Day 185 – Judith 14-16; Psalm 5; Proverbs 1:11–15; Acts 12

Judith 14-16

1 Then Judith said to them, “Hear me, my friends; take this head and hang it at the top of the city wall at daybreak. 2 Then when the sun comes up on the horizon, let every able-bodied man take up his weapons and appoint a captain over them. March out of the city as though you were going down to the plain against the outposts of the Assyrians, but do not go down. 3 Then they will take up their weapons and head into their camp and awaken the officers of the Assyrian army. They will hurry together to Holofernes’ tent, but they will not find him. Panic will overcome them, and they will run from you. 4 Then you and all those who dwell inside the boundaries of Israel shall pursue them and kill them as they flee. 5 But before you do these things, call Achior the Ammonite to me so he may look upon and recognize the man who hated the house of Israel and sent him to us as though to his death.”

6 So they sent for Achior from Uzziah’s house, and when he came he saw the head of Holofernes held in the hand of a man in the assembly of the people. He fell on his face and fainted. 7 But when they picked him up, he fell prostrate at the feet of Judith, and bowing before her, said, “Blessed are you in all the tents of Judea. Those who hear your name in every nation will tremble. 8 But for now, explain to me everything you did during these days.”

Then, in the midst of the people, Judith told him the many things she had done since the day she departed until the time she was speaking with them. 9 And as she completed her report, the people shouted loudly, making jubilant noise in the city. 10 And when Achior saw all the things the God of Israel had accomplished, he believed in God profoundly, was circumcised, and has been membered with the house of Israel until this day.

11 At daybreak, they hung the head of Holofernes on the wall, and every man seized his weapons. They then marched out in companies to the mountain passes. 12 And when the Assyrian forces saw them, they notified their captains, and they went in turn to the generals, the captains, and all their officers. 13 They went to the tent of Holofernes and said to the man in charge of all his affairs, “Awaken our lord at once, for the slaves dare to come down to wage war against us, to their total destruction.”

14 Then Bagoas went in and knocked at the door of the tent, for he presumed Holofernes was sleeping with Judith. 15 When there was no answer, he opened the door and entered the bedchamber. He found him sprawled out on the floor, a corpse without a head. 16 With a loud voice he cried out, weeping and groaning. Shouting out, he tore his garments. 17 He then went to the tent where Judith had lodged. Unable to find her, he ran out to the people and cried out, 18 “The slaves deceived us! A single woman of the Hebrews has brought shame upon the house of King Nebuchadnezzar! Come and see—Holofernes is sprawled on the ground and his head is gone.” 19 When the Assyrian army officers heard these words, they tore their tunics and were in a state of great turmoil. They cried aloud, shouting in the midst of the camp.

The Assyrian Army Is Decimated

1 When those in their tents heard the wailing, they were utterly astounded at what had happened. 2 Fear and trembling came over them, and not waiting for each other, they all impulsively ran out of the camp and fled in every direction through the valley and the hill country. 3 Even those who had been camping in the hill country outside Bethulia arose and fled. Then every warrior amongst the Israelites rushed out against them. 4 Uzziah dispatched his men to Betomasthem, and to Bebai and Choba and Kola and to all the regions of Israel to report on what had happened, in order that they would all hurry out to face their enemies and destroy them. 5 So when word came to the Israelites, they came upon them with one accord and smote them as far away as Choba. Likewise, when told what had happened in the enemy camp, even those from Jerusalem and the surrounding hill country came out. And those from Gilead and Galilee outflanked them, inflicting massive slaughter, well beyond Damascus and its boundaries. 6 The inhabitants of Bethulia who remained there descended on the Assyrian camp, plundering it, and were greatly enriched. 7 Soon the Israelite forces came back from the slaughter, taking possession of the spoils, as did those in the villages and towns of the hill country and the plain. They took much of the plunder, for it was there in great quantity.

  8 Then Joakim the high priest and the elders of Israel dwelling in Jerusalem came to observe the great things the Lord had done for His people, and to see Judith and to greet her. 9 When they met with her, with one accord they blessed her and told her, “You are the glory of Jerusalem, the heroine of Israel, the pride of our people! 10 You accomplished all these things by your own hand. You brought about good things for Israel, and God is well pleased with them. May you be eternally blessed by the Almighty Lord.” And the people all said, “Amen!”

