Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Achior. Greek adds, “before all the populace of the strangers.” And who art thou, Achior, before all this company of foreigners, and the sons of Moab? and what are the mercenaries of Ephraim, that thou? ver. 2.
Ver. 2. To shew. Greek, “and who is God but Nabuchodonosor? He will,” &c. (Haydock) — They allow the title to none but their king. Neither will God admit of any rival. (Worthington) — The generous advice of Achior was highly resented. Charidemus, who spoke with the like boldness to Darius, when Alexander approached, was even put to death, though the king repented when it was too late. (Curtius iii.) (Diodorus xiv.)
Ver. 6. People. Greek, “my slaves shall station thee on the mountainous country, and in one of the cities on the ascents, (of which thou hast so much spoken) and thou shalt not perish till thou perish with them. But if thou believest in thy heart that they will not be taken, let not thy countenance fall. I have spoken, and nothing that I have said shall be without effect.”
Ver. 7. Bethulia. Travellers, depending on the uncertain traditions of the country, generally place this fortress in the tribe of Zebulon, about three miles west of Tiberias. See Brochard., &c. But St. Jerome places it nearer Egypt; (Vita Hil.) and the Scripture speaks of Bethul, in the tribe of Simeon, (Josue xix. 4.) to which Judith and the ancients belonged. Holofernes left his camp near Scythopolis, (chap. vii. 1.) when he proceeded (Calmet) to attack the southern countries. (Haydock)
Ver. 11. And. Greek adds, “Chabris, the son of Othoniel, and Charmis, the son of Melchiel.” (Menochius) — The former is, in effect, mentioned [in] chap. viii. 9. (Calmet)
Ver. 15. Pride. God will not fail to reward those who trust in him, (Haydock) and to humble the presumptuous. (Worthington) — Saints. Syriac, “sanctuary.” This version and the Greek have only, “Look upon the face of the persons (or things) sanctified unto thee on this day. And they consoled Achior, and praised him greatly. And Ozias took him from the assembly to his own house, and made a feast (literally, drinking) for the ancients, and they invoked the God of Israel to assist them during all that night.” (Haydock)
Ver. 18. With us, observing the true religion. (Menochius)
Ver. 20. Over. The Jews eat nothing before night, and then no abstinence is prescribed, (Calmet) as the fast is at an end. (Haydock)
Ver. 21. The church. That is, the synagogue or place where they met in prayer. (Challoner) — For such places were established, particularly after the captivity, though some have denied that there were any synagogues, even in the days of the Machabees. See Matthew iv. 23., and Esther iv. 16. (Calmet)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Holofernes, in great rage, sendeth Achior to Bethulia, there to be slain with the Israelites.
1 And it came to pass, when they had left off speaking, that Holofernes, being in a violent passion, said to Achior:
2 Because thou hast prophesied unto us, saying, that the nation of Israel is defended by their God, to shew thee that there is no God, but Nabuchodonosor:
3 When we shall slay them all as one man, then thou also shalt die with them, by the sword of the Assyrians, and all Israel shall perish with thee:
4 And thou shalt find that Nabuchodonosor is lord of the whole earth: and then the sword of my soldiers shall pass through thy sides, and thou shalt be stabbed, and fall among the wounded of Israel, and thou shalt breathe no more till thou be destroyed with them.
5 But if thou think thy prophecy true, let not thy countenance sink, and let the paleness that is in thy face, depart from thee, if thou imaginest these, my words, cannot be accomplished.
6 And that thou mayst know that thou shalt experience these things, together with them, behold from this hour thou shalt be associated to their people, that when they shall receive the punishment they deserve from my sword, thou mayst fall under the same vengeance.
7 Then Holofernes commanded his servants to take Achior, and to lead him to Bethulia, and to deliver him into the hands of the children of Israel.
8 And the servants of Holofernes taking him, went through the plains: but when they came near the mountains, the slingers came out against them.
9 Then turning out of the way by the side of the mountain, they tied Achior to a tree hand and foot, and so left him bound with ropes, and returned to their master.
10 And the children of Israel coming down from Bethulia, came to him. And loosing him, they brought him to Bethulia, and setting him in the midst of the people, asked him what was the matter, that the Assyrians had left him bound.
11 In those days the rulers there were Ozias, the son of Micha, of the tribe of Simeon, and Charmi, called also Gothoniel.
12 And Achior related in the midst of the ancients, and in the presence of all the people, all that he had said, being asked by Holofernes: and how the people of Holofernes would have killed him for this word,
13 And how Holofernes himself, being angry, had commanded him to be delivered for this cause to the Israelites: that when he should overcome the children of Israel, then he might command Achior also himself to be put to death by diverse torments, for having said: The God of heaven is their defender.
14 *And when Achior had declared all these things, all the people fell upon their faces, adoring the Lord, and all of them together, mourning and weeping, poured out their prayers with one accord to the Lord,
15 Saying: O Lord God of heaven and earth, behold their pride, and look on our low condition, and have regard to the face of thy saints, and shew that thou forsakest not them that trust on thee, and that thou humblest them that presume of themselves, and glory in their own strength.
16 So when their weeping was ended, and the people’s prayer, in which they continued all the day, was concluded, they comforted Achior,
17 Saying: The God of our fathers, whose power thou hast set forth, will make this return to thee, that thou rather shalt see their destruction.
18 And when the Lord, our God, shall give this liberty to his servants, let God be with thee also in the midst of us: that as it shall please thee, so thou, with all thine, mayst converse with us.
19 Then Ozias, after the assembly was broken up, received him into his house, and made him a great supper.
20 And all the ancients were invited, and they refreshed themselves together after their fast was over.
21 And afterwards all the people were called together, and they prayed all the night long within the church, desiring help of the God of Israel.
14: Judith v. 6.