Thoughts and Reflection
Today we read about the final wave of Jerusalem’s destruction. Invaders have come to sit at the middle gate and claim the city for themselves. Zedekiah, who ignored the preaching of Jeremiah, said that he would never surrender and would fight to the end, fled the city. He is later captured on the plains of Jericho. His sons are killed in front of him and then his eyes are gouged out, so the death of his children is the last thing he sees. He is dragged off to Babylon as a prisoner.
Since Jeremiah had been preaching surrender for decades, the captain sees him as a friend to Babylon. He is offered the choice to come to Babylon to live comfortably or stay in the destroyed city with provisions provided by the captain. Bed-melech, who rescued Jeremiah from the cistern, is saved by God.
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!
1 In the ninth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon advanced on Jerusalem with his entire army, and they laid siege to it.
3 The king of Babylon’s officials, all having made their entry, took their seats in the Middle Gate: Nergal-Sharezer, Samgar-Nebo, Sar-Sechim a high dignitary of state, Nergal-Sharezer the chief astrologer, and all the king of Babylon’s other officials . .
4 On seeing them, Zedekiah king of Judah and all the fighting men fled, leaving the city under cover of dark, by way of the king’s garden through the gate between the two walls, and made their way towards the Arabah.
5 But the Chaldaean troops pursued them and caught up with Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho. They captured him and took him to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon at Riblah in the territory of Hamath, where he passed sentence on him.
10 But Nebuzaradan commander of the guard left some of the poor people behind in the country of Judah, those who had nothing, at the same time giving them vineyards and fields.
14 These despatched men to take Jeremiah from the Court of the Guard and turned him over to Gedaliah son of Ahikam, son of Shaphan for safe conduct home. So he remained among the people.
16 ‘Go and say to Ebed-Melech the Cushite, “Yahweh, God of Israel says this: Look, I am about to perform my words about this city for its ruin and not for its prosperity. That day they will come true before your eyes.
1 The word which came to Jeremiah from Yahweh after Nebuzaradan commander of the guard had released him from Ramah, where he had found him in chains with all the other captives from Jerusalem and Judah who were being deported to Babylon:
3 and now he has brought it. He has done what he threatened to do, because you had sinned against Yahweh and would not listen to his voice; so all this has happened to you.
4 Look, today I am having your hands unchained. If you like to come with me to Babylon, come: I shall look after you. If you do not want to come with me to Babylon, do not. Look, you have the whole country before you: go wherever you think it best and most suitable to go.’
5 And before Jeremiah retired, he added, ‘You can go back to Gedaliah son of Ahikam, son of Shaphan, whom the king of Babylon has appointed governor of the towns of Judah, and stay with him among the people, or go anywhere else you think suitable.’ With that, the commander of the guard gave him provisions and a present, and dismissed him.
7 When the military leaders who with their men were still in the field, all heard that the king of Babylon had appointed Gedaliah son of Ahikam as governor of the country, making him responsible for the men, women and children, and those of the poor country people who had not been deported to Babylon,
8 they came to Gedaliah at Mizpah: Ishmael son of Nethaniah, Johanan and Jonathan sons of Kareah, Seraiah son of Tanhumeth, the sons of Ephai the Netophathite, Jezaniah son of the Maacathite, they and their men.
9 To them and to their men Gedaliah son of Ahikam, son of Shaphan, swore an oath. ‘Do not be afraid’, he said, ‘of serving the Chaldaeans, stay in the country, serve the king of Babylon, and all will go well with you.
10 I for my part, as the man answerable to the Chaldaeans when they come to us, shall stay here at Mizpah, whereas you can harvest the wine, summer fruit and oil, fill your storage jars and settle in the towns which you have seized.’
11 Similarly, when all the Judaeans living in Moab, with the Ammonites, in Edom and elsewhere, heard that the king of Babylon had left a remnant in Judah and had appointed Gedaliah son of Ahikam, son of Shaphan as their governor,
12 the Judaeans all came back from wherever they had been driven. On their return to the land of Judah, to Gedaliah at Mizpah, they harvested an immense quantity of wine and summer fruit.
15 Johanan son of Kareah then spoke in secret to Gedaliah at Mizpah, as follows: ‘Please let me go and kill Ishmael son of Nethaniah, and no one will be any the wiser. Why should he assassinate you and cause the dispersal of all the Judaeans who have rallied round you. Why should the remnant of Judah perish?’
2 she got up from the floor, summoned her maid and went down into the rooms which she used on Sabbath days and festivals.
3 There she removed the sackcloth she was wearing and taking off her widow’s dress, she washed all over, anointed herself plentifully with perfumes, dressed her hair, wrapped a turban round it and put on the robe of joy she used to wear when her husband Manasseh was alive.
