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scripture

 

CHAPTER 9

The Prayer of Judith.* 1Judith fell prostrate, put ashes upon her head, and uncovered the sackcloth she was wearing. Just as the evening incense was being offered in the temple of God in Jerusalem, Judith cried loudly to the Lord:a 2“Lord, God of my father Simeon, into whose hand you put a sword to take revenge upon the foreigners* who had defiled a virgin by violating her, shaming her by uncovering her thighs, and dishonoring her by polluting her womb. You said, ‘This shall not be done!’ Yet they did it. 3Therefore you handed over their rulers to slaughter; and you handed over to bloodshed the bed in which they lay deceived, the same bed that had felt the shame of their own deceiving. You struck down the slaves together with their masters, and the masters upon their thrones.* 4Their wives you handed over to plunder, and their daughters to captivity, and all the spoils you divided among your favored children, who burned with zeal for you and in their abhorrence of the defilement of their blood called on you for help. O God, my God, hear me also, a widow.

5“It is you who were the author of those events and of what preceded and followed them. The present and the future you have also planned.b Whatever you devise comes into being. 6The things you decide come forward and say, ‘Here we are!’ All your ways are in readiness, and your judgment is made with foreknowledge.c

7“Here are the Assyrians, a vast force, priding themselves on horse and chariot, boasting of the power of their infantry, trusting in shield and spear, bow and sling.d They do not know that you are the Lord who crushes wars;* 8Lord is your name. Shatter their strength in your might, and crush their force in your wrath.e For they have resolved to profane your sanctuary, to defile the tent where your glorious name resides, and to break off the horns of your altar with the sword. 9* See their pride, and send forth your fury upon their heads.f Give me, a widow, a strong hand to execute my plan.g 10By the deceit of my lips, strike down slave together with ruler, and ruler together with attendant. Crush their arrogance by the hand of a female.h

11* i “Your strength is not in numbers, nor does your might depend upon the powerful.j You are God of the lowly, helper of those of little account, supporter of the weak, protector of those in despair, savior of those without hope.

12“Please, please, God of my father, God of the heritage of Israel, Master of heaven and earth, Creator of the waters, King of all you have created, hear my prayer! 13Let my deceitful words* k wound and bruise those who have planned dire things against your covenant, your holy temple, Mount Zion, and the house your children possess.l 14Make every nation and every tribe know clearly that you are God, the God of all power and might, and that there is no other who shields the people of Israel but you alone.”

* [9:114] Judith prepares to confront the enemy by turning to God, the source of her strength. Her prayer, an individual lament, moves from a remembrance of God’s saving deeds of the past to an appeal to God to exercise the same power in the present. Judith contrasts the empty pride of the Assyrians with God’s surpassing might, powerful enough to be exercised in unlikely ways, even through the hand of a woman.

* [9:2] The foreigners: Shechem, the Hivite, violated Dinah, Jacob and Leah’s daughter (Gn 34:2). Defiled a virgin by violating her: meaning of the Greek is unclear; lit., “who loosened the virgin’s womb (metran) to defilement.” Some read “headdress” or “girdle” (mitran) instead of “womb” (metran).

* [9:3] Because Shechem had deceived and violated Dinah, her brothers, Simeon and Levi, tricked Shechem and the men of his city into being circumcised, and then killed them while they were recovering from the circumcision (Gn 34:1329).

* [9:78] You are the Lord who crushes wars; Lord is your name: cf. Ex 15:3, “The Lord is a warrior; Lord is his name” and Jdt 16:2, “The Lord is a God who crushes wars.”

* [9:910] In a five-fold petition, Judith asks that God see their pride, send fury on their heads, give her a strong hand, strike down the enemy through her deceit, and crush their pride by the hand of a female (theleia, see also 13:15 and 16:5, rather than the more usual gyne, woman). In an androcentric society, there was no greater dishonor for a male than that he die at the hand of a female (see Jgs 9:5354). Nine verses emphasize that by her hand God’s deliverance is accomplished: 8:33; 9:9, 10; 12:4; 13:4, 14, 15; 15:10; and 16:5.

* [9:1112] Ten titles for God are arranged in two groups of five on either side of the repeated Greek particle, nai nai (“verily” or “please”). The title “Master of heaven and earth” (v. 12; see notes on 1:11 and 5:20) is unique to Judith in the Septuagint, as are also “God of the heritage of Israel” and “Creator of the waters.”

* [9:13] Deceitful words: twice Judith asks God to make her a successful liar in order to preserve her people (vv. 10, 13).

a. [9:1] Ex 30:78; 1 Chr 28:18; Ezr 9:5; Ps 141:2; Dn 9:21.

b. [9:5] Is 41:2223; 42:9; 43:9; 44:7; 46:10.

c. [9:6] Jb 38:35; Is 46:913; Bar 3:35.

d. [9:7] Ex 15:1, 21.

e. [9:8] Ex 15:3; Ps 46:910; 76:45.

f. [9:9] Ex 15:7.

g. [9:9] Ex 3:1920; 4:2, 4, 6, 7, 17, 20; 5:21; 6:1; 7:4, 5, 15, 17, 19; 8:1, 2, 12, 13; 9:3, 22; 10:12, 21, 22; 12:11; 13:3, 9, 14, 16; 14:16, 21, 26, 27; 15:6, 9, 12, 20; Jgs 5:26.

h. [9:10] Jgs 4:9.

i. [9:11] Ps 33:1617.

j. [9:11] Ex 15:2; Jgs 7:2; 1 Sm 17:4547; 2 Chr 16:89.

k. [9:13] Jdt 10:4; 11:20, 23; 16:6, 9; Est C:24.

l. [9:13] Dn 11:28.




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