The kings of Judah up to the Babylonian captivity (Mt 1:8-1:11)

“Joram was

The father of Uzziah.

Uzziah was

The father of Jotham.

Jotham was

The father of Ahaz.

Ahaz was

The father of Hezekiah.

Hezekiah was

The father of Manasseh.

Manasseh was

The father of Amos.

Amos was

The father of Josiah.

Josiah was

The father of Jechoniah

And his brothers,

At the time of the deportation

To Babylon.”

 

Ἰωρὰμ δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Ὀζείαν, Ὀζείας δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Ἰωαθάμ, Ἰωαθὰμ δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Ἄχαζ, Ἄχαζ δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Ἐζεκίαν, Ἐζεκίας δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Μανασσῆ, Μανασσῆς δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Ἀμώς, Ἀμὼς δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Ἰωσείαν, Ἰωσείας δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Ἰεχονίαν καὶ τοὺς ἀδελφοὺς αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ τῆς μετοικεσίας Βαβυλῶνος.

 

The chronology of the Judean kings, as found in 1 and 2 Kings, and 1 Chronicles, chapter 3, picks up with Amaziah’s son, Azariah (Ὀζείαν) or Uzziah who ruled from about 781-740 BCE.  However, here it says that Joram (Ἰωρὰμ) was his father when Joram was the father of Ahaziah.  Uzziah had a son named Jotham (Ἰωαθάμ) who ruled from about 740-736 BCE.  His son Ahaz (Ἄχαζ) ruled from about 736-716 BCE.  His son Hezekiah (Ἐζεκίαν) ruled from about 716-687 BCE.  His son Manasseh (Μανασσῆ) ruled from about 687-642 BCE.  His son Amon or Amos (Ἀμώς) ruled from about 642-640 BCE.  His son Josiah (Ἰωσείαν) ruled from about 640-609 BCE.  Many of Josiah’s sons would rule Judah.  His son Johanan, Jehoahaz or Shallum ruled for just one year about 609 BCE.  His brother (τοὺς ἀδελφοὺς), Josiah’s son Jehoiakim or Eliakim ruled from 609-598 BCE.  His son Jehoiachin, Coniah or Jeconiah (Ἰεχονίαν) ruled for less than a year about 598 BCE.  Zedekiah or Mattaniah, brother of Jehoiakim and son of Josiah, ruled from about 598-587 BCE until the beginning of the Babylonian captivity (ἐπὶ τῆς μετοικεσίας Βαβυλῶνος).  The Greek text used the term “begat” (ἐγέννησεν) to represent the relationships between these 8 men.  However, it seems perfectly acceptable to simply call them the father instead of saying “fathered them.”

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The Assyrians flee (Jdt 15:1-15:7)

“When the men in the tents heard it, they were amazed at what had happened. Overcome with fear and trembling, they did not wait for one another. With one impulse, all rushed out. They fled by every path across the plain and through the hill country. Those who had camped in the hills around Bethulia also took flight. Then the Israelites, everyone that was a soldier, rushed out upon them. Uzziah sent men to Betomesthaim, Choba, and Kola, and to all the frontiers of Israel, to tell them what had taken place. He urged all the Israelites to rush out upon their enemies to destroy them. When the Israelites heard it, with one accord they fell upon the enemy. They cut them down as far as Choba. Those in Jerusalem and all the hill country also came. They were told what had happened in the camp of the enemy. The men of Gilead and in Galilee outflanked them with great slaughter, even beyond Damascus and its borders. The rest of the people of Bethulia fell upon the Assyrian camp and plundered it, acquiring great riches. The Israelites, when they returned from the slaughter, took possession of what remained. Even the villages and towns in the hill country and in the plain got a great amount of booty, since there was a vast quantity of it.”

