Reading 145/341, 1 Maccabees 1-2.41

[A] Today we begin 1 Maccabees, a late historical book. It is about the time 100 years or so before Jesus.

1 Maccabees...

And it happened, after Alexander, son of Philip the Macedonian, who came out of the land of Kittim, had crushed Darius king of the Persians and Medes, that he reigned in his stead, having first reigned over Greece. He made many wars and won many strongholds and slayed the kings of the earth and went to the ends of the earth and took plunder from many nations, until the earth was quiet before him, at which point he was exalted and his heart was proud. He gathered a mighty and powerful army and ruled over countries, nations, and kings, who paid him tribute. After these things he fell sick and perceived that he would die. Therefore he called his officers, such as were noble and had been brought up with him from his youth, and divided his kingdom among them, while he was still alive. So Alexander reigned twelve years and then died. Then his officers ruled, each one in his place. After his death they all put diadems upon themselves, and so did their sons after them for many years. Evils were multiplied on the earth. There came out of them a wicked shoot: Antiochus Epiphanes, son of Antiochus the king, who had been a hostage at Rome. He reigned in the 137th year of the kingdom of the Greeks.

In those days, there appeared in Israel, wicked men who persuaded many, saying, “Let us go and make a covenant with the heathens that are round about us, for since we departed from them we have had much sorrow.” So this device pleased them well. Then certain of the people were so forward herein, that they went to the king, who gave them license to act according to the ordinances of the heathen. So they built a gymnasium at Jerusalem according to the customs of the heathen, and made themselves uncircumcised, and forsook the holy covenant, and joined themselves to the heathen, and were sold themselves to wrongdoing.

Now when the kingdom was established before Antiochus, he thought to reign over Egypt that he might have the dominion of two realms. Therefore he entered into Egypt with a great multitude, with chariots, and elephants, and horsemen, and a great navy, and made war against Ptolemy king of Egypt, but Ptolemy was afraid of him, and fled, and many were wounded to death. Thus they got the strong cities in the land of Egypt and he took plunder from them. And after that Antiochus had crushed Egypt, he returned again in the 143rd year, and went up against Israel and Jerusalem with a great multitude, And entered proudly into the sanctuary, and took away the golden altar, and the candlestick of light, and all the vessels thereof, And the table of the showbread, and the pouring vessels, and the vials, and the censers of gold, and the veil, and the crown, and the golden ornaments that were before the temple, all which he pulled off. He also took the silver and the gold, and the precious vessels, and he took the hidden treasures which he found. And when he had taken all away, he went into his own land, having made a great massacre, and spoken very proudly. Therefore there was a great mourning in Israel, in every place where they were; so that the princes and elders mourned, the virgins and young men were made feeble, and the beauty of women was changed. Every bridegroom took up lamentation, and she that sat in the marriage chamber was in mourning. The land also was moved for the inhabitants thereof, and all the house of Jacob was covered with confusion. And after two years fully expired the king sent his chief collector of tribute unto the cities of Judah, who came unto Jerusalem with a great multitude, and spoke peaceable words unto them, but all was deceit, for when they had given him credence, he fell suddenly upon the city, and smote it very seriously, and destroyed many people of Israel. And when he had taken the spoils of the city, he set it on fire, and pulled down the houses and walls thereof on every side. But the women and children they took captive, and possessed the cattle. Then they built the city of David with a great and strong wall, and with mighty towers, and made it a strong hold for them. And they put therein a sinful nation, wicked men, and fortified themselves therein. They stored it also with armor and victuals, and when they had gathered together the spoils of Jerusalem, they laid them up there, and so they became a sore snare, For it was a place to lie in wait against the sanctuary, and an evil adversary to Israel. Thus they shed innocent blood on every side of the sanctuary, and defiled it, Insomuch that the inhabitants of Jerusalem fled because of them, whereupon the city was made an habitation of strangers, and became strange to those that were born in her, and her own children left her. Her sanctuary was laid waste like a desert, her feasts were turned into mourning, her sabbaths into reproach her honour into contempt. As had been her glory, so was her dishonour increased, and her excellency was turned into mourning. Moreover king Antiochus wrote to his whole kingdom, that all should be one people, And every one should leave his laws, so all the heathen agreed according to the commandment of the king. Yea, many also of the Israelites consented to his religion, and sacrificed unto idols, and profaned the sabbath. For the king had sent letters by messengers unto Jerusalem and the cities of Juda that they should follow the strange laws of the land, And forbid burnt offerings, and sacrifice, and drink offerings, in the temple, and that they should profane the sabbaths and festival days, And pollute the sanctuary and holy people, Set up altars, and groves, and chapels of idols, and sacrifice swine's flesh, and unclean beasts, That they should also leave their children uncircumcised, and make their souls abominable with all manner of uncleanness and profanation, To the end they might forget the law, and change all the ordinances. And whosoever would not do according to the commandment of the king, he said, he should die. In the selfsame manner wrote he to his whole kingdom, and appointed overseers over all the people, commanding the cities of Juda to sacrifice, city by city. Then many of the people were gathered unto them, to wit every one that forsook the law, and so they committed evils in the land; And drove the Israelites into secret places, wheresoever they could flee for succour. Now the fifteenth day of the month Casleu, in the hundred forty and fifth year, they set up the abomination of desolation upon the altar, and builded idol altars throughout the cities of Juda on every side; And burnt incense at the doors of their houses, and in the streets. And when they had rent in pieces the books of the law which they found, they burnt them with fire. And whosoever was found with any the book of the testament, or if any committed to the law, the king's commandment was, that they should put him to death. Thus did they by their authority unto the Israelites every month, to as many as were found in the cities. Now the five and twentieth day of the month they did sacrifice upon the idol altar, which was upon the altar of God. At which time according to the commandment they put to death certain women, that had caused their children to be circumcised. And they hanged the infants about their necks, and rifled their houses, and slew them that had circumcised them. Howbeit many in Israel were fully resolved and confirmed in themselves not to eat any unclean thing. Wherefore the rather to die, that they might not be defiled with meats, and that they might not profane the holy covenant, so then they died. And there was very great wrath upon Israel.

In those days arose Mattathias the son of John, the son of Simeon, a priest of the sons of Joarib, from Jerusalem, and dwelt in Modin. And he had five sons, Joannan, called Caddis, Simon; called Thassi, Judas, who was called Maccabeus, Eleazar, called Avaran, and Jonathan, whose surname was Apphus. And when he saw the blasphemies that were committed in Juda and Jerusalem, He said, Woe is me! wherefore was I born to see this misery of my people, and of the holy city, and to dwell there, when it was delivered into the hand of the enemy, and the sanctuary into the hand of strangers? Her temple is become as a man without glory. Her glorious vessels are carried away into captivity, her infants are slain in the streets, her young men with the sword of the enemy. What nation hath not had a part in her kingdom and gotten of her spoils? All her ornaments are taken away; of a free woman she is become a bondslave. And, behold, our sanctuary, our beauty and our glory, is laid waste, and the Gentiles have profaned it. To what end therefore shall we live any longer? Then Mattathias and his sons rent their clothes, and put on sackcloth, and mourned very sore. In the mean while the king's officers, such as compelled the people to revolt, came into the city Modin, to make them sacrifice. And when many of Israel came unto them, Mattathias also and his sons came together. Then answered the king's officers, and said to Mattathias on this wise, Thou art a ruler, and an honourable and great man in this city, and strengthened with sons and brethren, Now therefore come thou first, and fulfil the king's commandment, like all the heathen have done, indeed, and even the men of Judah, and such as remain at Jerusalem, so you and your house shall be in the number of the king's friends, and you and your children shall be honoured with silver and gold, and many rewards. Then Mattathias answered and spoke with a loud voice, “Though all the nations that are under the king's dominion obey him, and fall away, each one from the religion of their fathers, and give consent to his commandments, Yet will I and my sons and my brethren walk in the covenant of our fathers. God forbid that we should forsake the law and the ordinances. We will not hearken to the king's words, to go from our religion, either on the right hand, or the left. Now when he had left speaking these words, there came one of the Jews in the sight of all to sacrifice on the altar which was at Modin, according to the king's commandment. Which thing when Mattathias saw, he was inflamed with zeal, and his reins trembled, nor could he forbear to shew his anger according to judgment, wherefore he ran, and slew him upon the altar. Also the king's commissioner, who compelled men to sacrifice, he killed at that time, and the altar he pulled down. Thus dealt he zealously for the law of God like as Phinees did unto Zambri the son of Salom. And Mattathias cried throughout the city with a loud voice, saying, Whosoever is zealous of the law, and maintaineth the covenant, let him follow me. So he and his sons fled into the mountains, and left all that ever they had in the city. Then many that sought after justice and judgment went down into the desert, to dwell there, Both they, and their children, and their wives, and their cattle; because afflictions increased sore upon them. Now when it was told the king's servants, and the host that was at Jerusalem, in the city of David, that certain men, who had broken the king's commandment, were gone down into the secret places in the desert, They pursued after them a great number, and having overtaken them, they camped against them, and made war against them on the sabbath day. And they said unto them, Let what you have done hitherto suffice; come forth, and do according to the commandment of the king, and you shall live. But they said, We will not come forth, nor will we do the king's commandment, to profane the sabbath day. So then they gave them the battle with all speed. Howbeit they answered them not, nor cast they a stone at them, nor stopped the places where they lay hid; But said, Let us die all in our innocency, heaven and earth will testify for us, that you put us to death wrongfully. So they rose up against them in battle on the sabbath, and they slew them, with their wives and children and their cattle, to the number of a thousand people. Now when Mattathias and his friends understood hereof, they mourned for them right sore. And one of them said to another, If we all do as our brethren have done, and fight not for our lives and laws against the heathen, they will now quickly root us out of the earth. At that time therefore they decreed, saying, Whosoever shall come to make battle with us on the sabbath day, we will fight against him; nor will we die all, as our brethren that were murdered in the secret places.

