The secret passionate elders (Dan 13:8-13:12)

“Everyday,

The two elders

Used to see Susanna,

Going in,

Walking about.

They began

To lust for her.

They suppressed

Their consciences.

They turned away

Their eyes

From looking

To heaven,

Or remembering

Their duty

To administer justice.

Both were overwhelmed

With passion for her.

But they did not tell

Each other

Of their distress.

They were ashamed

To disclose

Their lustful desire

To seduce her.

Day after day,

They watched eagerly,

To see her.”

Now the plot thickens. The scene has been set. These two elderly judges have a passion for Susanna, the wife of Joakim, in whose house they conduct their trials. She normally went for a walk in the garden, after everyone had left. These two elders saw Susanna go in and out for her walk. They began to lust after her, as they suppressed their consciences. They forgot about their duty to administer justice, as they turned their eyes away from heaven. Even though they were overwhelmed with passion for Susanna, neither elder told the other, because they were ashamed to let the other one know about their lustful desires to seduce Susanna. They were secret sexual lovers of Susanna, as they watched her every day.

Judith and General Holofernes drink together (Jdt 12:15-12:20)

“Judith proceeded to dress herself in all her woman’s finery. Her maid went ahead of her to spread for her, on the ground before General Holofernes, the lambskins that she had received from Bagoas for her daily use in reclining. Then Judith came in and lay down. General Holofernes’ heart was ravished with her. His passion was aroused. He had been waiting for an opportunity to seduce her from the day he first saw her. He said to her.

‘Have a drink!

Be merry with us!’

Judith said.

‘I will gladly drink, my lord,

Because today is the greatest day in my whole life.’

Then she took what her maid had prepared. She ate and drank before him. He was greatly pleased with her. He drank a great quantity of wine, much more than he had ever drunk in any one day since he was born.”

Judith prepared to go to meet General Holofernes. She put on her best female clothes, at least for that day. Her maid preceded her with lambskins that Bagoas the eunuch had prepared so that that she could sit on the ground to eat and drink. She then went in and reclined or lay down in front of the good general. His heart was going pitter-patter as he was aroused at the sight of her. He had been waiting for an opportunity to seduce her since he first met her. He offered her a drink of wine, which she did not refuse. He wanted her to be merry. She replied that it was greatest day of her life. She had never mentioned her dead husband or if she had children. There was never any mention of them, so maybe she had no children. Then she ate the meal that her maid had provided. Although he was pleased with her, he drank more wine than he had ever drunk in his whole life. This could be a problem.

The invitation of General Holofernes (Jdt 12:10-12:11)

“On the fourth day, General Holofernes held a banquet for his personal attendants only. He did not invite any of his officers. He said to Bagoas, the eunuch, who had charge of his personal affairs.

‘Go and persuade the Hebrew woman.

As she is in your care

To join us

To eat

And to drink with us.

It would be a disgrace

If we let such a woman go,

Without having intercourse with her.

If we do not seduce her,

She will laugh at us.’”

The plan of General Holofernes was very clear. He was having a banquet with only his own personal attendants and no officers. Bagoas, who was the eunuch in charge of the general’s personal affairs, was to invite Judith and persuade her to come to the banquet. Apparently there was a real Persian eunuch named Bagoas, who lived in the 4th century BCE, about 200 years after the supposed setting of this story. Eunuchs were men who were castrated or sometimes just impotent or celibate. They were not interested in sex or marriage so that leaders felt safe having them take care of their personal matters for them, particularly their women. General Holofernes felt it would be a disgrace to him if he did not have sex with Judith before she left camp. If he did not seduce her, she would probably laugh at him.