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2 Maccabees 1-2 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

I. Letters to the Jews in Egypt

Chapter 1

Letter 1: 124 B.C. The Jews in Jerusalem and in the land of Judea send greetings to their kindred, the Jews in Egypt, and wish them true peace! May God do good to you and remember his covenant with his faithful servants, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, give to all of you a heart to worship him and to do his will wholeheartedly and with a willing spirit, open your heart to his law and commandments and grant you peace, hear your prayers, and be reconciled to you, and never forsake you in time of adversity. Even now we are praying for you here.

In the reign of Demetrius,[a] the one hundred and sixty-ninth year, we Jews wrote to you during the height of the distress that overtook us in those years after Jason and his followers revolted against the holy land and the kingdom, set fire to the gatehouse and shed innocent blood. But we prayed to the Lord, and our prayer was heard;[b] we offered sacrifices and fine flour; we lighted the lamps and set out the loaves of bread. We are now reminding you to celebrate the feast of Booths in the month of Kislev.[c] 10 Dated in the one hundred and eighty-eighth year.[d]

Letter 2: 164 B.C. The people of Jerusalem and Judea, the senate, and Judas send greetings and good wishes to Aristobulus, teacher of King Ptolemy and member of the family of the anointed priests, and to the Jews in Egypt. 11 Since we have been saved by God from grave dangers, we give him great thanks as befits those who fought against the king;[e] 12 for it was God who drove out those who fought against the holy city. 13 When their leader arrived in Persia with his seemingly irresistible army, they were cut to pieces in the temple of the goddess Nanea[f] through a deceitful stratagem employed by Nanea’s priests. 14 [g]On the pretext of marrying the goddess, Antiochus with his Friends had come to the place to get its great treasures as a dowry. 15 When the priests of Nanea’s temple had displayed the treasures and Antiochus with a few attendants had come inside the wall of the temple precincts, the priests locked the temple as soon as he entered. 16 Then they opened a hidden trapdoor in the ceiling, and hurling stones at the leader and his companions, struck them down. They dismembered the bodies, cut off their heads and tossed them to the people outside. 17 Forever blessed be our God, who has thus punished the impious!

18 [h]Since we shall be celebrating the purification of the temple on the twenty-fifth day of the month Kislev, we thought it right to inform you, that you too may celebrate the feast of Booths and of the fire that appeared when Nehemiah, the rebuilder of the temple[i] and the altar, offered sacrifices. 19 For when our ancestors were being led into captivity in Persia,[j] devout priests at the time took some of the fire from the altar and hid it secretly in the hollow of a dry cistern, making sure that the place would be unknown to anyone. 20 Many years later, when it so pleased God, Nehemiah, commissioned by the king of Persia, sent the descendants of the priests who had hidden the fire to look for it. 21 When they informed us that they could not find any fire, but only a thick liquid, he ordered them to scoop some out and bring it. After the material for the sacrifices had been prepared, Nehemiah ordered the priests to sprinkle the wood and what lay on it with the liquid. 22 This was done, and when at length the sun, which had been clouded over, began to shine, a great fire blazed up, so that everyone marveled. 23 While the sacrifice was being burned, the priests recited a prayer, and all present joined in with them. Jonathan led and the rest responded with Nehemiah.

24 The prayer was as follows: “Lord, Lord God, creator of all things, awesome and strong, just and merciful, the only king and benefactor, 25 who alone are gracious, just, almighty, and eternal, Israel’s savior from all evil, who chose our ancestors and sanctified them: 26 accept this sacrifice on behalf of all your people Israel and guard and sanctify your portion. 27 Gather together our scattered people, free those who are slaves among the Gentiles, look kindly on those who are despised and detested, and let the Gentiles know that you are our God. 28 Punish those who lord it over us and in their arrogance oppress us. 29 Plant your people in your holy place, as Moses said.”

