The prayer of Judith about her ancestor Simeon (Jdt 9:2-9:4)

Judith said.

‘O Lord God of my ancestor Simeon,

To whom you gave a sword

To take revenge on those strangers

Who had torn off a virgin’s clothing to defile her.

They exposed her thighs

In order to put her to shame.

They polluted her womb to disgrace her.

You have said.

‘It shall not be done.’

Yet they did it.

You gave up their rulers to be killed.

Their bed,

Which was ashamed of the deceit they had practiced,

To be stained with blood,

You struck down slaves along with princes,

Princes on their thrones.

You gave up their wives for booty.

You gave up their daughters to captivity.

All their booty was to be divided among your beloved sons,

Who burned with zeal for you.

They abhorred the pollution of their blood.

They called on you for help.’”

This prayer is based on the story in Genesis, chapter 34, about the taking of Simeon’s sister Dinah by Shechem, whom a northern Israelite city has been named after. This story of Levi and Simeon on a rampage was one of the first confrontations with the Canaanites. Simeon did not want his sister to marry Shechem, after he had defiled her, so he killed him. Somehow Judith can trace her roots back to Simeon, some 1500 years earlier. It is odd that the motivation for her bravery will be a millennium old rape, which she describes in detail. Judith spoke of Dinah’s clothing defilement, her exposed thighs, and disgraced womb, although she never mentions her by name. Judith interpreted the story to mean that God let Simeon and Levi kill the perpetrators of this rape. In fact, the story went on to say, the other brothers of Simeon, the other tribe members, ransacked the whole town and all its people taking their stuff as booty. This was a strange brutal vengeful act in Genesis.

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