The revolt in Antioch (1 Macc 11:45-11:51)

“Then the people of the city assembled within the city, to the number of one hundred twenty thousand. They wanted to kill the king. But the king fled into the palace. Then the people of the city seized the main streets of the city and began to fight. So the king called the Jews to his aid. They all rallied about him. Then they spread out through the city. They killed on that day about one hundred thousand men. They set fire to the city. They seized a large amount of spoil on that day. They saved the king. When the people of the city saw that the Jews had gained control of the city as they pleased, their courage failed. They cried out to the king with this entreaty.

‘Grant us peace!

Make the Jews stop fighting against us and our city.’

They threw down their arms and made peace. So the Jews gained glory in the eyes of the king and of all the people in his kingdom. They returned to Jerusalem with a large amount of spoil.”

There were about 120,000 people in revolt against King Demetrius II as this mob wanted to kill him. The king ran into his palace, but they seized the main streets of Antioch. Then the king asked the Jews for help. Supposedly, there were about 3,000 Jews in Antioch sent by Jonathan. Somehow, these 3,000 Jews spread out and killed 100,000 inhabitants of Antioch. It does not explain how this happened. They must have been great fighters. They even set fire to the city and took its spoils. Apparently, those remaining people of Antioch wanted peace. They wanted the Jews to stop fighting. The king was happy with the Jews as they returned to Jerusalem with their spoil. That was a great feat of the Jewish fighters but it was for a foreign king and made others mad.

The Israelite victory (Jdt 16:11-16:12)

“Then my oppressed people shouted.

My weak people cried out.

The enemy trembled.

They lifted up their voices.

The enemy was turned back.

Sons of slave girls pierced them through.

They were wounded like the children of fugitives.

They perished before the army of my Lord.”

The victory chant came last. The weak people got courage. Now the enemy trembled at the Israelite shout. The sons of slave girls defeated the trained soldiers. This may be an illusion to the fact that some of the people of the land may have been involved in this attack. The enemy was like fugitive wounded children dying before the great army of the Lord.

 

General Holofernes speaks to Judith (Jdt 11:1-11:4)

“Then General Holofernes said to Judith.

‘Take courage, woman!

Do not be afraid in your heart.

I have never hurt anyone,

Who chose to serve Nebuchadnezzar,

The king of all the earth.

Even now,

If your people who live in the hill country had not slighted me,

I would never have lifted my spear against them.

They have brought this on themselves.

Now tell me,

Why you have fled from them?

Why have come over to us?

In any event,

You have come to safety.

Take courage!

You will live tonight and ever after.

No one will hurt you.

All will treat you well.

They will treat you as they do the servants of my lord,

King Nebuchadnezzar.’”

General Holofernes was very cordial. He told Judith to take courage and not be afraid. He has never hurt anybody who served his King Nebuchadnezzar, who was the king of the whole earth, certainly a humble title. He would not have lifted a spear against her people, but they brought this on themselves, by slighting him. He wanted to know why she had fled to his side. She could be assured that she would be safe tonight and forever. She would be treated like the other servants of King Nebuchadnezzar.

Let us thank God (Jdt 8:25-8:27)

“In spite of everything,

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

He is putting us to the test as he did our ancestors.

Remember what he did with Abraham,

How he tested Isaac,

What happened to Jacob in Syrian Mesopotamia,

While he was tending the sheep of Laban,

His mother’s brother.

He has not tried us with fire,

As he did them,

To search their hearts.

Nor has he taken vengeance upon us.

But the Lord scourges those who are close to him,

In order to admonish them.”

Despite everything, Judith wants them to give thanks to the Lord, our God. This is a test like he gave to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God is not trying us with fire nor is he vengeful. He scourges those that are close to him to help them learn by admonishment. This was a stirring speech by Judith as she wanted to give courage to the elders. She wanted to remind them that God had sustained their ancestors in times of trial.

The lack of water is a great concern to the Israelites (Jdt 7:19-7:22)

“The Israelites cried out to the Lord their God. Their courage failed. All their enemies had surrounded them. There was no way of escape from them. The whole Assyrian army, their infantry, chariots, and cavalry, surrounded them for thirty-four days. All the water containers of every inhabitant of Bethulia were empty. Their cisterns were going dry. On no day did they have enough water to drink because their drinking water was rationed. Their children were listless. The women and young men fainted from thirst. They were collapsing in the streets of the town and in the gateways. They no longer had any strength left in them.”

The Israelites cried out to God. Their courage was failing. Their enemies, the great Assyrian army, surrounded them with no way to escape during 34 days. All the water containers were empty. What water they had was rationed. The children were listless. People were fainting all over the place, collapsing in the streets. They had no strength left. This is somewhat similar to the story in 2 Kings, chapters 6-7, where the prophet Elisha and King Jehoram (852-842 BCE) were surrounded by the Arameans in Samaria.

