Opening the eastern gate on the Sabbath (Ezek 46:1-46:1)

“Thus says Yahweh God!

‘The gate

Of the inner court

That faces east

Shall remain closed

On the six working days.

But on the Sabbath day,

It shall be opened.

On the day

Of the new moon,

It shall be opened.’”

Yahweh God spoke about the eastern gate. This eastern gate of the inner court was to remain shut at all times. There were 2 exceptions, the Sabbath and the feast of the new moon. Thus, it would be opened on these occasions, 64 times a year, 52 for the Sabbath days and 12 for the new moons.

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No hope for the sorcerers of Babylon (Isa 47:12-47:13)

“Stand fast in your enchantments!

Stand fast in your many sorceries!

You have labored from your youth

With these actions.

Perhaps you may be able to succeed.

Perhaps you may inspire terror.

You are wearied

With your many consultations.

Let those who study the heavens

Stand up!

Let them save you!

Let those who gaze at the stars

Predict what shall befall you!

Let those who gaze at each new moon

Predict what shall befall you!”

Yahweh taunted Babylon by saying that they should rely on their sorcerers, their enchanters, their astrologists, and magicians. They had followed them since they were young. Maybe they will succeed. Maybe they will scare people. However, they are weary from all their consultations. Let those who study the heavens stand up and save you. Can those who gaze at the stars and the new moon predict what is going to happen to you? This is a direct challenge to the people of Babylon.

Judith (Jdt 8:1-8:8)

“Now in those days, Judith heard about these things. She was the daughter of Merari son of Ox, son of Joseph, son of Oziel, son of Elkiah, son of Ananias, son of Gideon, son of Raphaim, son of Ahitub, son of Elijah, son of Hilkiah, son of Eliab, son of Nathanael, son of Salamiel, son of Sarasadai, son of Israel. Her husband Manasseh, who belonged to her tribe and family, had died during the barley harvest. As he stood overseeing those who were binding sheaves in the field, he was overcome by the burning heat. He took to his bed and died in his town Bethulia. So they buried him with his ancestors in the field between Dothan and Balamon. Judith had remained as a widow for three years and four months at home where she set up a tent for herself on the roof of her house. She put sackcloth about her waist and dressed in widow’s clothing. She fasted all the days of her widowhood, except the day before the Sabbath and the Sabbath itself, the day before the new moon and the day of the new moon, and the festivals and days of rejoicing of the house of Israel. She was beautiful in appearance. She was very lovely to behold. Her husband Manasseh had left her gold and silver, men and women slaves, livestock, and fields. She maintained this estate. No one spoke ill of her. She feared God with great devotion.”

Now the main protagonist of this book appears on the scene, almost half way through this book. We learn about Judith’s rich genealogical background that includes many important people. What can we tell from her genealogy? She was the daughter of Merari, which is a Levite name. Joseph was a common name also. The names of Oziel and Elkiah are unique to her. The other names associated with famous people were Gideon, Elijah, and Hilkiah, but there was no attempt to associate those men with these men mentioned here. Many of the other names are hard to connect with anyone. Her husband, of the same tribe and family, died of sunstroke overseeing his workers. I wonder what happened to the workers. She was a well to do widow for over 3 years. She was very upright in all that she did.   Her name, Judith, literally means female Jew. She had a tent on her roof and wore sackcloth. She fasted all the time except for the Sabbath eve, the Sabbath, the new moons, and the other Jewish festivals. New moons keep appearing as a day to celebrate. She was beautiful, of course. On top of that, she was rich, inheriting her husband’s estate of gold, silver, slaves, livestock, and fields. There is no mention of her children if there were any. No one spoke ill of her because she feared God with a great devotion. This is the kind of description that many medieval female Christian saints enjoyed. She heard about what was going on in town.