Judith 7-8 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)
The Campaign Against Israel.[a] 1 The following day Holofernes ordered his whole army, and all the troops who had come to join him, to break camp and move against Bethulia, seize the passes into the hills, and make war on the Israelites. 2 That same day all their fighting men went into action. Their forces numbered a hundred and seventy thousand infantry and twelve thousand cavalry, not counting the baggage train or the men who accompanied it on foot, a very great army. 3 They encamped at the spring in the valley near Bethulia, and spread crosswise toward Dothan as far as Balbaim, and lengthwise from Bethulia to Cyamon, which faces Esdraelon.
4 When the Israelites saw how many there were, they were greatly distressed and said to one another, “Soon they will strip the whole land bare. Neither the high mountains nor the valleys nor the hills will bear their weight.” 5 Yet they all seized their weapons, lighted fires on their towers, and kept watch throughout the night.
The Siege of Bethulia.[b] 6 On the second day Holofernes led out all his cavalry in the sight of the Israelites who were in Bethulia. 7 He reconnoitered the ascents to their city and located their springs of water; these he seized, stationing armed detachments around them, while he himself returned to his troops.
8 All the rulers of the Edomites, all the leaders of the Moabites, together with the generals of the coastal region, came to Holofernes and said: 9 “Master, please listen to what we have to say, that there may be no losses among your forces. 10 These Israelite troops do not rely on their spears, but on the height of the mountains where they dwell, for it is not easy to reach the summit of their mountains. 11 Therefore, master, do not attack them in regular formation, and not a single one of your troops will fall. 12 Stay in your camp, and spare every man of your force. Have some of your servants keep control of the spring of water that flows out at the base of the mountain, 13 for that is where the inhabitants of Bethulia get their water. Then thirst will destroy them, and they will surrender their city. Meanwhile, we and our troops will go up to the nearby hilltops and encamp there to guard against anyone’s leaving the city. 14 They and their wives and children will languish with hunger, and even before the sword strikes them they will be laid low in the streets where they live. 15 Thus you will render them dire punishment for their rebellion and their refusal to meet you peacefully.”
16 Their words pleased Holofernes and all his attendants, and he ordered their proposal to be carried out. 17 So the Ammonites moved camp, together with five thousand Assyrians. They encamped in the valley and held the water supply and the springs of the Israelites. 18 The Edomites and the Ammonites went up and encamped in the hill country opposite Dothan; and they sent some of their men to the southeast opposite Egrebel, near Chusi, which is on Wadi Mochmur. The rest of the Assyrian army was encamped in the plain, covering all the land. Their tents and equipment were spread out in profusion everywhere, and they formed a vast multitude.
The Distress of the Israelites. 19 The Israelites cried to the Lord, their God, for they were disheartened, since all their enemies had them surrounded, and there was no way of escaping from them.[c] 20 The whole Assyrian army, infantry, chariots, and cavalry, kept them thus surrounded for thirty-four days.[d] All the reservoirs of water failed the inhabitants of Bethulia, 21 and the cisterns ran dry, so that on no day did they have enough water to drink, for their drinking water was rationed. 22 Their children were listless, and the women and youths were fainting from thirst and were collapsing in the streets and gateways of the city, with no strength left in them.
23 So all the people, including youths, women, and children, went in a crowd to Uzziah and the rulers of the city. They cried out loudly and said before all the elders: 24 “May God judge between you and us! You have done us grave injustice in not making peace with the Assyrians. 25 There is no one to help us now! God has sold us into their hands by laying us prostrate before them in thirst and utter exhaustion. 26 So now, summon them and deliver the whole city as plunder to the troops of Holofernes and to all his forces; 27 we would be better off to become their prey. Although we would be made slaves, at least we would live, and not have to see our little ones dying before our eyes, and our wives and children breathing their last. 28 We adjure you by heaven and earth and by our God, the Lord of our ancestors, who is punishing us for our sins and the sins of our ancestors,[e] that this very day you do as we have proposed.”
29 All in the assembly with one accord broke into shrill wailing and cried loudly to the Lord their God. 30 But Uzziah said to them, “Courage, my brothers and sisters! Let us endure patiently five days more for the Lord our God to show mercy toward us; for God will not utterly forsake us. 31 But if these days pass and help does not come to us, I will do as you say.” 32 Then he dismissed the people. The men returned to their posts on the walls and towers of the city, the women and children went back to their homes. Throughout the city they were in great misery.
III. Judith, Instrument of the Lord[f]
Description of Judith. 1 [g]Now in those days Judith, daughter of Merari, son of Ox, son of Joseph, son of Oziel, son of Elkiah, son of Ananias, son of Gideon, son of Raphain, son of Ahitub, son of Elijah, son of Hilkiah, son of Eliab, son of Nathanael, son of Salamiel, son of Sarasadai, son of Simeon, son of Israel, heard of this. 2 Her husband, Manasseh,[h] of her own tribe and clan, had died at the time of the barley harvest. 3 While he was supervising those who bound the sheaves in the field, he was overcome by the heat; and he collapsed on his bed and died in Bethulia, his native city. He was buried with his ancestors in the field between Dothan and Balamon. 4 Judith was living as a widow[i] in her home for three years and four months. 5 She set up a tent for herself on the roof of her house, put sackcloth about her waist, and wore widow’s clothing. 6 She fasted all the days of her widowhood, except sabbath eves and sabbaths, new moon eves and new moons, feastdays and holidays of the house of Israel. 7 She was beautiful in appearance and very lovely to behold. Her husband, Manasseh, had left her gold and silver, male and female servants, livestock and fields, which she was maintaining. 8 No one had a bad word to say about her, for she feared God greatly.