Reading 144/341, Esther 7-10, +E&F

[A] Today, we finish Esther

...Esther

So the king and Haman came to banquet with Esther the queen. The king said again to Esther on the second day at the banquet of wine, "What is your petition, queen Esther? It shall be granted you. What is your request? to the half of the kingdom it shall be performed." Then Esther the queen answered, "If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request. For we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be slain, and to perish. But if we had been sold for bondservants and bondmaids, I would have held my peace, although the adversary could not have compensated for the king's loss." Then King Ahasuerus said to Esther the queen, "Who is he, and where is he who dared presume in his heart to do so?" Esther said, "An adversary and an enemy, this wicked Haman!" Then Haman was afraid before the king and the queen. The king arose in his wrath from the banquet of wine and went into the palace garden. Haman stood up to make request for his life to Esther the queen; for he saw that there was evil determined against him by the king. Then the king returned out of the palace garden into the place of the banquet of wine, and Haman had fallen on the couch where Esther was. Then the king said, "Will he assault the queen in front of me in the house?" As the word went out of the king's mouth, they covered Haman's face. Then Harbonah, one of the eunuchs who were with the king said, "Behold, the gallows fifty cubits high, which Haman has made for Mordecai, who spoke good for the king, is standing at Haman's house." The king said, "Hang him on it!" So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then was the king's wrath pacified. On that day, King Ahasuerus gave the house of Haman, the Jews' enemy, to Esther the queen. Mordecai came before the king; for Esther had told what he was to her. The king took off his ring, which he had taken from Haman, and gave it to Mordecai. Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman. Esther spoke yet again before the king, and fell down at his feet, and begged him with tears to put away the mischief of Haman the Agagite, and his device that he had devised against the Jews. Then the king held out to Esther the golden scepter. So Esther arose, and stood before the king. She said, "If it pleases the king, and if I have found favor in his sight, and the thing seem right to the king, and I am pleasing in his eyes, let it be written to reverse the letters devised by Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, which he wrote to destroy the Jews who are in all the king's provinces. For how can I endure to see the evil that would come to my people? How can I endure to see the destruction of my kin?" Then King Ahasuerus said to Esther the queen and to Mordecai the Jew, "See, I have given Esther the house of Haman, and him they have hanged on the gallows, because he laid his hand on the Jews. Write also to the Jews, as it pleases you, in the king's name, and seal it with the king's ring; for the writing which is written in the king's name, and sealed with the king's ring, may not be reversed by any man." Then the king's scribes were called at that time, in the third month Sivan, on the twenty-third day of the month, and it was written according to all that Mordecai commanded to the Jews, and to the satraps, and the governors and princes of the provinces which are from India to Ethiopia, one hundred twenty-seven provinces, to every province according to its writing, and to every people in their language, and to the Jews in their writing, and in their language. He wrote in the name of King Ahasuerus, and sealed it with the king's ring, and sent letters by courier on horseback, riding on royal horses that were bread from swift steeds. In those letters, the king granted the Jews who were in every city to gather themselves together, and to defend their life, to destroy, to kill, and to cause to perish, all the power of the people and province that would assault them, their little ones and women, and to plunder their possessions, on one day in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar.

“The great king Ahasuerus unto the princes and governors of an hundred and seven and twenty provinces from India unto Ethiopia, and unto all our faithful subjects, greeting. Many, the more often they are honoured with the great bounty of their gracious princes, the more proud they are waxen, And endeavour to hurt not our subjects only, but not being able to bear abundance, do take in hand to practise also against those that do them good, And take not only thankfulness away from among men, but also lifted up with the glorious words of lewd persons, that were never good, they think to escape the justice of God, that seeth all things and hateth evil. Oftentimes also fair speech of those, that are put in trust to manage their friends' affairs, hath caused many that are in authority to be partakers of innocent blood, and hath enwrapped them in remediless calamities, Beguiling with the falsehood and deceit of their lewd disposition the innocency and goodness of princes. Now you may see this, as we have declared, not so much by ancient histories, as you may, if you search what hath been wickedly done of late through the pestilent behaviour of them that are unworthily placed in authority. And we must take care for the time to come, that our kingdom may be quiet and peaceable for all men, Both by changing our purposes, and always judging things that are evident with more equal proceeding. For Haman, a Macedonian, the son of Amadatha, being indeed a stranger from the Persian blood, and far distant from our goodness, and as a stranger received of us, Had so far forth obtained the favour that we shew toward every nation, as that he was called our father, and was continually honoured of all the next person unto the king. But he, not bearing his great dignity, went about to deprive us of our kingdom and life, Having by manifold and cunning deceits sought of us the destruction, as well of Mordecai, who saved our life, and continually procured our good, as also of blameless Esther, partaker of our kingdom, with their whole nation. For by these means he thought, finding us destitute of friends to have translated the kingdom of the Persians to the Macedonians. But we find that the Jews, whom this wicked wretch hath delivered to utter destruction, are no evildoers, but live by most just laws, And that they be children of the most high and most mighty, living God, who hath ordered the kingdom both unto us and to our progenitors in the most excellent manner. Wherefore you shall do well not to put in execution the letters sent unto you by Haman the son of Amadatha. For he that was the worker of these things, is hanged at the gates of Susa with all his family, God, who ruleth all things, speedily rendering vengeance to him according to his deserts. Therefore you shall publish the copy of this letter in all places, that the Jews may freely live after their own laws. And you shall aid them, that the same day, being the thirteenth day of the twelfth month Adar, they may be avenged on them, who in the time of their affliction shall set upon them. For Almighty God hath turned to joy unto them the day, wherein the chosen people should have perished. Ye shall therefore among your solemn feasts keep it an high day with all feasting, That both now and hereafter there may be safety to us and the well affected Persians; but to those which do conspire against us a memorial of destruction. Therefore every city and country whatsoever, which shall not do according to these things, shall be destroyed without mercy with fire and sword, and shall be made not only unpassable for men, but also most hateful to wild beasts and fowls forever.”

A copy of the letter, that the decree should be given out in every province, was published to all the peoples, that the Jews should be ready for that day to avenge themselves on their enemies. So the couriers who rode on royal horses went out, hastened and pressed on by the king's commandment. The decree was given out in the citadel of Susa. Mordecai went out of the presence of the king in royal clothing of blue and white, and with a great crown of gold, and with a robe of fine linen and purple, and the city of Susa shouted and was glad. The Jews had light, gladness, joy, and honor. In every province, and in every city, wherever the king's commandment and his decree came, the Jews had gladness, joy, a feast, and a good day. Many from among the peoples of the land became Jews; for the fear of the Jews was fallen on them. Now in the twelfth month, which is the month Adar, on the thirteenth day of the month, when the king's commandment and his decree drew near to be put in execution, on the day that the enemies of the Jews hoped to conquer them, (but it was turned out the opposite happened, that the Jews conquered those who hated them), the Jews gathered themselves together in their cities throughout all the provinces of the King Ahasuerus, to lay hands on those who wanted to harm them. No one could withstand them, because the fear of them had fallen on all the people. All the princes of the provinces, the satraps, the governors, and those who did the king's business helped the Jews, because the fear of Mordecai had fallen on them. For Mordecai was great in the king's house, and his fame went out throughout all the provinces; for the man Mordecai grew greater and greater. The Jews struck all their enemies with the stroke of the sword, and with slaughter and destruction, and did what they wanted to those who hated them. In the citadel of Susa, the Jews killed and destroyed five hundred men. They killed Parshandatha, Dalphon, Aspatha, Poratha, Adalia, Aridatha, Parmashta, Arisai, Aridai, and Vaizatha, the ten sons of Haman the son of Hammedatha, the Jew's enemy, but they did not lay their hand on the plunder. On that day, the number of those who were slain in the citadel of Susa was brought before the king. The king said to Esther the queen, "The Jews have slain and destroyed five hundred men in the citadel of Susa, including the ten sons of Haman; what then have they done in the rest of the king's provinces! Now what is your petition? It shall be granted you. What is your further request? It shall be done." Then Esther said, "If it pleases the king, let it be granted to the Jews who are in Susa to do tomorrow also according to this day's decree, and let Haman's ten sons be hanged on the gallows." The king commanded this to be done. A decree was given out in Susa, and they hanged Haman's ten sons. The Jews who were in Susa gathered themselves together on the fourteenth day also of the month Adar, and killed three hundred men in Susa; but they did not lay their hand on the spoil. The other Jews who were in the king's provinces gathered themselves together, defended their lives, had rest from their enemies, and killed seventy-five thousand of those who hated them; but they did not lay their hand on the plunder. This was done on the thirteenth day of the month Adar, and on the fourteenth day of that month they rested and made it a day of feasting and gladness. But the Jews who were in Susa assembled together on the thirteenth and on the fourteenth days of the month, and on the fifteenth day of that month, they rested, and made it a day of feasting and gladness. Therefore the Jews of the villages, who live in the unwalled towns, make the fourteenth day of the month Adar a day of gladness and feasting, a good day, and a day of sending presents of food to one another. Mordecai wrote these things, and sent letters to all the Jews who were in all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus, both near and far, to enjoin them that they should keep the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month Adar yearly, as the days in which the Jews had rest from their enemies, and the month which was turned to them from sorrow to gladness, and from mourning into a good day; that they should make them days of feasting and gladness, and of sending presents of food to one another, and gifts to the needy. The Jews accepted the custom that they had begun, as Mordecai had written to them; because Haman the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to destroy them, and had cast "Pur," that is the lot, to consume them, and to destroy them; but when this became known to the king, he commanded by letters that his wicked device, which he had devised against the Jews, should return on his own head, and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows. Therefore they called these days "Purim," from the word "Pur." Therefore because of all the words of this letter, and of what they had seen concerning this matter, and what had come to them, the Jews established, and imposed on themselves, and on their descendants, and on all those who joined themselves to them, so that it should not fail, that they would keep these two days according to what was written, and according to its appointed time, every year, and that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, every family, every province, and every city, and that these days of Purim should not fail from among the Jews, nor the memory of them perish from their seed. Then Esther the queen, the daughter of Abihail, and Mordecai the Jew, wrote with all authority to confirm this second letter of Purim. He sent letters to all the Jews, to the hundred twenty-seven provinces of the kingdom of Ahasuerus, with words of peace and truth, to confirm these days of Purim in their appointed times, as Mordecai the Jew and Esther the queen had decreed, and as they had imposed upon themselves and their descendants, in the matter of the fastings and their cry. The commandment of Esther confirmed these matters of Purim, and it was written in the book. King Ahasuerus laid a tribute on the land, and on the islands of the sea. All the acts of his power and of his might, and the full account of the greatness of Mordecai, to which the king advanced him, are not they written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia? For Mordecai the Jew was next to King Ahasuerus, and great among the Jews, and accepted by the multitude of his brothers, seeking the good of his people, and speaking peace to all his descendants.

