1THE brethren, the Jews that are in Jerusalem and they that are in the country of Judaea, send greeting to the brethren, the Jews that are throughout Egypt, and wish them good peace:
2and may God do good unto you, and remember his covenant with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, his faithful servants;
3and give you all a heart to worship him and do his pleasure with a great heart and a willing soul;
4and open your heart in his law and in his statutes, and make peace,
5and hearken to your supplications, and be reconciled with you, and not forsake you in an evil time.
6And now we here are praying for you.
7In the reign of Demetrius, in the hundred threescore and ninth year, we the Jews have already written unto you in the tribulation and in the extremity that hath come upon us in these years, from the time that Jason and his company revolted from the holy land and the kingdom,
8and set the gate on fire, and shed innocent blood: and we besought the Lord, and were heard; and we offered sacrifice and meal offering, and we lighted the lamps, and we set forth the shewbread.
9And now see that ye keep the days of the feast of tabernacles of the month Chislev.
10Written in the hundred fourscore and eighth year. THEY that are in Jerusalem and they that are in Judaea and the senate and Judas, unto Aristobulus, king Ptolemy’s teacher, who is also of the stock of the anointed priests, and unto the Jews that are in Egypt, send greeting and health.
11Having been saved by God out of great perils, as men arrayed against a king, we thank him greatly.
12For himself cast forth into Persia them that arrayed themselves against us in the holy city.
13For when the prince was come there, and the army with him that seemed irresistible, they were cut to pieces in the temple of Nanaea by the treachery of Nanaea’s priests.
14For Antiochus, on the pretence that he would marry her, came into the place, he and his Friends that were with him, that they might take a great part of the treasures in name of a dowry.
15And when the priests of Nanaea’s temple had set the treasures forth, and he was come there with a small company within the wall of the precincts, they shut to the temple when Antiochus was come in:
16and opening the secret door of the panelled cieling, they threw stones and struck down the prince, and they hewed him and his company in pieces, and smote off their heads, and cast them to those that were without.
17Blessed be our God in all things, who gave for a prey them that had committed impiety.
18Whereas we are now about to keep the purification of the temple in the month Chislev, on the five and twentieth day, we thought it necessary to certify you thereof, that ye also may keep a feast of tabernacles, and a memorial of the fire which was given when Nehemiah offered sacrifices, after that he had builded both the temple and the altar.
19For indeed when our fathers were about to be led into the land of Persia, the godly priests of that time took of the fire of the altar, and hid it privily in the hollow of a well that was without water, wherein they made it sure, so that the place was unknown to all men.
20Now 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 that hid it. When they declared to us that they had found no fire, but thick water,
21he commanded them to draw out thereof and bring to him: and when the sacrifices had been offered on the altar, Nehemiah commanded the priests to sprinkle with the water both the wood and the things laid thereupon.
22And when it was done, and some time had passed, and the sun shone out, which before was hid with clouds, there was kindled a great blaze, so that all men marvelled.
23And the priests made a prayer while the sacrifice was consuming, both the priests and all others, Jonathan leading and the rest answering, as Nehemiah did.
24And the prayer was after this manner: O Lord, Lord God, the Creator of all things, who art terrible and strong and righteous and merciful, who alone art King and gracious,
25who alone suppliest every need, who alone art righteous and almighty and eternal, thou that savest Israel out of all evil, who madest the fathers thy chosen, and didst sanctify them:
26accept the sacrifice for all thy people Israel, and guard thine own portion, and consecrate it.
27Gather together our Dispersion, set at liberty them that are in bondage among the heathen, look upon them that are despised and abhorred, and let the heathen know that thou art our God.
28Torment them that oppress us and in arrogancy shamefully entreat us.
29Plant thy people in thy holy place, even as Moses said.
30And thereupon the priests sang the hymns.
31And as soon as the sacrifice was consumed, then Nehemiah commanded to pour on great stones the water that was left.
32And when this was done, a flame was kindled; but when the light from the altar shone over against it, all was consumed.
33And when the matter became known, and it was told the king of the Persians, that, in the place where the priests that were led away had hid the fire, there appeared the water, wherewith also Nehemiah and they that were with him purified the sacrifice,
34then the king, inclosing the place, made it sacred, after he had proved the matter.
35And when the king would shew favour to any, he would take from them many presents and give them some of this water.
36And Nehemiah and they that were with him called this thing Nephthar, which is by interpretation, Cleansing; but most men call it Nephthai.