The renegades led by Alcimus (1 Macc 7:5-7:7)

“Then there came to King Demetrius I all the renegade and godless men of Israel. They were led by Alcimus, who wanted to be high priest. They brought to the king this accusation against the people.

‘Judas and his brothers have destroyed all your friends.

They have driven us out of our land.

Now then send a man whom you trust.

Let him go and see all the ruin

That Judas has brought on us

And on the land of the king.

Let him punish them and all who help them.’”

Now we have another character, Alcimus, who is the leader of the Jewish renegades, the ungodly Jews. Alcimus was a descendant of Aaron and Moses. Practically speaking, weren’t nearly all of the Jews also descendents? It is strange that he went to a Syrian leader to make him the high priest. However, he and his friends accused Judas Maccabeus and his brothers of destroying all the king’s friends and driving them out of the land. He told King Demetrius I to send a trusted man to see all the ruin in Judah and the king’s land. He thought that Judas should be punished. Clearly they were not big fans of Judas and his brothers.

The prayer of the people and Uzziah (Jdt 13:17-13:20)

“All the people were greatly astonished. They bowed down and worshiped God. They said with one accord.

‘Blessed are you, our God,

You have this day humiliated the enemies of your people.’

Then Uzziah said to her.

‘O daughter,

You are blessed by the Most High God above all women on earth.

Blessed be the Lord God, who created the heavens and the earth!

He has guided you to cut off the head of the leader of our enemies.

Your hope will never depart

From the hearts of those who remember the power of God.

May God grant this to be a perpetual honor to you!

May God reward you with blessings!

You have risked your own life

When our nation was brought low.

You averted our ruin.

You walked in the straight path before our God.’

All the people said. ‘Amen! Amen!’”

Obviously the people were astonished to see the head of General Holofernes. They immediately worshiped God as they said with one voice, that God was blessed for destroying their enemies. Then the leader of the town of Bethulia Uzziah said to Judith that she was blessed by God above all women on earth. This seems to be somewhat similar to the later popular Roman Catholic prayer, the ‘Hail Mary,’ where Mary is ‘blessed art thou among all women.’ However, the prayer quickly turns to the Lord God, who created heaven and earth, not Yahweh, or the God of Israel. God had guided Judith to cut off the general’s head. However, Judith should be blessed with a perpetual memory for risking her life when things were bad. In the canticle of Deborah and Bara, in Judges, chapter 5, Jael, who killed Sisera, was also called a blessed woman. Judith had averted the ruin of Israel and yet walked in the straight path before God. The obvious conclusion of the people is the great ‘Amen.’