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Day 248 – Cut to the Heart


Thoughts and Reflection

Today we read about the Rechabites who are nomads. They are like monks but they have a family. They don’t drink alcohol and do not live in homes but in tents. They don’t do not plant crops because they are always on the move. The Lord tell Jeremiah to invite the Rechabites into the Temple and to offer them wine but they refuse to drink it. The Lord shows us a comparison of the Rechabites who are faithful to their traditions and the people of Israel who do not obey the commands of the Lord. The Rechabites are an example of great integrity.

Baruch writes down Jeremiah’s dictation, which is from the Lord. It is taken to King Jehoiakim who rejects the messages and throws parts of it into the fire. We might be tempted to do the same when the teachings are hard.

About This Project

For the year 2022, I decided that my New Year’s Resolution was to read the whole Bible following the Bible in the Year plan presented by Fr. Mike Schmitz. It is a big and bold undertaking. You can follow along by subscribing. Feel free to look at previous day’s post and comment. It’s something we can all learn from together!

Daily Readings

Jeremiah 35

1 The word which came to Jeremiah from Yahweh in the days of Jehoiakim son of Josiah, king of Judah,

2 ‘Go to the clan of the Rechabites and speak to them; bring them into one of the rooms of the Temple of Yahweh and offer them wine to drink.’

3 So I took Jaazaniah son of Jeremiah, son of Habazziniah, with his brothers and all his sons, the whole Rechabite clan,

4 and brought them to the Temple of Yahweh into the room of Ben-Johanan son of Igdaliah, a man of God, which was next to that of the chief men, above the room of Maaseiah son of Shallum, guardian of the threshold.

5 I then set pitchers full of wine, and some cups, before the members of the Rechabite clan and said, ‘Drink some wine.’

6 But they replied, ‘We do not drink wine, because our ancestor Jonadab son of Rechab gave us this order, “You must not drink wine, neither you nor your sons for ever;

7 nor must you build houses, sow seed, plant vineyards or own them, but must live in tents all your lives, so that you may live long on the soil to which you are alien.”

8 We have punctiliously obeyed the orders of our ancestor, Jonadab son of Rechab, never drinking wine ourselves, nor our wives, our sons or our daughters,

9 not building houses to live in, owning neither vineyard nor field nor seed,

10 living in tents. We have obeyed the orders of our ancestor Jonadab, respecting them in every particular.

11 However, when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon invaded this country, we decided, “We must get away! We will go to Jerusalem to escape the armies of the Chaldaeans and Aramaeans.” So that is why we are living in Jerusalem.’

12 Then the word of Yahweh came to Jeremiah as follows,

13 ‘Yahweh Sabaoth, the God of Israel, says this, “Go and say to the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: Will you never learn the lesson and listen to my words, Yahweh demands?

14 The words of Jonadab son of Rechab, ordering his sons to drink no wine, have been observed; obedient to their ancestor’s command, they drink none even today . But to me, who spoke to you so urgently, so untiringly, you have not listened.

15 I have urgently and untiringly sent you all my servants the prophets to say: Turn back, each one of you, from your evil behaviour and amend your actions, do not follow other gods to serve them, and you will go on living on the soil I gave to you and your ancestors. But you have not paid attention or listened to me. 

16 Thus the sons of Jonadab son of Rechab have kept the command their ancestor gave them, but this people has not listened to me.

17 And so, Yahweh, God Sabaoth, God of Israel, says this: Look, on Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem I am going to bring all the disaster which I have decreed for them, because I spoke to them and they would not listen, called to them and they would not answer.”‘

18 Then Jeremiah said to the Rechabite clan, ‘Yahweh Sabaoth, the God of Israel, says this, “Because you have obeyed the orders of your ancestor Jonadab and observed all his rules and done everything he ordered you to do,

19 therefore, Yahweh Sabaoth, the God of Israel, says this: Jonadab son of Rechab will never lack a male descendant to stand before me for ever.” ‘

Jeremiah 36

1 In the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah, king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from Yahweh,

2 ‘Take a scroll and on it write all the words I have spoken to you about Israel, Judah and all the nations, from the day I first spoke to you, in the time of Josiah, until today.

