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Day 249 – Prayer of Judith


Thoughts and Reflection

Today we read about King Zedekiah. Jeremiah could have fled the city of stopped preaching but God’s word burns within him. Jeremiah’s suffering is a preview of the suffering Jesus will have later. Judith introduces us to its namesake heroine who is beautiful but also virtuous, prudent and courageous. Uzziah negotiated with the people to give the Lord five more days and to act. Judith rebukes Uzziah and the elders saying that they cannot give God a deadline.

We may be tempted to give God a deadline or an ultimatum. We need to let God be God and not be god ourselves. We need to be our own rulers of our life.

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 37

1 Zedekiah son of Josiah became king, succeeding Coniah son of Jehoiakim. Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had made him king of Judah.

2 But neither he nor his courtiers nor the people of the country paid any attention to the words Yahweh spoke through the prophetJeremiah.

3 King Zedekiah sent Jehucal son of Shelemiah and the priest Zephaniah son of Maaseiah to the prophet Jeremiah with this message, ‘Intercede for us with Yahweh our God.’

4 Now Jeremiah was still moving freely among the people: he had not yet been put in prison.

5 Meanwhile Pharaoh’s army was on the move from Egypt and the Chaldaeans besieging Jerusalem had raised the siege when they heard the news.

6 Then the word of Yahweh came to the prophet Jeremiah as follows,

7 ‘Yahweh, God of Israel, says this, “To the king of Judah who sent you to consult me make this reply: Is Pharaoh’s army marching to your aid? It will withdraw to its own country, Egypt.

8 The Chaldaeans will return to attack this city; they will capture it and burn it down.

9 Yahweh says this: Do not cheer yourselves up by thinking: The Chaldaeans are leaving us for good. They are not leaving.

10 Even if you cut to pieces the whole Chaldaean army now fighting against you until there were only the wounded left, they would stand up again, each man in his tent, to burn this city down.” ‘

11 At the time when the Chaldaean army, threatened by Pharaoh’s army, had raised the siege of Jerusalem,

12 Jeremiah set out from Jerusalem for the territory of Benjamin to see about a piece of his property among the people there.

13 He was at the Benjamin Gate when the guard commander there, a certain Irijah son of Shelemiah, son of Hananiah, arrested the prophet Jeremiah, shouting, ‘You are deserting to the Chaldaeans!’

14 Jeremiah answered, ‘It is a lie! I am not deserting to the Chaldaeans.’ But Irijah would not listen to Jeremiah and took him under arrest to the chief men.

15 And the chief men, furious with Jeremiah, had him beaten and shut up in the house of the scribe Jonathan, which had been turned into a prison.

16 Thus Jeremiah found himself in an underground vault. And there for a long time he stayed.

17 Later, King Zedekiah had him sent for, and the king questioned him privately in his palace. ‘Is there any word from Yahweh?’ he asked. ‘There is,’ Jeremiah answered, and added, ‘you will be handed over to the king of Babylon.’

18 Jeremiah then said to King Zedekiah, ‘What wrong have I done you, or your courtiers or this people, for you to have put me in prison?

19 Where are your prophets now who prophesied, “The king of Babylon will not attack you or this country”?

20 So now I beg you to hear me, my lord king! I beg you to approve my request! Do not have me taken back to the house of the scribe Jonathan, or I shall die there.’

21 King Zedekiah then gave an order, and Jeremiah was confined in the Court of the Guard and given a loaf of bread a day from the Street of the Bakers as long as there was bread left in the city. So Jeremiah stayed in the Court of the Guard.

Jeremiah 38

1 But Shephatiah son of Mattan, Gedaliah son of Pashhur, Jucal son of Shelemiah and Pashhur son of Malchiah heard the words which Jeremiah was saying to all the people,

2 ‘Yahweh says this, “Anyone who stays in this city will die by sword, famine or plague; but anyone who leaves it and surrenders to the Chaldaeans will live; he will escape with his life.

