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.

The Gadite warriors (1 Chr 12:8-12:15)

“From the Gadites, there went over to David at the stronghold in the wilderness mighty and experienced warriors. They were expert with shield and spear. Their faces were like the faces of lions. They were swift as gazelles on the mountains. Ezer was the chief, Obadiah the second, Eliab the third, Mishmannah the fourth, Jeremiah the fifth, Attai the sixth, Eliel the seventh, Johanan the eighth, Elzabad the ninth, Jeremiah the tenth, and Machbannai the eleventh. These Gadites were officers of the army, the least equal to over a hundred men and the greatest to a thousand men. These are the men who crossed the Jordan in the first month, when it was overflowing all its banks. They put to flight all those in the valleys, to the east and to the west.”

The Gadites were from the east side of the Jordan. Apparently they were very fast. They brought a lot of people with them as they seem to have an organized army with various ranks. In fact, 11 different ranks are cited as they chased people on the east and west side of the Jordan River. There were 6 people with the name of Ezer. There were 12 people with the name of Obadiah, with the most famous the prophet and book Obadiah. Eliab appeared as the name of 7 different people. Although Mishmannah never appears elsewhere, Attai was the name of 1 or 2 other people. This Jeremiah was not the prophet Jeremiah. Notice that there was another Jeremiah in this Gadite band of soldiers. There were 9 people with the name of Eliel and Johanan. However, there was only 1 other with the name of Elzabad, and no others with the name of Machbannai except the one mentioned here.

The descendents of Kohath (1 Chr 6:22-6:28)

“The sons of Kohath were Amminadab his son, Korah his son, Assir his son, Elkanah his son, Ebiasaph his son, Assir his son, Tahath his son, Uriel his son, Uzziah his son, and Shaul his son. The sons of Elkanah were Amasai and Ahimoth, Elkanah his son, Zophai his son, Nahath his son, Eliab his son, Jeroham his son, Elkanah his son. The sons of Samuel were Joel his first-born and the second son Abijah.”

This genealogy goes to 22 generations. Right from the beginning there is a problem. (2) Amminadab is not listed as a son of (1) Kohath earlier in this chapter or elsewhere. Most believe that this is an error and it should refer to Izhar. Amminadab in Exodus, chapter 6, refers to the man of Judah, the father of Nahshon and Elisheba who married Aaron. (3) Korah is called the son of Izhar in the same passage. This Korah played a major role in the revolt against Moses in Numbers, chapter 16, where he was clearly called the son of Izhar, son of Kohath. He died with his whole family when the earth split and devoured him. There is another (4) Assir who is a son of (6) Ebiasaph, who was the son of (5) Elkanah who was the son of this Assir (7).   This Elkanah was the grandson of Korah who had rebelled against Moses. Notice that were 3 other people in this lineage who were also named (12) (15) Elkanah. (8) Tahath was both the name of a person and a place. There were a couple of people with the name of (9) Uriel. There were 5 people with the name of (10) Uzziah, including the famous King Uzziah or Azariah of Judah from 781-740. (11) Shaul is sometimes referred to as Saul, but this is not King Saul. There are 3 other people named (13) Amasai. This is the only mention of (14) Ahimoth and (16) Zophai. There were 3 people with the name of (17) Nahath but 7 people with the name of (18) Eliab. There were 7 people with the name of (19) Jeroham. However, this one is the father of (20) Elkanah who was the father of (21) Samuel as in 1 Samuel, chapters 1-2. There seems to be about 5 or 6 people with this name, mostly Levites. Samuel’s sons were (22) Joel and (22) Abijah as indicated in 1 Samuel, chapter 8, who did not follow in the footsteps of their father. Their official functional roles were laid out in Numbers, chapter 4.