The blessed ones (Wis 3:13-3:15)

“Blessed is the barren woman

Who is undefiled.

She has not entered into a sinful union.

She will have fruit

When God examines souls.

Blessed also is the eunuch

Whose hands have done no lawless deed.

He has not devised wicked things against the Lord.

Special favor will be shown him

For his faithfulness.

There will be a place of great delight

In the temple of the Lord.

The fruit of good labors is renowned.

The root of understanding does not fail.”

This author then praises or calls the barren woman and the eunuch blessed or blissful (μακαρία). Both of these groups of people were considered outcasts of society because of their sterility. These barren women are those who were not defiled. They had not entered into a sinful union. They will bear fruit when their souls would be examined (ἐπισκοπῇ ψυχῶν). The eunuchs should have not done any lawless actions. They will not have devised anything wicked against the Lord (κατὰ τοῦ Κυρίου πονηρά). They will receive special favors because they were faithful. They will have a special place in the Temple of the Lord (ἐν ναῷ Κυρίου θυμηρέστερος). This is a reference to some kind of eternal reward. The fruits of a good life and understanding will not fail.

Queen Esther sends a message to Mordecai (Esth 4:9-4:11)

“Hachratheus went in and told Queen Esther all these things that Mordecai had said. Then Queen Esther said to him.

‘Go to Mordecai and say.

‘All nations of the empire know

That if any man or woman goes to the king

Inside the inner court without being called,

There is no escape for that person.

All alike are to be put to death.

Only the one to whom the king stretches out the golden scepter is safe.

It is now thirty days since I was called to go to the king.’”

Hachratheus, the eunuch, went to Queen Esther and told her everything that Mordecai had said. Then she sent him back with another message. She told him that everyone knew that you just cannot stop in and visit with the king. If anyone shows up without being requested, they would die. Only when the king stretches out his golden scepter was it safe to visit with him. She had not seen the king in 30 days.

Queen Esther finds out about the situation of Mordecai (Esth 4:4-4:5)

“When Queen Esther’s maids and eunuchs came and told her, she was deeply troubled by what she had heard that had happened. She sent some clothes to Mordecai to put on instead of his sackcloth. However, he would not consent and accept them. Then Queen Esther called for Hachratheus, the eunuch who attended her. She ordered him to get accurate information for her from Mordecai to learn what was happening and why.”

Queen Esther’s maids and eunuchs came to her to tell her what was happening. She was troubled by what she had heard. She sent some clothes to Mordecai so that he would get rid of his sackcloth. However, he refused. Then the queen sent her personal eunuch to Mordecai to get more accurate information about what was going on and why this was happening to him. She was more of a fact finder while Mordecai was more emotional about this situation.

Judith and General Holofernes drink together (Jdt 12:15-12:20)

“Judith proceeded to dress herself in all her woman’s finery. Her maid went ahead of her to spread for her, on the ground before General Holofernes, the lambskins that she had received from Bagoas for her daily use in reclining. Then Judith came in and lay down. General Holofernes’ heart was ravished with her. His passion was aroused. He had been waiting for an opportunity to seduce her from the day he first saw her. He said to her.

‘Have a drink!

Be merry with us!’

Judith said.

‘I will gladly drink, my lord,

Because today is the greatest day in my whole life.’

Then she took what her maid had prepared. She ate and drank before him. He was greatly pleased with her. He drank a great quantity of wine, much more than he had ever drunk in any one day since he was born.”

Judith prepared to go to meet General Holofernes. She put on her best female clothes, at least for that day. Her maid preceded her with lambskins that Bagoas the eunuch had prepared so that that she could sit on the ground to eat and drink. She then went in and reclined or lay down in front of the good general. His heart was going pitter-patter as he was aroused at the sight of her. He had been waiting for an opportunity to seduce her since he first met her. He offered her a drink of wine, which she did not refuse. He wanted her to be merry. She replied that it was greatest day of her life. She had never mentioned her dead husband or if she had children. There was never any mention of them, so maybe she had no children. Then she ate the meal that her maid had provided. Although he was pleased with her, he drank more wine than he had ever drunk in his whole life. This could be a problem.

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.