3 Perhaps when the House of Judah hears about all the disaster I intend to inflict on them, they will turn, each one of them, from their evil behaviour, so that I can forgive their sinful guilt.’

4 Jeremiah then summoned Baruch son of Neriah, who at his dictation wrote down on the scroll all the words Yahweh had spoken to him.

5 Jeremiah then gave Baruch this order, ‘As I am prevented from entering the Temple of Yahweh,

6 you yourself must go and, from the scroll you wrote at my dictation, read all Yahweh’s words to the people in his Temple on the day of the fast, and in this way you can read them in the hearing also of all the Judaeans who come in from their towns.

7 Perhaps their prayers will move Yahweh and they will turn one and all from their evil behaviour, for great is the furious anger with which Yahweh has threatened this people.’

8 Baruch son of Neriah duly carried out the order that the prophet Jeremiah had given him, to read all Yahweh’s words from the book in his Temple.

9 Now, in the fifth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah, king of Judah, in the ninth month, all the people of Jerusalem and all the people who could get to Jerusalem from the towns of Judah were summoned to a fast before Yahweh.

10 Baruch then read Jeremiah’s words from the book; this happened in the room of Gemariah son of the scribe Shaphan, in the upper court at the entry of the New Gate of the Temple of Yahweh, where all the people could hear.

11 Micaiah son of Gemariah, son of Shaphan, having heard all Yahweh’s words read from the book,

12 went down to the royal palace, to the scribe’s room. All the chief men were in session: the scribe Elishama, Delaiah son of Shemaiah, Elnathan son of Achbor, Gemariah son of Shaphan, Zedekiah son of Hananiah and all the other chief men;

13 and to them Micaiah reported all the words he heard as Baruch was reading the book aloud to the people.

14 The chief men then by common consent sent Jehudi son of Netaniah to Baruch, with Shelemiah son of Cushi, to say, ‘Come, and bring the scroll with you which you have been reading to the people.’

15 Bringing the scroll with him, Baruch son of Neriah appeared before them. ‘Sit down,’ they said, ‘and read it out.’ So Baruch read it to them.

16 Having heard all the words they turned to one another in alarm and said to Baruch, ‘We must certainly inform the king of this.’

17 They then questioned Baruch, ‘Tell us’, they said, ‘how you came to write all these words.’

18 ‘Jeremiah dictated them all to me,’ Baruch replied, ‘and I wrote them down in ink in this book.’

19 The chief men said to Baruch, ‘You and Jeremiah had better go into hiding; and do not tell anyone where you are.’

20 Whereupon they went off to the king in the palace court, depositing the scroll in the room of the scribe Elishama. They then informed the king of the whole affair.

21 The king sent Jehudi for the scroll, and he brought it from the room of the scribe Elishama and read it to the king and all the chief men standing round the king.

22 The king was sitting in his winter apartments — it was the ninth month — with a fire burning in a brazier in front of him.

23 Each time Jehudi had read three or four columns, the king cut them off with a scribe’s knife and threw them into the fire in the brazier until the whole of the scroll had been burnt in the brazier fire.

24 But in spite of hearing all these words, neither the king nor any of his courtiers took alarm or tore their clothes;

25 and although Elnathan and Delaiah and Gemariah had urged the king not to burn the scroll he would not listen to them,

26 but ordered the king’s son Jerahmeel and Seraiah son of Azriel and Shelemiah son of Abdeel to arrest the scribe Baruch and the prophet Jeremiah. But Yahweh had hidden them.

27 Then the word of Yahweh came to Jeremiah, after the king had burnt the scroll containing the words Baruch had written at Jeremiah’s dictation,

28 ‘Take another scroll and write down all the words that were written on the first scroll burnt by Jehoiakim king of Judah.

29 And as regards Jehoiakim king of Judah, you are to say, “Yahweh says this: You have burnt that scroll, saying: Why have you written down: The king of Babylon will certainly come and lay this country waste and leave it without human or animal?