4 She put sandals on her feet, put on her necklaces, bracelets, rings, earrings and all her jewellery, and made herself beautiful enough to beguile the eye of any man who saw her.
5 Then she handed her maid a skin of wine and a flask of oil, filled a bag with barley girdle-cakes, cakes of dried fruit and pure loaves, and wrapping all these provisions up gave them to her as well.
9 Judith worshipped God, and then she said, ‘Have the town gate opened for me so that I can go out and fulfil all the wishes you expressed to me.’ They did as she asked and gave orders to the young men to open the gate for her.
10 This done, Judith went out accompanied by her maid, while the men of the town watched her all the way down the mountain and across the valley, until they lost sight of her.
12 and, seizing Judith, began to question her. ‘Which side are you on? Where do you come from? Where are you going?’ ‘I am a daughter of the Hebrews,’ she replied, ‘and I am fleeing from them since they will soon be your prey.
13 I am on my way to see Holofernes, the general of your army, to give him trustworthy information. I shall show him the road to take if he wants to capture all the hill-country without losing one man or one life.’
16 Once you are in his presence do not be afraid. Tell him what you have just told us and you will be well treated.’
18 News of her coming had already spread through the tents, and there was a general stir in the camp. She was still outside the tent of Holofernes waiting to be announced, when a crowd began forming round her.
19 They were immediately impressed by her beauty and impressed with the Israelites because of her. ‘Who could despise a people who have women like this?’ they kept saying. ‘Better not leave one of them alive; let any go and they could twist the whole world round their fingers!’
20 The bodyguard and adjutants of Holofernes then came out and led Judith into the tent.
21 Holofernes was resting on his bed under a canopy of purple and gold studded with emeralds and precious stones.
23 When Judith confronted the general and his adjutant, the beauty of her face astonished them all. She fell on her face and did homage to him, but his servants raised her from the ground.
1 ‘Courage, woman,’ Holofernes said, ‘do not be afraid. I have never hurt anyone who chose to serve Nebuchadnezzar, king of the whole world.
5 Judith said, ‘Please listen favourably to what your slave has to say. Permit your servant to speak in your presence, I shall speak no word of a lie to my lord tonight.
7 Long life to Nebuchadnezzar, king of the whole world, who has sent you to set every living soul to rights; may his power endure! Since, thanks to you, he is served not only by human beings, but because of your might the wild animals themselves, the cattle, and the birds of the air are to live in the service of Nebuchadnezzar and his whole House.
8 ‘We have indeed heard of your genius and adroitness of mind. It is known everywhere in the world that throughout the empire you have no rival for ability, wealth of experience and brilliance in waging war.
9 We have also heard what Achior said in his speech to your council. The men of Bethulia having spared him, he has told them everything that he said to you.
10 Now, master and lord, do not disregard what he said; keep it in your mind, since it is true; our nation will not be punished, the sword will indeed have no power over them, unless they sin against their God.
11 But as it is, my lord need expect no repulse or setback, since death is about to fall on their heads, for sin has gained a hold over them, provoking the anger of their God each time that they commit it.
12 As they are short of food and their water is giving out, they have resolved to fall back on their cattle and decided to make use of all the things that God has, by his laws, forbidden them to eat.
13 Not only have they made up their minds to eat the first-fruits of corn and the tithes of wine and oil, though these have been consecrated by them and set apart for the priests who serve in Jerusalem in the presence of our God, and may not lawfully even be handled by ordinary people,
14 but they have sent men to Jerusalem — where the inhabitants are doing much the same — to bring them back authorisation from the Council of Elders.
17 Your servant is a devout woman; she honours the God of heaven day and night. I therefore propose, my lord, to stay with you. I, your servant, shall go out every night into the valley and pray to God to let me know when they have committed their sin.
19 I shall be your guide right across Judaea until you reach Jerusalem; there I shall enthrone you in the very middle of the city. And then you can round them up like shepherd-less sheep, with never a dog daring to bark at you. Foreknowledge tells me this; this had been foretold to me and I have been sent to reveal it to you.’
20 Her words pleased Holofernes, and all his adjutants. Full of admiration at her wisdom they exclaimed,
21 ‘There is no woman like her from one end of the earth to the other, so lovely of face and so wise of speech!’
23 As for you, you are as beautiful as you are eloquent; if you do as you have promised, your God shall be my God, and you yourself shall make your home in the palace of King Nebuchadnezzar and be famous throughout the world.’
9 Whoever covers an offence promotes love, whoever again raises the matter divides friends.
10 A reproof makes more impression on a person of understanding than a hundred strokes on a fool.