 

The preparations for the wedding feast (Tob 8:18-8:21)

“Then Raguel ordered his servants to fill in the grave before daybreak. After this, he asked his wife to bake many loaves of bread. He went out to the herd. He brought in two steers and four rams. He ordered them to be slaughtered. So they began to make preparations. Then he called for Tobias. He swore an oath to him in these words. ‘You shall not leave here for fourteen days, but shall stay here eating and drinking with me. You shall cheer up my daughter, who has been depressed. Take at once half of what I own. Return in safety to your father. The other half will be yours when my wife and I die. Take courage, my child. I am your father and Edna is your mother. We belong to you as well as your wife, now and forever. Take courage, my child.’”

Raguel had his servants fill up the grave that he had dug before morning. He did not know that Tobias had chased away the evil spirit. He asked his wife to bake many loaves of bread. He took 2 steers and 4 rams from his herd and had them slaughtered. The he asked Tobias to take an oath. Tobias had to stay for a 14 day wedding festival, where he would eat and drink. This was twice as long as the usual 7 day wedding festival. This is somewhat reminiscent of the marriage of Rebecca and Isaac in Genesis, chapter 24. Tobias was to cheer up his new wife Sarah because she was depressed. In fact, Raguel was giving half his possessions to Tobias now and he would inherit the rest at the death of himself and his wife Edna. He asked him to take courage and return safely to his father.

Edna comforts her daughter Sarah (Tob 7:15-7:16)

“Then they began to eat and drink. Raguel called his wife Edna. He said to her.

‘Sister, get the other room ready!

Take her there!’

So she went and made the bed in the room, as he had told her. She wept for her daughter. Then wiping away the tears, she said to her.

‘Take courage, my daughter!

The Lord of heaven grant you joy in place of your sorrow.

Take courage, my daughter!’

Then she went out”

With the legal marriage all determined, they finally sat down to eat and drink. Then Raguel asked his wife Edna to prepare the marriage room. She then went and made the bed, but she was crying. She tried to wipe away the tears for her daughter Sarah. She told her to take courage. The Lord of heaven would protect her. Hopefully, she would have joy instead of sorrow, after 7 failed attempts to marry. Then the mother left.

The meeting of Tobit and Raphael (Tob 5:10-5:10)

“Then Tobias went out and called him. He said.

‘Young man, my father is calling for you.’

So he went in to him. Tobit greeted him first. He replied.

‘Joyous greetings to you!’

However Tobit retorted.

‘What joy is left for me anymore?

I am a man without eyesight.

I cannot see the light of heaven.

I live in darkness like the dead who no longer see the light.

Although still alive,

I am among the dead.

I hear people but I cannot see them.’

However, the young man said.

‘Take courage!

The time is near for God to heal you.

Take courage!’

Then Tobit said to him.

‘My son Tobias wishes to go to Media.

Can you accompany him and guide him?

I will pay you wages, brother.’

He answered.

‘I can go with him.

I know all the roads.

I have often gone to Media.

I have crossed all its plains.

I am familiar with its mountains and all of its roads.’”

Tobit wanted to meet the man who would lead his son to Media. Tobias went out to get him, saying that his father wanted to talk to him. When they met, Tobit greeted Raphael first. Then when Raphael responded with a joyful greeting, Tobit took offence. He wanted to know how he could be joyful since he was blind. He could not see the light of heaven. He was like a dead man, living in darkness. He could hear but he could not see. Raphael tells him to have courage.   Soon God would heal him. Then Tobit wanted to know if he would accompany his son Tobias to Media. Once again, like he had just told Tobias, he maintained he knew all the roads to Media and that he had been there often. So far so good, except for the joyful greeting.

King David gives instructions to Solomon (1 Chr 22:11-22:16)

“Now, my son,

Yahweh be with you!

Thus you may succeed in building the house of Yahweh your God,

As he has spoken concerning you.

Only, may Yahweh grant you discretion and understanding,

So that when he gives you charge over Israel

You may keep the law of Yahweh your God.

Then you will prosper if you are careful

To observe the statutes and the ordinances

That Yahweh commanded Moses for Israel.

Be strong!

Have good courage!

Fear not!

Do not be dismayed!

With great pains I have provided for the house of Yahweh

One hundred thousand talents of gold

And one million talents of silver.

I have provided bronze and iron beyond weighing,

For there is so much of it.

Timber and stone too I have provided.

To these you must add more.

You have an abundance of workers,

Stonecutters, masons, carpenters,

And all kinds of artisans without number,

Skilled in working gold, silver, bronze, and iron.

Now begin the work.

Yahweh be with you!’”

King David was going to provide everything for him to build this house. He left him gold, silver, bronze, and iron. Yahweh was to be with Solomon. To give you some sense of how much 100,000 talents of gold would be worth, think of about $300 trillion USA dollars, $300,000,000,000,000.00. The silver would only be worth about $40 billion USA dollars, $40,000,000,000.00. This was quite a lot of money in any time frame so that these numbers seem a bit high. It is not clear where David got all his money. 1 Kings explained how Solomon got all his gold and silver. He said that there were plenty of workers. He also provided bronze, timber, and stone. He simply needed to have courage and the ability to follow the commandments of Moses. However, he should not fear because Yahweh would be with him. Just being the work.