Day 183 – July 2, 2022

Judith 8-10; Psalms 1, 2; Proverbs 1:1–5; Acts 10:24–48

Judith 8-10

1 In those days, Judith got word of this matter. She was the daughter of Merari, the son of Ox, the son of Joseph, the son of Oziel, the son of Elkiah, the son of Ananias, the son of Gideon, the son of Raphaim, the son of Ahitub, the son of Elijah, the son of Hilkiah, the son of Eliab, the son of Nathanael, the son of Salamiel, the son of Sarasadai, the son of Israel. 2 And her husband was Manasseh, of her own tribe and family. He had died at the time of the barley harvest. 3 For as he supervised those binding the sheaves in the field, he was overcome with heat stroke and fell on his bed and died in his city of Bethulia. They buried him with his fathers in the field lying between Dothan and Balamon.

4 Judith remained a widow in her house for three years and four months, 5 setting up a tent for herself on the rooftop of her house, and she wrapped sackcloth around her waist and wore the garments of her widowhood. 6 She fasted every day of her widowhood, except for the day preceding the Sabbaths, the Sabbath days themselves, the eves of the new moons and the new moons, and the feasts and days of celebrations of the house of Israel. 7 Beautiful in stature, she was very lovely to look upon. Manasseh, her husband, left her gold and silver, men and women servants, and livestock and fields. She kept up this property, and 8 no one spoke ill of her, for she feared God and was devoted to Him.

9 When Judith heard the angry words the people spoke against the rulers, being weak for want of water, and the things Uzziah said to them, by oath promising them after five days to surrender the city to the Assyrians, 10 she sent her faithful maid, who was responsible for all her possessions, to call on Chabris and Charmis, elders of the city. 11 They came to her, and she said to them, “Listen to me now, rulers of the people of Bethulia! Your words spoken today to the people are not right, nor is the oath you have sworn and pronounced between God and yourselves, promising to surrender the city to our adversaries unless the Lord turns and helps you in so many days.

  12 “Now who are you to have put God to the test this day, setting yourselves up as God’s equal among the sons of men? 13 You are testing the Lord Almighty, but you will never come to know anything! 14 You cannot plumb the depths of the heart of man, nor grasp the thoughts of his mind. How then do you expect to search out God, who made all these things, and come to understand His mind or comprehend His purpose? No, brothers! Do not provoke the Lord our God to anger. 15 For if He does not wish to come to our aid within five days, He has the power to protect us anytime He pleases, or even to destroy us before the face of our enemies. 16 But do not put a time bind on the purposes of the Lord our God, for He is not to be threatened as is a man, nor to be coaxed as a human being.

17 “Therefore, while we await His deliverance, let us call upon Him to help us, and if it pleases Him He will hear our voice. 18 For there has not arisen in our generation, nor has there been in this present time any tribe or family or people or city of ours that bowed down to gods made with hands, as happened in earlier times. 19 Because of this, our fathers were given over to the sword and to pillage, and that is why they suffered a great defeat before our enemies. 20 But we know no other god but Him; therefore we have hope He will not disregard us nor any of our nation. 21 For if we are seized, all Judea will fall, and our sanctuary will be plundered, and He will make us accountable for its profanation with our blood. 22 For the slaughter of our brethren, the captivity of our land, and the desolation of our inheritance He will bring upon our heads, regardless of where we are enslaved among the Gentiles. We will be an offense and a reproach in the eyes of those who master us. 23 For our servitude will not be to our benefit; rather, the Lord our God will turn it to humiliation.

24 “Now my brothers, let us set an example for our people, for their very lives depend upon us. Furthermore, the sanctuary, the temple, and the altar rest upon us. 25 Besides all this, let us be thankful to the Lord our God, who is testing us just as He did our fathers. 26 Remember His actions toward Abraham and how He put Isaac to the test. Recall what happened to Jacob in Mesopotamia of Syria while shepherd to the sheep of Laban, the brother of his mother. 27 For He has not tested us with the fire, even as He did them, to search out their hearts. Nor has He punished us. Rather, the Lord scourges those drawing near to Him as a warning.”

Uzziah’s Answer

28 Then Uzziah said to her, “All that you said you spoke with a good heart, and there is no one who will oppose your words. 29 This is not the first day on which your wisdom has been evident, but from your earliest years all the people have recognized your understanding, because the disposition of your heart is good. 30 But the people are very thirsty, and they compelled us to do just as we spoke to them and caused us to take an oath which we will not break. 31 Now pray for us, since you are a devout woman, that the Lord will send rain to fill our cisterns, and we shall not faint from thirst again.”

