Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Idox. Greek, “ox,” &c. All the versions disagree, as the copyists have probably taken in part of ver. 3 too soon, supposing that the genealogy of women was never given. St. Fulgentius (ep. ad Gallam) differs from all, giving the ancestors of Manasses as the same with those of Judith. (Calmet) — Simeon, the son of Ruben. In the Greek, it is, the son of Israel. For Simeon, the patriarch, from whom Judith descended, was not the son, but the brother of Ruben. It seems more probable, that the Simeon and the Ruben here mentioned are not the patriarchs, but two of the descendants of the patriarch Simeon: and that the genealogy of Judith, recorded in this place, is not carried up so high as the patriarchs. No more than that of Elcana, the father of Samuel, (1 Kings i. 1.) and that of king Saul, 1 Kings ix. 1. (Challoner) — Others think that Judith descended from Ruben, by her father, and from Simeon, by her mother; (Estius) or that, instead of son of Ruben, we should read “brother.” But as we know that Judith calls Simeon her father, (chap. ix. 2.) it is more likely that Ruben has been placed for Israel, as it is in Syriac, St. Fulgentius, &c. This correction is maintained by Bellarmine, Salien, Menochius. (Calmet) — Thus both Judith and her husband were of the same tribe, the former by Salathiel, the latter by Sarisadai. (Calmet) — Innumerable are the mistakes in the proper names, in Scripture. (Haydock) — Some of these might have had more than one. Greek has Sarasdai, (Complutensian, “Saladai;” Alexandrian Septuagint, “Salasadai.”) instead of Simeon, son of Israel: (Calmet) Alexandrian Septuagint, “Jeel,” which is probably a contraction for Israel. (Haydock)
Ver. 2. Who. Greek adds, “of her tribe and family, and he died in the days,” &c.
Ver. 3. Died. Greek, “fell upon his couch; (Grabe adds, “and died in Betuloua, his own city,”) and they buried him with his fathers, in the field between Dothaim and Balamo.” (Haydock) — These places seem to be added without reason, as they were too remote from Bethulia. (Calmet)
Ver. 4-5. Six. So the old Vulgate, Greek, and Syriac have, four months. — Private. Greek, “a tent on the roof,” that she might look towards Jerusalem, and pray with less distraction. Absalom lay in such a situation, 2 Kings xvi. 22. (Calmet) — In which. Greek, “and she put sackcloth,” &c., ver. 6. (Haydock) — It was a rough sort of garment. (Calmet) — Judith led a most religious life, in prayer, hair-cloth, and fasting, all the year, except on the festivals. (Worthington)
Ver. 6. Loins. Greek, “and she had on the garments of her widowhood, and.” (Haydock) — She laid these aside, chap. x. ii. (Calmet) — Life. Greek, “widowhood, except the day before the sabbath, and the sabbaths, and the new moons, and feasts, and days of rejoicing of the house of Israel.” (Haydock) — Syriac and old Vulgate omit, “the day before the sabbath;” and perhaps it may not have been in the original, the Greek translator having inserted it conformably to the practice of his times. It was then prescribed to abstain from fasting, that the joy of the festival might not be impaired, (Grotius) and because it would be necessary to taste what was made ready for the sabbath; (Skikard, Purim) or rather because, as the festival began on Friday, between the two vespers, or from three to six in the afternoon, during the equinoxes, the fast could not be rigorously observed on Friday. (Calmet) — New moons were days of rejoicing. (Menochius) (1 Kings xx. 5.) — The Jews kept two days together, for fear of missing the day on which the moon really appeared. Several feasts were also prescribed perhaps before this time, on the 1st and 22nd of Nisan, &c.
Ver. 7. Of oxen. Greek, Syriac, &c., add, “and fields, and she lived on them.”
