2 Machabees ii.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. The descriptions. That is, the records or memoirs of Jeremias, a work that is now lost. (Challoner) — It was extant, the year before Christ 142. (Calmet) — St. Ambrose (Of. iii. 14.) writes at large concerning this miracle. (Worthington)

Ver. 2. Of them. He alludes to his epistle, (Calmet) Baruch vi. 11. (Worthington)

Ver. 4. And the ark. These were not taken by the Chaldeans, Jeremias lii. (Menochius) — Whether they were removed before or after the capture of the city, is disputed. (Salien, the year [of the world] 3446.) — Besides the authority of this book, it is most probabe that Jeremias should have preserved them, as he was high in favour, Jeremias xxxix. 11. (Worthington) — Hence most believe that Nabuzardan granted him leave. (Calmet) — Eupolemus says Nabuchodonosor did this after he took the city. (Eusebius, pręp. ix. 39.) — Others think the prophet removed them under Joakim, having informed only a few of the priests. (N. Alex.) — Mountain; Nebo, Deuteronomy xxxii. 49.

Ver. 7. Mercy. Whether the ark, &c., were in the second temple, as this seems to insinuate, has been much debated. The negative seems best established and these promises refer to the Messias, prefigured by the ark. God wished to withdraw the Jews by degrees from their attachment to these sensible things, and to raise their minds to those of a more spiritual nature. (St. Ambrose) (Rupert, &c.) (Calmet, Diss.) — Salien (the year [of the world] 3609) proves at large, that the ark was discovered at the same time as the sacred fire. (Menochius) — Yet Josephus (Jewish Wars vi. 6.) testifies, that nothing was found in the holy of holies when the Romans took it. Hence others think that the ark will be produced to the Jews by Enoch and Elias. (Ribera, in Aggeus i.) (Tournemine) — The first opinion gives most satisfaction. When Christ collected his disciples, he received testimony from the Father and from the Holy Ghost in a bright cloud. The figures of the law are at an end, and there will be no need of restoring them at the consummation of all things. (Haydock)

Ver. 9. Treated. Greek, “He was manifested, and like one possessing wisdom, he,” &c. (Haydock) — On this occasion, Solomon chiefly displayed his wisdom, praying aloud.

Ver. 10. As. Both dedications lasted eight days, and fire descended, Leviticus ix. 23., and 2 Paralipomenon vii. 1.

Ver. 11. Consumed. He alludes to what Moses said after the death of Nadab, Leviticus x. 16. (Calmet) — Fire consumed the sin-offering as well as the rest.

Ver. 13. Set down. Greek, “explained.” — Books. The Scriptures were not lost. (Menochius) — Perhaps before this time no complete collection of them had been made. Esdras would point out and help to discover what had been written. (Calmet) — The senate of the nation was also present. (Simon Crit. i. 1.) — David: the psalms. All the other books may be designated under the name of prophets. (Haydock) — Kings; Cyrus, &c., 1 Esdras vi. 3., &c. Josephus has inserted many such letters in his work. They were like the title-deeds of the nation. (Calmet) — And. Greek, “regarding the presents;” anathematon. (Haydock)

Ver. 14. Judas. This seems to be the Essene, who with others wrote this epistle; (chap. i. 10.; Worthington) or rather (Haydock) the Machabee, who was as solicitous to preserve the sacred books as Antiochus was to destroy them, 1 Machabees i. 59., and ii. 48. It is said that another assembly met to admit such books into the canon as had been written since the days of Nehemias.

Ver. 15. Things, collected by Judas. The Bible had been translated into Greek before. But some records might still be wanted by the Jews in Egypt. (Calmet)

Ver. 16. The purification. This is the feast of the purifying or cleansing of the temple, (Challoner) the 25th of Casleu, chap. i. 9, 18.

