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NOW Arphaxad king of the Medes had brought many nations under his dominions, and he built a very strong city, which he called Ecbatana,

THE BOOK OF JUDITH.

 

INTRODUCTION.

 

The sacred writer of this Book is generally believed to be the high priest Eliachim, (called also Joachim.)  The transactions herein related, most probably happened in his days, and in the reign of Manasses, after his repentance and return from captivity.  It takes its name from that illustrious woman, by whose virtue and fortitude, armed with prayer, the children of Israel were preserved from the destruction threatened them by Holofernes and his great army.  It finishes with her canticle of thanksgiving to God.  Ch.

 

--- He was a chief officer at court, under Ezechias, (4 K. xviii. 18.  H.) before he was high priest, assuming his father Helchias's name.  Many suppose that he was the author of this Book, as Josephus informs us that the priests recorded the most remarkable transactions.  But this would prove that they wrote all the histories of the Bible.  S. Jerom (in Agg. i. 6.) seems to believe that Judith left these memoirs.  Yet we have no certain proof of the author.  Josephus passes over this history, as he professed to exhibit only the Heb. books.  Ant. x. 11. Prol. &c.  S. Jerom doubts not but this was written in Chaldee, from which language he translated it; unless he caused it to be first explained to him in Heb. as he did the Book of Tobias.  C.

 

--- He might, however, have attained sufficient knowledge of the former language, which is so like the Hebrew, before he undertook this work.  H.

 

--- He professes to give "the sense," rather than a verbal translation.  The Greek must have been taken from another copy, and is followed by the Syriac, in which we find some passages more exact than in the present Greek copies.  The original is entirely lost.  It might have removed many difficulties.  Those however which are started by our adversaries, are not unanswerable.  Grotius would suppose that this work is only a parable, representing the state of the Jewish church under the persecution of Epiphanes.  But this singular notion has no foundation; and if it had, the authenticity of the Book would not be endangered, as the parable both of the Old and New Testament are certainly true, and written by inspiration.  C.

 

--- Luther styles it a poetical comedy; (Pref. et Sympos. 29.) but both Jews and Christians have esteemed it as a true history: (W.) and this innovator (H.) allows, that "the Book is beautiful, and written by an inspired prophet."  C.

 

--- The Fathers have looked upon it with the utmost veneration; and S. Jerom, though he was at one time under some doubts, placed it on a level with the Books of Ruth, and Esther, &c.  Ep. ad Principiam.

 

--- It is admitted by Origen, Tertullian, S. Chrys. S. Hilary, V. Bede, &c. as the history of a most valiant matron, delivering God's people from a cruel tyrant.  W.

 

--- Some place this event under Cambyses, son of Cyrus; (Euseb.  S. Aug.) others under Xerxex, (Torniel) or Darius Hystaspes, (E.) or Ochus: (Sulp. Severus) but the opinion which has been given above is more accurate; (C.) or rather Bethulia was saved, while Manasses was in captivity, (in the 10th year of his reign) and the high priest administered affairs in his absence.  At this point, Judith might be thirty-five years old.  She lived seventy years afterwards; and many days (perhaps eight years more) passed before the country was invaded by Pharao Nechao.  C. xvi. 30.  Thus Manasses survived 45 years, Amon 2, Josias 31; total 78.  This chronology removes every difficulty.  Houbig. Pref.

 

--- If true, it seems probable that the work would be originally in Heb. as the Chaldee was used only after the captivity, (H.) which may be farther proved from C. i. 15.  Greek.  Houbigant.

 

--- Protestants prefer to translate this and the other apocrypha from the Greek.  M.

 


Ver. 1.  Now, refers to the internal purpose of the author.  S. Greg. hom 2. in Ezec.  W.  Many of the books begin with And; shewing their connection.  This work formed a part of the general history.  The building of Ecbatana likewise took place soon after the destruction of Ninive, mentioned in the preceding book.

 

--- Arphaxad.  He was probably the same as is called Dejoces by Herodotus; to whom he attributes the building of Ecbatana, the capital city of Media; (Ch.) or Arphaxad, more resembles both in name and actions the  second king Phraortes or Apharaartas, (Montfaucon and Houbig.) who fortified and embellished the city.  C.

 

--- Ecbatana, or Agbata, which in Arabic signifies "variegated;" (Bochart) as the seven walls, rising one higher than another round it, were marked with one white, two black, three red, four blue, five dark red, six silver, seven gold.  Herod. i. 98.  C.  See Tob. iii. 7.




2 Of stones squared and hewed: he made the walls thereof seventy cubits broad, and thirty cubits high, and the towers thereof he made a hundred cubits high. But on the square of them, each side was extended the space of twenty feet.

Ver. 2.  Hewed.  Gr. adds, "three cubits broad and six long."  The ancients aimed at solidity in their architecture, as appears from their ruins.  C.

