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Posts Tagged ‘Nebuchadnezzar’


Judith 7: The Heart of the Just

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Titian: Judith and the Head of Holofernes

This is one of my favorite stories – perhaps because the protagonist is a woman.  A good commentary will let us know that there were Hebrew, Latin and Greek versions of this story and that while no one knows the actual events which this narrative describes, it is meant as a text that will bolster the peoples’ faith in the presence of God among them.  It is “a tract for difficult times; the reader, it is hoped, would take to heart the lesson that God was still the Master of history, who would save Israel from her enemies.  Note the parallel with the time of Exodus: as God had delivered his people by the hands of Moses, so he could deliver them by the hand of the pious widow Judith”.  (Senior 520)

Chapter 7 tells of the siege of the town Bethulia by the Assyrian troops of King Nebuchadnezzar under the military leadership of Holofernes together with local tribes; and it sets the story.  If you have time today or this evening, read the entire story.  I promise you will not be disappointed.

It is fascinating to read about these two groups of men who take into account both the small details and the broad strategies in order to lay out the best plans.  They reconnoiter approaches, locate water sources, assess troop strength, close off escape routes, and store up resources.  Meanwhile, the Israelites watch and pray.  Their leader tells them: Let us wait five days more for the Lord our God, to show his mercy toward us; he will not utterly forsake us.  Still, because the odds were so stacked against them, the Hebrew people of Bethulia mourned.  They saw no hope of deliverance and believed they would all be killed or enslaved.

They were in a desperate place with desperate circumstances, yet they hoped.  And a woman acts to save them.  As we have observed, it is a great story.

As we reflect on this story we arrive at this thought: If we always turned to God at the first moment an army amassed itself against us, and if we would be willing to trust an unlikely agent – such as the widow Judith – we might find ourselves less anxious and more joyful.

Today’s Psalm at Mass is 112 with the repeated antiphon: The heart of the just one is firm, trusting in the Lord.  One of the stanzas reads: An evil report he shall not fear; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.  His heart is steadfast; he shall not fear till he looks down upon his foes.

If we might trust as Judith trusts, if we might steady our hearts to make them steadfast and focused on Christ – the rescuer who rescues all who turn to him – we might find more success and less war.  When we hear evil reports as we do each day when we tune into the news, we would tremble less.  When we hear rumors about family, friends and colleagues, we might wait five days or so and petition God for advice in the meantime.  When we fear that we have gone wrong and have lost our way, we might rely on God’s mercy, knowing that he will not forsake us.

If you have time today to spend with some ancient people who thought they faced extinction and yet were saved, you will be rewarded with a story about a pious widow who saves a town . . . and your heart may move closer to firmness, to justice, to trust in the Lord.


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.520. Print.

Written on June 2, 2009 and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://www.artbible.info/art/large/499.html

Visit A Historical Commentary on the Book of Judith at: http://kinghezekiahofjudah2.blogspot.com/2008/06/location-of-judiths-town-of-bethulia.html

For more about this amazing woman’s story, go to Judith – Sublime Faith, Heroic Love at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/judith-sublime-faith-heroic-love/ or use the search the name Judith on this blog. 

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Daniel 2: Public Life

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Daniel before Nebuchadnezzar

I am thinking of all the negative things that happen to Daniel which he calmly allows God to transform into good – his exile, his imprisonment, his gift as an interpreter of dreams which may be used against him . . . because of envy on the part of the king’s magicians.  He knows that the very prediction he is called to announce may bring about his execution.  Daniel withstands all of this – and even more when we read the entire story – by placing his trust, hope, faith and love in God . . . and by allowing God to work his wonderful will with those who are opposed to him, to the Jewish people and to their God.  I am reminded of Psalm 37: Commit your life to the Lord, trust in him and he will act, so that your justice break forth like the light, your cause like the noon-day sun.

Daniel does not let fear of failure or a reluctance to commit to God or to obey God to deter him from his path of fidelity.

Be still before the Lord and wait in patience; do not fret at the man who prospers; a man who makes evil plots to bring down the needy and the poor. 

Daniel does not abandon God or allow the world and its worries to lure him away from following God.

Calm your anger and forget your rage; do not fret, it only leads to evil.  For those who do evil perish; the patient shall inherit the land.

Daniel abides with God just as God abides with him.  Daniel waits upon the wisdom of the Lord, knowing that for God time is eternal.

A little longer – and the wicked shall have gone. 

