2 Maccabees 1:19


17 Blessed in every way be our God, who has brought judgment on those who have behaved impiously. 18 Since on the twenty-fifth day of Chislev we shall celebrate the purification of the temple, we thought it necessary to notify you, in order that you also may celebrate the festival of booths and the festival of the fire given when Nehemiah, who built the temple and the altar, offered sacrifices. 19 For when our ancestors were being led captive to Persia, the pious priests of that time took some of the fire of the altar and secretly hid it in the hollow of a dry cistern, where they took such precautions that the place was unknown to anyone.

Ambrose On the Duty of the Clergy 3.17


99 For when our fathers were carried away into Persia, certain priests, who then were in the service of Almighty God, secretly buried in the valley the fire taken from the altar of the Lord. There was there an open pit, with no water in it, and not accessible for the wants of the people, in a spot unknown and free from intruders. There they sealed the hidden fire with the sacred mark and in secret. They were not anxious to bury gold or to hide up silver to preserve it for their children, but in their own great peril, thinking of all that was virtuous, they thought the sacred fire ought to be preserved so that impure men might not defile it, nor the blood of the slain extinguish it, nor the heaps of miserable ruins cover it.

 Notes and References

"... Not all the works that were excluded from the canon were deemed hereti­cal. Some were merely 'of the second rank' or 'among the apocrypha' (works that were 'to be hidden away' because they were not to be read, at least not in the liturgy). For most church fathers, 'the apocrypha' was not a fixed selection but a fluid category for books of dubious status. In modern parlance, the phrase 'the Apocrypha' (or 'the Apocrypha of the Old Testa­ment') is often used to designate those Jewish books (Ben Sira, Wisdom of Solomon, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, Judith, Tobit, etc.) that are included in the Greek or Latin Old Testament of the church but are absent from the Hebrew Tanak of the Jews ..."

Cohen, Shaye J. D. From the Maccabees to the Mishnah (p. 168) Westminster John Knox Press, 2006

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