Ver. 8. Her. “The reputation of chastity in women is tender, and, like a beautiful flower, presently withers at the least blast, and perishes; particularly when they are at an age prone to vice, and destitute of the authority of a husband, whose shadow is the safeguard to a wife.” (St. Jerome ad Salvinam.) — The Scripture could not give Judith a greater character. (Calmet) — How few can obtain it at present, though their virtue may be most pure, detraction is so keen! (Haydock)
Ver. 9. When. Greek and Syriac, “and she heard of the evil discourses of the populace against the magistrate, as they lost courage on account of the scarcity of water; and Judith heard of all the words of Ozias to them, how he had sworn to them that he would deliver up the city to the Assyrians after five days. Then sending her maid, whom she had placed at the head of all her possessions, she called Ozias,” &c. The following verses give the same sense as the Vulgate, though in other words, and with some additional circumstances. (Haydock)
Ver. 13. Pleasure. She blames the magistrates for taking a rash oath, pretending to fathom the designs of God, and to fix a time for him, and not attempting to make any resistance, though the welfare of the whole nation, and the sacred things, depended on their exertions. (Calmet) — They had been assured that God had heard their prayer, (chap. iv. 9.) and had often witnessed a miraculous interference of Providence. In other circumstances (Haydock) the magistrates would not have been to blame, though Judith might think them so; (Serarius. See ver. 26.; Menochius) and, in effect, they ought rather to have died than thus to have exposed all to certain ruin. (Worthington)
Ver. 15. Man. Greek, “But do not you govern the designs of the Lord, our God, for God is not to be menaced like man, nor forced to give an account like the son of man.” (Haydock) (Numbers xxiii. 19.)
Ver. 18. For. Greek, “As there has not arisen in our families generations, nor is there at this day either tribe, or family, or populace, or city among us, adoring gods made with hands, as it happened in days past;” in the former part of the reign of Manasses. All had begun to open their eyes, at the sight of the dreadful catastrophe. (Haydock)
Ver. 20. Let. Greek, “Wherefore we hope that he will not despise us, nor those of our race; nor, if we be taken, will Judea be so styled, our sacred things will be plundered. He will require his profanation at our mouth,” &c. She shews the dread consequences which will ensue from the rash oath, and from such dastardly conduct under trial. (Haydock)
Ver. 21. Brethren. Greek adds, “Let us shew our brethren that their soul depends on us, and the holy things, and the house, (temple) and the altar, are supported by us.” These were not therefore demolished, chap. v. 22. (Haydock) — “Yea, let us give thanks, above all, to the Lord our God, who tries us like our fathers. Remember,” &c.
Ver. 23. Jacob. Greek adds, “in Mesopotamia….because he does not take vengeance on us, as he made them pass through fire to examine their heart. But the Lord, for an admonition, chastises those who approach to him. And Ozias,” ver. 28. (Haydock)
Ver. 25. Destroyer. As this word is not used elsewhere, (Worthington) St. Paul seems to allude to this passage, (1 Corinthians x. 10.) as Judith does to various punishments (Numbers xi. 1., and xiv. 12., and xx. 4.; Calmet) inflicted by an angel. (Menochius)
Ver. 26. Suffer, as if to shew our impatience (Haydock) and anger against God. (Menochius)
Ver. 28. Words. Greek adds, “for it is not to-day only that thy wisdom has appeared, but from thy earliest days all the people has known thy prudence, as the formation (Haydock. Syriac, the thought; Calmet) of thy heart is good. But the people was much oppressed with thirst, and they forced us to….take an oath, which we shall not break. Now,” &c. (Haydock) — It hence appears that Judith was not very young; and as many desired to marry her, (chap. ultra; Greek) we may conclude that she was of a middle age, or about thirty-five. (Houbigant)
Ver. 29. God. Greek adds, “and the Lord will send rain to fill our reservoirs, and we shall faint no longer. And Judith replied: Hear me, and I will perform an action which shall come to the ears of all future generations of our race. You,” &c., ver. 32. (Haydock) — She did not tell what she was going to do. (Calmet)
Ver. 32. Servant. Greek abra, commonly (Haydock) denotes a maid of honour, (Worthington) or companion, though sometimes it is applied to people of loose morals. This servant had probably the administration of the affairs of her mistress, ver. 9. (Calmet) — Pray. Greek, “as you….the Lord will by my hand look,” &c.
Ver. 33. And till. Greek, “for I shall not tell you, till what I am about be accomplished. And Ozias, with the princes, said to her.”
Ver. 34. Departed. Greek adds, “from the tent to their respective stations.”
