The mother appeals to her youngest son (2 Macc 7:24-7:29)

“King Antiochus felt that he was being treated with contempt. He was suspicious of her reproachful tone. The youngest brother being still alive, King Antiochus not only appealed to him in words, but promised with oaths that he would make him rich and enviable if he would turn from the ways of his ancestors. He would take him for his friend and entrust him with public affairs. Since the young man would not listen to him at all, the king called the mother to him. He urged her to advise the youth to save himself. After much urging on his part, she undertook to persuade her son. But, leaning close to him, she spoke in their native language as follows, deriding the cruel tyrant.

‘My son,

Have pity on me.

I carried you nine months in my womb.

I nursed you for three years.

I have reared you.

I have brought you up to this point in your life.

I have taken care of you.

I beg you,

My child,

To look at the heaven and the earth.

See everything that is in them!

Recognize that God did not make them out of things that existed.

In the same way,

The human race came into being.

Do not fear this butcher!

Prove worthy of your brothers!

Accept death!

So that in God’s mercy

I may get you back again with your brothers.’”

King Antiochus IV was upset at the way things were going. As there was only 1 son left, he urged him to give up his traditional ways. He promised to make him rich and powerful in his kingdom. The son would not listen. Then the king urged the mother to try and convince her son to save his life. Instead she urged him on to resist the king. In a moving passage, she spoke about carrying him for 9 months, nursing him for 3 years, and then bringing him up. Now she wanted him to recognize the creator God in heaven who made the human race. She wanted him to be worthy of his brothers. She wanted him to accept death so that God’s mercy would bring him back to his brothers. These seven sons were like suicide bombers willing to die for the laws of their God. The theology of creation and the afterlife predominated in their views of the ancestral laws. Notice that she spoke in their native language.

The mother of the seven sons exhorts her sons (2 Macc 7:20-7:23)

“The mother was especially admirable. She was worthy of an honorable memory. Although she saw her seven sons perish within a single day, she bore it with good courage because of her hope in the Lord. She encouraged each of them in the language of their ancestors. Filled with a noble spirit, she reinforced her woman’s reasoning with a man’s courage. She said to them.

‘I do not know how you came into being in my womb.

It was not I who gave you life and breath.

It was not I who set in order the elements within each of you.

Therefore the Creator of the world,

The Creator shaped the beginning of humankind,

The Creator devised the origin of all things.

The Creator will in his mercy give life and breath back to you again,

Since you now forget yourselves for the sake of his laws.’”

The mother was a brave woman. There is no mention of the father of these 7 sons, just the mother who was admirable and honorable. She saw her 7 sons die in 1 day. She had hope in the Lord and the courage of a man. She was not sure how they got into her womb or where they got their life from. She believed that it was the creator of the world who shaped the beginning of all humans and devised the origin of all things. This creator would be merciful and bring life back to them because he would not forget what they did for the sake of the Mosaic laws. Clearly, this is a strong theological formulation of the creator of all things, God, as in Genesis, chapter 1.

The prayer of Judith for God’s help (Jdt 9:11-9:14)

“Your strength does not depend on numbers.

Your might does not depend on the powerful.

You are the God of the lowly.

You are the helper of the oppressed.

You are the upholder of the weak.

You are the protector of the forsaken.

You are the savior of those without hope.

Please, please, God of my father,

God of the heritage of Israel,

Lord of heaven and earth,

Creator of the waters,

King of all your creation,

Hear my prayer!

Make my deceitful words bring wound.

May they bruise those who have planned cruel things

Against your covenant,

Against your sacred house,

Against Mount Zion,

Against the house your children possess.

Let your whole nation and every tribe

Know and understand

That you are the God,

The God of all power and might.

There is no other who protects the people of Israel

But you alone!”

The prayer of Judith ends with this strong theological statement about the power of God. She seeks help from the all powerful God. The power of God cannot be enumerated. Our God is the God of the lowly, the oppressed, the weak, the forsaken, and the hopeless. He is the God of the heritage of Israel, the God of heaven and earth, the creator of water, the king of all creation. Judith asked that her prayer be heard. Her deceitful words will bruise those who are against God’s covenant, his sacred house, Mount Zion, and his children. Let everyone among all the tribes know that he is the God of power and might. No one protects Israel like God himself.