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Judith 4-6 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

II. Siege of Bethulia[a]

Chapter 4

Israel Prepares for War.[b] When the Israelites who lived in Judea heard of all that Holofernes, the ranking general of Nebuchadnezzar king of the Assyrians, had done to the nations, and how he had looted all their shrines[c] and utterly destroyed them, they were in very great fear of him, and greatly alarmed for Jerusalem and the temple of the Lord, their God. Now, they had only recently returned from exile, and all the people of Judea were just now reunited, and the vessels, the altar, and the temple had been purified from profanation.[d] So they sent word to the whole region of Samaria, to Kona, Beth-horon, Belmain, and Jericho, to Choba and Aesora, and to the valley of Salem.[e] The people there secured all the high hilltops, fortified the villages on them, and since their fields had recently been harvested, stored up provisions in preparation for war.

Joakim, who was high priest[f] in Jerusalem in those days, wrote to the inhabitants of Bethulia and Betomesthaim, which is opposite Esdraelon, facing the plain near Dothan, and instructed them to keep firm hold of the mountain passes, since these offered access to Judea. It would be easy to stop those advancing, as the approach was only wide enough for two at a time.[g] The Israelites carried out the orders given them by Joakim, the high priest, and the senate of the whole people of Israel, in session in Jerusalem.

Israel at Prayer. All the men of Israel cried to God with great fervor and humbled themselves. 10 They, along with their wives, and children, and domestic animals, every resident alien, hired worker, and purchased slave, girded themselves with sackcloth.[h] 11 And all the Israelite men, women, and children who lived in Jerusalem fell prostrate in front of the temple[i] and sprinkled ashes on their heads, spreading out their sackcloth before the Lord. 12 The altar, too, they draped in sackcloth;[j] and with one accord they cried out fervently to the God of Israel not to allow their children to be seized, their wives to be taken captive, the cities of their inheritance to be ruined, or the sanctuary to be profaned and mocked for the nations to gloat over.

13 The Lord heard their cry[k] and saw their distress. The people continued fasting for many days throughout Judea and before the sanctuary of the Lord Almighty in Jerusalem. 14 Also girded with sackcloth, Joakim, the high priest, and all the priests in attendance before the Lord, and those who ministered to the Lord offered the daily burnt offering, the votive offerings, and the voluntary offerings of the people. 15 With ashes upon their turbans, they cried to the Lord with all their strength to look with favor on the whole house of Israel.

Chapter 5

Achior in the Assyrian War Council.[l] It was reported to Holofernes, the ranking general of the Assyrian forces, that the Israelites were ready for battle, had blocked the mountain passes, fortified the high hilltops, and placed roadblocks in the plains. In great anger he summoned all the rulers of Moab, the governors of Ammon, and all the satraps of the coastland and said to them: “Now tell me, you Canaanites, what sort of people is this that lives in the hill country? Which cities do they inhabit? How large is their force? In what does their power and strength consist? Who has set himself up as their king and the leader of their army? Why have they alone of all the inhabitants of the west refused to come out to meet me?”

[m]Then Achior, the leader of all the Ammonites, said to him: “My lord, please listen to a report from your servant. I will tell you the truth about this people that lives in the hill country near here. No lie shall escape your servant’s lips.

“These people are descendants of the Chaldeans. They formerly lived in Mesopotamia, for they did not wish to follow the gods of their ancestors who were in the land of the Chaldeans. Since they abandoned the way of their ancestors, and worshiped the God of heaven,[n] the God whom they had come to know, their ancestors expelled them from the presence of their gods. So they fled to Mesopotamia and lived there a long time. Their God told them to leave the place where they were living and go to the land of Canaan. Here they settled, and grew very rich in gold, silver, and a great abundance of livestock. 10 Later, when famine had gripped the land of Canaan, they went down into Egypt. They stayed there as long as they found sustenance and there they grew into such a great multitude that the number of their people could not be counted. 11 The king of Egypt, however, rose up against them, and shrewdly forced them to labor at brickmaking; they were oppressed and made into slaves. 12 But they cried to their God, and he struck the whole land of Egypt with plagues for which there was no remedy. So the Egyptians drove them out. 13 Then God dried up the Red Sea before them 14 and led them along the route to Sinai and Kadesh-barnea. They drove out all the inhabitants of the wilderness 15 and settled in the land of the Amorites. By their strength they destroyed all the Heshbonites, crossed the Jordan, and took possession of all the hill country. 16 They drove out before them the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Shechemites,[o] and all the Gergesites, and they lived there a long time.