Daniel knows that the only true emotion, the only lasting force is God’s love for us.  It is greater than anything we can imagine.  It is bolder, more persistent and persevering than anyone we know.  It is the only energy that matters . . . this love and peace of God that comes to us in the form of the man, Christ.

Look at his place, he is not there.  But the humble shall own the land and enjoy the fullness of peace.

Daniel makes a public statement when he expresses his love of God; and as we read his story we may join him to enter into our own public statement about our intensely personal relationship with God.

And so we might ask ourselves: Do we love God enough to make a public statement about our fidelity to him?

 For the humble shall own the land . . . and enjoy the fullness of peace.  Amen. 


A re-post from March 23, 2012. 

Image from: http://myyearofjubilee50.blogspot.com/2011/11/dan-man.html

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Ezekiel 24:15-27Destruction

Saturday, November 17, 2018

The first 40 books of this prophesy are written predicting the doom and fall  of Jerusalem; and Ezekiel was mocked for believing that the impregnable Jerusalem – jealously guarded by Yahweh – would fall to the pagans.  History reminds us that in 597 B.C.E. Nebuchadnezzar and his troops swarmed into the city and violated the temple, sacking it, killing the Jewish soldiers, taking Jewish captives and carting off all that had value to Babylon.  The Jewish nation had lived too long in false security, thinking for too long that they were unbeatable as a kingdom . . . invincible as a nation . . . indestructible as a people.  They had not understood that it was their own actions that threatened their safety rather than the foreign troops.  Their refusal to adhere to the spirit and the letter of the Mosaic Law had left them vulnerable.

It is too often that as humans we do not realize our lack of understanding until we lose what we hold most dear; that is why there is something recognizable in the eyes of a fellow mourner that tells us when our sadness is truly felt by another.  It is impossible to counterfeit soul-wrenching mourning . . . nothing deceives those who have lost . . . those who have grieved.  Like the witnesses to Ezekiel’s dumbness and numbness, we cannot empathize with grief or sorrow until we ourselves have experienced deep loss.  This is human nature, for it is not until we exit from mourning that we find ourselves immutably changed.  After exile, we forever recognize honest grieving when we see it.  We do not fully and totally take in the fugitive . . . until we are bereft of all we know.

In today’s reading, we see Ezekiel’s stalwart attempt to obey Yahweh.  We watch his effort to hide his grief.  We cannot take our eyes from the drama of his transformation because somehow we understand that from this day forward the Diaspora will believe his predictions, will begin to heed his words, will try to put away their pride and anger . . . will learn to leave themselves open to the healing redemption of their God.

Ezekiel is eventually vindicated, but not until the nation has begun their northward journey into the unknown.  Ezekiel suffers great loss, but in so doing he opens himself to his mourning people . . . and accompanies them into exile.

When we find ourselves on our knees with no where lower to sink . . . we must listen for the voice that says to us . . . All sanctuaries are desecrated . . . yet you are my favored one . . . the one I send to my people . . . to accompany them in their exile. 

God turns all harm to good.  God heals, saves, and redeems.  God asks us to enter into the miracle of transforming the destruction with him, to join in the healing.  When God calls us, we must respond.  When we are sent as ministers to his flock, we must go.  When the walls of the city are impregnated and the temple gold is taken, rather than wrapping ourselves in deep mourning, let us keep our sandals on our feet, leave our turbans on our heads . . . and leave behind the pride of our hearts.  We are called to enter into a fugitive life to live for a time in which we find our sole sustenance in God.  For by this sign, the lost sheep will know that God is with them.


A re-post from October 15, 2011.

Image from: http://www.biblesearchers.com/yahshua/passovertrial/cosmicdrama.shtml

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Daniel 2:20-23: Seek God

William Brassey Hole: Daniel Interprets the Dream of Nebuchadnezzar

Monday, November 13, 2017

A Canticle of Praise

If we want to seek God, we do well to begin with praising God. In the Northern Hemisphere as we bring in the harvests from a season of plenty, we reflect on one who praises God well.

The story of Daniel is well-known to us.  He and his comrades were taken to the Babylonian court, as were many of the talented young Jewish men, and there he interprets king Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.  When he is graced with the gift of a vision from God, he reveals the mystery of the king’s dream. Daniel wisely acknowledges the source of his talent and so he properly and immediately thanks and praises his God with these beautiful verses.  They are ones that we might recite each morning and each evening at the rising and the closing of our day.

God is wise and powerful!
    Praise God forever and ever.

