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Judith 12-14 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 12

Then he ordered them to lead her into the room where his silver dinnerware was kept, and ordered them to set a table for her with his own delicacies to eat and his own wine to drink. But Judith said, “I cannot eat any[a] of them, because it would be a scandal. Besides, I will have enough with the things I brought with me.” Holofernes asked her, “But if your provisions give out, where can we get more of the same to provide for you? None of your people are with us.” Judith answered him, “As surely as you live, my lord, your servant will not use up her supplies before the Lord accomplishes by my hand what he has determined.”

Then the attendants of Holofernes led her to her tent, where she slept until the middle of the night. Toward the early morning watch, she rose and sent this message to Holofernes, “Give orders, my lord, to let your servant go out for prayer.” So Holofernes ordered his guards not to hinder her. Thus she stayed in the camp three days. Each night she went out to the valley of Bethulia, where she bathed herself[b] at the spring of the camp. After bathing, she prayed to the Lord, the God of Israel, to direct her way for the triumph of her people. Then she returned purified to the tent and remained there until her food was brought to her toward evening.

Judith at the Banquet of Holofernes. 10 On the fourth day Holofernes gave a banquet for his servants alone, to which he did not invite any of the officers. 11 And he said to Bagoas, the eunuch in charge of his personal affairs, “Go and persuade the Hebrew woman in your care to come and to eat and drink with us. 12 It would bring shame on us to be with such a woman without enjoying her. If we do not seduce her, she will laugh at us.”

13 So Bagoas left the presence of Holofernes, and came to Judith and said, “So lovely a maidservant should not be reluctant to come to my lord to be honored by him, to enjoy drinking wine with us, and to act today like one of the Assyrian women who serve in the palace of Nebuchadnezzar.” 14 Judith replied, “Who am I to refuse my lord? Whatever is pleasing to him I will promptly do. This will be a joy[c] for me until the day of my death.”

15 So she proceeded to put on her festive garments and all her finery. Meanwhile her servant went ahead and spread out on the ground opposite Holofernes the fleece Bagoas had furnished for her daily use in reclining while eating. 16 Then Judith came in and reclined. The heart of Holofernes was in rapture over her and his passion was aroused. He was burning with the desire to possess her, for he had been biding his time to seduce her from the day he saw her. 17 Holofernes said to her, “Drink and be happy with us!” 18 Judith replied, “I will gladly drink, my lord, for today is the greatest day of my whole life.” 19 She then took the things her servant had prepared and ate and drank in his presence. 20 Holofernes, charmed by her, drank a great quantity of wine, more than he had ever drunk on any day since he was born.

Chapter 13

Judith Beheads Holofernes. When it grew late, his servants quickly withdrew. Bagoas closed the tent from the outside and dismissed the attendants from their master’s presence. They went off to their beds, for they were all tired because the banquet had lasted so long. Judith was left alone in the tent with Holofernes, who lay sprawled on his bed, for he was drunk with wine. Judith had ordered her maidservant to stand outside the bedchamber and to wait, as on the other days, for her to come out; she had said she would be going out for her prayer. She had also said this same thing to Bagoas.

When all had departed, and no one, small or great, was left in the bedchamber, Judith stood by Holofernes’ bed and prayed silently, “O Lord, God of all might, in this hour look graciously on the work of my hands for the exaltation of Jerusalem. Now is the time for aiding your heritage and for carrying out my design to shatter the enemies who have risen against us.” She went to the bedpost near the head of Holofernes, and taking his sword from it, she drew close to the bed, grasped the hair of his head, and said, “Strengthen me this day, Lord, God of Israel!” Then with all her might she struck his neck twice and cut off his head. She rolled his body off the bed and took the canopy from its posts. Soon afterward, she came out and handed over the head of Holofernes to her maid, 10 who put it into her food bag. Then the two went out together for prayer as they were accustomed to do.

Judith and Her Maid Return to Bethulia. They passed through the camp, and skirting that valley, went up the mountain to Bethulia, and approached its gates. 11 From a distance, Judith shouted to the guards at the gates: “Open! Open the gate! God, our God, is with us. Once more he has shown his strength in Israel and his power against the enemy, as he has today!”