32 Then Judith replied to them, “Hear me, and I will do something which will be known unto all the generations of our descendants. 33 You must stand at the gate tonight, and I will go out with my maid, and within these days in which you promised to surrender the city to our enemies, the Lord will deliver Israel by my hand. 34 But you must not ask me what I am going to do, because I will not tell what I am going to do until I complete the task.”

  35 So Uzziah and the rulers said to her, “Go in peace, and may the Lord God go before you to take vengeance upon our adversaries.” 36 So they left the tent and returned to their posts.

The Prayer of Judith

1 Then Judith prostrated herself, put ashes upon her head, and uncovered the sackcloth which she had put on. And at the time of the evening incense being offered in the house of God in Jerusalem, Judith cried out to the Lord with a loud voice and prayed:

2 “O Lord God of my father Simeon, to whom You gave a sword for vengeance against the foreigners who loosened the girdle of the virgin to defile her, and disgracefully exposed her thighs, and violated her body to humiliate her, for You had said, ‘It shall not be done,’ and yet they did it. 3 So You gave their rulers over to be killed, and their bed, which was ashamed of their deceit, they themselves being deceived, to be stained with blood. You struck down the servants along with their princes, and princes on their thrones. 4 You gave their wives over to plunder and their daughters to captivity, and all their spoils You divided among Your beloved sons, those who were zealous with Your zeal and abhorred the defilement of their blood, and called upon You to help. O God, my God, hear me also, a widow!

5 “For You did those things and the things that occurred before and those that followed after; and You have planned the ones present, and the ones for the future. 6 And the things You have determined present themselves and say, ‘Behold, we are here’; for all Your ways are prepared beforehand, and Your judgment is by foreknowledge.

7 “For behold, the Assyrians are multiplied in their strength. They are exalted with horses and riders. They glory in the strength of their infantry; they hope in shield and spear, in bow and sling, but they do not know that You the Lord crush wars; 8 the Lord is Your name. Break their might by Your might, and tear down their power in Your anger; for they intend to defile Your sanctuary and desecrate the tent where Your glorious name rests, and to cut off the horns of Your altar with the sword. 9 Behold their arrogance. Send Your wrath upon their heads. Grant to the hand of the widow to do what I plan. 10 By the deceit of my lips, strike down the slave with the ruler and the ruler with his servant. Crush their pride by the hand of a woman.

11 “For Your might is not in numbers, nor Your power in men who are strong, but You are the God of the lowly; You are the helper of the oppressed, the defender of the weak, the protector of those who are forsaken, the savior of those without hope. 12 Yes, O God of my father and God of the inheritance of Israel, Lord of heaven and earth, Creator of the waters, King of all Your creation, attend to my prayer! 13 Cause my deceitful words to be their wound and a bruise to those who planned cruelty against Your covenant, and Your holy house, and Mount Zion, and against the house Your sons possess. 14 Make Your entire nation and every tribe to know and understand that You are God, the God of all power and might, that there is none other who protects the people of Israel but You only.”

Judith Begins to Execute Her Plan

1 When she had ceased crying to the God of Israel and had completed all her words, 2 she arose from where she had prostrated herself, and summoned her maid and went down into the house, where she lived on the Sabbaths and her feast days. 3 There she took off the sackcloth she was wearing and removed her widow’s garments. She washed her body with water and anointed herself with precious ointment. She braided her hair and put a headdress on her head, and put on festive attire she had worn when her husband Manasseh was alive. 4 She placed sandals on her feet, and put on her bracelets, her anklets, her rings, earrings, and all her jewelry. She made herself very beautiful, inviting to the eyes of all the men who might look on her. 5 Then she gave her maid a flask of wine and a cruse of oil, and filled a bag with grain and a cake of dried fruit and a loaf of bread; all these items she wrapped up together and gave them to her maid.

  6 Then they went out to the gate of the city of Bethulia and found Uzziah standing there with the elders of the city, Chabris and Charmis. 7 And they saw her, and her face was changed and her clothing was different, and they marveled at her beauty and said to her, 8 “May the God of our fathers grant you favor and fulfill your pursuits, to the exaltation of the sons of Israel and the glory of Jerusalem.”

9 She bowed down to God and said to them, “Order the gates of the city to be opened, and I will go out to fulfill the words you spoke with me.” They commanded the young men to open the gates as she had requested. 10 And so they did, and Judith went out along with her maid, and the men of the city watched her until she went down the mountain and crossed the valley, until they could no longer see her.

