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

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A Waiting Game: Judith 7 with poem by Thomas Bailey Aldrich, Judith

All Saints’ Day

Daily Readings
Sirach 44, Nehemiah 3, Judith 7, Revelation 7:2-4, 9-17

Daily Text: Judith 7

A Waiting Game
The day has come for the vast army, now 170,000 strong, to move against Bethulia. And they do, moving up to the source of the city’s water supply. The NRSV, in Judith 7, says this water source was one of springs, the Vulgate says an aqueduct [534:173].
“Now Holofernes, in going out, found that the fountain which supplied them
with water, ran through an aqueduct outside the city on the south side; and he commanded their aqueduct to be cut off. Nevertheless, there were springs not far from the walls, out of which they were seen secretly to draw water, to refresh themselves a little rather than too drink their fill” (Vg. 7:6-7).
If this Vulgate text is accurate it explains why the foreign mercenaries in his army subsequently recommended that he capture the springs and let the people die of thirst (7:12-13). By dominating the water supply and surrounding their points of egress on all sides, the Assyrians insure their downfall, and they do so without risking loss of life.

Fascinating is the recognition that though the foreign mercenary troops did not want to wait for Bethulia and the Jews to displease their God, when it came time to attack they themselves recommended patience and a waiting game—precisely what Achior had recommended, and for which he was banished.

from Judith
Thomas Bailey Aldrich

Now Holofernes with his barbarous hordes,
The scum of twenty servile sovereignties,
Crost the Euphrates, laying waste the land
To Esdraelon, and, falling on the town
Of Bethulia, stormed it night and day
Incessant, till within the leaguered walls
The boldest captains faltered; for at length
The wells gave out, and then the barley failed,
And Famine, like a murderer masked and cloaked,
Stole in among the garrison. The air
Was filled with lamentation, women’s moans
And cries of children: and a night there came
A fever, parching as a fierce simoon.
Yet Holofernes could not batter down
The brazen gates, nor make a single breach
With beam or catapult in those tough walls:
And white with rage among the tents he strode
Among the squalid Tartar tents he strode
And curst the gods that gave him not his will,
And curst his captains, curst himself, and all;
Then, seeing in what strait the city was,
Withdrew his men hard by the fated town
Amid the hills, and with a grim-set smile
Waited, aloof, until the place should fall.
All day the housetops lay in sweltering heat;
All night the watch fires flared upon the towers;
And day and night with Israelitish spears
The bastions bristled.

Collect for the Day
Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord: Give us grace so to follow your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those ineffable joys that you have prepared for those who truly love you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with lyou land the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

[BCP 245 All Saints’ Day]


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