30 Then the priests sang hymns. 31 After the sacrifice was consumed, Nehemiah ordered the rest of the liquid to be poured upon large stones. 32 As soon as this was done, a flame blazed up, but its light was lost in the brilliance coming from the altar. 33 When the event became known and the king of the Persians was told that, in the very place where the exiled priests had hidden the fire, a liquid was found with which Nehemiah and his people had burned the sacrifices, 34 the king, after verifying the fact, fenced the place off and declared it sacred. 35 To those whom the king favored, he distributed many benefits he received. 36 Nehemiah and his companions called the liquid nephthar, meaning purification, but most people named it naphtha.[k]

Chapter 2

In the records it will be found that Jeremiah the prophet ordered the deportees to take some of the fire with them as indicated, and that the prophet, in giving them the law, directed the deportees not to forget the commandments of the Lord or be led astray in their thoughts, when seeing the gold and silver idols and their adornments. With other similar words he exhorted them that the law should not depart from their hearts.

[l]The same document also tells how the prophet, in virtue of an oracle, ordered that the tent and the ark should accompany him, and how he went to the very mountain that Moses climbed to behold God’s inheritance. When Jeremiah arrived there, he found a chamber in a cave in which he put the tent, the ark, and the altar of incense; then he sealed the entrance. Some of those who followed him came up intending to mark the path, but they could not find it. When Jeremiah heard of this, he reproved them: “The place is to remain unknown until God gathers his people together again and shows them mercy. Then the Lord will disclose these things, and the glory of the Lord and the cloud will be seen, just as they appeared in the time of Moses and of Solomon when he prayed that the place[m] might be greatly sanctified.”

It is also related how Solomon in his wisdom offered a sacrifice for the dedication and the completion of the temple. 10 Just as Moses prayed to the Lord and fire descended from the sky and consumed the sacrifices, so also Solomon prayed and fire came down and consumed the burnt offerings. 11 [n]Moses had said, “Because it had not been eaten, the purification offering was consumed.” 12 Solomon also celebrated the feast in the same way for eight days.

13 These same things are also told in the records and in Nehemiah’s memoirs,[o] as well as how he founded a library and collected the books about the kings and the prophets, the books of David, and the royal letters about votive offerings. 14 In like manner Judas also collected for us all the books that had been scattered because of the war, and we now have them in our possession. 15 If you need them, send messengers to get them for you.

16 As we are about to celebrate the purification, we are writing: you should celebrate the feast days. 17 It is God who has saved all his people and has restored to all of them their inheritance, the kingdom, the priesthood, and the sacred rites, 18 as he promised through the law. For we hope in God, that he will soon have mercy on us and gather us together from everywhere under the heavens to his holy place, for he has rescued us from great perils and has purified the place.

II. Compiler’s Preface

19 This is the story of Judas Maccabeus and his brothers, of the purification of the great temple, the dedication of the altar, 20 the campaigns against Antiochus Epiphanes and his son Eupator,[p] 21 and of the heavenly manifestations accorded to the heroes who fought bravely for the Jewish people. Few as they were, they plundered the whole land, put to flight the barbarian hordes, 22 regained possession of the temple renowned throughout the world, and liberated the city. They re-established the laws that were in danger of being abolished, while the Lord favored them with every kindness. 23 All this, detailed by Jason of Cyrene in five volumes, we will try to condense into a single book.

24 For in view of the flood of data, and the difficulties encountered, given such abundant material, by those who wish to plunge into accounts of the history, 25 we have aimed to please those who prefer simply to read, to make it easy for the studious who wish to commit things to memory, and to be helpful to all. 26 For us who have undertaken the labor of making this digest, the task, far from being easy, is one of sweat and of sleepless nights. 27 Just so, the preparation of a festive banquet is no light matter for one who seeks to give enjoyment to others. Similarly, to win the gratitude of many we will gladly endure this labor, 28 leaving the responsibility for exact details to the historian, and confining our efforts to presenting only a summary outline. 29 As the architect of a new house must pay attention to the whole structure, while the one who undertakes the decoration and the frescoes has to be concerned only with what is needed for ornamentation, so I think it is with us. 30 To enter into questions and examine them from all sides and to be busy about details is the task of the historian; 31 but one who is making an adaptation should be allowed to aim at brevity of expression and to forgo complete treatment of the matter. 32 Here, then, let us begin our account without adding to what has already been said; it would be silly to lengthen the preface to the history and then cut short the history itself.