Bible Text & Cross-references:
The character of Judith: her discourse to the ancients.
1 Now it came to pass, when Judith, a widow, had heard these words, who was the daughter of Merari, the son of Idox, the son of Joseph, the son of Ozias, the son of Elai, the son of Jamnor, the son of Gedeon, the son of Raphaim, the son of Achitob, the son of Melchias, the son of Enan, the son of Nathanias, the son of Salathiel, the son of Simeon, the son of Ruben:
2 And her husband was Manasses, who died in the time of the barley-harvest:
3 For he was standing over them that bound sheaves in the field; and the heat came upon his head, and he died in Bethulia, his own city, and was buried there with his fathers.
4 And Judith, his relict, was a widow now three years and six months.
5 And she made herself a private chamber in the upper part of her house, in which she abode, shut up with her maids.
6 And she wore hair-cloth upon her loins, and fasted all the days of her life, except the sabbaths, and new moons, and the feasts of the house of Israel.
7 And she was exceedingly beautiful, and her husband left her great riches, and very many servants, and large possessions of herds of oxen, and flocks of sheep.
8 And she was greatly renowned among all, because she feared the Lord very much, neither was there any one that spoke an ill word of her.
9 When, therefore, she had heard that Ozias had promised that he would deliver up the city after the fifth day, she sent to the ancients, Chabri and Charmi.
10 And they came to her, and she said to them: What is this word, by which Ozias hath consented to give up the city to the Assyrians, if within five days there come no aid to us?
11 And who are you that tempt the Lord?
12 This is not a word that may draw down mercy, but rather that may stir up wrath, and enkindle indignation.
13 You have set a time for the mercy of the Lord, and you have appointed him a day, according to your pleasure.
14 But for as much as the Lord is patient, let us be penitent for this same thing, and with many tears let us beg his pardon:
15 For God will not threaten like man, nor be inflamed to anger like the son of man.
16 And therefore, let us humble our souls before him, and continuing in an humble spirit, in his service:
17 Let us ask the Lord with tears, that according to his will so he would shew his mercy to us: that as our heart is troubled by their pride, so also we may glory in our humility:
18 For we have not followed the sins of our fathers, who forsook their God, and worshipped strange gods.
19 For which crime, they were given up to their enemies, to the sword, and to pillage, and to confusion: but we know no other God but him.
20 Let us humbly wait for his consolation, and the Lord, our God, will require our blood of the afflictions of our enemies, and he will humble all the nations that shall rise up against us, and bring them to disgrace.
21 And now, brethren, as you are the ancients among the people of God, and their very soul resteth upon you: comfort their hearts by your speech, that they may be mindful how our fathers were tempted, that they might be proved, whether they worshipped their God truly.
22 *They must remember how our father, Abraham, was tempted, and being proved by many tribulations, was made the friend of God.
23 So Isaac, so Jacob, so Moses, and all that have pleased God, passed through many tribulations, remaining faithful.
24 But they that did not receive the trials with the fear of the Lord, but uttered their impatience and the reproach of their murmuring, against the Lord,
25 *Were destroyed by the destroyer, and perished by serpents.
26 As for us, therefore, let us not revenge ourselves for these things which we suffer,
27 But esteeming these very punishments to be less than our sins deserve, let us believe that these scourges of the Lord, with which, like servants, we are chastised, have happened for our amendment, and not for our destruction.
28 And Ozias, and the ancients, said to her: All things which thou hast spoken are true, and there is nothing to be reprehended in thy words.
29 Now therefore pray for us, for thou art a holy woman, and one fearing God.
30 And Judith said to them: As you know that what I have been able to say, is of God:
31 So that which I intend to do, prove ye if it be of God, and pray that God may strengthen my design.
32 You shall stand at the gate this night, and I will go out with my maid-servant: and pray ye, that as you have said, in five days the Lord may look down upon his people, Israel.
33 But I desire that you search not into what I am doing; and till I bring you word, let nothing else be done but to pray for me to the Lord, our God.
34 And Ozias, the prince of Juda, said to her: Go in peace, and the Lord be with thee, to take revenge of our enemies. So, returning, they departed.
22: Genesis xxii. 1.
25: 1 Corinthians x. 9.