Day 181 – Judith 1-4; Psalms 149; Proverbs 31:21–25; Acts 9:20–43

Judith 1-4

1 It was the twelfth year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, who reigned in the great city of Nineveh. In those days Arphaxad, who reigned over the Medes in Ecbatana, 2 built a wall around Ecbatana of hewn stones which were three cubits wide and six cubits long. He made the wall seventy cubits high and fifty cubits wide. 3 At its gates he set its towers, a hundred cubits high and sixty cubits wide at their foundations. 4 And he made its gates raised to seventy cubits high and forty cubits wide, for the marching out of his mighty armies and his infantry in battle array. 5 In those days King Nebuchadnezzar waged war against King Arphaxad in the great plain, the plain in the region of Ragau. 6 And all those who inhabited the hill country and all those who lived along the Euphrates, the Tigris, and the Hydaspes rallied to him, including those from the plain of Arioch, king of the Elamites. Many nations of the sons of Chaldea gathered in battle array.

7 Then Nebuchadnezzar, the Assyrian king, sent envoys to all those dwelling in Persia, to all living in the west, and to those who dwelled in Cilicia, Damascus, Lebanon, and Antilebanon, and to all those who lived on the seacoast, 8 and those among the nations of Carmel and Gilead, and Upper Galilee and the great plain of Esdraelon, 9 and to all those in Samaria and its cities, and beyond the Jordan as far as Jerusalem, Bethany, Chelous and Kadesh and the river of Egypt, and to Tahpanhes and Rameses and the whole land of Goshen, 10 even beyond Tanis and Memphis and to all the inhabitants of Egypt as far as the boundaries of Ethiopia. 11 But all who lived in that area scorned the summons of Nebuchadnezzar, king of the Assyrians, and refused to join with him in the war because they were not afraid of him. They regarded him as but one man, and they sent his messengers away empty-handed and dishonored.

The Defeat of Arphaxad

12 Then Nebuchadnezzar was extremely angry with all that land, and swore by his throne and his kingdom that he would take vengeance on all the regions of Cilicia and Damascus and Syria; that he would slay with the sword all the inhabitants of the land of Moab, and the sons of Ammon, and all Judea, and all those in Egypt as far as the borders of the two seas. 13 So in his seventeenth year, he marched with his army against King Arphaxad and defeated him in battle. He routed the whole army of Arphaxad and all his cavalry and all his chariots; 14 he ruled over his cities. Then he came to Ecbatana, and took over its towers and plundered its marketplaces and put its adornments to shame. 15 He captured Arphaxad in the mountains of Ragau and ran him through with his spears, totally destroying him that day. 16 Then he returned, he and all his sundry multitude of a great many warriors, and they rested there and feasted sumptuously for one hundred twenty days.

Nebuchadnezzar’s Secret Plan for War

1 In the eighteenth year, on the twenty-second day of the first month, in the house of Nebuchadnezzar king of the Assyrians, it came about there was talk that it was time to take vengeance on all the land, just as he had said. 2 So he summoned all his officers and all his nobles, and he laid out verbally all the wickedness of the land. 3 They determined to destroy everyone who had not obeyed his summons.

4 When he finished his plan, Nebuchadnezzar king of the Assyrians called Holofernes, the chief captain of his army, second in command to him, and said to him, 5 “Thus says the great king, the lord of all the earth: Behold! You shall go out from my presence and take men confident in their strength with you, a hundred twenty thousand foot soldiers and twelve thousand cavalry. 6 March against all the land of the west, because they disobeyed my commands. 7 You shall order them to prepare the earth and water, for I will come out in wrath, and I will cover the whole face of the land with the footprints of my army, and I will give them over to my army as plunder. 8 Their wounded will fill the valleys, and their brooks and rivers shall be overflowing with their dead. 9 I will lead them away as captives to the end of the whole earth. 10 And going out ahead of me, you shall seize all their territory. They will surrender themselves to you, and you shall hold them for me until the day of their punishment. 11 Against the ones who refuse, let your eye not spare them, and give them over to slaughter and plunder throughout all your territory. 12 For as I live, and by the power of my kingdom, what I have spoken I will do by my hand. 13 Take heed and do not transgress any of the orders of your lord, but carry them out fully just as I have commanded you, and do it without any delay.”