Footnotes:

  1. 1:7 Demetrius: Demetrius II, king of Syria (145–139, 129–125 B.C.). The one hundred and sixty-ninth year: i.e., of the Seleucid era, 143 B.C. Regarding the dates in 1 and 2 Maccabees, see note on 1 Mc 1:10. On the troubles caused by Jason and his revolt against the kingdom, i.e., the rule of the legitimate high priest, see 2 Mc 4:7–22.
  2. 1:8 Our prayer was heard: in the victory of the Maccabees.
  3. 1:9 Feast of Booths in the month of Kislev: really the feast of the Dedication of the Temple, Hanukkah (2 Mc 10:1–8), celebrated on the twenty-fifth of Kislev (Nov.–Dec.). Its solemnity resembles that of the actual feast of Booths (Lv 23:33–43), celebrated on the fifteenth of Tishri (Sept.–Oct.); cf. 2 Mc 1:18.
  4. 1:10 The one hundred and eighty-eighth year: 124 B.C. The date pertains to the preceding, not the following letter. Senate: the council of Jewish elders of Jerusalem; cf. 1 Mc 12:6. King Ptolemy: Ptolemy VI Philometor, ruler of Egypt from 180 to 145 B.C.; he is mentioned also in 1 Mc 1:18; 10:51–59.
  5. 1:11–12 The king: Antiochus IV of Syria, the bitter persecutor of the Jews, who, as leader of the Syrian army that invaded Persia, perished there in 164 B.C.
  6. 1:13 Nanea: an oriental goddess comparable to Artemis of the Greeks.
  7. 1:14–17 Differing accounts of the death of Antiochus IV are found in 2 Mc 9:1–29 and in 1 Mc 6:1–16 (see also Dn 11:40–45). The writer of this letter had probably heard a distorted rumor of the king’s death. This and other indications suggest that the letter was written very soon after Antiochus IV died, perhaps in 164 B.C.
  8. 1:18–36 This legendary account of Nehemiah’s miraculous fire is incorporated in the letter because of its connection with the Temple and its rededication. Booths: see note on v. 9.
  9. 1:18 Nehemiah, the rebuilder of the temple: he rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem, but the Temple had been rebuilt by Zerubbabel almost a century before.
  10. 1:19 Persia: actually Babylonia, which later became part of the Persian empire.
  11. 1:36 By a play on words, the Greek term naphtha (petroleum) is assimilated to some Semitic word, perhaps nephthar, meaning “loosened.”
  12. 2:4–5 This legendary account is given for the purpose of explaining why the postexilic Temple was the legitimate place of worship even without these sacred objects. The very mountain: Nebo; cf. Dt 32:49; 34:1.
  13. 2:8 The place: the Temple of Jerusalem.
  14. 2:11 The statement attributed here to Moses seems to be based on Lv 10:16–20.
  15. 2:13 Nehemiah’s memoirs: a lost apocryphal work, or perhaps Neh 1–7, 11–13.
  16. 2:20 For the account of the campaigns against Antiochus IV Epiphanes, see 4:7–10:9; and for the account of those against his son Antiochus V Eupator, see 10:10–13:26.
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Wisdom 2:1-11 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 2

    For, not thinking rightly, they said among themselves:[a]
“Brief and troubled is our lifetime;
    there is no remedy for our dying,
    nor is anyone known to have come back from Hades.
For by mere chance were we born,
    and hereafter we shall be as though we had not been;
Because the breath in our nostrils is smoke,
    and reason a spark from the beating of our hearts,
And when this is quenched, our body will be ashes
    and our spirit will be poured abroad like empty air.
Even our name will be forgotten in time,
    and no one will recall our deeds.
So our life will pass away like the traces of a cloud,
    and will be dispersed like a mist
Pursued by the sun’s rays
    and overpowered by its heat.
For our lifetime is the passing of a shadow;
    and our dying cannot be deferred
    because it is fixed with a seal; and no one returns.
Come, therefore, let us enjoy the good things that are here,
    and make use of creation with youthful zest.
Let us have our fill of costly wine and perfumes,
    and let no springtime blossom pass us by;
    let us crown ourselves with rosebuds before they wither.
Let no meadow be free from our wantonness;
    everywhere let us leave tokens of our merriment,
    for this is our portion, and this our lot.
10 Let us oppress the righteous poor;
    let us neither spare the widow
    nor revere the aged for hair grown white with time.
11 But let our strength be our norm of righteousness;
    for weakness proves itself useless.

