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HAYDOCK CATHOLIC BIBLE COMMENTARY ON THE OLD TESTAMENT



JUDITH 16

 

CHAPTER XVI.

 

Ver. 1.  Sung.  Gr. "Gave out this confession, in all Israel: and all the people echoed this praise;" (H.) either repeating the whole after her, or singing the first verse as a chorus.  Ex. xv. 20.  1 K. xviii. 6.  1 Par. xvi. 8.  C. --- Saying.  Gr. "And Judith said: Begin ye to my Lord."  H. --- It is time for us to break silence, and to sound forth the praises of God.  C.

 

Ver. 3.  Wars, or destroying armies.  H. --- God is often represented as a mighty warrior.  Isai. i. 24.  Jer. ii. 20.  Rom. ix. 29.  C. --- This passage is quoted by S. Ephrem (ser. de 2. Adv.) as a part of Scripture.  W. --- Lord is.  Gr. "For he has drawn me from the hands of my persecutors, into his camp, in the midst of the people."  H.

 

Ver. 5.  Mountains of Cilicia, and through the defiles of Libanus and Hermon, on the north of Palestine, by which road they were forced to come.  The desert Arabia was impassable for a large army.  C. --- North, including to the east.  H.  Isai. xiv. 13.  Jer. i. 13.  Ezec. i. 4. --- Torrents, drinking them up, as Sennacherib boasted; (4 K. xix. 24.) and the Greek assert the same of the army of Xerxes.  Herod. vii. 108.

                            Epotaque flumina Medo

                            Prandente.  Juv x.

The Gr. seems to insinuate that the Assyrians "stopped up the springs," to distress the country, as Philopator did.  C. --- Valleys.  Gr. "hills."

 

Ver. 6.  To make.  Gr. "that he would throw my children at the breast, on the pavement, and make," &c.  H.

 

Ver. 7.  Stuck.  Lit. "hurt him, overturning all his projects, (C.) as the Greek (hqethsen) intimates.  M. --- Him.  Gr. "them, by the hand of a woman: For," &c.

 

Ver. 8.  Men; soldiers.  C. xiv. 6.  Gen. xiv. 24. --- Titan.  So the Sept. renders Raphaim.  2 K. v. 18.  The Greek translator of this work seems to have read the poets, who pretend that the Titans attempted to take heaven by storm.  C. --- Neither such giants as those who lived before the flood, (Gen. vi.) nor such as were seen after, (Num. xiii.  W.) attacked Holofernes.  H. --- Neither does the Vulgate give any authority to poetic fictions, but only adopts terms which are best understood.  T.  S. Jer. in Amos v. 8.

 

Ver. 9.  And put.  Gr. "for the exaltation of those who laboured in Israel."

 

Ver. 10.  Crown.  Gr. "mitre," or ribband, ornamented with jewels.  C. x. 3.  Syr. "net-work." --- New.  Gr. "linen stole," which was a long robe, usually of linen, and worn both by men and women.  C. --- Deceived him; as he would make love to her, and thus give her an opportunity to perform what she had designed.  H. --- She was not actuated by the desire of being admired, but sought to deliver her people, v. 9.  M.

 

Ver. 11.  Sandals.  The bandages which tied the shoe-soles (H.) to the feet, were most ornamental.  Isai. iii.  The city of Antylla was assigned to furnish sandals for the queens of Egypt.  Herod. xii. 98.  C. --- With.  Gr. "a sword (acinace) passed through his neck."

 

Ver. 12.  Medes.  This is the first mention of these two nations, who afterwards became so famous.  Nabuchodonosor had overcome Phraortes.  C. i.  C.

 

Ver. 13.  Then.  Gr. "Than my lowly ones (H. she speaks thus contemptuously of the Assyrians.  C.) howled, my weak ones cried out through fear; they raised their voice, and were overthrown."  H. --- Others think that she is speaking of her fellow-citizens, (T.) or both.  H.

 

Ver. 14.  Damsels; young boys.  Syr. "they run them through, as if they had been damsels." --- Children, or "slaves."  Syr.  Being this overtaken, what could they do but sue for pardon?  C. --- Before.  Gr. "of the Lord," &c.

 

Ver. 15.  Let.  Gr. "I will sing a new hymn to the Lord.  Lord, thou art great."  H.

 

Ver. 17.  Spirit, and they.  Gr. "he built" the world.  Gen. i. 8.  Ps. xxxii. 9.  C.

 

Ver. 18.  Waters, by earthquakes and storms.  Job ix. 5.  Isai. v. 25.  Ps. xvii. 8.

 

Ver. 19.  Great.  Gr. "treated mercifully by thee: for little with thee is all sacrifice, for the odour of sweetness; and all fat is but the least for thy holocausts.  But he who fears the Lord, is ever great."  H. --- This text is remarkable, as it shews (C.) that no sacrifice can please God, without interior holiness.  Outward magnificence will be otherwise rejected with contempt.  W.

 

Ver. 20.  He will visit them, is not in Greek, and only expresses the same again.  H.

 

Ver. 21.  Flesh, which is thus punished for ever, (S. Aug. de Civ. Dei xxv. 4.) while the soul is still more tormented with the loss of God's vision.  W. --- The bodies of those who persecute God's people, will not only be thrown out with ignominy, but the impenitent shall suffer eternal torments.  These worms and fires do not cease.  They are not merely figurative, but real, according to the Fathers.  Serar. q. 1.  T.  Essais de Mor. --- Though the damned have not yet their bodies, they are no less affected with pain; as people who have lost a member, often seem to feel pain in it.  That our soul should even now suffer, when the body is hurt, depends on God's appointment.  The Jews spoke of eternal torments in similar terms.  Eccli. vii. 19.  Isai. lxvi. 24.  Mar. ix. 45.