Judith and the Elders.[j] 9 So when Judith heard of the harsh words that the people, discouraged by their lack of water, had spoken against their ruler, and of all that Uzziah had said to them in reply, swearing that he would hand over the city to the Assyrians at the end of five days, 10 she sent her maid who was in charge of all her things[k] to summon Uzziah, Chabris, and Charmis, the elders of her city. 11 When they came, she said to them: “Listen to me, you rulers of the people of Bethulia. What you said to the people today is not right. You pronounced this oath, made between God and yourselves, and promised to hand over the city to our enemies unless within a certain time the Lord comes to our aid. 12 Who are you to put God to the test today, setting yourselves in the place of God in human affairs?[l] 13 And now it is the Lord Almighty you are putting to the test, but you will never understand anything! 14 You cannot plumb the depths of the human heart or grasp the workings of the human mind; how then can you fathom God, who has made all these things, or discern his mind, or understand his plan?
“No, my brothers, do not anger the Lord our God. 15 [m]For if he does not plan to come to our aid within the five days, he has it equally within his power to protect us at such time as he pleases, or to destroy us in the sight of our enemies. 16 Do not impose conditions on the plans of the Lord our God. God is not like a human being to be moved by threats, nor like a mortal to be cajoled.
17 “So while we wait for the salvation that comes from him, let us call upon him to help us, and he will hear our cry if it pleases him. 18 For there has not risen among us in recent generations, nor does there exist today, any tribe, or clan, or district, or city of ours that worships gods made by hands, as happened in former days. 19 It was for such conduct that our ancestors were handed over to the sword and to pillage, and fell with great destruction before our enemies. 20 But since we acknowledge no other god but the Lord, we hope that he will not disdain us or any of our people. 21 If we are taken, then all Judea will fall, our sanctuary will be plundered, and God will demand an account from us for their profanation. 22 For the slaughter of our kindred, for the taking of exiles from the land, and for the devastation of our inheritance, he will hold us responsible among the nations. Wherever we are enslaved, we will be a scandal and a reproach in the eyes of our masters. 23 Our servitude will not work to our advantage, but the Lord our God will turn it to disgrace.
24 “Therefore, my brothers, let us set an example[n] for our kindred. Their lives depend on us, and the defense of the sanctuary, the temple, and the altar rests with us. 25 Besides all this, let us give thanks to the Lord our God for putting us to the test as he did our ancestors. 26 Recall how he dealt with Abraham, and how he tested Isaac, and all that happened to Jacob in Syrian Mesopotamia while he was tending the flocks of Laban, his mother’s brother. 27 He has not tested us with fire, as he did them, to try their hearts, nor is he taking vengeance on us. But the Lord chastises those who are close to him in order to admonish them.”
28 Then Uzziah said to her: “All that you have said you have spoken truthfully, and no one can deny your words. 29 For today is not the first time your wisdom has been evident, but from your earliest days all the people have recognized your understanding, for your heart’s disposition is right. 30 The people, however, were so thirsty that they forced us to do for them as we have promised, and to bind ourselves by an oath that we cannot break.[o] 31 But now, since you are a devout woman, pray for us that the Lord may send rain to fill up our cisterns. Then we will no longer be fainting from thirst.”
32 Then Judith said to them: “Listen to me! I will perform a deed that will go down from generation to generation among our descendants. 33 Stand at the city gate tonight to let me pass through with my maid; and within the days you have specified before you will surrender the city to our enemies, the Lord will deliver Israel by my hand. 34 You must not inquire into the affair, for I will not tell you what I am doing until it has been accomplished.” 35 Uzziah and the rulers said to her, “Go in peace, and may the Lord God go before you to take vengeance upon our enemies!” 36 Then they withdrew from the tent and returned to their posts.
Proverbs 31:16-31 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)
16 She picks out a field and acquires it;
Luke 1:57-80 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)
57 When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child she gave birth to a son. 58 Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her, and they rejoiced with her. 59 [a]When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child, they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, 60 but his mother said in reply, “No. He will be called John.” 61 But they answered her, “There is no one among your relatives who has this name.” 62 So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called. 63 He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,” and all were amazed. 64 Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God. 65 Then fear came upon all their neighbors, and all these matters were discussed throughout the hill country of Judea. 66 All who heard these things took them to heart, saying, “What, then, will this child be?” For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.
The Canticle of Zechariah. 67 Then Zechariah his father, filled with the holy Spirit, prophesied, saying:
68 [b]“Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
80 The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the desert until the day of his manifestation to Israel.