17 “As long as the Israelites did not sin in the sight of their God, they prospered, for their God, who hates wickedness, was with them. 18 [p]But when they abandoned the way he had prescribed for them, they were utterly destroyed by frequent wars, and finally taken as captives into foreign lands. The temple of their God was razed to the ground, and their cities were occupied by their enemies. 19 But now they have returned to their God, and they have come back from the Diaspora where they were scattered. They have reclaimed Jerusalem, where their sanctuary is, and have settled again in the hill country, because it was unoccupied.

20 “So now, my master[q] and lord, if these people are inadvertently at fault, or if they are sinning against their God, and if we verify this offense of theirs, then we will be able to go up and conquer them. 21 But if they are not a guilty nation, then let my lord keep his distance; otherwise their Lord and God will shield them, and we will be mocked in the eyes of all the earth.”

22 Now when Achior had finished saying these things, all the people standing round about the tent murmured; and the officers of Holofernes and all the inhabitants of the seacoast and of Moab alike said he should be cut to pieces. 23 “We are not afraid of the Israelites,” they said, “for they are a powerless people, incapable of a strong defense. 24 Therefore let us attack, master Holofernes. They will become fodder for your great army.”

Chapter 6

When the noise of the crowd surrounding the council had subsided, Holofernes, the ranking general of the Assyrian forces, said to Achior, in the presence of the whole throng of foreigners, of the Moabites, and of the Ammonite mercenaries: “Who are you,[r] Achior and the mercenaries of Ephraim, to prophesy among us as you have done today, and to tell us not to fight against the people of Israel because their God shields them? Who is God beside Nebuchadnezzar? He will send his force and destroy them from the face of the earth. Their God will not save them; but we, the servants of Nebuchadnezzar, will strike them down with one blow, for they will be unable to withstand the force of our cavalry. We will overwhelm them with it, and their mountains shall be drunk with their blood, and their plains filled with their corpses. Not a trace of them shall survive our attack; they will utterly perish. So says King Nebuchadnezzar, lord of all the earth. For he has spoken, and his words will not be in vain. As for you, Achior, you Ammonite mercenary, for saying these things in a moment of perversity, you will not see my face after today, until I have taken revenge on this people that came out of Egypt. Then at my return, the sword of my army or the spear of my attendants will pierce your sides, and you will fall among their wounded. My servants will now conduct you to the hill country, and leave you at one of the cities beside the passes. You will not die until you are destroyed together with them. If you still harbor the hope that they will not be taken, then there is no need for you to be downcast. I have spoken, and not one of my words will fail to be fulfilled.”

10 Then Holofernes ordered the servants who were standing by in his tent to seize Achior, conduct him to Bethulia, and hand him over to the Israelites. 11 So the servants seized him and took him out of the camp into the plain. From the plain they led him up into the hill country until they reached the springs below Bethulia.

12 When the men of the city saw them, they seized their weapons and ran out of the city to the top of the hill, and all the slingers kept them from coming up by hurling stones at them. 13 So, taking cover below the hill, they bound Achior and left him lying at the foot of the hill; then they returned to their lord.

Achior in Bethulia.[s] 14 The Israelites came down from their city and found him, untied him, and brought him into Bethulia. They placed him before the rulers of the city, 15 who in those days were Uzziah,[t] son of Micah of the tribe of Simeon, and Chabris, son of Gothoniel, and Charmis, son of Melchiel. 16 They then convened all the elders of the city, and all their young men, as well as the women, gathered in haste at the place of assembly. They placed Achior in the center of the people, and Uzziah questioned him about what had happened. 17 He replied by giving them an account of what was said in the council of Holofernes, and of all his own words among the Assyrian rulers, and of all the boasting threats of Holofernes against the house of Israel.

