The plague among the Israelites (Ps 106:28-106:31)

“Then the Israelites attached themselves to the Baal of Peor.

They ate sacrifices offered to the dead.

They provoked Yahweh to anger with their doings.

A plague broke out among them.

Then Phinehas stood up.

He interceded.

Then the plague was stopped.

That has been reckoned to him as righteousness

From generation to generation forever.”

Once again Yahweh was angry with the Israelites as they sacrificed to the pagan god Baal at Mount Peor in Numbers, chapter 25. They had sex with the local women and began to worship the local gods of Baal on their way into the Promised Land. This proved Yahweh to anger again, so that a plague broke out among the Israelites. Phinehas, who was the grandson of Aaron, stood up and killed an Israelite who brought a local Midian woman into his family. He also killed her with a sword in front of everybody. With that, the plague that had killed 24,000 Israelites stopped. Thus his name, Phinehas, is still honored for generations. This killing was considered righteousness because of the wicked Israelites.

David is a sinner (Ps 51:3-51:5)

“I know my transgressions.

My sin is ever before me.

Against you,

You alone,

Have I sinned against.

I have done what is evil in your sight.

Thus you are justified

In your sentence.

You are blameless when you pass judgment.

Indeed,

I was born guilty.

I was a sinner

When my mother conceived me.”

David knew that he had sinned. His transgression was in front of him. He knew that he had done evil in the sight of God. He recognized that the sin was against God alone, as he did not see the human implications of his sin. This was evil in the sight of God. Thus God was justified and blameless in passing judgment on him. Then David hid behind the fact that he was born guilty. He was a sinner from his conception. Somehow he was throwing his sinfulness back to his mother and sex in general. Perhaps he was alluding to the human condition to be prone to sin or something akin to human original sin.

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.