The Assyrians discover the death of General Holofernes (Jdt 14:14-14:19)

“Bagoas went in as he knocked at the entry of the tent. He assumed that General Holofernes was sleeping with Judith. But when no one answered, he opened it. Then he went into the bedchamber. There he found General Holofernes sprawled on the floor dead, with his head missing. He cried out with a loud voice. He wept, groaned and shouted. He tore his clothes. Then he went to the tent where Judith had stayed. When he did not find her, he rushed out to the people and shouted.

‘The slaves have tricked us!

One Hebrew woman has brought disgrace

On the house of King Nebuchadnezzar!

Look!

General Holofernes is lying on the ground!

His head is missing!’

When the leaders of the Assyrian army heard this, they tore their tunics. They were greatly dismayed. Their loud cries and shouts rose up throughout the camp.”

Bagoas was the chief personal steward of General Holofernes. He politely knocked at the entry way to the general’s tent. He thought that the general was sleeping with Judith and did not want to disturb him. However, when no one answered, he entered the bedchamber.   There he found the general sprawled out on the floor beheaded. He was really upset. He wept, groaned, and shouted as he tore his clothes. When people were upset they would tear their clothes. Then he went to the tent of Judith to see how she was. However, she was gone. Then he realized what had happened. He ran out of the tent shouting that they had been tricked by the slaves. This Hebrew woman had brought disgrace to the house of King Nebuchadnezzar. The general was dead with his head missing. When the Assyrian army leaders heard this, they tore their clothes as they too were dismayed. Thus there were loud shouts throughout the camp. Strangely enough, there was no second in command to take over things.

Judith shows them the head of General Holofernes (Jdt 13:15-13:16)

“Then Judith pulled the head out of the bag. She showed it to them. She said.

‘See here.

The head of General Holofernes,

The commander of the Assyrian army.

Here is the canopy beneath which he lay in his drunken stupor.

The Lord has struck him down by the hand of a woman.

As the Lord lives,

He has protected me in the way I went.

I swear that it was my face

That seduced him to his destruction.

He committed no act of sin with me.

He did not defile and shame me.’”

Then Judith took the head out of the food bag that her maid had with her. She showed his head to them. She then told them that this was the head of General Holofernes, the commander of the Assyrian army. The bed canopy that wrapped his head came from his tent. She killed him while he was in a drunken stupor. The Lord gave her strength to strike him down so that he died at the hand of a woman. The Lord protected her as she seduced him with her facial appearance that led to his own destruction. However, no sin was committed since he did not defile or shame her.

 

Judith goes out to pray (Jdt 12:5-12:9)

“Then the servants of General Holofernes brought her into the tent. She slept until midnight. Toward the morning watch she got up. She sent this message to General Holofernes.

‘Let my lord now give orders to allow your servant

To go out and pray.’

So General Holofernes commanded his guards not to hinder her. She remained in the camp three days. She went out each night to the valley of Bethulia. She bathed at the spring in the camp. After bathing, she prayed the Lord God of Israel to direct her way for the triumph of his people. Then she returned purified. She stayed in the tent until she ate her food toward evening.”

Judith seems to have a tent near the general or in part of the general’s tent. She slept until midnight. However, at the morning watch she sent a message to the general. She wanted her and her servant to go out to pray. Then General Holofernes ordered his guards to let her go. She stayed in the army camp 3 days. Each night she would go out to the valley of Bethulia and bathe in the guarded springs. Then she would pray to the God of Israel for direction. Once purified or cleansed, she would return to the tent and eat her food at night. This seems like a simple routine so that she would not be suspected of anything.

Judith meets General Holofernes (Jdt 10:20-10:23)

“Then the guards of General Holofernes and all his servants came out. They led her into the tent. General Holofernes was resting on his bed, under a canopy which was woven with purple and gold, emeralds, and other precious stones. When they told him of her, he came to the front of the tent, with silver lamps carried before him. When Judith came into the presence of General Holofernes and his servants, they all marveled at the beauty of her face. She prostrated herself and did obeisance to him. However, his slaves raised her up.”

The guards and slaves of the general took her into the tent. General Holofernes was lying on his bed that had a canopy of purple, gold, emeralds, and other precious stones. He came out to greet her with sliver lamps. Everyone marveled at her beauty. She then presented herself prostrate, giving him the proper obedience. However, the general’s slaves picked her up.

The beautiful Judith stuns the whole Assyrian camp (Jdt 10:18-10:19)

“There was great excitement in the whole camp. Her arrival was reported from tent to tent. They came and gathered around her as she stood outside the tent of General Holofernes. She waited until they told him about her. They marveled at her beauty. They admired the Israelites, judging them by her. They said to one another.

‘Who can despise these people?

Who have women like this among them?

It is not wise to leave one of their men alive.

If we let them go,

They will be able to beguile the whole world!’”

Judith was like a USO star arriving at an army camp. Everyone wanted to see her. The news spread quickly as they gathered around her as she waited outside the general’s tent. They all marveled at her beauty. With women this good looking, they wanted to kill all the Israelite men. She appeared to be too beguiling, and in fact, she was.