11 The women traveled straight through the valley, and an Assyrian patrol met her. 12 They seized her and asked, “Who are you, and where are you coming from, and where are you going?” She replied, “I am a daughter of the Hebrews, and I am fleeing from them, because they are about to be given over to you to be devoured. 13 I have come to see Holofernes, the commander of your forces, to give him an accurate report. I will show him the way he can go out and take all the hill country captive without losing the body or the life of any of his men.”

14 And as the men listened to her words, and beheld her face—for she was wondrously beautiful in their eyes—they said to her, 15 “You have spared your life by hastening to come down to see our lord. Now come with us to his tent, and we will escort you to him, to deliver you to him. 16 When you stand before him, do not be fainthearted, but report to him just as you said, for he will treat you well.” 17 They then chose a hundred men from among them to escort her and her maid, and they brought them to Holofernes’ tent.

18 There came about quite a commotion throughout the entire camp, for the rumor of her arrival quickly spread among the tents. They came and gathered around her as she stood outside the tent of Holofernes while they announced her presence to him. 19 They marveled at her beauty, and because of her, they wondered about the Israelites. Each said to his neighbor, “Who will dare despise this people with a woman like this among them? Surely it is not wise to leave even one of their men alive, for if we let them go they will be able to outwit the whole world!”

Judith Meets Holofernes

20 Then those guarding Holofernes and all his servants came out and led her into the tent. 21 Holofernes was reclining on his couch under a canopy of purple and gold, emeralds and other precious stones. 22 When they told him of her being there, he came out, preceded by silver lamps, to the entrance of the tent. 23 And when Judith came in before him and his servants, they were taken by the beauty of her face. She prostrated herself, paying homage to him, but his servants lifted her up.

Psalm 1

1 Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the way of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the troublesome; 

2 But his will is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. 

3 He shall be like a tree Planted by streams of waters, That produces its fruit in its season; And his leaf shall not wither, And whatever he does shall prosper. 

4 Not so are the ungodly, not so, But they are like the dust the wind drives from the face of the earth. 

5 Therefore the ungodly shall not rise in the judgment, Nor sinners in the counsel of the righteous; 

6 For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the ungodly shall perish.

Psalm 2

1 Why do the nations rage, And the people meditate on vain things? 

2 The kings of the earth set themselves, And the rulers gather together Against the Lord and against His anointed, saying, 

3 “Let us break their bands, And cast away their yokes from us.” 

4 He who sits in the heavens shall laugh at them; The Lord shall mock them. 

5 Then shall He speak to them in His wrath And trouble them in His anger, 

6 “But I was established as King by Him Over His holy hill of Zion, Declaring the Lord’s decree. 

7 The Lord said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You; 

8 Ask of Me, and I will give You The nations for Your inheritance And the ends of the earth for Your possession. 

9 You shall shepherd them with an iron staff; You shall shatter them like a potter’s vessel.’ ” 

10 And now, O kings, understand; Be instructed, all you judges of the earth. 

11 Serve the Lord with fear And rejoice in Him with trembling. 

12 Lay hold of His instruction, lest the Lord be angry, And you perish from the righteous way When His fury shall be quickly kindled. Blessed are all who trust in Him.

Proverbs of Solomon 1

To Know Wisdom

1 The Proverbs of Solomon, the son of David, Who reigned in Israel, 

2 To know wisdom and instruction, And to understand words of discernment; 

3 To receive both subtlety of words, And to understand true righteousness and upright judgment; 

4 So as to give astuteness to the simple, And both perception and understanding to a young man; 

5 For a wise man who hears these things will be wiser, And the man of understanding will gain direction.

Acts 10

Peter Preaches to Gentiles

24 And the following day they entered Caesarea. Now Cornelius was waiting for them, and had called together his relatives and close friends.

25 As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. 

26 But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I myself am also a man.”

27 And as he talked with him, he went in and found many who had come together.

28 Then he said to them, “You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean.

29 Therefore I came without objection as soon as I was sent for. I ask, then, for what reason have you sent for me?”

30 So Cornelius said, “Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing,

31 and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your alms are remembered in the sight of God.

32 Send therefore to Joppa and call Simon here, whose surname is Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea. When he comes, he will speak to you.’

33 So I sent to you immediately, and you have done well to come. Now therefore, we are all present before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God.”

34 Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality.

35 But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.

36 The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ—He is Lord of all—

37 that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached:

38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.

39 And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree.

40 Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly,

41 not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead.

42 And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead.

43 To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.”

The Gentile Pentecost

44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word.

45 And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also.

46 For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered,

47 “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have? ”

48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days.

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