11 The people pillaged the camp for thirty days, giving Judith Holofernes’ tent, all his silver service, his couches, his bowls, and all his furnishings. Some of these she loaded on her mules, and she harnessed them to her wagons and stacked the rest on them. 12 Then all the women of Israel assembled to see her. They blessed her and performed a dance to honor her. And she took woven branches in her hands, and presented them to these women. 13 And she and those with her crowned themselves with garlands of olive wreaths. She stepped out before all the dancers, leading all the women. At the same time, the men of Israel followed, bearing their weapons, clothed with garlands and singing songs of praise. 14 Then Judith began singing a hymn of thanks before all Israel, and the people responded heartily with this song of praise.

Judith’s New Song

1 And Judith said:

“Begin a hymn to my God with tambourines,

Sing to the Lord with cymbals;

Lift to Him a new psalm,

Exalt Him, and call upon His name.

2 For God is the Lord who makes wars cease,

For into His camps, into the midst of His people,

He rescued me from the hands of those pursuing me.

3 The Assyrian descended from the mountains of the north;

He came with the countless numbers of his army,

Whose multitude blocked up the rivers,

And his cavalry covered the hills.

4 He said he would set my territory on fire,

And slaughter my young men with the sword,

And dash my nursing babies on the ground,

And take my children as plunder

And my virgins as spoils of war.

5 But the Lord Almighty has thwarted them

By the hand of a woman.

6 For their mighty man did not fall by our young men,

Nor did the Titans’ sons strike him down,

Nor did tall giants attack him,

But Judith, daughter of Merari,

In the beauty of her appearance disabled him.

7 For she took off the garment of her widowhood

To exalt those afflicted in Israel,

And anointed her face with perfume,

8 And bound her hair with a headband,

And put on a linen garment to entice him.

9 Her sandals caught his eyes,

Her beauty captured his mind,

And the sword slashed his neck.

10 The Persians shuddered at her courage,

And the Medes were disturbed at her daring.

11 Then my downhearted people raised the war cry,

And my weak ones cried out, and the enemies were terrified;

They raised up their voices, and the enemy was overthrown.

12 The sons of the handmaidens stabbed them,

And wounded them as the offspring of fugitives;

They were destroyed by the army of the Lord.

13 I will sing a new song to my God:

Great are You, O Lord, and glorious,

Marvelous in power and unsurpassable.

14 Let all Your creation serve You,

  For You spoke, and they were created;

You sent Your Spirit, and He formed them.

There is nothing which can resist Your voice.

15 For the mountains with the waters shall be shaken at their foundations,

And at Your presence, the rocks shall be melted as beeswax.

And yet You are merciful to those who fear You.

16 For every sacrifice as a sweet-smelling offering is like nothing,

And the fat in the whole burnt offerings is like nothing to You;

But he who fears the Lord is great in all things.

17 Woe to the nations that rise up against My people;

The Lord Almighty will punish them on the day of judgment;

He will give them over to fire and worms in their flesh;

In pain they shall weep forever.

18 When they came to Jerusalem, they worshiped God; and when they were purified, they offered their burnt offerings, freewill offerings, and their gifts. 19 And Judith dedicated all the property of Holofernes that the people gave to her, along with the canopy which she herself had taken from his bedchamber, as a votive offering to God. 20 For three months, the people in Jerusalem feasted continually before the sanctuary, and Judith stayed with them.

The End of Judith’s Days

21 After these days everyone returned home, and Judith went to Bethulia and lived at her estate. She was honored throughout the entire country for the rest of her days. 22 Many men desired her, but she married no man during the remaining days of her life, after Manasseh her husband died and was buried with his people. 23 She became greatly renowned, and she grew old in the house of her husband until she reached the age of one hundred five years. She freed her maid, then died in Bethulia. They buried her in the tomb of Manasseh, her husband, 24 and she was mourned by the house of Israel for seven days. Before her death, she gave her possessions to all who were nearest of kin to her husband Manasseh, and to her own nearest of kin. 25 And no one again brought fear to the people of Israel in the days of Judith, nor for a long while after she died.