18 At this the people fell prostrate and worshiped God,[u] and they cried out: 19 “Lord, God of heaven, look at their arrogance! Have mercy on our people in their abject state, and look with favor this day on the faces of those who are consecrated to you.” 20 Then they reassured Achior and praised him highly. 21 Uzziah brought him from the place of assembly to his home, where he gave a banquet for the elders. That whole night they called upon the God of Israel for help.


  1. 4:1–7:32 In this section the focus narrows to Judea and specifically the little town of Bethulia. The scenes alternate between the Assyrian camp (5:1–6:13; 7:1–3, 6–18) and Judea/Bethulia (4:1–15; 6:14–21; 7:4–5, 19–32).
  2. 4:1–15 Here the scene shifts to Judea where Israel hears and is greatly terrified about Holofernes’ destruction of the neighboring places of worship. At Joakim’s instruction they take defensive measures and then pray fervently that God will not allow their sanctuary to be destroyed.
  3. 4:1 Shrines: the Greek word hiera is used only here and may mean holy places or things. By contrast, the sanctuary in Jerusalem is naos, “temple” (v. 2); oikos, “house” (v. 3); and hagia, lit., “holy things” (v. 12).
  4. 4:3 Returned from exile…purified from profanation: conflated historical references associated with events in 538 B.C. (return from exile) and 515 B.C. (dedication of the Second Temple) or perhaps even 164 B.C. (the rededication of the Second Temple in the Maccabean period).
  5. 4:4 Of the eight cities listed, only the locations of Beth-horon, Jericho, and Samaria are known. Salem, mentioned in Gn 17:17, is thought to be an ancient name of Jerusalem.
  6. 4:6 Joakim, who was high priest: see also vv. 8, 14; 15:8. Joakim exercises religious and military authority comparable to that of Jonathan in Maccabean times (cf. 1 Mc 10:18–21). Bethulia and Betomesthaim: unknown locations mentioned only in Judith. Bethulia may mean “House of God” (byt ‘l/yh) or “House of Ascent” (byt ‘lyh), perhaps a reference to either Bethel or Shechem.
  7. 4:7 Only wide enough for two at a time: such a narrow pass near Esdraelon cannot be identified.
  8. 4:10 Sackcloth: traditional sign of penitence and supplication is here taken to the extreme. Cf. Jon 3:8.
  9. 4:11 Fell prostrate in front of the temple: for a parallel to this ceremony of entreaty see Jl 1:13, 14; 2:15–17.
  10. 4:12 The altar…draped in sackcloth: attested nowhere else in the Bible.
  11. 4:13 The Lord heard their cry: this anticipates the role of Judith, the instrument of deliverance (chap. 16), though the people believe God has abandoned them (7:25).
  12. 5:1–6:13 The scene shifts to the Assyrian camp below Bethulia where Holofernes talks with Achior and then expels him to the foot of the hill below the little town.
  13. 5:5–21 Achior (Heb. “brother of light”) traces the covenant of Israel from Abraham to the exile and defends the inviolability of the people because their powerful God will defend them if they do not sin. He later identifies the head Judith displays as that of Holofernes (14:6–10). He may be modeled on the famous sage, Ahiqar (see note on Tb 1:21). Achior is wise, but the wisdom granted Judith by God is more effective than his.
  14. 5:8 God of heaven: a common expression in Persian times; see also 6:19; 11:17 (cf. 7:28; 9:12; 13:18).
  15. 5:16 Shechemites: perhaps anticipates the allusion in Judith’s prayer (9:2) to Simeon’s revenge on these people.
  16. 5:18–19 Knowledge of the Babylonian exile is presupposed; cf. also 4:3.
  17. 5:20 Master: the Greek word despota, usually applied to God in the Septuagint, is applied to Holofernes five times in the Book of Judith (vv. 20, 24; 7:9, 11; 11:10), and only once to God (9:12).
  18. 6:2 Who are you: repeated by Judith in 8:12 to the officials of Bethulia and modified in 12:14 in her response to Bagoas’ invitation on Holofernes’ behalf. The question, “Who is God?” motivates the entire narrative. Holofernes defends Nebuchadnezzar; Judith defends the Lord.
  19. 6:14–21 The scene shifts back to Bethulia where Achior tells the town leaders and citizens all that Holofernes has planned against them. The people cry out to God for help.
  20. 6:15 Uzziah: Ozeias is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew ‘uzziyyah, “Yah-is-my-strength.” His compromise in 7:30 highlights the irony of his name. Chabris…Charmis: unknown outside Judith.
  21. 6:18 The people fell prostrate and worshiped God: here in response to Achior’s report, the people properly turn to God in their distress. See 4:12.
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.