Footnotes:

  1. 2:1–20 In this speech the wicked deny survival after death and indeed invite death by their evil deeds.
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Luke 12:1-31 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 12

The Leaven of the Pharisees.[a] Meanwhile, so many people were crowding together that they were trampling one another underfoot. He began to speak, first to his disciples, “Beware of the leaven—that is, the hypocrisy—of the Pharisees.

Courage Under Persecution.[b] “There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the darkness will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed on the housetops. I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body but after that can do no more. I shall show you whom to fear. Be afraid of the one who after killing has the power to cast into Gehenna;[c] yes, I tell you, be afraid of that one. Are not five sparrows sold for two small coins?[d] Yet not one of them has escaped the notice of God. Even the hairs of your head have all been counted. Do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows. I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before others the Son of Man will acknowledge before the angels of God. But whoever denies me before others will be denied before the angels of God.

Sayings About the Holy Spirit.[e] 10 “Everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the holy Spirit will not be forgiven. 11 When they take you before synagogues and before rulers and authorities, do not worry about how or what your defense will be or about what you are to say. 12 For the holy Spirit will teach you at that moment what you should say.”

Saying Against Greed. 13 [f]Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.” 14 He replied to him, “Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?” 15 Then he said to the crowd, “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.”

Parable of the Rich Fool. 16 Then he told them a parable. “There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest. 17 He asked himself, ‘What shall I do, for I do not have space to store my harvest?’ 18 And he said, ‘This is what I shall do: I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones. There I shall store all my grain and other goods 19 and I shall say to myself, “Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, be merry!”’ 20 But God said to him, ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’ 21 Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God.”[g]

Dependence on God. 22 He said to [his] disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life and what you will eat, or about your body and what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food and the body more than clothing. 24 Notice the ravens: they do not sow or reap; they have neither storehouse nor barn, yet God feeds them. How much more important are you than birds! 25 Can any of you by worrying add a moment to your life-span? 26 If even the smallest things are beyond your control, why are you anxious about the rest? 27 Notice how the flowers grow. They do not toil or spin. But I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of them. 28 If God so clothes the grass in the field that grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? 29 As for you, do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not worry anymore. 30 All the nations of the world seek for these things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 Instead, seek his kingdom, and these other things will be given you besides.

Footnotes:

  1. 12:1 See notes on Mk 8:15 and Mt 16:5–12.
  2. 12:2–9 Luke presents a collection of sayings of Jesus exhorting his followers to acknowledge him and his mission fearlessly and assuring them of God’s protection even in times of persecution. They are paralleled in Mt 10:26–33.
  3. 12:5 Gehenna: see note on Mt 5:22.
  4. 12:6 Two small coins: the Roman copper coin, the assarion (Latin as), was worth about one-sixteenth of a denarius (see note on Lk 7:41).
  5. 12:10–12 The sayings about the holy Spirit are set in the context of fearlessness in the face of persecution (Lk 12:2–9; cf. Mt 12:31–32). The holy Spirit will be presented in Luke’s second volume, the Acts of the Apostles, as the power responsible for the guidance of the Christian mission and the source of courage in the face of persecution.
  6. 12:13–34 Luke has joined together sayings contrasting those whose focus and trust in life is on material possessions, symbolized here by the rich fool of the parable (Lk 12:16–21), with those who recognize their complete dependence on God (Lk 12:21), those whose radical detachment from material possessions symbolizes their heavenly treasure (Lk 12:33–34).
  7. 12:21 Rich in what matters to God: literally, “rich for God.”
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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