Holofernes’ March through the West

14 So Holofernes went out from the presence of his lord and called all the generals, captains, and officers of the Assyrian army. 15 And as his lord had commanded him to do, he mobilized one hundred twenty thousand select men for the battle, together with twelve thousand archers on horseback, 16 and he set them in formation as any great army is organized in time of war. 17 He brought a great number of camels, donkeys, and mules to transport their baggage; innumerable sheep, goats, and oxen for their food supply; 18 ample provisions for every man, and a great quantity of gold and silver from the king’s palace. 19 He marched out with his entire army to go in advance of Nebuchadnezzar the king to cover the entire face of the land to the west with their chariots, cavalry, and their select infantry. 20 And along with them went a great mixed crowd, like a swarm of locusts, like the dust of the earth, for the multitude could not be numbered.

21 And they went out from Nineveh three days’ journey to the plain of Bectileth, and they camped over against Bectileth, near the mountain to the left of Upper Cilicia. 22 Then he took his entire army—his infantry, the cavalry, and his chariots—and went from there into the hill country. 23 He ravaged Put and Lud, and he plundered all the Rassisites and the Ishmaelites along the desert towards the south of the Chelleans. 24 Then he followed the Euphrates and passed through Mesopotamia, destroying all the fortified cities along the river Abron, until he came to the sea. 25 He captured the region of Cilicia and killed everyone who resisted him, and came as far as the southern borders of Japheth, opposite Arabia. 26 He encircled all the Midianites and torched their tents and plundered their sheepfolds. 27 Next he marched down into the plain of Damascus at the time of the wheat harvest and burned all their fields, destroying their flocks and herds. He sacked their cities, ravaged their lands, and struck down all their youths with the edge of the sword.

28 Thus fear and dread of him came upon all the inhabitants of the seacoast, at Sidon and Tyre, and those living in Sur and Ocina, and all those living in Jamnia. Those residing in Azotus and Ashkelon also greatly feared him.

1 They sent messengers to him to sue for peace, saying, 2 “Behold! We the servants of Nebuchadnezzar the great king lie prostrate before you. Do to us as is pleasing in your sight. 3 Behold! All our dwellings, all our land, all our fields of wheat, our flocks and herds, and all our tents are before you; do with them as you desire. 4 Behold! Our cities also and their inhabitants are your slaves; come and deal with them as is fitting in your sight.”

5 These men came to Holofernes and reported all these things to him. 6 He went down to the seacoast with his army and stationed garrisons over the fortified cities, and selected chosen men from them as allies. 7 These people, and all their surrounding countryside, received him with garlands and dancing and timbrels. 8 But he destroyed all their borders and cut down their sacred groves, for he had been given orders to demolish all the gods of the land, so all nations would worship Nebuchadnezzar only, and so all their tongues and tribes would call upon him as god. 9 Then he came to Esdraelon, near Dothan, facing the great ridge of Judea. 10 He camped between Geba and Scythopolis, and remained there for a month to bring together all the supplies for his army.

Israel Prepares Its Defense

1 When the Israelites residing in Judea heard everything Holofernes, the commander of Nebuchadnezzar king of the Assyrians, had done to the nations, and how he stripped and demolished all their temples, 2 they were greatly terrified at his presence. They were troubled for Jerusalem and also for the temple of the Lord their God. 3 For they had just recently come back from exile, and all the people of Judea had only recently been regathered, and the holy vessels, the altar, and the temple had been consecrated, having been profaned. 4 So they sent word into all the region of Samaria, and to Kona, Beth Horon, Belmen, and to Jericho and Choba and Aesora, and to the valley of Salem. 5 Immediately they seized all the hilltops and fortified the villages in them, and stored up provisions in preparation for war, having just harvested their fields.

