The Creator (Isa 40:21-40:24)

“Have you not known?

Have you not heard?

Has it not been told you

From the beginning?

Have you not understood

From the foundations of the earth?

It is he

Who sits above the circle of the earth.

Its inhabitants are like grasshoppers.

He stretches out the heavens

Like a curtain.

He spreads them

Like a tent to live in.

He brings princes to naught.

He makes the rulers of the earth

As nothing.

Scarcely are they planted,

Scarcely sown,

Scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth,

When he blows upon them,

They wither.

The tempest carries them off

Like stubble.”

Second Isaiah continues to use the questioning style to make his point. He seems to call attention to the ignorance of the people. Do they not understand that God created them? God sits on top of the dome over the earth in the heavens, As Second Isaiah was expressing the cosmology of his day. God has stretched out the heavens like a curtain or a tent. All humans are like grasshoppers since he has such a lofty view. He controls the earthly princes and rulers. As soon as someone plants something and it begins to take roots, he blows on it and it withers. Then he sends a tempest storm to carry it off as stubble. Clearly God is in control as the creator of this world and the things in it.

Job responds that God is powerful (Job 9:1-9:12)

“Then Job answered.

‘Indeed I know that it is so.

But how can a man be just before God?

If one wished to contend with him,

One could not answer him once in a thousand times.

God has a wise heart.

He is mighty in strength.

Who has resisted God?

Who has succeeded?

He removes mountains.

They do not know it,

When he overturns them in his anger.

Who shakes the earth out of its place?

Who makes its pillars tremble?

Who commands the sun?

It does not rise without him.

Who seals up the stars?

Who alone stretched out the heavens?

Who trampled the waves of the sea?

Who made the Bear?

Who made the Orion?

Who made the Pleiades?

Who made the chambers of the south?

Who does great things beyond understanding?

Who does marvelous things without number?

Look!

He passes by me.

I do not see him.

He moves on.

But I do not perceive him.

He snatches away.

Who can stop him?

Who will say to him?

‘What are you doing?’”

Job posed the basic question of how could a mere moral become just before God? What is righteousness? In a sense he is answering Eliphaz rather than Bildad. God is a thousand times better than man. He is wise and strong. Who could resist God successfully? He moves mountains in his anger and they do not even know it. He commands the sun, the stars, and the waves of the sea.  He makes all the heavenly constellations of stars like the Bear, the Orion, and the Pleiades. In fact these clusters of stars were sometimes thought of as gods. God stretches out the heavens like a tent. He does great marvelous things that we sometimes do not understand. He passes by and we don’t see him. No one asks him what he is doing. He just does it. No one can stop him.

Judith (Jdt 8:1-8:8)

“Now in those days, Judith heard about these things. She was the daughter of Merari son of Ox, son of Joseph, son of Oziel, son of Elkiah, son of Ananias, son of Gideon, son of Raphaim, son of Ahitub, son of Elijah, son of Hilkiah, son of Eliab, son of Nathanael, son of Salamiel, son of Sarasadai, son of Israel. Her husband Manasseh, who belonged to her tribe and family, had died during the barley harvest. As he stood overseeing those who were binding sheaves in the field, he was overcome by the burning heat. He took to his bed and died in his town Bethulia. So they buried him with his ancestors in the field between Dothan and Balamon. Judith had remained as a widow for three years and four months at home where she set up a tent for herself on the roof of her house. She put sackcloth about her waist and dressed in widow’s clothing. She fasted all the days of her widowhood, except the day before the Sabbath and the Sabbath itself, the day before the new moon and the day of the new moon, and the festivals and days of rejoicing of the house of Israel. She was beautiful in appearance. She was very lovely to behold. Her husband Manasseh had left her gold and silver, men and women slaves, livestock, and fields. She maintained this estate. No one spoke ill of her. She feared God with great devotion.”

Now the main protagonist of this book appears on the scene, almost half way through this book. We learn about Judith’s rich genealogical background that includes many important people. What can we tell from her genealogy? She was the daughter of Merari, which is a Levite name. Joseph was a common name also. The names of Oziel and Elkiah are unique to her. The other names associated with famous people were Gideon, Elijah, and Hilkiah, but there was no attempt to associate those men with these men mentioned here. Many of the other names are hard to connect with anyone. Her husband, of the same tribe and family, died of sunstroke overseeing his workers. I wonder what happened to the workers. She was a well to do widow for over 3 years. She was very upright in all that she did.   Her name, Judith, literally means female Jew. She had a tent on her roof and wore sackcloth. She fasted all the time except for the Sabbath eve, the Sabbath, the new moons, and the other Jewish festivals. New moons keep appearing as a day to celebrate. She was beautiful, of course. On top of that, she was rich, inheriting her husband’s estate of gold, silver, slaves, livestock, and fields. There is no mention of her children if there were any. No one spoke ill of her because she feared God with a great devotion. This is the kind of description that many medieval female Christian saints enjoyed. She heard about what was going on in town.