Ver. 18. Place. They had now liberty to return. What, therefore, can they mean but the coming of the Messias, who was shortly expected? (Calmet) — Many Jews at this time were scattered in other countries, and did not chose to return, like those of Egypt. The people of Judea wish all would live together, as they had done under Solomon. (Haydock)

Ver. 19. Place. Read chap. xv. 38. After the author had written this appendix to the former book, he resolved to add an epitome of the history. Hence in this preface he informs us of the subject, method, reason, and diligence of his short work, ver. 20, 24, 5[25], 6[26], 9[29]. (Worthington) — This piece is very elegant, and contains several rules for writing history. The author was a Jew as well as Jason, ver. 24.

Ver. 22. Manifestations: heavenly apparitions, chap. iii. 25., and v. 2. (Calmet)

Ver. 25. Multitude. Greek also, “confusion of numbers, and the difficulty attending those who wish to dive into eiskukleisthan, (Haydock) or to include much (Calmet) historical relations on account of the quantity of matter.” (Haydock)

Ver. 27. No easy task, &c. The spirit of God, that assists the sacred penman, does not exempt them from labour in seeking out the matter which they are to treat of, and the order and manner in which they are to deliver it. So St. Luke wrote the gospel, having diligently attained to all things, Luke i. 3. (Challoner) — This evangelist had to inquire of others. (Worthington) — Inspiration preserves from all danger of mistake. When something future is revealed, there is less difficulty, as God must then dictate the very words. Hence Jeremias wrote with the utmost ease, as Baruch testified, Jeremias xxxvi. 18, 32. (Haydock) — The prophets had, therefore, only to write or speak from the mouth of God. Others were excited by him to treat of history, &c., and were preserved from error, but not from labour. (Bellarmine, Verb. i. 15.) — In vain then do our adversaries attempt to prove that this book is not inspired. (Menochius)

Ver. 28. Others. Greek, “have no easy task, so,” &c. (Haydock) — He alludes to the custom of choosing a master of the feast, who had to strive to give general satisfaction, Ecclesiasticus xxxii. 1., and Esther i. 8. (Calmet)

Ver. 29. Authors. Greek, “the writer.” (Haydock) — Jason resembles an excellent painter, of whose work we desire to give a copy (Calmet) in miniature, (Haydock) relying entirely on his veracity. (Sa) — Yet as the Church esteems this work to be canonical, what is extracted must be true, and inspired, though the writer seems not to have known that he had such a privilege. God might still guide his pen. (Menochius) — The original might also be the work of a sacred writer, as many such appear to have been lost. If it were not, what is here selected cannot be questioned. St. Paul quotes some passages even from heathen poets, which in those cases were true, and thus became part of the word of God. (Haydock)

Ver. 30. Master. Such is Jason. I only paint some parts. (Calmet) — Paint. Greek, “to burn in and represent to the life, must,” &c. (Haydock) — The ancients painted the walls, preparing them by fire, &c. (Vitruvius vii. 5.; Josephus, Antiquities xvii. 12.) (Calmet)

Ver. 32. Nice. Greek exergastikon, “elaborate disquisitions.” Both must equally seek the truth: but long details are not expected in abridgments as they are in a full history. (Haydock)

Ver. 33. Itself. The account of Alexander [the Great] should be read next, 1 Machabees i. (Worthington)

Bible Text & Cross-references:

A continuation of the second letter. Of Jeremias’s hiding the ark at the time of the captivity. The author’s preface.

1 Now it is found in the descriptions of Jeremias, the prophet, that he commanded them that went into captivity, to take the fire, as it hath been signified, and how he gave charge to them that were carried away into captivity.

2 And how he gave them the law, that they should not forget the commandments of the Lord, and that they should not err in their minds, seeing the idols of gold, and silver, and the ornaments of them.

3 And with other such like speeches, he exhorted them that they would not remove the law from their heart.

4 It was also contained in the same writing, how the prophet, being warned by God, commanded that the tabernacle and the ark should accompany him, till he came forth to the mountain *where Moses went up, and saw the inheritance of God.

