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Day 250 – Final Wave of Exile


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!

Daily Readings

Jeremiah 39

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.

2 In the eleventh year of Zedekiah, in the fourth month, a breach was made in the city wall.

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.

6 The king of Babylon had Zedekiah’s sons slaughtered before his eyes at Riblah; the king of Babylon also had all the leading men of Judah put to death.

7 He then put out Zedekiah’s eyes and, loading him with chains, carried him off to Babylon.

8 The Chaldaeans burnt down the royal palace and the private houses, and demolished the walls of Jerusalem.

9 Nebuzaradan commander of the guard deported the remainder of the population left behind in the city, the deserters who had gone over to him, and the rest of the artisans to Babylon.

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.

11 With regard to Jeremiah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had given the following orders to Nebuzaradan, commander of the guard,

12 ‘Take him, look after him; do him no harm, but treat him as he may ask you.’

13 He entrusted this mission to (Nebuzaradan commander of the guard,) Nebushazban the high dignitary of state, Nergal-Sharezer the chief astrologer and all the king of Babylon’s other officials.

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.

15 While Jeremiah was confined in the Court of the Guard, the word of Yahweh came to him as follows,

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.

17 But I shall rescue you that day, Yahweh declares, and you will not be handed over to the hands of the men you fear.

18 Yes, I shall certainly rescue you: you will not fall to the sword; you will escape with your life, because you have put your trust in me, Yahweh declares.”

Jeremiah 40

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:

2 The commander of the guard took Jeremiah and said to him, ‘Yahweh your God foretold calamity for this country,

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.

6 Jeremiah went to Mizpah, to Gedaliah son of Ahikam and stayed with him, among those people still left in the country.

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.

13 Now Johanan son of Kareah and all the military leaders still in the field, came to Gedaliah at Mizpah

14 and said to him, ‘Are you aware that Baalis king of the Ammonites has sent Ishmael son of Nethaniah to assassinate you?’ But Gedaliah son of Ahikam would not believe them.

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?’

16 But Gedaliah son of Ahikam replied to Johanan son of Kareah, ‘You will do no such thing, for what you say about Ishmael is false.’

Judith 10

1 Thus Judith called on the God of Israel. When she had finished praying,

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.

6 They then went out, making for the town gate of Bethulia. There they found Uzziah waiting with the two elders of the town, Chabris and Charmis.

7 When they saw Judith, her face so changed and her clothes so different, they were lost in admiration of her beauty. They said to her:

8 May the God of our ancestors keep you in his favour! May he crown your designs with success to the glory of the children of Israel, to the greater glory of Jerusalem!

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.

11 As the women were making straight through the valley, an advance unit of Assyrians intercepted them,

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.’

14 As the men listened to what she was saying, they stared in astonishment at the sight of such a beautiful woman.

15 ‘It will prove the saving of you,’ they said to her, ‘coming down to see our master of your own accord. You had better go to his tent; some of our men will escort you and hand you over to him.

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.’

17 They then detailed a hundred of their men as escort for herself and her attendant, and these led them to the tent of Holofernes.

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.

22 The men announced her and he came out to the entrance to the tent, with silver torches carried before him.

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.

Judith 11

1 ‘Courage, woman,’ Holofernes said, ‘do not be afraid. I have never hurt anyone who chose to serve Nebuchadnezzar, king of the whole world.

2 Even now, if your nation of mountain dwellers had not insulted me, I would not have raised a spear against them. This was their fault, not mine.

3 But tell me, why have you fled from them and come to us? . . . Anyhow, this will prove the saving of you. Courage! You will live through this night, and many after.

4 No one will hurt you. On the contrary, you will be treated as well as any who serve my lord King Nebuchadnezzar.’

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.

6 You have only to follow your servant’s advice and God will bring your work to a successful conclusion; in what my lord undertakes he will not fail.

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.

15 Now this will be the outcome: when the permission arrives and they act on it, that very day they will be delivered over to you for destruction.

16 ‘When I, your servant, came to know all this, I fled from them. God has sent me to do things with you at which the world will be astonished when it hears.

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.

18 I shall then come and tell you, so that you can march out with your whole army; and none of them will be able to resist you.

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!’

22 Holofernes said, ‘God has done well to send you ahead of the others. Strength will be ours, and ruin theirs who have insulted my lord.

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.’

Proverbs 17:9-12

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.

11 The wicked person thinks of nothing but rebellion, but a cruel messenger will be sent to such a one.

12 Rather come on a bear robbed of her cubs than on a fool in his folly.


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