Judith Displays the Head of Holofernes. 12 [d]When the citizens heard her voice, they hurried down to their city gate and summoned the elders of the city. 13 All the people, from the least to the greatest, hurriedly assembled, for her return seemed unbelievable. They opened the gate and welcomed the two women. They made a fire for light and gathered around the two. 14 Judith urged them with a loud voice: “Praise God, give praise! Praise God, who has not withdrawn his mercy from the house of Israel, but has shattered our enemies by my hand this very night!” 15 Then she took the head out of the bag, showed it to them, and said: “Here is the head of Holofernes, the ranking general of the Assyrian forces, and here is the canopy under which he lay in his drunkenness. The Lord struck him down by the hand of a female![e] 16 Yet I swear by the Lord, who has protected me in the way I have walked, that it was my face that seduced Holofernes to his ruin, and that he did not defile me with sin or shame.”

17 All the people were greatly astonished. They bowed down and worshiped God, saying with one accord, “Blessed are you, our God, who today have humiliated the enemies of your people.” 18 Then Uzziah said to her, “Blessed are you, daughter, by the Most High God, above all the women on earth; and blessed be the Lord God, the creator of heaven and earth, who guided your blow at the head of the leader of our enemies. 19 Your deed of hope will never be forgotten by those who recall the might of God. 20 May God make this redound to your everlasting honor, rewarding you with blessings, because you risked your life when our people were being oppressed, and you averted our disaster, walking in the straight path before our God.” And all the people answered, “Amen! Amen!”

V. Victory and Thanksgiving[f]

Chapter 14

Judith’s Plan of Attack. Then Judith said to them: “Listen to me,[g] my brothers and sisters. Take this head and hang it on the parapet of your wall. At daybreak, when the sun rises on the earth, each of you seize your weapons, and let all the able-bodied men rush out of the city under command of a captain, as if about to go down into the valley against the Assyrian patrol, but without going down. The Assyrians will seize their weapons and hurry to their camp to awaken the generals of the army. When they run to the tent of Holofernes and do not find him, panic will seize them, and they will flee before you. Then you and all the other inhabitants of the whole territory of Israel will pursue them and strike them down in their tracks. But before doing this, summon for me Achior the Ammonite, that he may see and recognize the one who despised the house of Israel and sent him here to meet his death.”

Achior’s Conversion.[h] So they called Achior from the house of Uzziah. When he came and saw the head of Holofernes in the hand of one of the men in the assembly of the people, he collapsed in a faint. Then, after they lifted him up, he threw himself at the feet of Judith in homage, saying: “Blessed are you in every tent of Judah! In every nation, all who hear your name will be struck with terror. But now, tell me all that you did during these days.” So Judith told him, in the midst of the people, all that she had done, from the day she left until the time she began speaking to them. When she had finished her account, the people cheered loudly, so that the city resounded with shouts of joy. 10 Now Achior, seeing all that the God of Israel had done, believed firmly in God. He circumcised the flesh of his foreskin and he has been united with the house of Israel to the present day.

Panic in the Assyrian Camp. 11 At daybreak they hung the head of Holofernes on the wall. Then all the Israelite men took up their weapons and went out by groups to the mountain passes. 12 When the Assyrians saw them, they notified their commanders, who, in turn, went to their generals, their division leaders, and all their other leaders. 13 They came to the tent of Holofernes and said to the one in charge of all his things, “Awaken our lord, for the slaves have dared come down against us in battle, to their utter destruction.” 14 So Bagoas went in and knocked at the entry of the tent, presuming that Holofernes was sleeping with Judith. 15 When no one answered, he parted the curtains, entered the bedchamber, and found him thrown on the floor dead, with his head gone! 16 He cried out loudly, weeping, groaning, and howling, and tore his garments. 17 Then he entered the tent where Judith had her quarters; and, not finding her, he rushed out to the troops and cried: 18 “The slaves have duped us! One Hebrew woman has brought shame on the house of King Nebuchadnezzar. Look! Holofernes on the ground—without a head!”

19 When the leaders of the Assyrian forces heard these words, they tore their tunics and were overcome with great distress. Their loud cries and shouts were heard throughout the camp.