6 Joakim the high priest, who was in Jerusalem at that time, wrote to those dwelling in Bethulia and Betomesthaim, which faces Esdraelon opposite the plain near Dothan. 7 He ordered them to occupy the mountain passes, since Judea could be invaded through them. They were easy to defend because the approach was narrow, with space for only two men at the most to pass.

8 The Israelites did as instructed by Joakim the high priest and the council of all the people of Israel, which met in Jerusalem. 9 And all the men of Israel cried to God with great fervor and humbled themselves in great somberness. 10 They, their wives and children, their cattle, and all the strangers, the hired servants and the purchased slaves, put sackcloth around their waists. 11 All the men of Israel and the women and the children living in Jerusalem prostrated themselves before the temple, and put ashes on their heads and spread out their sackcloth before the face of the Lord. 12 They also covered the altar with sackcloth, and cried out fervently with one accord to the God of Israel that He would not allow their infants to be prey and their wives to be seized; that the cities they inherited not be destroyed; that their sanctuary not be desecrated and be a reproach to the gloating of the Gentiles.

13 The Lord heard their cry and looked down on their affliction, for the people were fasting many days in all Judea and Jerusalem before the sanctuary of the Lord Almighty. 14 And Joakim the high priest and all the priests who stood before the presence of the Lord and served the Lord, having girded their waists with sackcloth, offered the continual whole burnt offerings and the votive and the freewill offerings of the people. 15 With ashes on their turbans, with all their strength they cried out to the Lord to look with favor upon all the house of Israel.

Psalm 149

1 Alleluia.

Sing to the Lord a new song,

His praise in the assembly of His holy ones.

2 Let Israel be glad in Him who made him,

And let the children of Zion greatly rejoice in their King.

3 Let them praise His name with dance;

With tambourine and harp let them sing to Him;

4 For the Lord is pleased with His people,

And He shall exalt the gentle with salvation.

5 The holy ones shall boast in glory,

And they shall greatly rejoice on their beds;

6 The high praise of God shall be in their mouth

And a two-edged sword in their hand,

7 To deal retribution to the nations,

Reproving among the peoples,

8 To shackle their kings with chains

And their nobles with fetters of iron,

9 To fulfill among them the written judgment:

This glory have all His holy ones.

Proverbs of Solomon 31

21 She makes a double upper garment for her husband And garments of fine linen and purple for herself. 

22 Her husband is respected at the gates And when he sits in council with the elders who inhabit the land. 

23 She makes and sells fine linens And girdles to the Canaanites. 

24 She opens her mouth carefully and lawfully And controls her tongue. 

25 She clothes herself with strength and dignity And rejoices in the last days.

Acts 9

Saul’s First Preaching

19 So when he had received food, he was strengthened. Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus.

20 Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God.

21 Then all who heard were amazed, and said, “Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?”

22 But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ.

23 Now after many days were past, the Jews plotted to kill him.

24 But their plot became known to Saul. And they watched the gates day and night, to kill him.

25 Then the disciples took him by night and let him down through the wall in a large basket.

Saul in Jerusalem

26 And when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple.

27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.

28 So he was with them at Jerusalem, coming in and going out.

29 And he spoke boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus and disputed against the Hellenists, but they attempted to kill him.

30 When the brethren found out, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him out to Tarsus.

31 Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.

Peter in Gentile Judea

32 Now it came to pass, as Peter went through all parts of the country, that he also came down to the saints who dwelt in Lydda.

33 There he found a certain man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden eight years and was paralyzed.

34 And Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus the Christ heals you. Arise and make your bed.” Then he arose immediately.

35 So all who dwelt at Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.

36 At Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. This woman was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did.

37 But it happened in those days that she became sick and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room.

38 And since Lydda was near Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent two men to him, imploring him not to delay in coming to them.

39 Then Peter arose and went with them. When he had come, they brought him to the upper room. And all the widows stood by him weeping, showing the tunics and garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them.

40 But Peter put them all out, and knelt down and prayed. And turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up.

41 Then he gave her his hand and lifted her up; and when he had called the saints and widows, he presented her alive.

42 And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed on the Lord.

43 So it was that he stayed many days in Joppa with Simon, a tanner.

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