Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. Juda, whither those had retreated who had escaped the fury of the Assyrians, under Theglathphalassar, &c. (Haydock)

Ver. 2. Temples. Surrendering would not secure these things; so that their very life and religion were at stake. Resistance, in other circumstances, would have been rashness. (Calmet) — Greek adds, “because they were recently come up from captivity, and lately all the people had been collected out of Judea, and the vessels, and the altar, and the house, had been purified from profanation,” (Haydock) to which they had been exposed under Manasses, (chap. v. 23.; Calmet) who with several of his subjects had been made prisoner, and was now at Babylon; or, if returned, (Haydock) was wholly taken up with the concerns of his soul, and committed the care of affairs to Eliachim. See Josephus, [Antiquities?] x. 4., and 2 Paralipomenon xxxiii. 12, 16. (Calmet)

Ver. 3. Samaria, though an enemy’s country, as the danger was common. (Menochius) — Ezechias and Josias seemed to claim a right over the country, 2 Paralipomenon xxx. 1., &c., xxxiv. 6., and 33.

Ver. 4. War. Greek adds, “as the harvest was just ended.”

Ver. 5. Priest. Greek, “the great priest in Jerusalem, in those days, wrote to the inhabitants of Betouloua, (Haydock; Bethulia, in the tribe of Simeon) and of Betemestham, (Bethsames; Calmet) which is over-against Esdrelon, and the plain near Dothaim, giving orders to seize the mountainous ascents, by which there was a passage into Judea; and it was easy to stop their progress, as the passage was narrow, and would not admit above two men at once.” This reminds us of the heroic resistance which Leonidas, with his 300 Spartans, made to the millions in the army of Xerxes, at Thermopyl√¶. (Haydock) — It seems that Jews attempted to defend these defiles. They had received the orders before the enemy encamped near Scythopolis.

Ver. 6. Them. Greek adds, “and the senate of all the people of Israel, which sat at Jerusalem.” Serarius thinks that Manasses was busy fortifying the city, and had committed the rest of the kingdom to Eliachim, (Menochius; Worthington) who receives such high commendations, Isaias xxii. 20. (Calmet) — But is more probable that he was at Babylon. (Houbigant)

Ver. 7. Wives. Greek adds, “and their little ones, and beasts, and every sojourner, and hired servant and slave. They put sackcloth on their loins, and every man, woman, and child, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, fell prostrate before the temple, and sprinkled ashes on their heads.” The very beasts were covered with sackcloth, to denote the general sorrow. (Haydock)

Ver. 8. Priests. Greek, “and they spread their sackclothes before the Lord, and arrayed the altar with sackcloth.” (Haydock) — This spectacle must have made impression on the most obdurate. (Calmet)

Ver. 9. Off. Literally, “divided” from their husbands, (Haydock) or among the victors. (Menochius) — Gentiles. Greek adds, “and God heard their petition, and rescued them from their affliction; and all the people fasted many days in all Judea and Jerusalem, before the sanctuary of the Lord all mighty; and the high priest, Joachim, and all the priests who stood before the Lord, and ministered to the Lord, having their loins girded with sackcloth, offered the accustomed holocaust and the vows and presents of the people, and ashes were upon their caps, and they cried to the Lord with all their power, to look down graciously upon all the house of Jerusalem. And,” chap. v.

Ver. 10. Israel, before the approach of the enemy. (Haydock) (ver. 5.)

Ver. 15. Clothes, conformably to the advice of Joel, i. 13. (Calmet)

Bible Text & Cross-references:

The children of Israel prepare themselves to resist Holofernes. They cry to the Lord for help.

1 Then the children of Israel, who dwelt in the land of Juda, hearing these things, were exceedingly afraid of him.

2 Dread and horror seized upon their minds, lest he should do the same to Jerusalem, and to the temple of the Lord, that he had done to other cities, and their temples.

3 And they sent into all Samaria round about, as far as Jericho, and seized upon all the tops of the mountains:

4 And they compassed their towns with walls, and gathered together corn, for provision for war.

5 And Eliachim, the priest, wrote to all that were over-against Esdrelon, which faceth the great plain near Dothain, and to all by whom there might be a passage of way, that they should take possession of the ascents of the mountains, by which there might be any way to Jerusalem, and should keep watch where the way was narrow between the mountains.

6 And the children of Israel did as the priest of the Lord, Eliachim, had appointed them.

7 And all the people cried to the Lord with great earnestness, and they humbled their souls in fastings, and prayers, both they and their wives.

8 And the priests put on hair-cloths, and they caused the little children to lie prostrate before the temple of the Lord, and the altar of the Lord they covered with hair-cloth.

9 And they cried to the Lord, the God of Israel, with one accord, that their children might not be made a prey, and their wives carried off, and their cities destroyed, and their holy things profaned, and that they might not be made a reproach to the Gentiles.

10 Then Eliachim, the high priest of the Lord, went about all Israel, and spoke to them,

11 Saying: Know ye that the Lord will hear your prayers, if you continue with perseverance in fastings and prayers, in the sight of the Lord.

12 Remember Moses, the servant of the Lord, who overcame Amalec, that trusted in his own strength, and in his power, and in his army, and in his shields, and in his chariots, and in his horsemen, not by fighting with the sword, but by holy prayers:

13 *So shall all the enemies of Israel be; if you persevere in this work which you have begun.

14 So they being moved by this exhortation of his, prayed to the Lord, and continued in the sight of the Lord.

15 So that even they who offered the holocausts to the Lord, offered the sacrifices to the Lord, girded with hair-cloths, and with ashes upon their head.

16 And they all begged of God, with all their heart, that he would visit his people, Israel.



13: Exodus xvii. 12.