Psalm 5

1 For the End; concerning the inheritance; a psalm by David. 

2 Give ear to my words, O Lord, Hear my cry. 

3 Give heed to the voice of my supplication, My King and my God, For to You will I pray, O Lord. 

4 In the morning You shall hear my voice; In the morning I will stand before You, And I will watch. 

5 For You are not a God who wills lawlessness, Nor shall the evildoer dwell with You. 

6 The lawless shall not stand before Your eyes; You hate all the workers of lawlessness; 

7 You shall destroy all who speak falsehood; The Lord abhors the man of violence and deceit. 

8 But as for me, in the fullness of Your mercy I will come into Your house; In fear of You I will worship toward Your holy temple. 

9 Lead me, O Lord, in Your righteousness because of my enemies; Make straight Your way before me. 

10 For there is no truth in their mouth; Their heart is vain; Their throat is an open grave; They deal deceptively with their tongues. 

11 Judge them, O God. Let them fall by their false accusations; Cast them out in the multitude of their ungodliness; For they provoked You, O Lord. 

12 But let all who hope in You be glad; They will greatly rejoice forever, For You will dwell in them; And all who love Your name will boast in You. 

13 For You will bless the righteous; O Lord, You crowned us with the shield of Your goodwill.

Proverbs of Solomon 1

11 My son, do not let the ungodly lead you astray, And do not consent if they invite you, saying, 

12 “Come with us; take part in bloodshed, And let us hide a righteous man in the earth unjustly; 

13 And let us swallow him, just as Hades does the living, And let us take away his remembrance from the earth; 

14 Let us seize his valuable property, And let us fill our houses with spoils; 

15 Cast your lot with us And let us acquire a common bag; Let there be one purse for us.”

Acts 12

Jerusalem Shaken

1 Now about that time Herod the king stretched out his hand to harass some from the church.

2 Then he killed James the brother of John with the sword.

3 And because he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also. Now it was during the Days of Unleavened Bread.

4 So when he had arrested him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to keep him, intending to bring him before the people after Passover.

5 Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church.

6 And when Herod was about to bring him out, that night Peter was sleeping, bound with two chains between two soldiers; and the guards before the door were keeping the prison.

7 Now behold, an angel of the Lord stood by him, and a light shone in the prison; and he struck Peter on the side and raised him up, saying, “Arise quickly!” And his chains fell off his hands.

8 Then the angel said to him, “Gird yourself and tie on your sandals”; and so he did. And he said to him, “Put on your garment and follow me.”

9 So he went out and followed him, and did not know that what was done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision.

10 When they were past the first and the second guard posts, they came to the iron gate that leads to the city, which opened to them of its own accord; and they went out and went down one street, and immediately the angel departed from him.

11 And when Peter had come to himself, he said, “Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent His angel, and has delivered me from the hand of Herod and from all the expectation of the Jewish people.”

12 So, when he had considered this, he came to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose surname was Mark, where many were gathered together praying.

13 And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a girl named Rhoda came to answer.

14 When she recognized Peter’s voice, because of her gladness she did not open the gate, but ran in and announced that Peter stood before the gate.

15 But they said to her, “You are beside yourself!” Yet she kept insisting that it was so. So they said, “It is his angel.”

16 Now Peter continued knocking; and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished.

17 But motioning to them with his hand to keep silent, he declared to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, “Go, tell these things to James and to the brethren.” And he departed and went to another place.

18 Then, as soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers about what had become of Peter.

19 But when Herod had searched for him and not found him, he examined the guards and commanded that they should be put to death. And he went down from Judea to Caesarea, and stayed there. 

Herod Dies

20 Now Herod had been very angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon; but they came to him with one accord, and having made Blastus the king’s personal aide their friend, they asked for peace, because their country was supplied with food by the king’s country. 

21 So on a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat on his throne and gave an oration to them.

22 And the people kept shouting, “The voice of a god and not of a man!”

23 Then immediately an angel of the Lord struck him, because he did not give glory to God. And he was eaten by worms and died.

24 But the word of God grew and multiplied.

25 And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their ministry, and they also took with them John whose surname was Mark.

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