30 So, this is what Yahweh says about Jehoiakim king of Judah: He will have no one to occupy the throne of David, and his corpse willbe tossed out to the heat of the day and the frost of the night.

31 I shall punish him, his offspring and his courtiers for their guilt; on them, on the citizens of Jerusalem and on the people of Judah I shall bring the total disaster which I had decreed for them but to which they have paid no attention.”

32 Jeremiah then took another scroll and gave it to the scribe Baruch son of Neriah, who in it at Jeremiah’s dictation wrote all the words of the book that Jehoiakim king of Judah had burnt, with many similar words in addition.

Judith 6

1 When the uproar of those crowding round the council had subsided, Holofernes, general-in-chief of the Assyrian army, reprimanded Achior in front of the whole crowd of foreigners and Ammonites.

2 ‘Achior, who do you think you are, you and the Ephraimite mercenaries, playing the prophet like this with us today, and trying to dissuade us from making war on the people of Israel? You claim their God will protect them. And who is God if not Nebuchadnezzar? He himself will display his power and wipe them off the face of the earth, and their God will certainly not save them.

3 But we, his servants, shall destroy them as easily as a single individual. They can never resist the strength of our cavalry.

4 We shall burn them all. Their mountains will be drunk with their blood and their plains filled with their corpses. Far from being able to resist us, every one of them will die; thus says King Nebuchadnezzar, lord of the whole world. For he has spoken, and his words will not prove empty.

5 As for you, Achior, you Ammonite mercenary, who in a rash moment said these words, you will not see my face again until the day when I have taken my revenge on this brood from Egypt.

6 And then the swords of my soldiers and the spears of my officers will pierce your sides. You will fall among their wounded, the moment I turn on Israel.

7 My servants will now take you into the hill-country and leave you near one of the towns in the passes;

8 you will not die, until you share their ruin.

9 No need to look so sad if you cherish the secret hope that they will not be captured! I have spoken; none of my words will prove idle.’

10 Holofernes having commanded his tent-orderlies to seize Achior, to take him to Bethulia and to hand him over to the Israelites,

11 the orderlies took him, escorted him out of the camp and across the plain, and then, making for the hill-country, reached the springs below Bethulia.

12 As soon as the men of the town sighted them, they snatched up their weapons, left the town and made for the mountain tops, while all the slingers pelted them with stones to prevent them from coming up.

13 However, they managed to take cover at the foot of the slope, where they bound Achior and left him lying at the bottom of the mountain and returned to their master.

14 The Israelites then came down from their town, stopped by him, unbound him and took him to Bethulia, where they brought him before the chief men of the town,

15 who at that time were Uzziah son of Micah of the tribe of Simeon, Chabris son of Gothoniel and Charmis son of Melchiel.

16 These summoned all the elders of the town. The young men and the women also hurried to the assembly. Achior was made to stand with all the people surrounding him, and Uzziah questioned him about what had happened.

17 He answered by telling them what had been said at Holofernes’ council, and what he himself had said in the presence of the Assyrian leaders, and how Holofernes had bragged of what he would do to the House of Israel.

18 At this the people fell to the ground and worshipped God.

19 ‘Lord God of heaven,’ they cried, ‘take notice of their arrogance and have pity on the humiliation of our race. Look kindly today on those who are consecrated to you.’

20 They then spoke reassuringly to Achior and praised him warmly.

21 After the assembly Uzziah took him home and gave a banquet for the elders; all that night they called on the God of Israel for help.

Judith 7

1 The following day Holofernes issued orders to his whole army and to the whole host of auxiliaries who had joined him, to break camp and march on Bethulia, to occupy the mountain passes and so open the campaign against the Israelites.

2 The troops broke camp that same day. The actual fighting force numbered one hundred and twenty thousand infantry and twelve thousand cavalry, not to mention the baggage train with the vast number of men on foot concerned with that.

3 They penetrated the valley in the neighbourhood of Bethulia, near the spring, and deployed on a wide front from Dothan to Balbaim and, in depth, from Bethulia to Cyamon, which faces Esdraelon.