Then Mordecai said, God hath done these things. For I remember a dream which I saw concerning these matters, and nothing thereof hath failed. A little fountain became a river, and there was light, and the sun, and much water, this river is Esther, whom the king married, and made queen, And the two dragons are I and Haman. And the nations were those that were assembled to destroy the name of the Jews, And my nation is this Israel, which cried to God, and were saved, for the Lord hath saved his people, and the Lord hath delivered us from all those evils, and God hath wrought signs and great wonders, which have not been done among the Gentiles. Therefore hath he made two lots, one for the people of God, and another for all the Gentiles. And these two lots came at the hour, and time, and day of judgment, before God among all nations. So God remembered his people, and justified his inheritance. Therefore those days shall be unto them in the month Adar, the fourteenth and fifteenth day of the same month, with an assembly, and joy, and with gladness before God, according to the generations for ever among his people.

Reading 143/341, Esther 4, C, 5-6

[A] Reading 143 and 144 for today
[B] The two entrances of Esther, one in the Greek chapter C and one immediately following at the beginning of the Hebrew chapter 5 show the significant difference in styles between the two Esther books, though they are the same story.

..>Esther...

Now when Mordecai found out all that was done, Mordecai tore his clothes, and put on sackcloth with ashes, and went out into the midst of the city, and wailed loudly and bitterly. He came before the king's gate, for no one is allowed inside the king's gate clothed with sackcloth. In every province, wherever the king's commandment and his decree came, there was great mourning among the Jews, and fasting, and weeping, and wailing, and many lay in sackcloth and ashes. Esther's maidens and her eunuchs came and told her this, and the queen was exceedingly grieved. She sent clothing to Mordecai, to replace his sackcloth, but he did not accept it. Then Esther called for Hathach, one of the king's eunuchs, whom he had appointed to attend her, and commanded him to go to Mordecai, to find out what this was, and why it was. So Hathach went out to Mordecai, to the city square which was before the king's gate. Mordecai told him of all that had happened to him, and the exact sum of money that Haman had promised to pay to the king's treasuries for the destruction of the Jews. He also gave him the copy of the writing of the decree that was given out in Susa to destroy them, to show it to Esther, and to explain it to her, and to urge her to go to the king, to make supplication to him, and to make request before him for her people. Hathach came and told Esther the words of Mordecai. Then Esther spoke to Hathach, and gave him a message to Mordecai, “All the king's servants, and the people of the king's provinces, know that for whomever, whether man or woman, comes to the king in the inner court without being called, there is one law for them: that they be put to death, except for those to whom the king might hold out the golden scepter, that they may live. I have not been called to come in to the king for thirty days.” They told Mordecai Esther's words. Then Mordecai asked them to return an answer to Esther, “Do not think to yourself that you will escape in the king's house anymore than all the Jews. For if you remain silent now, then relief and deliverance will come to the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. Who knows if you have not come in to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Then Esther asked them to answer Mordecai, “Go, gather together all the Jews who are present in Susa, and fast for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day. I and my maidens will also fast the same way. Then I will go to the king, which is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.” So Mordecai went his way, and did according to all that Esther had commanded him.

Then Mordecai thought upon all the works of the Lord, and made his prayer unto him, saying, “O Lord, Lord, the King Almighty, for the whole world is in your power, and if you appointed to save Israel, there is no man that can prevent you, for you have made heaven and earth, and all the wondrous things under the heavens. You are Lord of all things, and and there is no man who can resist you, who are the Lord. You know all things, and you know, Lord, that it was neither in contempt nor pride, nor for any desire of glory, that I did not bow down to proud Haman. For I could have been content with goodwill to, for the salvation of Israel, kiss the soles of his feet. But I did this that I might not prefer the glory of man above the glory of God, nor will I worship any but you, O God, nor will I do it in pride. And now, O Lord God and King, spare your people, for their eyes are upon us to bring us to nought. Indeed, they desire to destroy the inheritance that has been yours from the beginning. Despise not the portion, which you have delivered out of Egypt for your own self. Hear my prayer, and be merciful unto your inheritance, turn our sorrow into joy, that we may live, O Lord, and praise your name, and destroy not the mouths of those who praise you, O Lord.” All Israel in like manner cried most earnestly unto the Lord, because their death was before their eyes. Queen Esther also, being in fear of death, resorted unto the Lord, and laid away her glorious apparel, and put on the garments of anguish and mourning, and instead of precious ointments, she covered her head with ashes and dung, and she humbled her body greatly, and all the places of her joy she filled with her torn hair. She prayed unto the Lord God of Israel, saying, “O my Lord, you only are our King, help me, a desolate woman, who have no helper but you. For my life is in my hands. From my youth up I have heard in the tribe of my family that you, O Lord, took Israel from among all people, and our fathers from all their predecessors, for a perpetual inheritance, and you have performed whatever you promised them. And now we have sinned before you, and so you have given us into the hands of our enemies, because we worshipped their gods, O Lord, who are righteous. Nevertheless it satisfies them not that we are in bitter captivity, but they have sworn an oath to their idols, that they will abolish the thing that you with your mouth have ordained, and destroy your inheritance, and stop the mouth of those who praise you, and quench the glory of your house, and of your altar. They open the mouths of the heathen to set forth the praises of the idols and magnify a fleshly king forever. O Lord, do not give your scepter unto those who are nothing, and let them not laugh at our fall, but turn their device upon themselves, and make him an example, who has begun this against us. Remember, O Lord, make yourself known in time of our affliction, and give me boldness, O King of the nations, and Lord of all power. Put eloquent speech in my mouth before the lion and turn his heart to hate the man who fights against us, so that he and those who agree with him may be finished. Save us by your hand, and help me, who am alone and have no helper but you, O Lord. You know all things, O Lord. You know that I hate the glory of the unrighteous, and abhor the bed of the uncircumcised, and of all the heathen. You know my necessity, for I abhor the sign of my high estate, which is upon my head on the days on which I show myself, and that I abhor it as a menstruous rag, and that I wear it not when I am private by myself. You know that your handmaid has not eaten at Haman's table, and that I have not greatly esteemed the king's feast, nor drunk the wine of the drink offerings. Nor has your handmaid had any joy since the day that I was brought to this situation, except in you, O Lord God of Abraham. O God almighty, hear the voice of the despairing, and save us from the hands of evildoers, and save me from my fear.”

On the third day, when she had ended her prayers, she laid away her mourning garments, and put on her glorious apparel. And being gloriously adorned, after she had called upon God, who is the beholder and savior of all things, she took two maids with her. Upon the one she leaned, as carrying herself daintily, and the other followed, bearing up her train. And she was stunning through the perfection of her beauty, and her countenance was cheerful and very amiable, but her heart was in anguish for fear. Then having passed through all the doors, she stood before the king, who sat upon his royal throne, and was clothed with all his robes of majesty, all glittering with gold and precious stones, and he was very dreadful. Then lifting up his countenance that shone with majesty, he looked very fiercely upon her, and the queen fell down, and was pale, and fainted, and bowed herself upon the head of the maid that went before her. Then God changed the spirit of the king into mildness. In fear, he leaped from his throne, and took her in his arms, until she came to herself again, and comforted her with loving words and said unto her, “Esther, what is the matter? I am your brother, be of good cheer, You shall not die, though our commandment be general, come near.” And so he held up his golden sceptre, and laid it upon her neck, and embraced her, and said, “Speak to me.” Then said she unto him, “I saw you, my lord, as an angel of God, and my heart was troubled for fear of your majesty. For wonderful are you, lord, and your countenance is full of grace.” And as she was speaking, she fell down for faintness. Then the king was troubled, and ail his servants comforted her.

