The Scripture reading plan moves today to the Book of Judith, another deutero-canonical historical book of the Old Testament.
The first half of the book paints the scene - Nabuchednezzar, King of Assyria, is intent on punishing all who refuse to join his wars of conquest, had his forces, under the leadership of General Holofernes, advance on Judea. The Jews make preparations - building fortresses, stockpiling provisions, and above all, praying and fasting. Despite all this, the Jews lose courage and are on the point of surrender when Judith, a young widow, uses her wit and beauty to penetrate the Assyrian camp, and manages to chop of the head of Holofernes while he lies in a drunken stupor.
Judith is a model of the feminine virtues: strong in faith, wise, courageous, resourceful, chaste, valiant and above all reliant on God rather than physical strength. She is accordingly regarded as a type of Our Lady.
At stake in the battle between Assyria and Judea, it is made clear, is religion: the king-worship being imposed by Nebuchadnezzar, versus the faithful worship of God. Early on we are reminded that when the Israelites stay faithful to God, they invariably win. But man (or rather woman in this case!) must play his part.
This book of the Bible has something for everyone - battles for the boys, and a wonderful role model for the girls!
If you are trying to follow the Bible in a year reading plan, aim to finish it by next Wednesday.