4 When the Israelites saw this horde, they were all appalled and said to each other, ‘Now they will lick the whole country clean. Not even the loftiest peaks, the gorges or the hills will be able to stand the weight of them.’

5 Each man snatched up his arms; they lit beacons on their towers and spent the whole night on watch.

6 On the second day Holofernes deployed his entire cavalry in sight of the Israelites in Bethulia.

7 He reconnoitred the slopes leading up to the town, located the water-points, seized them and posted pickets over them and returned to the main body.

8 The chieftains of the sons of Esau, all the leaders of the Moabites and the generals of the coastal district then came to him and said,

9 ‘If our master will be pleased to listen to us, his forces will not sustain a single wound.

10 These Israelites do not rely so much on their spears as on the height of the mountains where they live. And admittedly it is not at all easy to scale these heights of theirs.

11 ‘This being the case, master, avoid engaging them in a pitched battle and then you will not lose a single man.

12 Stay in camp, keep all your troops there too, while your servants seize the spring which rises at the foot of the mountain,

13 since that is what provides the population of Bethulia with their water supply. Thirst will then force them to surrender their town. Meanwhile, we and our men will climb the nearest mountain tops and form advance posts there to prevent anyone from leaving the town.

14 Hunger will waste them, with their wives and children, and before the sword can reach them they will already be lying in the streets outside their houses.

15 And you will make them pay dearly for their defiance and their refusal to meet you peaceably.’

16 Their words pleased Holofernes as well as all his officers, and he decided to do as they suggested.

17 Accordingly, a troop of Moabites moved forward with a further five thousand Assyrians. They penetrated the valley and seized the Israelites’ waterpoints and springs.

18 Meanwhile the Edomites and Ammonites went and took up positions in the highlands opposite Dothan, sending some of their men to the south-east opposite Egrebel near Chous on the Wadi Mochmur. The rest of the Assyrian army took up positions in the plain, covering every inch of the ground; their tents and equipment made an immense encampment, so vast were their numbers.

19 The Israelites called on the Lord their God, dispirited because the enemy had surrounded them and cut all line of retreat.

20 For thirty-four days the Assyrian army, infantry, chariots, cavalrymen, had them surrounded. Every water-jar the inhabitants of Bethuliahad was empty,

21 their storage-wells were drying up; on no day could a man drink his fill, since their water was rationed.

22 Their little children pined away, the women and young men grew weak with thirst; they collapsed in the streets and gateways of the town; they had no strength left.

23 Young men, women, children, the whole people thronged clamouring round Uzziah and the chief men of the town, shouting in the presence of the assembled elders,

24 ‘May God be judge between you and us! For you have done us great harm, by not suing for peace with the Assyrians.

25 And now there is no one to help us. God has delivered us into their hands to be prostrated before them in thirst and utter helplessness.

26 Call them in at once; hand the whole town over to be sacked by Holofernes’ men and all his army.

27 After all, we should be much better off as their booty than we are now; no doubt we shall be enslaved, but at least we shall be alive and not see our little ones dying before our eyes or our wives and children perishing.

28 By heaven and earth and by our God, the Lord of our fathers, who is punishing us for our sins and the sins of our ancestors, we implore you to take this course now, today.’

29 Bitter lamentations rose from the whole assembly, and they all cried loudly to the Lord God.

30 Then Uzziah spoke to them, ‘Take heart, brothers! Let us hold out five days more. By then the Lord our God will take pity on us, for he will not desert us altogether.

31 At the end of this time, if no help is forthcoming, I shall do as you have said.’

32 With that he dismissed the people to their various quarters. The men went to man the walls and towers of the town, sending the women and children home. The town was full of despondency.

Proverbs 17:1-4

1 Better a mouthful of dry bread with peace than a house filled with quarrelsome sacrifices.

2 A shrewd servant comes off better than an unworthy child, he will share the inheritance with the brothers.

3 A furnace for silver, a foundry for gold, but Yahweh for the testing of hearts!

4 An evil-doer pays heed to malicious talk, a liar listens to a slanderous tongue.


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