Now it happened on the third day that Esther put on her royal clothing, and stood in the inner court of the king's house, next to the king's house. The king sat on his royal throne in the royal house, next to the entrance of the house. When the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court, she obtained favor in his sight, and the king held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand. So Esther came near, and touched the top of the scepter. Then the king asked her, "What would you like, Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given to you, up to half of the kingdom." Esther said, “If it seems good to the king, let the king and Haman come today to the banquet that I have prepared for him.” Then the king said, “Bring Haman quickly, so that it may be done as Esther has said.” So the king and Haman came to the banquet that Esther had prepared. The king said to Esther at the banquet of wine, “What is your petition? It shall be granted you. What is your request? Up to half of the kingdom, it shall be performed.” Then Esther answered and said, “My petition and my request is this. If I have found favor in the sight of the king, and if it pleases the king to grant my petition and to perform my request, let the king and Haman come to the banquet that I will prepare for them, and I will do tomorrow as the king has said.” Then Haman went out that day joyful and glad of heart, but when Haman saw Mordecai in the king's gate, that he did not stand up nor move for him, he was filled with wrath against Mordecai. Nevertheless, Haman restrained himself, and went home. There, he sent and called for his friends and Zeresh his wife. Haman recounted to them the glory of his riches, the multitude of his children, all the things in which the king had promoted him, and how he had advanced him above the princes and servants of the king. Haman also said, “Yes, Esther the queen let no man come in with the king to the banquet that she had prepared except me, and tomorrow I am also invited by her together with the king. Yet all this avails me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king's gate.” Then Zeresh his wife and all his friends said to him, “Let a gallows be made fifty cubits high, and in the morning speak to the king about hanging Mordecai on it. Then go in merrily with the king to the banquet.” This pleased Haman, so he had the gallows made. On that night, the king could not sleep. He commanded the book of records of the chronicles to be brought, and they were read to the king. It was found written that Mordecai had told of Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king's eunuchs, who were doorkeepers, who had tried to lay hands on the King Ahasuerus. The king said, “What honor and dignity has been bestowed on Mordecai for this?” Then the king's servants who attended him said, “Nothing has been done for him.” The king said, “Who is in the court?” Now Haman had come into the outer court of the king's house, to speak to the king about hanging Mordecai on the gallows that he had prepared for him. The king's servants said to him, “Behold, Haman stands in the court.” The king said, “Let him come in.” So Haman came in. The king said to him, “What shall be done to the man whom the king delights to honor?” Now Haman said in his heart, “Who would the king delight to honor more than myself?” Haman said to the king, “For the man whom the king delights to honor, let royal clothing be brought which the king has worn, and the horse that the king rides on, and on the head of which a crown royal is set. Let the clothing and the horse be delivered to the hand of one of the king's most noble princes, that they may array the man whom the king delights to honor with them, and have him ride on horseback through the city square, and proclaim before him, ‘Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor!’” Then the king said to Haman, “Hurry and take the clothing and the horse, as you have said, and do this for Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king's gate. Let nothing fail of all that you have spoken.” Then Haman took the clothing and the horse, and arrayed Mordecai, and had him ride through the city square, and proclaimed before him, “Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor!” Mordecai came back to the king's gate, but Haman hurried to his house, mourning and having his head covered. Haman recounted to Zeresh his wife and all his friends everything that had happened to him. Then his wise men and Zeresh his wife said to him, “If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of Jewish descent, you will not prevail against him, but you will surely fall before him.” While they were yet talking with him, the king's eunuchs came, and hurried to bring Haman to the banquet that Esther had prepared.

Reading 142/341, Esther A, 1-3

If you are reading in a Protestant Bible, you will find today's reading shorter. This is because, unlike Judith and Tobit, Esther is in the Protestant bible, but only half of it is. As usual, this is because the Protestant Old Testament only includes those books written in Hebrew, and there are 2 versions of Esther: a Hebrew version and a longer Greek version. If you read the shorter version, you will not miss any essential details of the story.

In the second year of the reign of Artexerxes the great, in the first day of the month Nisan, Mardocheus the son of Jairus, the son of Semei, the son of Cisai, of the tribe of Benjamin, had a dream; Who was a Jew, and dwelt in the city of Susa, a great man, being a servitor in the king's court. He was also one of the captives, which Nabuchodonosor the king of Babylon carried from Jerusalem with Jechonias king of Judea, and this was his dream, Behold a noise of a tumult, with thunder, and earthquakes, and uproar in the land, And, behold, two great dragons came forth ready to fight, and their cry was great. And at their cry all nations were prepared to battle, that they might fight against the righteous people. And lo a day of darkness and obscurity, tribulation and anguish, affliction and great uproar, upon earth. And the whole righteous nation was troubled, fearing their own evils, and were ready to perish. Then they cried unto God, and upon their cry, as it were from a little fountain, was made a great flood, much water. The light and the sun rose up, and the lowly were exalted, and devoured the glorious. Now when Mardocheus, who had seen this dream, and what God had determined to do, was awake, he bare this dream in mind, and until night by all means was desirous to know it. And Mardocheus took his rest in the court with Gabatha and Tharra, the two eunuchs of the king, and keepers of the palace. And he heard their devices, and searched out their purposes, and learned that they were about to lay hands upon Artexerxes the king, and so he certified the king of them. Then the king examined the two eunuchs, and after that they had confessed it, they were strangled. And the king made a record of these things, and Mardocheus also wrote thereof. So the king commanded, Mardocheus to serve in the court, and for this he rewarded him. Howbeit Aman the son of Amadathus the Agagite, who was in great honour with the king, sought to molest Mardocheus and his people because of the two eunuchs of the king. Now it happened in the days of Ahasuerus (this is Ahasuerus who reigned from India to Ethiopia, over one hundred twenty-seven provinces), that in those days, when the King Ahasuerus sat on the throne of his kingdom, which was in Shushan the palace, in the third year of his reign, he made a feast for all his princes and his servants; the power of Persia and Media, the nobles and princes of the provinces, being before him. He displayed the riches of his glorious kingdom and the honor of his excellent majesty many days, one hundred eighty days. When these days were fulfilled, the king made a seven day feast for all the people who were present in Shushan the palace, both great and small, in the court of the garden of the king's palace. There were hangings of white, green, and blue material, fastened with cords of fine linen and purple to silver rings and marble pillars. The couches were of gold and silver, on a pavement of red, white, yellow, and black marble. They gave them drinks in golden vessels of various kinds, including royal wine in abundance, according to the bounty of the king. In accordance with the law, the drinking was not compulsory; for so the king had instructed all the officials of his house, that they should do according to every man's pleasure. Also Vashti the queen made a feast for the women in the royal house which belonged to King Ahasuerus. On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, and Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcass, the seven eunuchs who served in the presence of Ahasuerus the king, to bring Vashti the queen before the king with the royal crown, to show the people and the princes her beauty; for she was beautiful. But the queen Vashti refused to come at the king's commandment by the eunuchs. Therefore the king was very angry, and his anger burned in him. Then the king said to the wise men, who knew the times, (for it was the king's custom to consult those who knew law and judgment, and the next to him were Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan, the seven princes of Persia and Media, who saw the king's face, and sat first in the kingdom), "What shall we do to the queen Vashti according to law, because she has not done the bidding of the King Ahasuerus by the eunuchs?" Memucan answered before the king and the princes, "Vashti the queen has not done wrong to just the king, but also to all the princes, and to all the people who are in all the provinces of the King Ahasuerus. For this deed of the queen will become known to all women, causing them to show contempt for their husbands, when it is reported, 'King Ahasuerus commanded Vashti the queen to be brought in before him, but she did not come.' Today, the princesses of Persia and Media who have heard of the queen's deed will tell all the king's princes. This will cause much contempt and wrath. If it please the king, let a royal commandment go from him, and let it be written among the laws of the Persians and the Medes, so that it cannot be altered, that Vashti may never again come before King Ahasuerus, and let the king give her royal estate to another who is better than she. When the king's decree which he shall make is published throughout all his kingdom (for it is great), all the wives will give their husbands honor, both great and small." This advice pleased the king and the princes, and the king did according to the word of Memucan, for he sent letters into all the king's provinces, into every province according to its writing, and to every people in their language, that every man should rule his own house, speaking in the language of his own people. After these things, when the wrath of King Ahasuerus was pacified, he remembered Vashti, and what she had done, and what was decreed against her. Then the king's servants who served him said, "Let beautiful young virgins be sought for the king. Let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom, that they may gather together all the beautiful young virgins to the citadel of Susa, to the women's house, to the custody of Hegai the king's eunuch, keeper of the women. Let cosmetics be given them, and let the maiden who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti." The thing pleased the king, and he did so. There was a certain Jew in the citadel of Susa, whose name was Mordecai, the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjamite, who had been carried away from Jerusalem with the captives who had been carried away with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away. He brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther, his uncle's daughter; for she had nor father nor mother. The maiden was fair and beautiful, and when her father and mother were dead, Mordecai took her for his own daughter. So it happened, when the king's commandment and his decree was heard, and when many maidens were gathered together to the citadel of Susa, to the custody of Hegai, that Esther was taken into the king's house, to the custody of Hegai, keeper of the women. The maiden pleased him, and she obtained kindness from him. He quickly gave her cosmetics and her portions of food, and the seven choice maidens who were to be given her out of the king's house. He moved her and her maidens to the best place in the women's house. Esther had not made known her people nor her kin, because Mordecai had instructed her that she should not make it known. Mordecai walked every day in front of the court of the women's house, to find out how Esther did, and what would become of her. Each young woman's turn came to go in to King Ahasuerus after her purification for twelve months (for so were the days of their purification accomplished, six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with sweet fragrances and with preparations for beautifying women). The young woman then came to the king like this, whatever she desired was given her to go with her out of the women's house to the king's house. In the evening she went, and on the next day she returned into the second women's house, to the custody of Shaashgaz, the king's eunuch, who kept the concubines. She came in to the king no more, unless the king delighted in her, and she was called by name. Now when the turn of Esther, the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her for his daughter, came to go in to the king, she required nothing but what Hegai the king's eunuch, the keeper of the women, advised. Esther obtained favor in the sight of all those who looked at her. So Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus into his royal house in the tenth month, which is the month Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign. The king loved Esther more than all the women, and she obtained favor and kindness in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown on her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti. Then the king made a great feast for all his princes and his servants, Esther's feast, and he proclaimed a holiday in the provinces, and gave gifts according to the king's bounty. When the virgins were gathered together the second time, Mordecai was sitting in the king's gate. Esther had not yet made known her kin nor her people, as Mordecai had charged her; for Esther obeyed Mordecai, like she did when she was brought up by him. In those days, while Mordecai was sitting in the king's gate, two of the king's eunuchs, Bigthan and Teresh, who were doorkeepers, were angry, and sought to lay hands on the King Ahasuerus. This thing became known to Mordecai, who informed Esther the queen, and Esther informed the king in Mordecai's name. When this matter was investigated, and it was found to be so, they were both hanged on a tree, and it was written in the book of the chronicles in the king's presence. After these things King Ahasuerus promoted Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and advanced him, and set his seat above all the princes who were with him. All the king's servants who were in the king's gate bowed down, and paid homage to Haman; for the king had so commanded concerning him. But Mordecai did not bow down or pay him homage. Then the king's servants, who were in the king's gate, said to Mordecai, "Why do you disobey the king's commandment?" Now it came to pass, when they spoke daily to him, and he did not listen to them, that they told Haman, to see whether Mordecai's reason would stand; for he had told them that he was a Jew. When Haman saw that Mordecai did not bow down, nor pay him homage, Haman was full of wrath. But he scorned the thought of laying hands on Mordecai alone, for they had made known to him Mordecai's people. Therefore Haman sought to destroy all the Jews who were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus, the Mordecai's people. In the first month, which is the month Nisan, in the twelfth year of King Ahasuerus, they cast Pur, that is, the lot, before Haman from day to day, and from month to month, and chose the twelfth month, which is the month Adar. Haman said to King Ahasuerus, "There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom, and their laws are different than other people's. They do not keep the king's laws. Therefore it is not for the king's profit to allow them to remain. If it pleases the king, let it be written that they be destroyed, and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver into the hands of those who are in charge of the king's business, to bring it into the king's treasuries." The king took his ring from his hand, and gave it to Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the Jews' enemy. The king said to Haman, "The silver is given to you, the people also, to do with them as it seems good to you." Then the king's scribes were called in on the first month, on the thirteenth day of the month, and all that Haman commanded was written to the king's satraps, and to the governors who were over every province, and to the princes of every people, to every province according its writing, and to every people in their language. It was written in the name of King Ahasuerus, and it was sealed with the king's ring. Letters were sent by couriers into all the king's provinces, to destroy, to kill, and to cause to perish, all Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar, and to plunder their possessions. The copy of the letters was this, The great king Artexerxes writeth these things to the princes and governours that are under him from India unto Ethiopia in an hundred and seven and twenty provinces. After that I became lord over many nations and had dominion over the whole world, not lifted up with presumption of my authority, but carrying myself always with equity and mildness, I purposed to settle my subjects continually in a quiet life, and making my kingdom peaceable, and open for passage to the utmost coasts, to renew peace, which is desired of all men. Now when I asked my counsellors how this might be brought to pass, Aman, that excelled in wisdom among us, and was approved for his constant good will and steadfast fidelity, and had the honour of the second place in the kingdom, Declared unto us, that in all nations throughout the world there was scattered a certain malicious people, that had laws contrary to ail nations, and continually despised the commandments of kings, so as the uniting of our kingdoms, honourably intended by us cannot go forward. Seeing then we understand that this people alone is continually in opposition unto all men, differing in the strange manner of their laws, and evil affected to our state, working all the mischief they can that our kingdom may not be firmly established, Therefore have we commanded, that all they that are signified in writing unto you by Aman, who is ordained over the affairs, and is next unto us, shall all, with their wives and children, be utterly destroyed by the sword of their enemies, without all mercy and pity, the fourteenth day of the twelfth month Adar of this present year, That they, who of old and now also are malicious, may in one day with violence go into the grave, and so ever hereafter cause our affairs to be well settled, and without trouble. A copy of the letter, that the decree should be given out in every province, was published to all the peoples, that they should be ready against that day. The couriers went forth in haste by the king's commandment, and the decree was given out in the citadel of Susa. The king and Haman sat down to drink; but the city of Shushan was perplexed.

