you should keep the Festival of Booths in the month of Kislev, 10in the year 188.#November–December, 124 BCE
The second letter
The citizens of Jerusalem and Judea, the council of elders, and Judas send greetings and wishes of good health to Aristobulus, teacher of King Ptolemy and a member of the family of the anointed priests, and to the Jews in Egypt. 11God saved us from great danger when we were battling against the king. So we greatly praise God 12because he forced those fighting in the holy city to leave.
13The ruler and his armed forces that went into Persia seemed invincible. But they were slain in the goddess Nanea’s temple, when Nanea’s priests tricked them. 14Since Antiochus came in order to marry the goddess, he and his political advisors#Or Friends came into the temple#Or place to take the great wealth as payment for her dowry. 15When the priests of Nanea had set it out, the king entered with a few men into the enclosed space of the shrine. After closing off the temple as Antiochus entered, 16and opening the hidden door of the ceiling, they threw stones that struck down the ruler like a bolt of lightning. After dismembering and beheading the bodies, they tossed the heads to those outside.
17May our God who gave up the immoral to death be praised in every way!
18Since we are about to celebrate the cleansing of the temple on the twenty-fifth of Kislev, we thought it right to notify you so that you yourselves might also celebrate the Festival of Booths and Fire, when Nehemiah offered sacrifices after he had built the temple and the altar. 19When our ancestors were taken as captives into Persia, the holy priests secretly took the fire of the altar and hid it in a dry pit. They were careful that no one knew the place. 20Many years later, when it seemed good to God, Nehemiah, who was commissioned by the king of Persia, sent the descendants of the priests who had hidden the fire to retrieve it. After they explained to us that they didn’t find the fire, but rather a thick liquid, he ordered them to bring the liquid. 21When they brought up the provisions for the sacrifice, Nehemiah commanded the priests to sprinkle the liquid on the wood and on the items lying there. 22Some time after they did this, as the sun shone brightly from behind the clouds, a great fire flared up and astonished everyone. 23While the sacrifices were burning, the priests prayed, the priests and all the people. Jonathan took the lead while the others, including Nehemiah, responded. 24The prayer went like this:
Lord, Lord God, creator of all,
you are fearsome, mighty,
just, and merciful.
You are the only king
and only generous one.
25You are the only provider,
the only just, almighty, and eternal one.
You save Israel from all evil.
You chose the patriarchs
and made them holy.
26Receive this sacrifice on behalf of all your people Israel. Guard your portion and make it holy.
27Gather together our scattered people, free the ones enslaved among the nations, watch over those who are despised and loathed, and let the nations know that you are our God. 28Punish the oppressors and those who commit arrogant acts of violence. 29Plant your people in your holy place, just as Moses said.#Cf Exod 15:17
30The priests sang the hymns. 31When the elements of the sacrifice were consumed, Nehemiah commanded them to pour the remaining liquid on larger stones. 32When this happened, a flame flared up on these stones. But it went out in the presence of the light shining from the altar. 33When this situation became known, it was reported to the king of the Persians that in the place where the exiled priests hid the fire, a liquid appeared from which Nehemiah’s followers purified the elements of the sacrifice. 34After fencing off the place and declaring it holy, the king examined the matter. 35The king showed favor to those involved and presented many excellent gifts to them. 36Nehemiah’s circle called this liquid nephthar, which means "purification," but most people call it nephthai.
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