Footnotes:

  1. 12:2 Cannot eat any: the food of Gentiles was avoided by pious Jews (see Dn 1:8, 13, 15; Tb 1:10–11) because it might have been prohibited as unclean (see Lv 11:13–44), sacrificed to idols (see Ex 34:15; Dt 32:37–38), or contaminated with blood (see Lv 7:26–27). In addition, eating together symbolized the sharing of life.
  2. 12:7 Bathed herself: she bathes to purify herself after contact with the Gentiles. Her nightly departure from the camp provides for her escape (cf. 13:10).
  3. 12:14 Joy: the irony of this response is obvious; see also the joy of 14:9 and Judith’s “new song” in chap. 16.
  4. 13:12–20 Elements from chaps. 8–9 are echoed here. The assembly of the people at Judith’s return parallels the meeting of the town officials summoned by Judith in 8:10. Uzziah blesses Judith in 8:5 and again in 13:18–20.
  5. 13:15 By the hand of a female: cf. 16:5 and note on 9:9–10.
  6. 14:1–16:25 This section describes Judith’s plan to attack the Assyrian camp (14:1–5) and its execution (14:11–15:7). Between the plan and its execution, Achior identifies the head of Holofernes and is converted to Judaism. The book concludes with the victory celebration (15:8–14), hymn of thanksgiving (16:1–20), and a description of Judith’s final days (16:21–25). Elements from chaps. 8–9 recur here: Judith, widow of Manasseh (8:2; 16:22), lived alone in Bethulia on her estate (8:4; 16:22), with servants and property (8:7; 16:21). Judith’s instructions begin with the words “listen to me” (8:11; 14:1). Her prayer for success (9:1–14) is balanced by a prayer and display of success in 14:14–16.
  7. 14:1–5 Listen to me: an imperative (used also in 8:11, 32) opens Judith’s instruction that the people display the head of Holofernes on the parapet and themselves in ranks before the enemy at daybreak. The strategy is to throw the Assyrians into panic and strike them down in their confusion; cf. 15:1–3.
  8. 14:6–10 Recognizing the head of Holofernes, Achior faints. Then he throws himself down before Judith, acclaiming her blessed in Judah and every nation. After listening to all she had done, Achior is circumcised and joins the house of Israel. Since this violates the prohibition of Dt 23:4 that no Ammonite or Moabite shall enter the assembly, even to the tenth generation, some suggest that the book was not included in the Hebrew scriptures for this reason. However, see Is 56:3–6.
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Ecclesiastes 2 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 2

Study of Pleasure-seeking. I said in my heart,[a] “Come, now, let me try you with pleasure and the enjoyment of good things.” See, this too was vanity. Of laughter I said: “Mad!” and of mirth: “What good does this do?” Guided by wisdom,[b] I probed with my mind how to beguile my senses with wine and take up folly, until I should understand what is good for human beings to do under the heavens during the limited days of their lives.

I undertook great works; I built myself houses and planted vineyards; I made gardens and parks, and in them set out fruit trees of all sorts. And I constructed for myself reservoirs to water a flourishing woodland. I acquired male and female slaves, and had slaves who were born in my house. I also owned vast herds of cattle and flocks of sheep, more than all who had been before me in Jerusalem. I amassed for myself silver and gold, and the treasures of kings and provinces. I provided for myself male and female singers and delights of men, many women.[c] I accumulated much more than all others before me in Jerusalem; my wisdom, too, stayed with me. 10 Nothing that my eyes desired did I deny them, nor did I deprive myself of any joy; rather, my heart rejoiced in the fruit of all my toil. This was my share for all my toil. 11 But when I turned to all the works that my hands had wrought, and to the fruit of the toil for which I had toiled so much, see! all was vanity and a chase after wind. There is no profit under the sun. 12 What about one who succeeds a king? He can do only what has already been done.[d]

Study of Wisdom and Folly. I went on to the consideration of wisdom, madness and folly. 13 And I saw that wisdom has as much profit over folly as light has over darkness.

14 Wise people have eyes in their heads,
    but fools walk in darkness.

Yet I knew that the same lot befalls both.[e] 15 So I said in my heart, if the fool’s lot is to befall me also, why should I be wise? Where is the profit? And in my heart I decided that this too is vanity. 16 The wise person will have no more abiding remembrance than the fool; for in days to come both will have been forgotten. How is it that the wise person dies[f] like the fool! 17 Therefore I detested life, since for me the work that is done under the sun is bad; for all is vanity and a chase after wind.

