Like a funeral (Bar 6:31-6:32)

“In these temples

Of false gods,

The priests sit

With their clothes

Torn.

Their heads

Are shaved.

Their beards

Are shaved.

Their heads

Are uncovered.

They howl.

They shout

Before their gods

As some do

At a funeral banquet.”

The priests of these false idol gods sit in the temples with their clothes torn, as if in mourning. They have their heads and beards shaven with nothing to cover their heads. The Israelite and Judean priests always covered their heads, and they normally did not shave their beards. These priests of the false gods, on the other hand, howled and shouted before the images of their gods. They acted like they were at a funeral meal for their dying gods.

The alert in Judea (Jdt 4:1-4:3)

“The Israelites living in Judea heard of everything that Holofernes, the general of King Nebuchadnezzar of the Assyrians, had done to the nations. They heard that he had plundered and destroyed all their temples. Thus they were therefore greatly terrified at his approach. They were alarmed both for Jerusalem and for the temple of the Lord their God. They had only recently returned from exile. All the people of Judea had just now gathered together. The sacred vessels, the altar, and the temple had been consecrated after their profanation.”

This is where the history is anachronistic and confusing, as if it was simple already. This text says that they had recently returned from exile, but it was King Nebuchadnezzar who led them into exile. These would be the remaining poor or not important people, if historically correct. This author is probably referring to his own experiences here. If this was before the exile as it historically seems to be, they may be referring to the refurbishing and renewal of the Temple worship by King Josiah of Judah (640-609 BCE), about 30 years earlier. Notice that here the land is called Judea, a post-exilic expression, and not Judah, as was common before the exile.