3 Yahweh says this: This city will certainly be handed over to the army of the king of Babylon, and he will capture it.” ‘

4 The chief men then said to the king, ‘You must have this man put to death: he is unquestionably disheartening the remaining soldiers in the city, and all the people too, by talking like this. This man is seeking not the welfare of the people but their ruin.’

5 King Zedekiah answered, ‘He is in your hands as you know, for the king is powerless to oppose you.’

6 So they took Jeremiah and put him into the storage-well of the king’s son Malchiah in the Court of the Guard, letting him down with ropes. There was no water in the storage-well, only mud, and into the mud Jeremiah sank.

7 But Ebed-Melech the Cushite, a eunuch attached to the palace, heard that Jeremiah had been put into the storage-well. As the king was sitting in the Benjamin Gate,

8 Ebed-Melech came out from the palace and spoke to the king.

9 ‘My lord king,’ he said, ‘these men have done a wicked thing by treating the prophet Jeremiah like this: they have thrown him into the storage-well. He will starve to death there, since there is no more food in the city.’

10 At this the king gave Ebed-Melech the Cushite the following order: ‘Take thirty men with you from here and pull the prophet Jeremiahout of the storage-well before he dies.’

11 Ebed-Melech took the men with him and went into the palace to the Treasury wardrobe; out of it he took some torn, worn-out rags which he lowered on ropes to Jeremiah in the storage-well.

12 Ebed-Melech the Cushite then said to Jeremiah, ‘These torn, worn-out rags are for you to put under your armpits to pad the ropes.’ Jeremiah did this.

13 Then they hauled Jeremiah up with the ropes and pulled him out of the storage-well. And Jeremiah stayed in the Court of the Guard.

14 King Zedekiah had the prophet Jeremiah summoned to him at the third entrance to the Temple of Yahweh. ‘I want to ask you for a word,’ the king said to Jeremiah, ‘keep nothing back from me.’

15 Jeremiah answered Zedekiah, ‘If I do proclaim it to you, are you not sure to have me put to death? And if I give you advice, you willnot listen to me.’

16 King Zedekiah then secretly swore this oath to Jeremiah, ‘As Yahweh lives, giver of this life of ours, I will have you neither put to death nor handed over to these men who are determined to kill you.’

17 Jeremiah then said to Zedekiah, ‘Yahweh, God Sabaoth, God of Israel, says this, “If you go out and surrender to the king of Babylon’s generals, your life will be safe and this city will not be burnt down; you and your family will survive.

18 But if you do not go out and surrender to the king of Babylon’s generals, this city will be handed over to the Chaldaeans and they willburn it down; nor will you yourself escape their clutches.” ‘

19 King Zedekiah then said to Jeremiah, ‘I am afraid of the Judaeans who have already gone over to the Chaldaeans: I might be handed over to them and they would ill-treat me.’

20 ‘You will not be handed over to them,’ Jeremiah replied. ‘Please listen to Yahweh’s voice as I have relayed it to you, and then all willgo well with you and your life will be safe.

21 But if you refuse to surrender, this is what Yahweh has shown me:

22 the sight of all the women left in the king of Judah’s palace being led off to the king of Babylon’s generals and saying: “They have misled you, they have triumphed over you, those friends of yours! Your feet have sunk in the mud! They are up and away!”

23 ‘Yes, all your wives and children will be led off to the Chaldaeans, and you yourself will not escape their clutches but will be a prisoner in the clutches of the king of Babylon. And as for this city, it will be burnt down.’

24 Zedekiah then said to Jeremiah, ‘Do not let anyone else hear these words or you will die.

25 If the chief men hear that I have been talking to you, and come and say, “Tell us what you said to the king and what the king said to you; keep nothing back from us, or we shall put you to death,”

26 you must reply, “I presented this request to the king: that he would not have me sent back to Jonathan’s house to die.” ‘

27 And in fact all the chief men came to Jeremiah and questioned him. He told them exactly what the king had ordered him to say. They then left him in peace, since the conversation had not been overheard.

