A widow named Judith hears that the elders will surrender. She tells them they are wrong. She will act based on faith. They accept her proposal.
1. In those days Judith heard about this. She was the daughter of Merari, the son of Ox, the son of Joseph, the son of Oziel, the son of Elkiah, the son of Ananias, the son of Gideon, the son of Raphaim, the son of Ahitub, the son of Elihu, the son of Eliab, the son of Nathanael, the son of Salamiel, the son of Salasadai, the son of Israel.
2. Her husband was Manasses, of her tribe and of her family. He died in the days of barley harvest.
3. For he stood over those who bound sheaves in the field, and the heat came upon his head, and he fell on his bed, and died in his city Bethulia. So they buried him with his fathers in the field which is between Dothaim and Balamon.
4. Judith was a widow in her house three years and four months.
5. She made herself a tent upon the roof of her house, and put on sackcloth upon her loins. The garments of her widowhood were upon her.
She made herself a tent upon the roof of her house. Judith many have been living a perpetual Sukkoth. That is also known as the Feast of Booths, as well as the Feast of Tabernacles. It is a seven or eight day holiday when observant Jews live in tents. It is a reminder of the fragile tents they lived in during their 40 years in the desert after the Exodus from slavery in Egypt.
The Bible sometimes uses the word ‘tent’ to mean our ‘body.’ So this could also mean that Judith lives a transcendent life with God.
For centuries, the Ark of the Covenant was housed in a tent.
6. And she fasted all the days of her widowhood, except the eves of the Sabbaths, the Sabbaths, the eves of the new moons, the new moons, and the feasts and joyful days of the house of Israel.
she fasted all the days of her widowhood. Judith is a Woman of God. She is the real thing.
7. She was of a goodly countenance, and exceeding beautiful to behold. Her husband Manasses had left her gold, silver, menservants, maidservants, cattle, and lands. She remained on those lands.
She remained on those lands. That is, she manages them. She manages her vast wealth and employees and household.
The NAB translation puts it this way: “No one had a bad word to say about her, for she was a very God-fearing woman.”
No one said anything evil about her. Judith lived an excellent life.
she feared God exceedingly. That is, she was very God-fearing.
9. She heard the evil words of the people against the governor, because they fainted for lack of water; and Judith heard all the words that Ozias spoke to them, how he swore to them that he would deliver the city to the Assyrians after five days.
10. So she sent her maid, who was over all things that she had, to summon Ozias, Chabris, and Charmis, the elders of her city.
11. They came to her, and she said to them, “Hear me now, O you rulers of the inhabitants of Bethulia: for your word that you have spoken before the people this day is not right. You have set the oath which you have pronounced between God and you, and have promised to deliver the city to our enemies, unless within these days the Lord turns to help you.
your word that you have spoken … is not right. Judith speaks the truth to the elders. Doubtless they did not want to be told they were wrong. But Judith does not let that stop her.
12. Now who are you that you have tempted God this day, and stand in the place of God among the children of men?
13. Now try the Lord Almighty, and you will never know anything.
try the Lord Almighty. That is, they were putting conditions on God.
14. For you will not find the depth of the heart of man, and you will not perceive the things that he thinks. How will you search out God, who has made all these things, and know his mind, and comprehend his purpose? No, my kindred, don’t provoke the Lord our God to anger!
15. For if he has not decided to help us within these five days, he has power to defend us in such time as he will, or to destroy us before the face of our enemies.
16. But don’t you pledge the counsels of the Lord our God! For God is not as man, that he should be threatened; neither as the son of man, that he should be turned by entreaty.
17. Therefore let’s wait for the salvation that comes from him, and call upon him to help us. He will hear our voice, if it pleases him.
18. For there arose none in our age, neither is there any of us today, tribe, or kindred, or family, or city, which worship gods made with hands, as it was in the former days;
19. for which cause our fathers were given to the sword, and for plunder, and fell with a great fall before our enemies.
20. But we know no other god beside him. Therefore we hope that he will not despise us, nor any of our race.
21. For if we are taken so, all Judea will sit upon the ground, and our sanctuary will be plundered; and he will require our blood for profaning it.
22. And the slaughter of our kindred, and the captivity of the land, and the desolation of our inheritance, he will turn upon our heads among the Gentiles, wherever we will be in bondage. We will be an offense and a reproach before those who take us for a possession.
23. For our bondage will not be ordered to favor; but the Lord our God will turn it to dishonor.
24. And now, kindred, let’s show an example to our kindred, because their soul hangs upon us, and the sanctuary, the house, and the altar rest upon us.
let’s show an example to our kindred. Godly Judith takes the three Elders of the nation to task for their lack of faith and courage. She has the perspective of faith and courage.
let’s give thanks to the Lord our God. Judith’s words remind of of James:
James 1:2-4. Count it all joy, my brothers, when you fall into various temptations, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. Let endurance have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
26. Remember all the things which he did to Abraham, and all the things in which he tried Isaac, and all the things which happened to Jacob in Mesopotamia of Syria, when he kept the sheep of Laban his mother’s brother.
27. For he has not tried us in the fire, as he did them, to search out their hearts, neither has he taken vengeance on us; but the Lord does scourge them that come near to him, to admonish them.”
28. And Ozias said to her, “All that you have spoken, you have spoken with a good heart. There is no one who will deny your words.
29. 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.
from the beginning of your days all the people have known your understanding. Judith has a lifetime of wisdom and excellence.
30. But the people were exceedingly thirsty, and compelled us to do as we spoke to them, and to bring an oath upon ourselves, which we will not break.
31. And now pray you for us, because you are a godly woman, and the Lord will send us rain to fill our cisterns, and we will faint no more.”
I will do a thing, which will go down to all generations. These words remind us of the words of Mary:
Luke 1:48b. For behold, from now on, all generations will call me blessed.
Judith speaks in faith of the future. Do her words cause the future to happen the way she describes? Or did she foresee the future and simply describe it?
33. You shall all stand at the gate tonight. I will go out with my maid. Within the days after which you said that you would deliver the city to our enemies, the Lord will visit Israel by my hand.
34. But you shall not inquire of my act; for I will not declare it to you, until the things are finished that I will do.”
35. Then Ozias and the rulers said to her, “Go in peace. May the Lord God be before you, to take vengeance on our enemies.”
36. So they returned from the tent, and went to their stations.
Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.