The punishment for Israel (Hos 2:13-2:13)

“‘I will punish her

For the festival days

Of the Baals.

There she burned

Incense to them.

She decked herself

With her ring,

With jewelry.

She went after

Her lovers.

She forgot me.’

Says Yahweh.”

The “her” here is clearly Israel in this oracle of Yahweh. Israel had prostituted itself by running to the false idol Baal gods. Yahweh was going to punish the people of Israel, because they were burning incense to these gods on the festival days of Baal. Israel, like Gomer, decked herself out with a ring and jewelry. When she sought her idol lovers, she forgot Yahweh.

The older people at the banquet (Sir 32:3-32:6)

“Speak!

You who are older!

It is your right!

But speak

With accurate knowledge!

Do not interrupt the music!

Where there is entertainment,

Do not pour out talk!

Do not display

Your cleverness

At the wrong time!

A ruby seal

In a setting of gold

Is a concert of music

At a banquet of wine.

A seal of emerald

In a rich setting of gold

Is the melody of music

With good wine.”

Sirach has some advice for the old folks at a wine banquet. If they are older, they should speak because it is their right. However, they should have accurate knowledge. These old folks should not talk if there is entertainment, so that they do not display their cleverness at the wrong time. Sirach compares the role of music and wine at a banquet to a ruby seal in gold and an emerald set in gold. Once again, jewelry was a comparison to the happy good times of music and drink.

Jewelry (Song 1:9-1:11)

Male lover

“My love!

I compare you

To a mare among Pharaoh’s chariots.

Your cheeks are comely

With ornaments.

Your neck is comely

With strings of jewels.

We will make you ornaments of gold,

Studded with silver.”

The male lover responded as if he were a rich man. He compared his female lover to a horse among the Egyptian Pharaoh’s chariot horses. I am not sure how well she took this comparison. Her cheeks and neck were good looking. She had some kind of ornaments on her cheeks with jewels around her neck. Maybe she had some sort of tattoo on her cheeks. However, this male lover was going to bring ornaments of gold studded with silver. Nothing was too good for her.

Judith dresses up to go to General Holofernes (Jdt 10:1-10:5)

“When Judith had stopped crying out to the God of Israel, as she had ended all these words, she rose from where she lay prostrate. She called her maid. She went down into the house where she lived on the Sabbath and on her festal days. She removed the sackcloth that she had been wearing. She took off her widow’s garments. She bathed her body with water. She anointed herself with precious ointment. She combed her hair and put on a tiara. She dressed herself in the festive attire that she used to wear while her husband Manasseh was living. She put sandals on her feet. She put on her anklets, bracelets, rings, earrings and all her other jewelry. Thus she made herself very beautiful, to entice the eyes of all the men who might see her. She gave her maid a skin of wine and a flask of oil. She filled a bag with roasted grain, dried fruit cakes, and fine bread. Then she wrapped up all her dishes. She then gave them to her maid to carry.”

This is a glimpse into what a beautiful woman of the 3rd to 1st century BCE did to look beautiful as the details are very specific. Judith got up from her prayer tent and went into her house. She took off her sackcloth and widow garments. It is interesting to note that there was special clothing just for widows, thus the custom of women in mourning wearing black. In Genesis, chapter 38, there is the story of Judah’s daughter-in-law Tamar who took off her widow garments and enticed her father-in-law as a prostitute to have sex with her that produced the lineage for Judah through the twin boys of Perez and Zerah. Judith bathed and anointed her body. It is interesting to note that despite the shortage of water, she was able to take a water bath. She combed her hair and put on a tiara, as if a princess or queen. She put on festive attire, with anklets, bracelets, rings, earrings, and other fine jewelry. She wanted to look enticing. Then she had her maid servant carry her food and dishes.