Daniel brings to full potential not only himself but also the Jewish nation . . . in a creative, saintly way.  He takes no care for his own circumstances – which are at the minimum unpleasant and at the worst life-threatening – because he knows that God will protect and guide him.  Daniel is only concerned about fulfilling the part of God’s plan which he has been called to enact.  He pushes himself toward the potential planted in him by God.  So do the saints.  So may we.

Let us praise God as Daniel does.

Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and power are God’s.

What an awesome God we have.  Let us join him and the community of saints as we seek to know ourselves better, to share ourselves better, to heal ourselves and others better.

God reveals deep and hidden things and knows what is in the darkness, for the light dwells with God.

Let us open to the light of the revealed Christ.  Let us put that light on a lampstand for all creation to see.

To you, O God . . . I give thanks and praise, because you have given me wisdom and power.

Amen.

Adapted from a Favorite from November 1, 2007.

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Jeremiah 44: Into the Hill Country

Christmas Eve – Thursday, December 24, 2015mary-travels-with-joseph-to-bethlehem

The Israelites who are not deported by Nebuchadnezzar to Babylon escape to Egypt, taking Jeremiah with them.  Once settled in the south, rather than thanking Yahweh for delivery and turning to him in their time of trial, they begin to worship “The Queen of Heaven,” most likely the fertility goddess Astarte or Ishtar.  Jeremiah is believed to be assassinated after he warns the exiled people of Judah that their worship of this false goddess and their turning away from the one true God will spell out their doom.  These words prove to be true. Jeremiah is vindicated, but meets his end.

In this Advent season we celebrate one who is truly the Queen of Heaven, Mary, the mother of Jesus.  Today’s Gospel spells out her journey into the “hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.  When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb”.  And thus begins the story of Jesus and his cousin John the Baptist.  The words from today’s MAGNIFICAT Meditation taken from the works of St. Bonaventure stand in contrast to what we find in today’s Noontime reading.  St. Bonaventure writes: Once a devout soul has been touched or moved by the hope of heavenly bliss, the fear of eternal punishment, or the weariness of living long in this vale of tears (Ps 84:7) it is visited by fresh inspirations, set alight with holy desires, and taken up with godly thoughts.  Again in contrast with the reaction of the Judahites is the reaction of the soul when it encounters God; and St. Bonaventure continues to describe how the soul will turn away from the world in order to turn to God.  The further one withdraws from the world, the closer becomes one’s friendship with good people. It follows that the more the company of ungodly people loses its attraction, the more the company f saintly and spiritual people inspires the heart with radiant delight.  St. Bonaventure advises us how to avoid falling into the trap of false worship.  Avoid the company of the wicked, go up into the hill country with Mary, seek the advice of spiritual people, strive to follow in the footsteps of the saints, reflect upon the teachings of holy people and also upon their actions and examples. 

SilhouetteThe Judahites carried Jeremiah away with them when they escaped from the Babylonians and fled to Egypt.  He continued to prophesy but they killed him for his words.

Elizabeth and her child John respond with joy when they realize they are in the presence of holiness.

What do we choose this Advent?  To hear the Word but reject it because it does not suit our schedule or plan?  Or to hear the Word and abide in it . . . whether or not it brings a message to us that we want to hear?  Do we choose to carry the prophet into exile and kill him for his counsel?  Or do we choose to go up into the hill country with Mary to surround ourselves with good and holy people?

We are not bound by any restrictions . . . for God so loves us that when he creates us he also gives us the freedom to choose our response to his call.  So as we consider our choice during this Advent season, we do well to spend a bit of time in the hill country today with Mary, Joseph, and Jesus.

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day. MAGNIFICAT.12.21 (2010). Print.

Adapted from a reflection written on December 21, 2010.

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joySaturday, November 22, 2014

Judith 11-16

Joy and Deliverance

The story of Judith is full of danger and violence counterpointed by fidelity and great rejoicing. Today we discover that despite grave danger, joy is present. If today’s story calls you to search for more surprises, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter the word Joy in the blog search bar. You may also want to visit the Joy for the Journey blog at www.joyforthee.blogspot.com to see how joy surprises you there. Today we find joy in miraculous deliverance.

Judith’s story is not included in all versions of the Bible because it is regarded by some to be an historical novel rather than sacred word. Others see is as a kind of allegory in that the name Judith is the feminine form of the word Judah. Still others point to anachronisms and decline to regard these words as inspired. In any case, the story holds is one of consequence, and one in which we see God’s deliverance of the faithful from the most extreme of circumstances.  It is a story to which we will want to attend.