Proverbs 31:1-15 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

VIII. Sayings of King Lemuel[a]

Chapter 31

The words of Lemuel, king of Massa,[b] the instruction his mother taught him:

What are you doing, my son![c]
    what are you doing, son of my womb;
    what are you doing, son of my vows!
Do not give your vigor to women,
    or your strength[d] to those who ruin kings.
It is not for kings, Lemuel,
    not for kings to drink wine;
    strong drink is not for princes,
Lest in drinking they forget what has been decreed,
    and violate the rights of any who are in need.
Give strong drink to anyone who is perishing,
    and wine to the embittered;
When they drink, they will forget their misery,
    and think no more of their troubles.
Open your mouth in behalf of the mute,
    and for the rights of the destitute;
Open your mouth, judge justly,
    defend the needy and the poor!

IX. Poem on the Woman of Worth[e]

10 Who can find[f] a woman of worth?
    Far beyond jewels is her value.
11 Her husband trusts her judgment;
    he does not lack income.
12 She brings him profit, not loss,[g]
    all the days of her life.
13 She seeks out wool and flax
    and weaves with skillful hands.
14 Like a merchant fleet,[h]
    she secures her provisions from afar.
15 She rises while it is still night,
    and distributes food to her household,
    a portion to her maidservants.


  1. 31:1–9

    Though mothers are sources of wisdom in Proverbs (1:8; 6:20), the mother of Lemuel is special in being queen mother, which was an important position in the palace. Queen mothers played an important role in ancient palace life because of their longevity, knowledge of palace politics, and loyalty to their sons; they were in a good position to offer him sound counsel. The language of the poem contains Aramaisms, a sign of its non-Israelite origin.

    The first section, vv. 3–5, warns against abuse of sex and alcohol (wine, strong drink) lest the king forget the poor. The second section, vv. 6–9, urges the use of alcohol (strong drink, wine) so that the downtrodden poor can forget their poverty. The real subject of the poem is justice for the poor.

  2. 31:1 Massa: see note on 30:1–6.
  3. 31:2 My son: in the Septuagint, “my son, my firstborn.”
  4. 31:3 The Hebrew word here translated “strength” normally means “ways,” but the context and a cognate language support “authority” or “strength” here.
  5. 31:10–31 An acrostic poem of twenty-two lines; each line begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. As with many other acrostic poems in the Bible, the unity of the poem is largely extrinsic, coming not from the narrative logic but from the familiar sequence of letters. The topic is the ideal woman described through her activity as a wife. Some have suggested that the traditional hymn extolling the great deeds of a warrior has been transposed to extol a heroic wife; the focus is on her exploits. She runs a household distinguished by abundant food and clothing for all within, by its trade (import of raw materials and export of finished products), and by the renown of its head, her husband, in the community. At v. 28, the voice is no longer that of the narrator but of her children and husband as they praise her. The purpose of the poem has been interpreted variously: an encomium to offset the sometimes negative portrayal of women in the book, or, more symbolically (and more likely), a portrait of a household ruled by Woman Wisdom and a disciple of Woman Wisdom, i.e., he now has a worthy wife and children, a great household, renown in the community.
  6. 31:10 Who can find…?: in 20:6 and Eccl 8:1 the question implies that finding such a person is well-nigh impossible.
  7. 31:12 Profit, not loss: a commercial metaphor.
  8. 31:14 Like a merchant fleet: she has her eye on the far horizon, like the ship of a merchant ready to bring supplies into her larder. It is the only simile (“like”) in the poem.
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 1:26-56 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