When all the foot soldiers in the camp heard what had happened, they were overcome with fear and trembling. Many of them rushed to the various paths to get out of the area. With all this going on, the Israelite soldiers rushed the camp. Meanwhile Uzziah, the lead elder in Bethulia, sent word out by messengers about what had happened there. He sent people to Betomesthaim, Choba, and Kola, but unfortunately no one has been able to pinpoint where these places are, but they probably were close to Dothan. He wanted the men at the frontiers to destroy their enemy as he was escaping. He sent word to Jerusalem and the hill country. Apparently, he was more successful in the northern areas of Galilee and Gilead, as they chased the enemy as far as Damascus. The men of Bethulia attacked the Assyrian camp killing the confused soldiers and taking their stuff as booty, since there were many supplies there for this famished town.

 

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.

The prayer of the people and Uzziah (Jdt 13:17-13:20)

“All the people were greatly astonished. They bowed down and worshiped God. They said with one accord.

‘Blessed are you, our God,

You have this day humiliated the enemies of your people.’

Then Uzziah said to her.

‘O daughter,

You are blessed by the Most High God above all women on earth.

Blessed be the Lord God, who created the heavens and the earth!

He has guided you to cut off the head of the leader of our enemies.

Your hope will never depart

From the hearts of those who remember the power of God.

May God grant this to be a perpetual honor to you!

May God reward you with blessings!

You have risked your own life

When our nation was brought low.

You averted our ruin.

You walked in the straight path before our God.’

All the people said. ‘Amen! Amen!’”

Obviously the people were astonished to see the head of General Holofernes. They immediately worshiped God as they said with one voice, that God was blessed for destroying their enemies. Then the leader of the town of Bethulia Uzziah said to Judith that she was blessed by God above all women on earth. This seems to be somewhat similar to the later popular Roman Catholic prayer, the ‘Hail Mary,’ where Mary is ‘blessed art thou among all women.’ However, the prayer quickly turns to the Lord God, who created heaven and earth, not Yahweh, or the God of Israel. God had guided Judith to cut off the general’s head. However, Judith should be blessed with a perpetual memory for risking her life when things were bad. In the canticle of Deborah and Bara, in Judges, chapter 5, Jael, who killed Sisera, was also called a blessed woman. Judith had averted the ruin of Israel and yet walked in the straight path before God. The obvious conclusion of the people is the great ‘Amen.’

Judith responds (Jdt 8:32-8:34)

“Judith said to them.

‘Listen to me.

I am about to do something

That will go down through all generations of our descendants.

Stand at the town gate tonight.

I will go out with my maid.

Within the days after

That you have promised to surrender the town to our enemies,

The Lord will deliver Israel by my hand.

Only, do not try to find out what I am doing.

I will not tell you,

Until I have finished what I am about to do.’”

Judith told them to listen carefully. She was about to do something daring that would be remembered for generations to come. She wanted to make sure that she could get out that night through the gate with her maid servant. If she was not able to get the problem solved within 5 days, Uzziah could surrender. However, she believed that God was on her side to help deliver Israel. She was not going to tell them what she was about to do, until she had completed the task. This sounds mysterious and intriguing.

 

Judith calls for a meeting (Jdt 8:9-8:10)

“Judith heard the harsh words spoken by the people against the ruler, because they were faint for lack of water. She heard all that Uzziah said to them. He had promised them under oath to surrender the city to the Assyrians after five days. Then she sent her maid, who was in charge of all she possessed, to summon Chabris and Charmis, the elders of her town.”

Judith was aware of all that was going on. She may have more water than some of the others. She did not like the harsh words that the people had spoken to their leaders. She, also, did not care for the response of Uzziah that he was going to surrender in 5 days. Thus, she sent her maid to the other leaders, Chabris and Charmis, and not Uzziah, as she wanted to summon all the elders of the town.

The prayer of the Israelites (Jdt 6:18-6:21)

“Then the people fell down and worshiped God. They cried out.

‘O Lord God of heaven,

See their arrogance.

Have pity on our people in their humiliation.

Look kindly today

On the faces of those who are consecrated to you.’

Then they reassured Achior. They praised him greatly. Uzziah took him from the assembly to his own house. He gave a banquet for the elders. All that night they called on the God of Israel for help.”

They prayed to the God of heaven. All night long they prayed to the God of Israel. They wanted God to see the arrogance of their enemies. As for their own humility, they wanted God to look kindly upon them. They praised and treated Achior very kindly as they had a banquet for him. In fact, Uzziah took Achior into his own house.