Reading 141/341, Judith 13-16

...Judith

Now when the evening had come, his servants made haste to depart, and Bagoas shut his tent from without, and dismissed the waiters from the presence of his lord, and they went to their beds, for they were all weary, because the feast had been long. And Judith was left alone in the tent, and Holofernes lying upon his bed, for he was filled with wine. Now Judith had commanded her maid to stand outside her bedchamber, and to wait for her coming back, as she did daily, for she said she would go forth to her prayers, and she spoke to Bagoas with the same purpose. So all went forth and none was left in the bedchamber, neither little nor great. Then Judith, standing by his bed, said in her heart, “O Lord God of all power, look graciously upon the works of my hands for the exaltation of Jerusalem. For now is the time to help your inheritance, and to execute your enterprises to the destruction of the enemies who have risen against us.” Then she came to the bedpost at Holofernes' head, and took down his sword from there, and approached his bed, and took hold of the hair of his head, and said, “Strengthen me, O Lord God of Israel, this day.” And she struck twice upon his neck with all her might, and she took his head away from him. She tumbled his body down from the bed, and pulled down the canopy from the pillars, and after she went forth, and gave Holofernes’ head to her maid, and she put it in her bag of food, so they went together according to their custom to prayer, and when they passed the camp, they compassed the valley, and went up the mountain of Bethulia, and came to the gates.

Then Judith afar off said to the watchmen at the gate, “Open, open now the gate, God, our God, is with us, to show his power yet in Jerusalem, and his forces against the enemy, as he has done this day.” Now when the men of her city heard her voice, they made haste to go down to the gate of their city, and they called the elders of the city. And then they ran all together, both small and great, for it was unbelievable to them that she had come back, so they opened the gate, and received them, and made a fire for a light, and stood round about. Then she said to them with a loud voice, “Praise, praise God, praise God, I say, for he has not taken away his mercy from the house of Israel, but has destroyed our enemies by my hands this night.” So she took the head out of the bag, and showed it, and said to them, behold the head of Holofernes, the chief captain of the army of Assyria, and behold the canopy, in which lay in his drunkenness, and the Lord has smitten him by the hand of a woman. As the Lord lives, who has kept me in my way that I went, my countenance has deceived him to his destruction, and yet he has not committed sin with me, to defile and shame me.”

Then all the people were wonderfully astonished, and bowed themselves and worshipped God, and said with one accord, “Blessed be you, O our God, which has this day brought to nought the enemies of your people.” Then Uzziah said to her, “O daughter, blessed are you by the most high God above all the women upon the earth, and blessed be the Lord God, who has created the heavens and the earth, who has directed you to the cutting off of the head of the chief of our enemies. For this your deed of hope shall not depart from the hearts of men who remember the power of God for ever. May God make these things be for you perpetual praise, to visit you with good things because you have not spared your life for the affliction of our nation, but have revenged our ruin, walking a straight way before our God.” And all the people said, “Amen! Amen!”

Then Judith said to them, “Hear me now, my brethren, and take this head, and hang it upon the highest place of your walls. As soon as the morning shall appear, and the sun shall come forth upon the earth, every one of you take his weapons, and go forth, every valiant man out of the city, and set a captain over them, as though you would go down into the field toward the watch of the Assyrians, but do not go down. Then they shall take their armor, and shall go into their camp, and raise up the captains of the army of Assyria, and shall run to the tent of Holofernes, but shall not find him, then fear shall fall upon them, and they shall flee before your face. So you, and all that inhabit the territory of Israel, shall pursue them, and overthrow them as they go. But before you do these things, call for me Achior the Ammonite, that he may see and know him who despised the house of Israel and sent him to us as to his death.” Then they called Achior out of the house of Uzziah, and when he had come and saw the head of Holofernes in a man's hand in the assembly of the people, he fell down on his face, and his spirit failed. But when they had recovered him, he fell at Judith's feet, and reverenced her, and said, “Blessed are you in all the tents of Judah, and in all nations, who hearing your name shall be astonished. Now therefore tell me all the things that you have done in these days.” Then Judith declared to him in the midst of the people all that she had done, from the day that she went forth until that hour when she spoke to them. And when she had finished speaking, the people shouted with a loud voice, and made a joyful noise in their city. And when Achior had seen all that the God of Israel had done, he believed in God greatly, and circumcised the flesh of his foreskin, and was joined to the house of Israel to this day.