 

Ver. 22.  And.  Gr. "But as soon as they arrived at Jerusalem, they adored God; and when the people were purified, they offered their holocausts, and free gifts, and presents."  H. --- They stood in need of purification, as they had shed blood, and had touched so many things of the Assyrians, which were to them unclean.  C.  Num. xxxi. 24.

 

Ver. 23.  An anathema of oblivion.  That is, a gift or offering made to God, by was of an everlasting monument, to prevent the oblivion or the forgetting of so great a benefit. Ch. --- Yet some would read (C.) oblationis, instead of oblivionis.  T. --- Gr. and Syr. say nothing of oblivion.  The Scriptures, and pagan histories, are full of such monuments of gratitude, to perpetuate the memory of benefits received from above.  C. --- Gr. "to the Lord, all the vessels," or furniture.  C. xv. 14.  H. --- Joseph called one of his sons, Manasses, because God had caused him to forget his former toils.  Gen. xli. 51.  M. --- Judith's husband had the same name; and this victory made her forget past sorrow.  H.

 

Ver. 24.  Three.  Syr. "one entire month."  C. --- Joy.  Gr. "and Judith remained with them."

 

Ver. 25.  Was made.  Gr. "returned also to Bethulia, and dwelt on her own possessions; and in her time, was honourable throughout all the land."

 

Ver. 26.  Chastity.  Gr. "many desired to have her, (H. in marriage.  W.) but no man knew her," &c.  H. --- She again practised the same mortifications which she had done before.  Suidas.  C. --- Husband.  Gr. adds, "when he was removed to his people.  And proceeding, (to the temple, or advancing in age) she was very great, and she grew old in her," &c.  H. --- She probably went up to Jerusalem at the great festivals.  M.

 

Ver. 28.  Five.  Suidas alone reads, "fifty."  Some would suppose that Judith lived 105 years after her husband's death; so that she might have been in all 125 years old.  But she would thus have survived the siege of Jerusalem under Nabuchodonosor; (C.) and the test does not require this sense.  H. --- See Ex. xii. 40.  T. --- Free; as she had been her assistant in such a glorious work.  M. --- Died.  Gr. adds, "in Bethulia; and they buried her in the cave of her husband, Manasses."  See C. viii. 3.

 

Ver. 29.  Seven days.  The usual term; (Eccli. xxii. 13.) but it was extra ordinary for the whole province (C.) to mourn for an individual.  Gr. and Syr. add, "And she divided all her possessions, before her death, among the nearest relations of her husband, Manasses, and among her own," (H.) which was very equitable, as she had no children, (C.) we may suppose.  T.  H.

 

Ver. 30.  Years.  Gr. "days."  See the pref.  H. --- Judith was a widow near seventy years, shewing an excellent pattern to all in that state.  Notwithstanding the many inducements which she might have had to marry again, she chose to abstain, for greater perfection.  Mat. xix. and 1 Cor. vii.  W. --- From the death of Holofernes (A. 3348) to that of Josias, (A. 3394) only forty-six years of peace would occur in Juda.  Hence Hardouin would suppose that the text speaks of the kingdom of Israel.  But it would be hard to prove that it existed at that time, after the ten tribes had been led away.  A. 3283.  As the Scripture does not specify how old Judith was when she addressed Holofernes, (C.) she might be sixty-five.  Vitre. --- If, therefore, we should make this peace last till the coming of Nabuchodonosor, to attack Jerusalem, about forty-six years might elapse before the period here assigned.  C. --- It is, however, much more probable, (H.) that the peace subsisted from the 11th of Manasses to the death of Josias, 73 (Gr. 78) years; (T.) and that she was not above forty when she performed her exploit; as she was then styled a beautiful girl, (C. xii. 12.) and many desired to marry her.  H. --- No instance can be produced, of the Jews entering into such contracts with those who were past child-bearing.  Freret, who seems afraid to allow this book the same authority as the additions to Daniel, though both are equally rejected by Protestants, supposes that Bethulia was besieged in the 11th or 12th year of Josias; and, of course, that Judith would then be about eighty-four years old!  Houbigant.

 

Ver. 31.  But.  This is taken from the Chaldee of S. Jerom, though omitted in the old Vulg. as well as in the Gr. and Syr.  We find no express mention of this festival in the Jews' Calendar, (C.) though no one can doubt but it once was kept.  D. --- It probably ceased during the captivity; as that, in memory of the victory over Nicanor, (which was kept in the days of Josephus, xii. 16.) has been long since abolished, (C.) with many others.  D. --- Many suppose (C.) that the feast of Judith concurred with that of the new fire, when the temple was renewed under Judas the Machabee, on the 25th of Casleu, (Salien, &c.) in December, though the victory of Judith was obtained about August.  The point is not easily decided.  As the festival was of human institution, it might be abrogated by the same authority.  C. --- In Judith we behold a widow indeed, such as the apostle commends.  1 Tim. v. 3.  (S. Jer. ad Furiam. --- We may also raise our minds still higher, and contemplate in her a glorious figure of the Christian Church, which is spotless; and by the practice of all virtues, overcomes the power of persecutors, giving all the glory to God.  After victory, she continues in silence to practise her former austerities, which render her secure in peace and terrible in war.  C.

 

 








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