Artemisia Gentilischi: Judith and the Maid-servant with the head of Holofernes

Artemisia Gentilischi: Judith and the Maid-servant with the head of Holofernes

If you did not have time to read the introductory chapters, move through them today – if even only quickly. The opening pages of the book prepare us for the dreadful middle and the joyful end. They put us in a time and place we will recognize as much like our own. They will give us a firmer footing from which to view this story, a stronger reason to hope as Judith does, and a clearer image of the desperation and joy she experiences.

Verse 14:9: When she had finished her story, the people cheered so loudly that the whole town echoed with sounds of joy.

Is there a Judith among us who quietly moves forward through God’s plan and surprises us with an outrageous act of hope? Are we the unobtrusive Judith or almost unseen handmaiden who turns history on its head in a surprising way? And when God intervenes with and in us in such startling ways, do we recognize the presence of the Spirit in our hour of desperation?

Verse 15:9: When they arrived, they all praised her, “You are Jerusalem’s crowning glory, the heroine of Israel, the pride and joy of our people!”

Do we recognize the Judiths among us and if so, do we value their quiet persistence and determination? Do we perhaps see ourselves in the gritty and resolute actions of these women?  And when God intervenes with and in us in such surprising ways, do we give thanks and honor to the Living God who is in and with all who find joy in great peril and outrageous deliverance?

To better understand Judith’s world, click on the Gentileschi image above, or visit: https://thenoontimes.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/artgentileschi_judithandthemaidservantwiththeheadofholofernes_1625.jpg 

For more details and insights about the encounters between Judith and Holofernes, visit other Noontime reflections by entering the word Judith into the blog search bar.

For more information about anxiety and joy, visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/

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joyFriday, November 21, 2014

Judith 9-10

Joy and Peril

The story of Judith is full of danger and violence counterpointed by fidelity and great rejoicing. Today and tomorrow we discover that despite grave danger, joy is present. If today’s story calls you to search for more surprises, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter the word Joy in the blog search bar. You may also want to visit the Joy for the Journey blog at www.joyforthee.blogspot.com to see how joy surprises you there. Today we find joy in great peril.

The opening chapters of Judith’s story set a scene of violence, intrigue and power. War begins. An ultimate is delivered. An enemy is defeated and a council takes place to assess plans and possibilities. Nineveh and Ecbatana are now at the center of this drama, but Nebuchadnezzar rages against more than Persia. He lays out a secret plan to take revenge on the entire world, and once these plans are complete he sends for his general Holofernes. These events bring forth images from our daily newscasts that we might recognize in our modern world. Who would suspect that the town of Bethulia and the little-known widow, Judith, would turn the Assyrian power structure on its head? How might each of us, in our own infinitesimal way, have an effect upon the wider world? How might each of us find joy amid the peril that surrounds us?

Artemisia Gentileschi: Judith and her Maidservant

Artemisia Gentileschi: Judith and her Maidservant

Verse 10:3: She took off the sackcloth and her widow’s clothes . . . Judith turns away from her inner grief and turns outward to the world. So might we.

She took a bath, and put on rich perfumes . . . Judith enters into an intentional plan brought forward through prayer. So might we.

She brushed her hair, tied a ribbon around it . . . Judith prepares herself as herself and not as another entity with grandiose ideas. So might we.

She dressed herself in the fine clothes she used to wear on joyful occasions when her husband Manasseh was still alive . .  . Judith moves forward in the only way she knows how. In fidelity. In trust. In faith. In hope. So might we.

In Chapter 9 we find The Prayer of Judith, beautiful, honest verses of petition from one who is so small against gargantuan obstacles. If we spend some time with these words today, we might better understand how Judith calls forth the joy she had once known to find joy in great peril.

For more Noontime reflections about this woman’s story, enter the word Judith into the blog search bar and explore.

 

For information about the woman who painted this rendition of Judith and her servant, click on the image above or visit: http://zadokromanus.blogspot.com/2005/06/artemisia-gentileschi.html 

For more information about anxiety and joy, visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/

 

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Friday, October 17, 2014

Jeremiah 52:12-30

Babylonian CaptivityThe End – Part II: Destruction

On the tenth day of the fifth month [this was in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon], Nebuzaradan, captain of the bodyguard, came to Jerusalem as the representative of the king of Babylon. He burned the house of the Lord, the palace of the king, and the houses of Jerusalem; every large building he destroyed with fire. And the Chaldean troops who were with the captain of the guard tore down all the walls that surrounded Jerusalem.