As soon as the morning arose, they hung the head of Holofernes upon the wall, and every man took his weapons, and they went forth by bands to the passes of the mountain. But when the Assyrians saw them, they sent to their commanders, who then went to the generals and captains, and to all the other rulers. So they came to Holofernes' tent, and said to him who had charge of all his things, “Wake up our lord, for the slaves have been bold to come down against us to battle, that they may be utterly destroyed.” Then Bagoas went in and knocked at the door of his tent, for he thought that he was sleeping with Judith. But because no one answered, he opened it, and went into the bedchamber, and found him cast upon the floor dead, and his head taken from him. Therefore he cried with a loud voice, with weeping, and sighing, and a mighty cry, and rent his garments. After he went into the tent where Judith lodged, and when he found her not, he leaped out to the people, and cried, “These slaves have dealt treacherously. One woman of the Hebrews has brought shame upon the house of King Nebuchadnezzar, for, behold, Holofernes lies upon the ground without a head.” When the captains of the Assyrians' army heard these words, they rent their garments and their minds were greatly troubled, and there was a cry and a very great noise throughout the camp. And when those who were in the tents heard, they were astonished at the thing that had been done. Fear and trembling fell upon them, so that there was no man that dared remain in the sight of his neighbor, but, rushing out all together, they fled into every way of the plain, and of the hill country. Those also who had camped in the mountains round about Bethulia fled away.

Then the children of Israel, everyone who was a warrior among them, rushed out upon them. Then Uzziah sent to Betomasthem and Choba and Kona and to all the territories of Israel, to report the things that had been done, and that all should rush forth upon their enemies to destroy them. Now when the children of Israel heard it, they all fell upon them with one accord, and slew them all the way to Choba, likewise also those who came from Jerusalem, and from all the hill country, (for men had told them what had been done in the camp of their enemies) and those who were in Galaad, and in Galilee, chased them with a great slaughter, until they were past Damascus and the borders thereof. And the rest who dwelt at Bethulia, fell upon the camp of Assyria, and despoiled them, and were greatly enriched. And the children of Israel who returned from the slaughter had what remained, and the villages and the cities that were in the mountains and in the plain got much spoil, for the multitude was very great.

Then Joakim the high priest, and the elders of the children of Israel who dwelt in Jerusalem, came to behold the good things that God had showed to Israel, and to see Judith, and to salute her. And when they came to her, they blessed her with one accord, and said to her, “You are the exaltation of Jerusalem, you are the great glory of Israel, you are the great rejoicing of our nation, you have done all these things by your hand, you have done much good to Israel, and God is pleased with it. Blessed be you by the Almighty Lord forevermore.” And all the people said, “Amen!” And the people spoiled the camp for thirty days, and they gave to Judith Holofernes’ tent, and all his plates, and beds, and vessels, and all his things, and she took it and laid it on her mule, and prepared her carts, and put the things on them. Then all the women of Israel ran together to see her, and blessed her, and made a dance among them for her, and she took branches in her hand, and gave also to the women who were with her. And they put a garland of olive upon her and her maid that was with her, and she went before all the people in the dance, leading all the women, and all the men of Israel followed in their armor with garlands, and with songs in their mouths.

Then Judith began to sing this thanksgiving in all Israel, and all the people sang after her this song of praise. And Judith said, “Begin a song to my God with timbrels. Sing to my Lord with cymbals. Make him a new psalm, exalt him, and call upon his name. For God breaks the battles, for among the camps in the midst of the people he has delivered me out of the hands of those who persecuted me. Assyria came out of the mountains from the north, he came with ten thousands of his army, the multitude of which stopped the torrents, and their horsemen have covered the hills. He bragged that he would burn up my borders, and kill my young men with the sword, and dash the sucking children against the ground, and make my infants like prey, and my virgins like spoil, but the Almighty Lord has disappointed them by the hand of a woman. For the mighty one did not fall by the young men, nor did the sons of the Titans smite him, nor high giants set upon him, but Judith the daughter of Merari weakened him with the beauty of her countenance. For she put off the garment of her widowhood for the exaltation of those that were oppressed in Israel, and anointed her face with ointment, and bound her hair in a diadem, and took a linen garment to deceive him. Her sandals ravished his eyes, her beauty took his mind prisoner, and the sword passed through his neck. The Persians quaked at her boldness, and the Medes were daunted at her hardiness. When my afflicted shouted for joy, and my weak ones cried aloud, they were astonished, and they were overthrown. The sons of the damsels have pierced them through, and wounded them as fugitives' children: they perished by the battle of the Lord. I will sing to the Lord a new song: O Lord, you are great and glorious, wonderful in strength, and invincible. Let all creatures serve you, for you spoke, and they were made, you sent forth your spirit, and it created them, and there is no one who can resist your voice. For the mountains shall be moved from their foundations with the waters, the rocks shall melt as wax at your presence, yet you are merciful to those who fear you. For all sacrifice is too little for a sweet savor to you, and all the fat is not sufficient for your burnt offering, but he that fears the Lord is great at all times. Woe to the nations that rise up against my kindred! The Lord Almighty will take vengeance upon them in the day of judgment, in putting fire and worms in their flesh, and they shall feel them, and weep for ever.”

Now as soon as they entered into Jerusalem, they worshipped the Lord, and as soon as the people were purified, they offered their burnt offerings, and their free offerings, and their gifts. Judith also dedicated all the possessions of Holofernes, which the people had given her, and gave the canopy, which she had taken out of his bedchamber, as a gift to the Lord. So the people continued feasting in Jerusalem before the sanctuary for the space of three months and Judith remained with them. After this time everyone returned to their own inheritance, and Judith went to Bethulia, and remained in her own possession, and was in her time honorable in all the country. And many desired her, but no one knew her all the days of her life, after Manasseh her husband had died and was gathered to his people. But she increased more and more in honor, and grew old in her husband's house, being an hundred and five years old. She freed her maid. So she died in Bethulia, and they buried her in the cave of her husband Manasseh. And the house of Israel lamented her seven days, and before she died, she distributed her possessions to all those that were nearest of kin to Manasseh her husband, and to those who were the nearest of her kin. And there was no one who made the children of Israel afraid anymore in the days of Judith, nor a long time after her death.

Reading 140/341, Judith 9-12

...Judith...

Judith fell upon her face, and put ashes on her head, and uncovered the sackcloth with which she was clothed, and about the time that the incense of that evening was offered in Jerusalem in the house of the Lord, Judith cried with a loud voice, and said, “O Lord God of my father Simeon, to whom you gave a sword to take vengeance on the foreigners who loosened the girdle of a virgin to defile her, and uncovered the thigh to her shame, and polluted her womb to her reproach, (for you said, ‘This shall not be so’ yet they did so), then you handed over their rulers to be slain, so that they dyed their bed with blood, being deceived, and smote the servants with their lords, and the lords upon their thrones, and gave their wives for prey, and their daughters to be captives, and all their spoil to be divided among your dear children, who were moved with your zeal, and abhorred the pollution of their blood, and called upon you for aid, O God, O my God, hear me also a widow. For you have wrought not only those things, but also the things which came before, and which ensued after; you have thought upon the things which are now, and which are to come. Whatever you decided is ready at hand, and says, ‘Lo, we are here”, for all your ways are prepared, and your judgments are in your foreknowledge. Behold, the Assyrians are multiplied in their power; they are exalted with horse and man; they glory in the strength of their footmen; they trust in shield, and spear, and bow, and sling, and know not that you are the Lord that breaks the battles: ‘Lord’ is your name. Throw down their strength in your power, and bring down their force in your wrath, for they have purposed to defile your sanctuary, and to pollute the tabernacle where your glorious name rests and to cast down with sword the horn of your altar. Behold their pride, and send your wrath upon their heads, give into my hand, I who am a widow, the power that I have planned. Smite by the deceit of my lips the servant with the prince, and the prince with the servant, break down their stateliness by the hand of a woman. For your power is not in numbers nor your might in strong men, for you are a God of the afflicted, a helper of the oppressed, an upholder of the weak, a protector of the forlorn, a savior of the hopeless. I pray to you, I pray to you, O God of my father, and God of the inheritance of Israel, Lord of the heavens and earth, Creator of the waters, king of every creature, hear my prayer, and make my speech and deceit to be their wound and stripe, who have purposed cruel things against your covenant, and your hallowed house, and against the heights of Zion, and against the house of the possession of your children. And make every nation and tribe acknowledge that you are the God of all power and might, and that there is no other who protects the people of Israel but you.”

Now after that she had ceased to cry unto the God of Israel, and had made an end of all these words. She rose where she had fallen down, and called her maid, and went down into the house in which she dwelt in the Sabbath days and on her feast days, and pulled off the sackcloth which she had on, and took off the garments of her widowhood, and washed her body all over with water, and anointed herself with precious ointment, and braided the hair of her head, and put on a diadem upon it, and put on her garments of gladness, with which she was clad during the life of Manasseh her husband. And she took sandals upon her feet, and put on her bracelets, and her necklaces, and her rings, and her earrings, and all her ornaments, and decked herself bravely, to allure the eyes of all men that should see her. Then she gave her maid a skin of wine, and a jug of oil, and filled a bag with roasted grain and lumps of figs and with fine bread; so she wrapped all these things together, and laid them upon her maid. Thus they went forth to the gate of the city of Bethulia, and found standing there Uzziah and the elders of the city: Chabris and Charmis. And when they saw her, that her countenance was altered, and her apparel was changed, they wondered at her beauty greatly, and said unto her, “The God, the God of our fathers give you favor, and accomplish your enterprises to the glory of the children of Israel, and to the exaltation of Jerusalem.” Judith worshipped God, and she said unto them, “Command the gates of the city to be opened for me, that I may go forth to accomplish the things of which you have spoken with me.” So they commanded the young men to open for her, as she had spoken. And when they had done so, Judith went out, she, and her maid with her, and the men of the city looked after her, until she had gone down the mountain, and had passed the valley, and they could see her no more.