26 In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,[a] and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, 33 and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34 But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?”[b] 35 And the angel said to her in reply, “The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. 36 And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived[c] a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; 37 for nothing will be impossible for God.” 38 Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

Mary Visits Elizabeth. 39 During those days Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, 40 where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, 42 cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43 And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord[d] should come to me? 44 For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed are you who believed[e] that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”

The Canticle of Mary. 46 And Mary said:[f]

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
47     my spirit rejoices in God my savior.
48 For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness;
    behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.
49 The Mighty One has done great things for me,
    and holy is his name.
50 His mercy is from age to age
    to those who fear him.
51 He has shown might with his arm,
    dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.
52 He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones
    but lifted up the lowly.
53 The hungry he has filled with good things;
    the rich he has sent away empty.
54 He has helped Israel his servant,
    remembering his mercy,
55 according to his promise to our fathers,
    to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

56 Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.

The Birth of John.[g]


  1. 1:32 Son of the Most High: cf. Lk 1:76 where John is described as “prophet of the Most High.” “Most High” is a title for God commonly used by Luke (Lk 1:35, 76; 6:35; 8:28; Acts 7:48; 16:17).
  2. 1:34 Mary’s questioning response is a denial of sexual relations and is used by Luke to lead to the angel’s declaration about the Spirit’s role in the conception of this child (Lk 1:35). According to Luke, the virginal conception of Jesus takes place through the holy Spirit, the power of God, and therefore Jesus has a unique relationship to Yahweh: he is Son of God.
  3. 1:36–37 The sign given to Mary in confirmation of the angel’s announcement to her is the pregnancy of her aged relative Elizabeth. If a woman past the childbearing age could become pregnant, why, the angel implies, should there be doubt about Mary’s pregnancy, for nothing will be impossible for God.
  4. 1:43 Even before his birth, Jesus is identified in Luke as the Lord.
  5. 1:45 Blessed are you who believed: Luke portrays Mary as a believer whose faith stands in contrast to the disbelief of Zechariah (Lk 1:20). Mary’s role as believer in the infancy narrative should be seen in connection with the explicit mention of her presence among “those who believed” after the resurrection at the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 1:14).
  6. 1:46–55 Although Mary is praised for being the mother of the Lord and because of her belief, she reacts as the servant in a psalm of praise, the Magnificat. Because there is no specific connection of the canticle to the context of Mary’s pregnancy and her visit to Elizabeth, the Magnificat (with the possible exception of v 48) may have been a Jewish Christian hymn that Luke found appropriate at this point in his story. Even if not composed by Luke, it fits in well with themes found elsewhere in Luke: joy and exultation in the Lord; the lowly being singled out for God’s favor; the reversal of human fortunes; the fulfillment of Old Testament promises. The loose connection between the hymn and the context is further seen in the fact that a few Old Latin manuscripts identify the speaker of the hymn as Elizabeth, even though the overwhelming textual evidence makes Mary the speaker.
  7. 1:57–66 The birth and circumcision of John above all emphasize John’s incorporation into the people of Israel by the sign of the covenant (Gn 17:1–12). The narrative of John’s circumcision also prepares the way for the subsequent description of the circumcision of Jesus in Lk 2:21. At the beginning of his two-volume work Luke shows those who play crucial roles in the inauguration of Christianity to be wholly a part of the people of Israel. At the end of the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 21:20; 22:3; 23:6–9; 24:14–16; 26:2–8, 22–23) he will argue that Christianity is the direct descendant of Pharisaic Judaism.
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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