Study of the Fruits of Toil

To Others the Profits. 18 And I detested all the fruits of my toil under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who is to come after me. 19 And who knows whether that one will be wise or a fool? Yet that one will take control of all the fruits of my toil and wisdom under the sun. This also is vanity. 20 So my heart turned to despair over all the fruits of my toil under the sun. 21 For here is one who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill, and that one’s legacy must be left to another who has not toiled for it. This also is vanity and a great evil. 22 For what profit comes to mortals from all the toil and anxiety of heart with which they toil under the sun? 23 Every day sorrow and grief are their occupation; even at night their hearts are not at rest. This also is vanity.

24 [g]There is nothing better for mortals than to eat and drink and provide themselves with good things from their toil. Even this, I saw, is from the hand of God. 25 For who can eat or drink apart from God? 26 [h]For to the one who pleases God, he gives wisdom and knowledge and joy; but to the one who displeases, God gives the task of gathering possessions for the one who pleases God. This also is vanity and a chase after wind.

Footnotes:

  1. 2:1–11 The author here assumes the role of Solomon who, as king, would have had the wealth and resources at his disposal to acquire wisdom and engage in pleasurable pursuits. Verses 4–8 in particular, with their description of abundant wealth and physical gratifications, parallel the descriptions in 1 Kgs 4–11 of the extravagances of Solomon’s reign.
  2. 2:3 Guided by wisdom: using all the means money can buy, the author sets out on a deliberate search to discover if pleasure constitutes true happiness.
  3. 2:8 Many women: the final phrase of this verse is difficult to translate. One word, shiddah, which appears here in both singular and plural, is found nowhere else in the Hebrew Bible. A suggested meaning is “woman” or “concubine,” as it is interpreted here: “many women.” The rest of the section (2:1–12) seems to be a description of Solomon’s kingdom, and the “many women” would represent his huge harem (1 Kgs 11:1–3). In rabbinic Hebrew the word comes to mean “chest” or “coffer.”
  4. 2:12 What…been done: the verse is difficult and elliptical. The words “He can do only” have been added for clarity. The two halves of the verse have been reversed. The author argues that it is useless to repeat the royal experiment described in vv. 1–11. The results would only be the same.
  5. 2:14 Yet I knew…befalls both: the author quotes a traditional saying upholding the advantages of wisdom, but then qualifies it. Nothing, not even wisdom itself, can give someone absolute control over their destiny and therefore guarantee any advantage.
  6. 2:16 The wise person dies: death, until now only alluded to (vv. 14–15), takes center stage and will constantly appear in the author’s reflections through the remainder of the book.
  7. 2:24–26 The author is not advocating unrestrained indulgence. Rather he counsels acceptance of the good things God chooses to give. This is the first of seven similar conclusions that Qoheleth provides; see 3:12–13, 22; 5:17–18; 8:15; 9:7–9; 11:9.
  8. 2:26 According to 7:15 and 9:1–3, God does not make an objective, evidential, moral distinction between saint and sinner. God “gives” as God pleases.
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Luke 2:36-52 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

36 There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage, 37 and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer. 38 And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.

The Return to Nazareth. 39 When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions of the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 40 The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.

The Boy Jesus in the Temple.[a] 41 Each year his parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, 42 and when he was twelve years old, they went up according to festival custom. 43 After they had completed its days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. 44 Thinking that he was in the caravan, they journeyed for a day and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances, 45 but not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, 47 and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.” 49 And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”[b] 50 But they did not understand what he said to them. 51 He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus advanced [in] wisdom and age and favor before God and man.

Footnotes:

  1. 2:41–52 This story’s concern with an incident from Jesus’ youth is unique in the canonical gospel tradition. It presents Jesus in the role of the faithful Jewish boy, raised in the traditions of Israel, and fulfilling all that the law requires. With this episode, the infancy narrative ends just as it began, in the setting of the Jerusalem temple.
  2. 2:49 I must be in my Father’s house: this phrase can also be translated, “I must be about my Father’s work.” In either translation, Jesus refers to God as his Father. His divine sonship, and his obedience to his heavenly Father’s will, take precedence over his ties to his family.
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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