5 And when Jeremias came thither he found a hollow cave: and he carried in thither the tabernacle, and the ark, and the altar of incense, and so stopped the door.

6 Then some of them that followed him, came up to mark the place: but they could not find it.

7 And when Jeremias perceived it, he blamed them, saying: The place shall be unknown, till God gather together the congregation of the people, and receive them to mercy.

8 And then the Lord will shew these things, and the majesty of the Lord shall appear, and there shall be a cloud as it was also shewed to Moses, *and he shewed it when Solomon prayed that the place might be sanctified to the great God.

9 For he treated wisdom in a magnificent manner: and like a wise man, he offered the sacrifice of the dedication, and of the finishing of the temple.

10 *And as Moses prayed to the Lord, and fire came down from heaven, and consumed the holocaust: **so Solomon also prayed, and fire came down from heaven and consumed the holocaust.

11 And Moses said: *Because the sin-offering was not eaten, it was consumed.

12 So Solomon also celebrated the dedication eight days.

13 And these same things were set down in the memoirs, and commentaries of Nehemias: and how he made a library, and gathered together out of the countries, the books both of the prophets, and of David, and the epistles of the kings, and concerning the holy gifts.

14 And in like manner Judas also gathered together all such things as were lost by the war we had, and they are in our possession.

15 Wherefore, if you want these things, send some that may fetch them to you.

16 As we are then about to celebrate the purification, we have written unto you: and you shall do well, if you keep the same days.

17 And we hope that God, who hath delivered his people, and hath rendered to all the inheritance, and the kingdom, and the priesthood, and the sanctuary,

18 *As he promised in the law, will shortly have mercy upon us, and will gather us together from every land under heaven into the holy place.

19 For he hath delivered us out of great perils, and hath cleansed the place.

20 Now as concerning Judas Machabeus. and his brethren, and the purification of the great temple, and the dedication of the altar:

21 As also the wars against Antiochus, the illustrious, and his son, Eupator:

22 And the manifestations that came from heaven to them, that behaved themselves manfully on the behalf of the Jews, so that, being but a few they made themselves masters of the whole country, and put to flight the barbarous multitude:

23 And recovered again the most renowned temple in all the world, and delivered the city, and restored the laws that were abolished, the Lord with all clemency shewing mercy to them.

24 And all such things as have been comprised in five books by Jason, of Cyrene, we have attempted to abridge in one book.

25 For considering the multitude of books, and the difficulty that they find that desire to undertake the narrations of histories, because of the multitude of the matter,

26 We have taken care for those indeed that are willing to read, that it might be a pleasure of mind: and for the studious, that they may more easily commit to memory: and that all that read might receive profit.

27 And as to ourselves indeed, in undertaking this work of abridging, we have taken in hand no easy task; yea, rather a business full of watching and sweat.

28 But as they that prepare a feast, and seek to satisfy the will of others: for the sake of many, we willingly undergo the labour.

29 Leaving to the authors the exact handling of every particular, and as for ourselves, according to the plan proposed, studying to be brief.

30 For as the master builder of a new house must have care of the whole building: but he that taketh care to paint it, must seek out fit things for the adorning of it: so must it be judged for us.

31 For to collect all that is to be known, to put the discourse in order, and curiously to discuss every particular point, is the duty of the author of a history:

32 But to pursue brevity of speech, and to avoid nice declarations of things, is to be granted to him that maketh an abridgment.

33 Here then we will begin the narration: let this be enough by way of a preface: for it is a foolish thing to make a long prologue, and to be short in the story itself.



4: Deuteronomy xxxiv. 1.

8: 3 Kings viii. 11.; 2 Paralipomenon vi. 14.

10: Leviticus ix. 24. — ** 2 Paralipomenon vii. 1.

11: Leviticus x. 16. and 17.

18: Deuteronomy xxx. 3. and 5.; 2 Machabees i. 29.