28 And Jeremiah stayed in the Court of the Guard until the day Jerusalem was captured. And he was there when Jerusalem actually was captured.

Judith 8

1 Judith was informed at the time of what had happened. She was the daughter of Merari son of Ox, son of Joseph, son of Oziel, son of Elkiah, son of Ananias, son of Gideon, son of Raphaim, son of Ahitub, son of Elijah, son of Hilkiah, son of Eliab, son of Nathanael, son of Salamiel, son of Sarasadai, son of Israel.

2 Her husband Manasseh, of her own tribe and family, had died at the time of the barley harvest.

3 He was supervising the men as they bound up the sheaves in the field when he caught sunstroke and had to take to his bed. He died in Bethulia, his home town, and was buried with his ancestors in the field that lies between Dothan and Balamon.

4 As a widow, Judith stayed inside her home for three years and four months.

5 She had had an upper room built for herself on the roof. She wore sackcloth next to the skin and dressed in widow’s weeds.

6 She fasted every day of her widowhood except for the Sabbath eve, the Sabbath itself, the eve of New Moon, the feast of New Moon and the joyful festivals of the House of Israel.

7 Now she was very beautiful, charming to see. Her husband Manasseh had left her gold and silver, menservants and maidservants, herds and land; and she lived among all her possessions

8 without anyone finding a word to say against her, so devoutly did she fear God.

9 Hearing how the water shortage had demoralised the people and how they had complained bitterly to the headman of the town, and being also told what Uzziah had said to them and how he had given them his oath to surrender the town to the Assyrians in five days’ time,

10 Judith immediately sent the serving-woman who ran her household to summon Chabris and Charmis, two elders of the town.

11 When these came in she said: ‘Listen to me, leaders of the people of Bethulia. You were wrong to speak to the people as you did today and to bind yourself by oath, in defiance of God, to surrender the town to our enemies if the Lord did not come to your help within a set number of days.

12 Who are you, to put God to the test today, you, of all people, to set yourselves above him?

13 You put the Lord Almighty to the test! You do not understand anything, and never will.

14 If you cannot sound the depths of the human heart or unravel the arguments of the human mind, how can you fathom the God who made all things, or sound his mind or unravel his purposes? No, brothers, do not provoke the anger of the Lord our God.

15 Although it may not be his will to help us within the next five days, he has the power to protect us for as many days as he pleases, just as he has the power to destroy us before our enemies.

16 But you have no right to demand guarantees where the designs of the Lord our God are concerned. For God is not to be threatened as a human being is, nor is he, like a mere human, to be cajoled.

17 Rather, as we wait patiently for him to save, let us plead with him to help us. He will hear our voice if such is his good pleasure.

18 ‘And indeed of recent times and still today there is not one tribe of ours, or family, or village, or town that has worshipped gods made by human hand, as once was done,

19 which was the reason why our ancestors were delivered over to sword and sack, and perished in misery at the hands of our enemies.

20 We for our part acknowledge no other God but him; and so we may hope he will not look on us disdainfully or desert our nation.

21 ‘If indeed they capture us, as you expect, then all Judaea will be captured too, and our holy places plundered, and we shall answer with our blood for their profanation.

22 The slaughter of our brothers, the captivity of our country, the unpeopling of our heritage, will recoil on our own heads among the nations whose slaves we shall become, and our new masters will look down on us as an outrage and a disgrace;

23 for our surrender will not reinstate us in their favour; no, the Lord our God will make it a thing to be ashamed of.

24 So now, brothers, let us set an example to our brothers, since their lives depend on us, and the sanctuary — Temple and altar — rests on us.

25 ‘All this being so, let us rather give thanks to the Lord our God who, as he tested our ancestors, is now testing us.

