Achior becomes an Israelite (Jdt 14:6-14:10)

“They summoned Achior from the house of Uzziah. When he came, he saw the head of General Holofernes in the hand of one of the men in the assembly of the people. He fell down on his face in a faint. When they raised him up, he threw himself at Judith’s feet. He did obeisance to her. He said.

‘Blessed are you in every tent of Judah!

In every nation those who hear your name will be alarmed.

Now tell me what you have done during these days.’

Then Judith told him in the presence of the people all that she had done, from the day she left until the moment she began speaking to them. When she had finished, the people raised a great shout. They made a joyful noise in their town. When Achior saw all that the God of Israel had done, he believed firmly in God. So then he was circumcised. He joined the house of Israel, remaining so to this day.”

Achior had been staying with Uzziah, the chief of his town, so they brought him to Judith. He was the one who had told the Assyrian general that they could not defeat the Israelites because of their God. He was then sent to the Israelites, who instead of killing him, listened to his story. However, when Achior saw one of the men holding the head of General Holofernes, he fainted. As they raised him up, he threw himself at the feet of Judith. He called her blessed and wanted to know what had happened. Then Judith in the presence of everyone told her story of what had happened to her. When she finished, the people of the town gave out a great joyous shout. This might have scared the Assyrians also. On top of that Achior, the Ammonite, decided to become an Israelite. He was circumcised that day. The author points out that Achior remained an Israelite until this day, as if he was contemporary. The problem, of course, is that Ammonites were not allowed to be in the assembly of Yahweh, among the Israelites down to the 10th generation, according to Deuteronomy, chapter 23. This may be why some Jewish people have not accepted this book as canonical.

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Judith makes plans (Jdt 14:1-14:5)

“Then Judith said to them.

‘Listen to me!

My friends,

Take this head!

Hang it upon the parapet of your wall!

As soon as day breaks,

When the sun rises on the earth,

Each of you take up your weapons!

Let every able-bodied man go out of the town.

Set a captain over them,

As if you were going down to the plain

Against the Assyrian outpost.

Only do not go down.

Then they will seize their arms.

They will go into the camp.

They will rouse the officers of the Assyrian army.

They will rush into the tent of Holofernes.

They will not find him.

Then panic will come over them.

They will flee before you.

Then you,

And all who live within the borders of Israel,

Will pursue them.

You will cut them down in their tracks!

But before you do all this,

Bring Achior the Ammonite to me.

Let him see and recognize the man

Who despised the house of Israel,

And sent him to us as if to his death.’”

Judith then has a further plan on what to do next. First, they are going to put the head of General Holofernes on the wall. Then at sunrise, all the able bodied men would take their weapons and form a line as if to attack the Assyrians. This will then force the Assyrians to tell their commanders what was happening. When they would go to tell General Holofernes what happened, they will panic because they will find out that he is dead. There will be general disorder so that we can then attack and pursue them. All of this was based on the assumption that without their general they would simply panic and run away. Israel would then pursue them and kill them. However, Judith still wanted to talk to Achior the Ammonite before they began this exploit.

Tobiah mocks the Jews of Jerusalem (Neh 4:3-4:3)

“Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him. He said. ‘That stone wall that they are building, any fox going up on it would be able to break it down!’”

Tobiah was the other royal official from Samaria who opposed to the building action in chapter 2 of this work. He laughed that the stone wall was too flimsy so that any little fox could break it down.

 

The threat of Nahash, the Ammonite (1 Sam 11:1-11:4)

“About a month later, Nahash the Ammonite went up and besieged Jabesh-gilead. All the men of Jabesh said to Nahash. ‘Make a treaty with us. We will serve you.’ But Nahash the Ammonite said to them. ‘On this condition I will make a treaty with you, namely that I gouge out everyone’s right eyes. Thus I will put disgrace upon all Israel.’ The elders of Jabesh said to him. ‘Give us seven days respite that we may send messengers through all the territory of Israel. Then, if there is no one to save us, we will give ourselves up to you.’ When the messengers came to Gibeah of Saul, they reported the matter in the hearing of the people. All the people wept aloud.”

There were problems at Jabesh-gilead, a town on the east Jordan side. This is the same town in Judges, chapter 21, which never sent troops to help defeat the Benjaminites. The other tribes wiped out this town except for its 400 virgins, which they gave to the Benjaminites to be their wives. Nahash an Ammonite surrounded this town. He agreed to make a peace treaty if everyone gave up their right eye. The people wanted a week of peace to send for help. If no one showed up in a week, then they would agree to his terms. News arrived at Gibeah where Saul lived. This is exactly the same town where in Judges, chapters 19-21,the great crime of the Benjaminites took place. All the people wept. I always have problems with the phrase ‘all the people.’ Why would they want to save this town? Perhaps the wives of the Benjaminites reminded them of what they had done to it.