The officers of Holofernes did not like Achior (Jdt 5:22-5:24)

“When Achior had finished saying these things, all the people standing around the tent began to complain. Holofernes’ officers, all the inhabitants of the seacoast, and those from Moab insisted that Achior should be cut to pieces. They said.

‘We are not afraid of the Israelites.

They are a people with no strength or power for making war.

Therefore let us go ahead, Lord Holofernes.

Your vast army will swallow them up.’”

When Achior was finished speaking, all the people complained. The officers of Holofernes, the people from the seacoast, and Moab all insisted that Achior be put to death. They said that they were not afraid of the Israelites since they have no strength or war powers. They wanted to get going to swallow up the Israelite army and people.

The prayer of Tobit for Jerusalem (Tob 13:9-13:10)

“O Jerusalem,

The holy city,

He afflicted you with the deeds of your hands.

But he will again have mercy on the children of the righteous.

Acknowledge the Lord.

He is good.

Bless the King of the ages.

May his tent be rebuilt in you again with joy.

May he cheer all those within you who are captives.

May he love all those within you who are distressed,

To all generations forever.”

Tobit turned to Jerusalem, the holy city. God Had afflicted them. However, he would have mercy on the children of the righteous, as long as they acknowledged the Lord. God is good and the king of ages. He would rebuild his tent in Jerusalem. He would cheer the captives. He loved those who were distressed. Tobit prayed for the renewal of Jerusalem.

The prophet Nathan and Yahweh (1 Chr 17:3-17:10)

“But that same night the word of Yahweh came to Nathan, saying. ‘Go and tell my servant King David. Thus says Yahweh. You shall not build me a house to live in. I have not lived in a house since the day I brought out Israel to this very day. I have lived in a tent and a tabernacle. Wherever I have moved about among all Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the judges of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people, saying, why have you not built me a house of cedar? Now therefore thus you shall say to my servant King David, thus says Yahweh of hosts. I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, to be a ruler over my people Israel. I have been with you wherever you went. I have cut off all your enemies from before you. I will make for you a name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. I will appoint a place for my people Israel. I will plant them, so that they may live in their own place, and be disturbed no more. Evildoers shall wear them down no more, as they did formerly from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. I will subdue all your enemies.”

This is once again based on 2 Samuel, chapter 7. Yahweh appeared to Nathan that very night that Nathan and King David had been talking about building a house for the Ark of the Covenant. He does not appear to King David, but to the prophet Nathan. There is a clear personification of the ark with Yahweh, as if to say that Yahweh’s presence is confined to the ark. King David and Nathan were planning to build a house for Yahweh to live in. Yahweh said that he had never been in a house, but only in tents and tabernacles. However, there was a temple for Yahweh at Shiloh in 1 Samuel, chapters 1 and 3. Then the theology of God switches so that Yahweh is everywhere with King David, even from his days as a shepherd to the present. The vision of the future begins to unfold. King David will have a great name and a great house. The enemies of King David and the people of Israel will not disturb him because their enemies will be subdued.

The apparition at Mamre (Gen 18:1-18:15)

Yahweh appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day.  He looked up and saw three men standing near him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent entrance to meet them, and bowed down to the ground.  He said, ‘My lord, if I find favor with you, do not pass by your servant.  Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree.  Let me bring a little bread that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on, since you have come to your servant.’ So they said, ‘Do as you have said.’”

We are back to the Yahweh tradition.  Yahweh appeared to Abraham at the oaks of Mamre near Hebron, as he was sitting in front of his tent.  Abram is now Abraham. There were three men standing there in the heat of the day.  Abraham was kind to them, bringing water to wash their feet, letting them sit unde a tree, and bringing them bread to eat.

“Abraham hastened into the tent to Sarah, and said, ‘Make ready quickly three measures of choice flour, knead it, and make cakes.’   Abraham ran to the herd, and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to the servant, who hastened to prepare it.  Then he took curds, and milk, and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them.  He stood by them under the tree while they ate.”

Abraham told Sarah, not Sarai, to make some cakes.  He also got a calf and prepared it along with curds and milk.  All this he brought to the three men sitting under the tree as he stood by.  Abraham seems like the perfect host.

“They said to him, ‘Where is your wife Sarah?’ And he said, ‘There in the tent.’  Then one said, ‘I will surely return to you in due season, and your wife Sarah shall have a son.’ And Sarah was listening at the tent entrance behind him.  Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age.  He had ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women.  So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, ‘After I have grown old, and my husband is old, shall I have pleasure?’  Yahweh said to Abraham, ‘Why did Sarah laugh, and say, shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old.’  Is anything too wonderful for Yahweh? At the set time I will return to you, in due season and Sarah shall have a son.’  But Sarah denied it, saying, ‘I did not laugh,’ because she was afraid. He said, ‘Oh yes, you did laugh.’”

They asked Abraham where Sarah was. One of the visitors said that he would return next season and Sarah would have a son.  Sarah, who was listening in the tent, laughed because she was old and was not with her husband in a womanly way.  Now Yahweh is explicitly named as one of the visitors.  He asked why Sarah was laughing. Sarah denied that she was laughing, but he insisted that she was laughing and seemed annoyed that Sarah lied about her laughing.   This is a strange Yahweh story, as some Christians have seen the three men, one of which is called Yahweh, as a fore taste of the Trinity concept.