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2002 11 11
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Chapter 8


1 Now in those days Judith, daughter of Merari, son of Joseph, son of Oziel, son of Elkiah, son of Ananias, son of Gideon, son of Raphain, son of Ahitob, son of Elijah, son of Hilkiah, son of Eliab, son of Nathanael, son of Salamiel, son of Sarasadai, son of Simeon, son of Israel, heard of this.


Her husband, Manasseh, of her own tribe and clan, had died at the time of the barley harvest.


While he was in the field supervising those who bound the sheaves, he suffered sunstroke; and he died of this illness in Bethulia, his native city. He was buried with his forefathers in the field between Dothan and Balamon.


The widowed Judith remained three years and four months at home,


2 where she set up a tent for herself on the roof of her house. She put sackcloth about her loins and wore widow's weeds.


She fasted all the days of her widowhood, except sabbath eves and sabbaths, new moon eves and new moons, feastdays and holidays of the house of Israel.


She was beautifully formed and lovely to behold. Her husband, Manasseh, had left her gold and silver, servants and maids, livestock and fields, which she was maintaining.


No one had a bad word to say about her, for she was a very God-fearing woman.


When Judith, therefore, heard of the harsh words which the people, discouraged by their lack of water, had spoken against their ruler, and of all that Uzziah had said to them in reply, swearing that he would hand over the city to the Assyrians at the end of five days,


she sent the maid who was in charge of all her things to ask Uzziah, Chabris, and Charmis, the elders of the city, to visit her.


When they came, she said to them: "Listen to me, you rulers of the people of Bethulia. What you said to the people today is not proper. When you promised to hand over the city to our enemies at the end of five days unless within that time the Lord comes to our aid, you interposed between God and yourselves this oath which you took.


Who are you, then, that you should have put God to the test this day, setting yourselves in the place of God in human affairs?


It is the Lord Almighty for whom you are laying down conditions; will you never understand anything?


You cannot plumb the depths of the human heart or grasp the workings of the human mind; how then can you fathom God, who has made all these things, discern his mind, and understand his plan? "No, my brothers, do not anger the Lord our God.


For if he does not wish to come to our aid within the five days, he has it equally within his power to protect us at such time as he pleases, or to destroy us in the face of our enemies.


It is not for you to make the Lord our God give surety for his plans. "God is not man that he should be moved by threats, nor human, that he may be given an ultimatum.


"So while we wait for the salvation that comes from him, let us call upon him to help us, and he will hear our cry if it is his good pleasure.


For there has not risen among us in recent generations, nor does there exist today, any tribe, or clan, or town, or city of ours that worships gods made by hands, as happened in former days.


It was for such conduct that our forefathers were handed over to the sword and to pillage, and fell with great destruction before our enemies.


But since we acknowledge no other god but the Lord, we hope that he will not disdain us or any of our people.


If we are taken, all Judea will fall, our sanctuary will be plundered, and God will make us pay for its profanation with our life's blood.


For the slaughter of our kinsmen, for the taking of exiles from the land, and for the devastation of our inheritance, he will lay the guilt on our heads. Wherever we shall be enslaved among the nations, we shall be a mockery and a reproach in the eyes of our masters.


Our enslavement will not be turned to our benefit, but the Lord our God, will maintain it to our disgrace.


"Therefore, my brothers, let us set an example for our kinsmen. Their lives depend on us, and the defense of the sanctuary, the temple, and the altar rests with us.


Besides all this, we should be grateful to the Lord our God, for putting us to the test, as he did our forefathers.


Recall how he dealt with Abraham, and how he tried Isaac, and all that happened to Jacob in Syrian Mesopotamia while he was tending the flocks of Laban, his mother's brother.


Not for vengeance did the Lord put them in the crucible to try their hearts, nor has he done so with us. It is by way of admonition that he chastises those who are close to him."


Then Uzziah said to her: "All that you have said was spoken with good sense, and no one can gainsay your words.


Not today only is your wisdom made evident, but from your earliest years all the people have recognized your prudence, which corresponds to the worthy dispositions of your heart.


The people, however, were so tortured with thirst that they forced us to speak to them as we did, and to bind ourselves by an oath that we cannot break.


But now, God-fearing woman that you are, pray for us that the Lord may send rain to fill up our cisterns, lest we be weakened still further."


Then Judith said to them: "Listen to me! I will do something that will go down from generation to generation among the descendants of our race.


Stand at the gate tonight to let me pass through with my maid; and within the days you have specified before you will surrender the city to our enemies, the Lord will rescue Israel by my hand.


You must not inquire into what I am doing, for I will not tell you until my plan has been accomplished."


Uzziah and the rulers said to her, "Go in peace, and may the Lord God go before you to take vengeance upon our enemies!"


Then they withdrew from the tent and returned to their posts.



1 [1] Salamiel, son of Sarasadai: head of the tribe of Simeon during the wanderings of the Israelites in the desert ( Numbers 1:6).

2 [5] A tent: erected by Judith on the roof of her house ( Judith 8:5); it was here that the elders came to confer with her ( Judith 8:11).

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