The city that was to shield them, the temple that was to house their God, and the walls that were to protect them . . . all of this is razed in fire and dust.

Then Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, led into exile the rest of the people left in the city, and those who had deserted to the king of Babylon, and the rest of the artisans. But some of the country’s poor, Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, left behind as vinedressers and farmers.

Those who had led them, those who worshiped with them, those who served them . . . all of these are led away as slaves.

The bronze pillars that belonged to the house of the Lord, and the wheeled carts and the bronze sea in the house of the Lord, the Chaldeans broke into pieces; they carried away all the bronze to Babylon.

The columns that held them, the basin that bathed them, the wheels that bore them . . . all of this is taken into exile.

The captain of the guard also took Seriah, the high priest, Zephaniah, the second priest, and the three keepers of the entry. And from the city he too one courtier, a commander of soldiers, and seven men in the personal service of the king who were present in the city, and the scribe of the army commander, who mustered the people of the land, and sixty of the common people who were in the city. The captain of the guard, that surrounded Jerusalem, arrested these and brought them to the king of Babylon in Riblah, who had them struck down and put to death.

Those who those who served the king, those who held sacrifice, those who made rules, those who guarded the doors against them, those who fought and those who wrote out to orders to fight, even those who were ordinary among them . . . all of these are lead away to destruction.

Thus was Judah exiled from her land . . .

Tomorrow, Part III . . . Hope

To learn more about the Temple Sea of Bronze, visit: http://www.templesecrets.info/bronzesea.html

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Clay Cylinder of Nebuchadnezzar II

British Museum: Clay Cylinder of Nebuchadnezzar II

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Jeremiah 46

Routed Heroes

This oracle against Egypt that we read today is one of Jeremiah’s many. The young Hebrew nation sought refuge in Egypt under the protection of Joseph, they prospered and grew in the land of Goshen and were later enslaved. Led from their enslavement by Moses, they migrated to their promised land where they again prospered and grew. They became a formidable force under the leadership of Saul and David but with Solomon the empire begins to crumble. This young king who had shown so much promise bows to the desires of pagan wives and allows his people to turn to pagan gods. Babylon threatens in the north while Israel and Judah become two kingdoms. Ahead of the forces of Nebuchadnezzar, Jeremiah is swept away and carried off to Egypt; but Babylon follows and Nebuchadnezzar’s forces move swiftly through the Levant to rout the heroes who attempted to stem the force of his advance. Jeremiah had warned his people but they chose to ignore the word of God as delivered by the prophet.

Prepare shield and buckler! March to battle!

The prophet Daniel reminds us that the faithful need not fight, they only need rely on the providence and goodness of God. (Daniel and the Fiery Furnace in Daniel 3)

Harness the horses. Mount, charioteers. Fall in with your helmets; polish your spears, put on your breastplates.

Saint Paul reminds us that the only impenetrable armor is Christ himself. (Ephesians 6:10-20)

What do I see? With broken ranks they fall back; their heroes are routed, they flee headlong without making a stand. Terror on every side!

Jesus tells us that we have nothing to fear when we live in him.

The swift cannot flee, nor the hero escape. There in the north, on the Euphrates’ bank, they stumble and fall. Who is this that surges toward the Nile, like rivers of billowing waters?

Jeremiah warns that there is no route of escape, no avoidance of the inevitable end which corruption and arrogance guarantees.

Pack your baggage for exile, Memphis shall become a desert, an empty ruin. The mercenaries are like fatted calves; they too turn and flee together, stand not their ground.

The unthinkable will take place. All who are powerful will be weak. All who are mighty will fall. Heroes and cowards alike will collapse.

I will make an end of all the nations to which I have driven you, but of you I will not make an end. I will chastise you as you deserve, I will not let you go unpunished.

So compassionate is our God that even those who go against him have an opportunity to change their ways.

But you, my servant Jacob, fear not; be not dismayed, O Israel. Behold, I will deliver you from the far off land for I am with you.

So faithful is our persistent God that those who are lost in the wake of routed heroes will be healed, restored and transformed.

So hopeful is our transformative God that those who fall on the banks of the Nile will be reconciled, rebuilt and made new.

So loving is our merciful God that even those who are swept away with the tide of routed heroes will be raised up, resurrected and brought to eternal life.

For information on the Babylonian Culture and Jeremiah’s prophecy, click on the image above or go to: http://www.biblesearchers.com/temples/jeremiah4.shtml 

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