Thus they went straight forth in the valley, and the first watch of the Assyrians met her. They took her, and asked her, “Of what people are you? From whence do you come and where are you going?” And she said, “I am a woman of the Hebrews, and have fled from them, for they shall be given to you to be consumed. I have come to see Holofernes, the chief captain of your army, to declare words of truth, and I will show him a way, whereby he shall go, and win all the hill country, without losing the body or life of any of his men.” Now when the men heard her words, and beheld her countenance, they wondered greatly at her beauty, and said to her, “You have saved your life, since you have hurried to come down to the presence of our lord. Now therefore come to his tent, and some of us shall conduct you, until they have delivered you to his hands. And when you stand before him, be not afraid in your heart, but show unto him according to your word, and he will entreat you well.” Then they chose from among themselves a hundred men to accompany her and her maid, and they brought her to the tent of Holofernes. Then there was a bustle throughout all the camp, for her coming was told among the tents, and they came around her, as she stood outside the tent of Holofernes, until they told him of her. And they wondered at her beauty, and admired the children of Israel because of her, and everyone said to his neighbor, “Who could despise this people, that have among them such women? Surely it is not good that a single man of them be left, lest they beguile the whole earth.”

Then those who lay near Holofernes went out, and all his servants, and they brought her into the tent. Now Holofernes rested upon his bed under a canopy, which was woven with purple, gold, emeralds, and precious stones. So they showed her to him, and he came out to the front of his tent with silver lamps preceding him. And when Judith had come before him, and his servants all marveled at the beauty of her countenance, she fell down upon her face, and did reverence to him, and his servants helped her up. Then Holofernes said to her, “Woman, be of good comfort; fear not in your heart, for I never hurt anyone willing to serve Nebuchadnezzar, the king of all the earth. As for your people who dwell in the mountains, if they had not insulted me, I would not have lifted up my spear against them, but they have done these things to themselves. But now tell me why you have fled from them and have come to us, for you have come for safety. Be of good comfort, you shall live this night, and hereafter. No one shall hurt you, but treat you well, as they do the servants of King Nebuchadnezzar, my lord.”

Then Judith said to him, “Receive the words of your servant, and suffer your handmaid to speak in your presence, and I will declare no lie to my lord this night. And if you will follow the words of your handmaid, God will perfectly accomplish something through you, and my lord shall not fail in his purposes.” As Nebuchadnezzar, king of all the earth lives, and as his power lives, who has sent you for the upholding of every living thing, for not only men shall serve him by you, but also the beasts of the field, and the cattle, and the birds of the air live by your power under Nebuchadnezzar and all his house. For we have heard of your wisdom and your policies, and it is reported in all the earth, that you alone are excellent in all the kingdom, and mighty in knowledge, and wonderful in feats of war. Now as concerning the matter which Achior did speak in your council, we have heard his words, for the men of Bethulia saved him, and he declared to them all that he had spoken to you. Therefore, O lord and master, do not disregard his word, but lay it up in your heart, for it is true: our nation shall not be punished, nor can sword prevail against them, except when they sin against their God. Now, that my lord may not be defeated and frustrated in his purpose, death has now fallen upon them, and their sin has overtaken them, by which they will provoke their God to wrath. They shall do what is not fit to be done, for their supplies fail them, and all their water is scant, and they have determined to lay hands upon their cattle, and intend to consume all those things, that God has forbidden them to eat by his laws, and are resolved to use the firstfruits of the tenths of wine and oil, which they had sanctified, and reserved for the priests that serve in Jerusalem before the face of our God, which things are not lawful for any of the people so much as to touch with their hands. For they have sent some to Jerusalem to bring back permission from the senate, because those who dwell there have also done the same. Now when they bring back this word, they will do it, and they shall be given to you to be destroyed the same day. Therefore, I your handmaid, knowing all this, have fled from their presence, and God has sent me to work things with you, at which all the earth shall be astonished, whosoever shall hear of it, for your servant is religious, and serves the God of heaven day and night. Now therefore, my lord, I will remain with you, and I, your servant, will go out by night into the valley, and I will pray to God, and he will tell me when they have committed their sins, and I will come and reveal it to you. Then you shall go forth with all your army, and there shall be no one who shall resist you. And I will lead you through the midst of Judea, until you come before Jerusalem, and I will set your throne in the midst of it, and you shall drive them as sheep that have no shepherd, and a dog shall not so much as open his mouth at you, for these things were told me according to my foreknowledge, and they were declared unto me, and I have been sent to tell you.”

Her words pleased Holofernes and all his servants, and they marveled at her wisdom, and said, “There is not such a woman from one end of the earth to the other, both for beauty of face, and wisdom of words.” Likewise Holofernes said to her, “God has done well to send you before the people, that strength might be in our hands and destruction upon them who lightly regard my lord. You are both beautiful in your countenance, and intelligent in your words. Surely, if you do as you have spoken, your God shall be my God, and you shall dwell in the house of King Nebuchadnezzar, and shall be renowned through the whole earth.” Then he commanded that she be brought in where his plate was set, and bade them to prepare for her of his own meat, and that she should drink of his own wine. And Judith said, “I will not eat thereof, lest there be an offense, but provision shall be made for me of the things that I have brought.” Then Holofernes said to her, “If your provision should fail, how would we give you the like? For there are none with us from your nation.” Then Judith unto him “As your soul lives, my lord, your handmaid shall not spend those things that I have before the Lord works by my hand the things that he has determined.” Then the servants of Holofernes brought her into the tent, and she slept till midnight, and she arose when it was toward the morning watch, and sent to Holofernes, saying, “Let my lord now command that your handmaid may go forth to prayer.” Then Holofernes commanded his guard that they should not stop her. Thus she dwelt in the camp three days, and went out in the night into the valley of Bethulia, and washed herself in a fountain of water by the camp. And when she came out, she sought the Lord God of Israel to direct her way to the raising up of the children of her people. So she came in clean, and remained in the tent, until she ate her food at evening.

On the fourth day Holofernes made a feast exclusively for his own servants, and called none of the officers to the banquet. Then he said to Bagoas the eunuch, who had charge over all that he had, “Go now, and persuade this Hebrew woman who is with you, that she come to us, and eat and drink with us. For, behold, it would be a shame for our person, if we shall let such a woman go, not having had her company. If we do not draw her to us, she will laugh us to scorn.” Then Bagoas went from the presence of Holofernes, and came to her, and he said, “Let not this fair damsel fear to come to my lord, and to be honored in his presence, and drink wine, and be merry with us and be made this day as one of the daughters of the Assyrians, who serve in the house of Nebuchadnezzar.” Then Judith said to him, “Who am I now, that I should refuse my lord? Surely whatever pleases him I will do speedily, and it shall be my joy to the day of my death.” So she arose, and decked herself with her apparel and all her womanly attire, and her maid went and laid soft skins on the ground for her next to Holofernes, which she had received from Bagoas for her daily use, that she might sit and eat upon them. Now when Judith came in and sat down, Holofernes’ heart was ravished with her, and his mind was moved, and he desired greatly her company, for he had been waiting to deceive her, from the day that he had seen her. Then Holofernes said to her, “Drink now, and be merry with us.” So Judith said, “I will drink now, my lord, because my life is magnified in me this day more than all the days since I was born.” Then she took and ate and drank before him what her maid had prepared. And Holofernes took great delight in her, and drank more wine than he had drunk at any time in one day since he was born.

A couple things

Our next meeting was supposed to be on July 4th, but because of the holiday we moved it to July 11th, but that day no longer works. I would like to propose Monday July 10th. Would that work for people?

Also, you may have noticed that I have slowed down posting by quite a bit lately. Everyone was saying that they were getting behind, so I thought better to slow things down a bit and have everyone catch up rather than continue full steam ahead. At the July meeting we can see where everyone is at.

Reading 139/341, Judith 6-8

...Judith...