 

--- High.  Salien (A. 3345) thinks there is a transposition, and that the walls were 70 cubits high.  M.

 

--- What need was there of such a breadth?  Gr. allows 70 in height, and 50 in breadth, which seems more proportionate.  Old Vulg. has 60 cubits high, and 50 broad.  On the walls of Ninive, three chariots might fight abreast, (C.) and six on those of Babylon.  Ctesias.

 

--- Feet.  Projecting from the wall, to remove an enemy.  M.

 

--- Gr. "and the towers thereof he placed above the gates 100 cubits, and the foundation was 60 cubits broad.  And he made the gates to rise 70 cubits, being 40 cubits in breadth, to send out the armies of his mighty men, and to draw up his infantry."  H.


3 And he made the gates thereof according to the height of the towers: 4 And he gloried as a mighty one in the force of his army and in the glory of his chariots.

Ver. 4.  Gloried.  Fool, this night wilt thou perish.  Luke xii. 20.  W.


5 Now in the twelfth year of his reign, Nabuchodonosor king of the Assyrians, who reigned in Ninive the great city, fought against Arphaxad and overcame him,

Ver. 5.  Nabuchodonosor.  Not the king of Babylon, who took and destroyed Jerusalem, but another of the same name, who reigned in Nivine; and is called by profane historians Saosduchin.  He succeeded Asarhaddon in the kingdom of the Assyrians, and was contemporary with Manasses, king of Juda.  Ch.

 

--- He might be the same with Asarhaddon, who resided at Ninive in the 20th year of his reign.  After the defeat at Bethulia, the Medes recovered part of their power, under Cyaxares I. who was succeeded by Astyages and Cyaxares II. with whom Cyrus was associated in the empire.  Xenophon.

 

--- Asarhaddon spent the latter years of his life at Babylon, of which he had made himself master.  Houbigant.

 

--- The Jews frequently give names to foreign princes different from those by which they are known in profane history.  See Tob. ult.  H.

 

--- Him.  Gr. afterwards (v. 15) insinuates, that he prevented any from mounting the throne of Media, till this work was written, "he transfixed him with his darts, and destroyed him till this day."  Houbigant.




6 In the great plain which is called Ragua, about the Euphrates, and the Tigris, and the Jadason, in the plain of Erioch the king of the Elicians.

Ver. 6.  Ragau, near Rages.  Tob. i. 16.  M.

 

--- Syr. "Dura," mentioned Dan. iii. 1.  C.

 

--- Jadason, or Mount Jason, above the Caspian gates; (Strabo xi.) unless it may be the city Jassu, in Armenia.  Gr. has "the Hydaspes," a river of India, though Curtius (v.) places it near Susa; confounding it with the Choaspes.

 

--- Elicians.  Gr. "Elymeans," perhaps the same with Pontus.  Heb. Ellasar.  Gen. xiv. 9.  Various battles were fought during this war, which the Greek intimates lasted seven years.  C.

 

--- That version also would represent those and various other nations coming to meet Nabuchodonosor, who hereupon sent his ambassadors to all in Persia, and westward to Cilicia, &c.  As they were treated contemptuously, he swore that he would revenge himself.  But first he attacked Arphaxad, took and sacked Ninive, slew the king, and then abandoned himself with his army to pleasure in the conquered city, "120 days."  H.




7 Then was the kingdom of Nabuchodonosor exalted, and his heart was elevated: and he sent to all that dwelt in Cilicia and Damascus, and Libanus,


8 And to the nations that are in Carmelus, and Cedar, and to the inhabitants of Galilee in the great plain of Asdrelon,

Ver. 8.  Esdrelon.  Syr. "Jezrael," which is the usual name in Scripture.  Jos. xvii. 16.




9 And to all that were in Samaria, and beyond the river Jordan even to Jerusalem, and all the land of Jesse till you come to the borders of Ethiopia.

Ver. 9.  Jesse, or Gessen, where Joseph placed his brethren.  Gen. xlvi. 34.




10 To all these Nabuchodonosor king of the Assyrians, sent messengers: 11 But they all with one mind refused, and sent them back empty, and rejected them without honour.

Ver. 11.  Refused.  Gr. adds, "and did not come to help him in the war, because they feared him not, (H. supposing he would have enough to do with Arphaxad) as he was but like their equal, or as one man.  C.


12 Then king Nabuchodonosor being angry against all that land, swore by his throne and kingdom that he would revenge himself of all those countries.

Ver. 12.  Countries.  Those who were subject to him did wrong in refusing aid.  But the Jews were under no such obligations; and God espoused their cause the more, as the king set up for a deity.  C. iii.  C.

 

--- He had at first entertained thoughts of universal dominion, (H.) being elated by his victory, like other conquerors.

 

--- Auferre, trucidare, rapere falsis nominibus imperium, atque ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant.  Tacit. Agric.


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