The lament over Jerusalem of Mattathias (1 Macc 2:7-2:14)

“Mattathias said.


Why was I born to see this?

The ruin of my people,

The ruin of the holy city,

I had to live there when it was given over to the enemy.

The sanctuary was given over to aliens.

Her temple has become like a person without honor.

Her glorious vessels have been carried into exile.

Her infants have been killed in her streets.

Her youth have been killed by the sword of the foe.

What nation has not inherited her palaces?

What nation has not seized her spoils?

All her adornment has been taken away.

She is no longer free.

She has become a slave.


Our holy place,

Our beauty,

Our glory have been laid waste.

The gentiles have profaned it.

Why should we live any longer?’

Mattathias and his sons tore their clothes. They put on sackcloth. They mourned greatly.”

Once again we have poetic fragment. This one is ascribed to Mattathias as he laments the state of Jerusalem. He wanted to know why he was born and why should he live. The situation in Jerusalem was so bad with the ruin of his people and the holy city as it was given over to the alien enemy. Her sanctuary and vessels were defamed and all gone. There was no honor, as infants were killed in the streets. Young people were killed. Every nation has seized some part of her palaces. Jerusalem was not free, but a slave. The holy, beautiful places of glory lay wasted. He and his sons tore their clothes and put on sackcloth. They mourned greatly over Jerusalem with the traditional signs of mourning, ashes and sackcloth. They left their wonderful Jerusalem in shambles.

Holofernes hears of the Israelite preparations (Jdt 5:1-5:4)

“It was reported to Holofernes, the general of the Assyrian army, that the people of Israel had prepared for war. They had closed the mountain passes. They had fortified all the high hilltops. They had set up barricades in the plains. He was very angry. He called together all the princes of Moab, the commanders of Ammon, and all the governors of the coastland. He said to them.

‘Tell me, you Canaanites,

What people is this that lives in the hill country?

What towns do they inhabit?

How large is their army?

What does their power or strength consist of?

Who rules over them as king?

Who leads their army?

Why have they alone,

Of all who live in the west,

Refused to come out and meet me?’”

When General Holofernes heard that the Israelites were preparing for war, he called all the local princes and commanders of the coastland, Moab, and Ammon together. Moab and Ammon were east of Israel on the other side of the Jordan. The Moabites and Ammonites were the traditional enemies to the east of Judah. Why had the Israelites closed the mountain passes, fortified the hilltops, and set up barricades? Who are they guys? He wanted to know about them. How big was their army? Who was their leader? Why were they the only ones resisting in the Canaanite territory, when everyone else had come out to meet and greet him?