And when the tumult of men that were about the council was ceased, Holofernes the chief captain of the army of Assur said unto Achior and all the Moabites before all the company of other nations, And who art thou, Achior, and the hirelings of Ephraim, that thou hast prophesied against us as to day, and hast said, that we should not make war with the people of Israel, because their God will defend them? and who is God but Nabuchodonosor? He will send his power, and will destroy them from the face of the earth, and their God shall not deliver them, but we his servants will destroy them as one man; for they are not able to sustain the power of our horses. For with them we will tread them under foot, and their mountains shall be drunken with their blood, and their fields shall be filled with their dead bodies, and their footsteps shall not be able to stand before us, for they shall utterly perish, saith king Nabuchodonosor, lord of all the earth, for he said, None of my words shall be in vain. And thou, Achior, an hireling of Ammon, which hast spoken these words in the day of your iniquity, shalt see my face no more from this day, until I take vengeance of this nation that came out of Egypt. And then shall the sword of mine army, and the multitude of them that serve me, pass through your sides, and thou shalt fall among their slain, when I return. Now therefore my servants shall bring you back into the hill country, and shall set you in one of the cities of the passages, And thou shalt not perish, till thou be destroyoud with them. And if thou persuade yourself in your mind that they shall be taken, let not your countenance fall, I have spoken it, and none of my words shall be in vain. Then Holofernes commanded his servants, that waited in his tent, to take Achior, and bring him to Bethulia, and deliver him into the hands of the children of Israel. So his servants took him, and brought him out of the camp into the plain, and they went from the midst of the plain into the hill country, and came unto the fountains that were under Bethulia. And when the men of the city saw them, they took up their weapons, and went out of the city to the top of the hill, and every man that used a sling kept them from coming up by casting of stones against them. Nevertheless having gotten privily under the hill, they bound Achior, and cast him down, and left him at the foot of the hill, and returned to their lord. But the Israelites descended from their city, and came unto him, and loosed him, and brought him to Bethulia, and presented him to the governors of the city, Which were in those days Ozias the son of Micha, of the tribe of Simeon, and Chabris the son of Gothoniel, and Charmis the son of Melchiel. And they called together all the ancients of the city, and all their youth ran together, and their women, to the assembly, and they set Achior in the midst of all their people. Then Ozias asked him of what was done. And he answered and declared unto them the words of the council of Holofernes, and all the words that he had spoken in the midst of the princes of Assur, and whatsoever Holofernes had spoken proudly against the house of Israel. Then the people fell down and worshipped God, and cried unto God, saying, O Lord God of heaven, behold their pride, and pity the low estate of our nation, and look upon the face of those that are sanctified unto you this day. Then they comforted Achior, and praised him greatly. And Ozias took him out of the assembly unto his house, and made a feast to the elders, and they called on the God of Israel all that night for help. The next day Holofernes commanded all his army, and all his people which were come to take his part, that they should remove their camp against Bethulia, to take aforehand the ascents of the hill country, and to make war against the children of Israel. Then their strong men removed their camps in that day, and the army of the men of war was an hundred and seventy thousand footmen, and twelve thousand horsemen, beside the baggage, and other men that were afoot among them, a very great multitude. And they camped in the valley near unto Bethulia, by the fountain, and they spread themselves in width over Dothaim to Belmaim, and in length from Bethulia unto Cynamon, which is over against Esdraelon. Now the children of Israel, when they saw the multitude of them, were greatly troubled, and said every one to his neighbour, Now will these men lick up the face of the earth; for nor the high mountains, nor the valleys, nor the hills, are able to bear their weight. Then every man took up his weapons of war, and when they had kindled fires upon their towers, they remained and watched all that night. But in the second day Holofernes brought forth all his horsemen in the sight of the children of Israel which were in Bethulia, And viewed the passages up to the city, and came to the fountains of their waters, and took them, and set garrisons of men of war over them, and he himself removed toward his people. Then came unto him all the chief of the children of Esau, and all the governors of the people of Moab, and the captains of the sea coast, and said, Let our lord now hear a word, that there be not an overthrow in your army. For this people of the children of Israel do not trust in their spears, but in the height of the mountains wherein they dwell, because it is not easy to come up to the tops of their mountains. Now therefore, my lord, fight not against them in battle array, and there shall not so much as one man of your people perish. Remain in your camp, and keep all the men of your army, and let your servants get into their hands the fountain of water, which issueth forth of the foot of the mountain, For all the inhabitants of Bethulia have their water thence; so shall thirst kill them, and they shall give up their city, and we and our people shall go up to the tops of the mountains that are near, and will camp upon them, to watch that none go out of the city. So they and their wives and their children shall be consumed with fire, and before the sword come against them, they shall be overthrown in the streets where they dwell. Thus shalt thou render them an evil reward; because they rebelled, and met not your person peaceably. And these words pleased Holofernes and all his servants, and he appointed to do as they had spoken. So the camp of the children of Ammon departed, and with them five thousand of the Assyrians, and they pitched in the valley, and took the waters, and the fountains of the waters of the children of Israel. Then the children of Esau went up with the children of Ammon, and camped in the hill country over against Dothaim, and they sent some of them toward the south, and toward the east over against Ekrebel, which is near unto Chusi, that is upon the brook Mochmur, and the rest of the army of the Assyrians camped in the plain, and covered the face of the whole land, and their tents and carriages were pitched to a very great multitude. Then the children of Israel cried unto the Lord their God, because their heart failed, for all their enemies had compassed them round about, and there was no way to escape out from among them. Thus all the company of Assur remained about them, both their footmen, chariots, and horsemen, four and thirty days, so that all their vessels of water failed all the inhibitants of Bethulia. And the cisterns were emptied, and they had not water to drink their fill for one day; for they gave them drink by measure. Therefore their young children were out of heart, and their women and young men fainted for thirst, and fell down in the streets of the city, and by the passages of the gates, and there was no longer any strength in them. Then all the people assembled to Ozias, and to the chief of the city, both young men, and women, and children, and cried with a loud voice, and said before all the elders, God be judge between us and you, for you have done us great injury, in that you have not required peace of the children of Assur. For now we have no helper, but God hath sold us into their hands, that we should be thrown down before them with thirst and great destruction. Now therefore call them unto you, and deliver the whole city for a spoil to the people of Holofernes, and to all his army. For it is better for us to be made a spoil unto them, than to die for thirst, for we will be his servants, that our souls may live, and not see the death of our infants before our eyous, nor our wives nor our children to die. We take to witness against you the heaven and the earth, and our God and Lord of our fathers, which punisheth us according to our sins and the sins of our fathers, that he do not according as we have said this day. Then there was great weeping with one consent in the midst of the assembly, and they cried unto the Lord God with a loud voice. Then said Ozias to them, Brethren, be of good courage, let us yout endure five days, in the which space the Lord our God may turn his mercy toward us; for he will not forsake us utterly. And if these days pass, and there come no help unto us, I will do according to your word. And he dispersed the people, every one to their own charge, and they went unto the walls and towers of their city, and sent the women and children into their houses, and they were very low brought in the city. Now at that time Judith heard thereof, which was the daughter of Merari, the son of Ox, the son of Joseph, the son of Ozel, the son of Elcia, the son of Ananias, the son of Gedeon, the son of Raphaim, the son of Acitho, the son of Eliu, the son of Eliab, the son of Nathanael, the son of Samael, the son of Salasadal, the son of Israel. And Manasses was her husband, of her tribe and kindred, who died in the barley harvest. For as he stood overseeing them that bound sheaves in the field, the heat came upon his head, and he fell on his bed, and died in the city of Bethulia, and they buried him with his fathers in the field between Dothaim and Balamo. So Judith was a widow in her house three youars and four months. And she made her a tent upon the top of her house, and put on sackcloth upon her loins and ware her widow's apparel. And she fasted all the days of her widowhood, save the eves of the sabbaths, and the sabbaths, and the eves of the new moons, and the new moons and the feasts and solemn days of the house of Israel. She was also of a goodly countenance, and very beautiful to behold, and her husband Manasses had left her gold, and silver, and menservants and maidservants, and cattle, and lands, and she remained upon them. And there was none that gave her an ill word; ar she feared God greatly. Now when she heard the evil words of the people against the governor, that they fainted for lack of water; for Judith had heard all the words that Ozias had spoken unto them, and that he had sworn to deliver the city unto the Assyrians after five days; Then she sent her waitingwoman, that had the government of all things that she had, to call Ozias and Chabris and Charmis, the ancients of the city. And they came unto her, and she said unto them, Hear me now, O you governors of the inhabitants of Bethulia, for your words that you have spoken before the people this day are not right, touching this oath which you made and pronounced between God and you, and have promised to deliver the city to our enemies, unless within these days the Lord turn to help you. And now who are you that have tempted God this day, and stand instead of God among the children of men? And now try the Lord Almighty, but you shall never know any thing. For you cannot find the depth of the heart of man, nor can you perceive the things that he thinketh, then how can you search out God, that hath made all these things, and know his mind, or comprehend his purpose? Nay, my brethren, provoke not the Lord our God to anger. For if he will not help us within these five days, he hath power to defend us when he will, every day, or to destroy us before our enemies. Do not bind the counsels of the Lord our God, for God is not as man, that he may be threatened; nor is he as the son of man, that he should be wavering. Therefore let us wait for salvation of him, and call upon him to help us, and he will hear our voice, if it please him. For there arose none in our age, nor is there any now in these days nor tribe, nor family, nor people, nor city among us, which worship gods made with hands, as hath been aforetime. For the which cause our fathers were given to the sword, and for a spoil, and had a great fall before our enemies. But we know none other god, therefore we trust that he will not dispise us, nor any of our nation. For if we be taken so, all Judea shall lie waste, and our sanctuary shall be spoiled, and he will require the profanation thereof at our mouth. And the slaughter of our brethren, and the captivity of the country, and the desolation of our inheritance, will he turn upon our heads among the Gentiles, wheresoever we shall be in bondage, and we shall be an offence and a reproach to all them that possess us. For our servitude shall not be directed to favour, but the Lord our God shall turn it to dishonour. Now therefore, O brethren, let us shew an example to our brethren, because their hearts depend upon us, and the sanctuary, and the house, and the altar, rest upon us. Moreover let us give thanks to the Lord our God, which trieth us, as he did our fathers. Remember what things he did to Abraham, and how he tried Isaac, and what happened to Jacob in Mesopotamia of Syria, when he kept the sheep of Laban his mother's brother. For he hath not tried us in the fire, as he did them, for the examination of their hearts, nor hath he taken vengeance on us, but the Lord doth scourge them that come near unto him, to admonish them. Then said Ozias to her, All that thou hast spoken hast thou spoken with a good heart, and there is none that may gainsay your words. For this is not the first day wherein your wisdom is manifested; but from the beginning of your days all the people have known your understanding, because the disposition of your heart is good. But the people were very thirsty, and compelled us to do unto them as we have spoken, and to bring an oath upon ourselves, which we will not break. Therefore now pray thou for us, because thou art a godly woman, and the Lord will send us rain to fill our cisterns, and we shall faint no more. Then said Judith unto them, Hear me, and I will do a thing, which shall go throughout all generations to the children of our nation. You shall stand this night in the gate, and I will go forth with my waitingwoman, and within the days that you have promised to deliver the city to our enemies the Lord will visit Israel by mine hand. But enquire not you of mine act, for I will not declare it unto you, till the things be finished that I do. Then said Ozias and the princes unto her, Go in peace, and the Lord God be before you, to take vengeance on our enemies. So they returned from the tent, and went to their wards.