Fr. James' Lectionary

The Lectionary is both a reading program for completing all of Holy Scripture on a one year schedule, and a daily comment on a portion of the day's reading wedded to a poem to give an added perspective on the theme.

Location: Amherst, Virginia, United States

Friday, October 27, 2006

Snub and Revenge: Judith 2:1-27 with poem by Geoffrey Chaucer, De Oloferno

Daily Readings
Sirach 39, Ezra 6, Judith 2:1-27, I Esdras 6

Daily Text: Judith 2:1-27

Snub and Revenge
The snub in chapter 1 motivates the expressed resentment in Judith 2 as Nebuchadnezzar plans his revenge on the region. Nebuchadnezzar’s revenge took place the year following his campaign against Media. Once entrained Nebuchadnezzar lost no time in carrying out his designs.

General Holofernes is instructed exactly how to go about his campaign, and he does it with dispatch and thoroughness. If the line of march is a little puzzling, it detracts not at all from the intent of his campaign, which is the destruction of crops and villages, of domestic beasts and people. Obviously, Holofernes is competent, determined and thorough. The story is told as if Judah is the climax of his campaign, not unexpectedly since this is a tale of Judah and her God.

De Oloferno
from The Canterbury Tales
Geoffrey Chaucer

Was nevere capitain under a king
That regnes mo putte in subjeccioun,
Ne strenger was in feeld of alle thing
As in his time, ne gretter of renoun,
Ne moore pompous in heigh presumpcioun
Than Oloferne, which Fortune ay kiste
So likerously, and ladde him up and doun,
Til that his heed was of er that he wiste.

Nat oonly that this world hadde him in awe
For lesinge of richesse or libertee,
But he made every man reneye his lawe.
Nabugodonosor was god, seide he;
Noon oother god sholde adoured be.
Agains his heste no wight dorste trespace,
Save in Bethulia, a strong citee,
Where Eliachim a preest was of that place.

But tak kepe of the deeth of Olferne:
Amidde his hoost he dronke lay a-night,
Withinne his tente, large as is a berne;
And yet, for all his pompe and al his might,
Judith, a womman, as he lay upright
Slepinge, his heed of smoot, and from his tnete
Ful prively she stal from every wight,
And with his heed unto hir toun she wente.

Collect for the Day
All that we ought to have thought and have not thought,
All that we ought to have said and have not said,
All that we ought to have done, and have not done;

All that we ought not to have thought and yet have thought,
All that we ought not to have spoken, and yet have spoken,
All that we ought not to have done, and yet have done;
For thoughts, words and works, pray we, O God, for forgiveness.

[286:333:1028 from an ancient Persian prayer]


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