Thursday, September 6, 2012

Daily Bible Reading: Judith 10-11 and Hebrews 11

Judith 10 – Judith removes her sackcloth, washes and dresses herself up in all her best clothes, jewelry and perfumes. She looks beautiful. She goes to the town gates and there finds the town leaders, Uzziah, Chabris and Charmis. She tells them they should leave the town gate open so she can come and go. And then she takes off toward enemy lines.

As she comes down through the valley, a unit of the Assyrian army seizes her and asks her which side she is on and where she is going. She tells them she is “a daughter of the Hebrews” and says she is “fleeing from them since they will soon be your prey” (10:12). She tells them she is on her way to see Holofernes “to give him trustworthy information” (10:12). They take her to his tent. She attracts a lot of attention; people think she is beautiful and actually admire the Hebrews as a people for having women as impressive as she is.

She finally arrives at Holofernes’ tent. He is resting “under a canopy of purple and gold studded with emeralds and precious stones” (10:21).  While they are stunned by her beauty she falls “on her face and did homage to him” (10:23).

Judith 11 – Holofernes assures her that she will not be harmed. He would not hurt anyone who is obedient to his “lord” Nebuchadnezzar. “Even now, if your nation of mountain dwellers had not insulted me, I would not have raised a spear against them. This was their fault, not mine” (11:2-3). She likewise assures him that she “will speak no word of a lie in my lord’s [he thinks she is referring to him, but she is really referring here to God] presence tonight” (11:6) and assures him that if he follows her advice “God will bring your work to a successful conclusion” (11:6).

She assures him that while what Achior said is true - that the Jews will not be defeated unless they are unfaithful to “their lord” - they HAVE become unfaithful – eating things they’ve been forbidden to eat. She promises she will go out every night and pray that God will let her know when they have sinned. Holofernes is so pleased, he tells her if things turn out as she says, her god will be his god and she will make her home in the palace of the King. 

Hebrews 11 – “Only faith can guarantee the blessings that we hope for, or prove the existence of the realities that at present remain unseen” (11:1). It is by faith that we explain the origin of all that we see; “It is by faith that we understand that the world was created by one word from God, so that no apparent cause can account for the things we can see” (11:3).

It is by faith that all who were part of our salvation narrative lived: Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets. “All these died in faith, before receiving any of the things that had been promised, but they saw them in the far distance and welcomed them, recognizing that they were only strangers and nomads on earth” (11:13).

They were the heroes of faith we look too, but they did not attain what was promised them. As faithful as they were, they could not “reach perfection except with us” (11:40), through the resurrection Christ experienced.

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