26 Remember how he treated Abraham, all the ordeals of Isaac, all that happened to Jacob in Syrian Mesopotamia while he kept the sheep of Laban, his mother’s brother.

27 For as these ordeals were intended by him to search their hearts, so now this is not vengeance that God is exacting on us, but a warning inflicted by the Lord on those who are near his heart.’

28 Uzziah replied, ‘Everything you have just said comes from an honest heart and no one will contradict a word of it.

29 Not that today is the first time your wisdom has been displayed; from your earliest years all the people have known how shrewd you are and of how sound a heart.

30 But, parched with thirst, the people forced us to act as we had promised them and to bind ourselves by an inviolable oath.

31 You are a devout woman; pray to the Lord, then, to send us a downpour to fill our storage-wells, so that our faintness may pass.’

32 Judith replied, ‘Listen to me, I intend to do something, the memory of which will be handed down to the children of our race from age to age.

33 Tonight you must be at the gate of the town. I shall make my way out with my attendant. Before the time fixed by you for surrendering the town to our enemies, the Lord will make use of me to rescue Israel.

34 You must not ask what I intend to do; I shall not tell you until I have done it.’

35 Uzziah and the chief men said, ‘Go in peace. May the Lord show you a way to take revenge on our enemies.’

36 And leaving the upper room they went back to their posts.

Judith 9

1 Judith threw herself face to the ground, scattered ashes on her head, undressed as far as the sackcloth she was wearing and cried loudly to the Lord. At the same time in Jerusalem the evening incense was being offered in the Temple of God. Judith said:

2 Lord, God of my ancestor Simeon, you armed him with a sword to take vengeance on the foreigners who had undone a virgin’s belt to her shame, laid bare her thigh to her confusion, violated her womb to her dishonour, since, though you said, ‘This must not be,’ they did it.

3 For this you handed their leaders over to slaughter, and their bed, defiled by their treachery, was itself betrayed in blood. You struck the slaves with the chieftains and the chieftains with their retainers.

4 You left their wives to be carried off, their daughters to be taken captive, and their spoils to be shared out among the sons you loved, who had been so zealous for you, had loathed the stain put on their blood and called on you for help. O God, my God, now heat this widow too;

5 for you have made the past, and what is happening now, and what will follow. What is, what will be, you have planned; what has been, you designed.

6 Your purposes stood forward; ‘See, here we are!’ they said. For all your ways are prepared and your judgements delivered with foreknowledge.

7 See the Assyrians, with their army abounding glorying in their horses and their riders, exulting in the strength of their infantry. Trust as they may in shield and spear, in bow and sling, in you they have not recognised the Lord, the breaker of battle-lines;

8 yours alone is the title of Lord. Break their violence with your might, in your anger bring down their strength. For they plan to profane your holy places, to defile the tabernacle, the resting place of your glorious name, and to hack down the horn of your altar.

9 Observe their arrogance, send your fury on their heads, give the strength I have in mind to this widow’s hand.

10 By guile of my lips strike down slave with master, and master with retainer. Break their pride by a woman’s hand.

11 Your strength does not lie in numbers, nor your might in strong men; since you are the God of the humble, the help of the oppressed, the support of the weak, the refuge of the forsaken, the Saviour of the despairing.

12 Please, please, God of my father, God of the heritage of Israel, Master of heaven and earth, Creator of the waters, King of your whole creation, hear my prayer.

13 Give me a beguiling tongue to wound and kill those who have formed such cruel designs against your covenant, against your holy dwelling-place, against Mount Zion, against the house belonging to your sons.

14 And demonstrate to every nation, every tribe, that you are the Lord, God of all power, all might, and that the race of Israel has no protector but you.

Proverbs 17:5-8

5 To mock the poor is to insult the Creator, no one who laughs at distress will go unpunished.

6 The crown of the aged is their children’s children; the children’s glory is their father.

7 Fine words do not become the foolish, false words become a prince still less.

8 A gift works like a talisman for one who holds it: it brings prosperity at every turn.


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