Sunday, April 27, 2014

Judith, Chapters 11 & 12: I'm like a hot chick that you can't even touch

Chapter 11

Holofernes reassures Judith that he never kills people who want to serve Nabuchondoosor the god-king, and he's only attacking the Bethulians because they haven't agreed to his terms yet. He asks why she's run away, and promises before she answers not to kill her, which seems stupidly premature. She in turn promises not to lie and to show him how to defeat Bethulia. She butters him up a bit about how smart he is and how excellent his policies are, which is how you know this book was written by a disgruntled civil servant. She also tells him that no one can hurt anyone who believes in the Jewish god and tells him the people are prepared to break their dietary laws and eat their intended sacrificial offerings to defeat him, that's how committed they are. They're just waiting for permission from the senate to do so, at which point Holofernes can invade and defeat them. She has been sent by god to make a treaty with him before that happens. But right now she needs to go and pray. She promises to come back when the Belulians start sinning. Then she'll lead him to Bethulia and Jerusalem.

Somehow, Holofernes is so dazzled by her hotness that he converts to Judaism right there on the spot and asks her to move with him to Nabuchondoosor's palace. But first he wants to make her dinner.

Chapter 12

Holofernes has dinner brought in, but Judith refuses to eat any of it for fear it isn't kosher. He asks her what she can eat, and she replies that she won't be hungry until god has brought her food. She does, however, want a nap, and she goes to sleep until midnight, at which point she asks leave to go and pray. They repeat this ritual for three days, and at some point she starts eating again.

On the fourth day, Holofernes has a feast for his slaves and doesn't invite his officers. He instructs his chief eunuch to go find Judith and invite her. Apparently the other Assyrians have been snickering behind his back that his hot religious zealot girlfriend walks all over him.

The eunuch finds her praying and invites her for dinner and she readily agrees. She gussies herself up. When she arrives, Holofernes is speechless at her hotness, and promptly gets drunk trying to impress her.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Judith Chapters 8-10: Wow, a hot chick gets what she wants

Chapter 8

Finally, we meet Judith. We get a long genealogy, which includes the fact that one of her great-something grandfathers was called Ox. We also learned that she was married to Manasses, who died in the barley harvest, of heat stroke.

Judith has been a widow for 3 years and 4 months and then one day she puts a tent on her roof and a sackcloth under her mourning clothes and she sits up there and prays except on sabbath, new moons, and feasts. Despite this, she's very beautiful and rich, but everyone still likes her because she's pious. On what must be an off day for praying, she hears about the lack of water in Belulia and she calls the city leaders to her villa. She rebukes them for playing god and testing him with this whole siege thing. She advises them to pray, as they have been doing. The mayor, Ozias, praises her for being smart for a girl, and asks her to pray for rain. Judith has a counter-proposal: they should guard the gate, and she'll go out with her slave, and she'll bring god back in the next 5 days. Ozias agrees.

Chapter 9

Judith pours ashes on herself and takes off her mourning clothes to reveal the sackcloth, then heads down to the temple and shouts at god about all the evil shit he's allowed to happen, but still asks him to save them from the Assyrians.

Chapter 10

Judith goes home, takes a bath, puts on perfume, does her hair and puts on her old, non-mourning clothes and accessories. She hands her maid a bag of food and wine, and they head to the city gate. The council is waiting there and they all pop boners when they remember how hot she used to be before her husband died and she went nuts. She asks them to open the gate and they stare at her ass as she walks down the road to bring peace to the city.

When she gets to the first Assyrian guards, they manage to remember to ask her who she is and why she's on the road. She says she's from Belulia and is escaping the coming conquest. She promises them that if they take her to Holofernes, she'll tell him how to win the war. At this point, the men are overwhelmed by her hotness and agree to do as she bids. A hundred of them escort her to the tent. On the way, all the men hang out of their tent doors to check her out and speculate as to why their leaders hate the Israelites, given the hotness of their women.

Holofernes is in his tent on a bed meant for a twelve year old girl with terrible taste: purple and gold linens and covered in emeralds and hung with silver lamps. He's also taken in by Judith's hotness and is fooled when she throws herself on the ground and pretends to worship him.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Judith Chapters 5-7: Where's Judith?

Chapter 5

Word reaches Holofernes that the Israelites have locked their doors and thrown away the key. Rather than bashing them over the head with a rock, he asks his generals about these crazy people who won't let him take over their lands and burn all their stuff down.

So one of the generals, Achior tells him about the old testament and says they should only invade if they can find the Israelites have been sinning, because otherwise god with smite them. The other generals do not like this, and want to kill Achior right away, then invade.

Chapter 6

Holofernes scoffs that the Israelites' god is nothing against King Nab (who, you will remember, has also declared himself god), and if Alchior likes the Israelite god so much, he might as well give him to the enemy. He assigns two of his slaves to escort Alchior to Bethulia.

The men of Bethulia see Alchior approaching and take out their weapons while the men with slingshots hold the approaching trio off. The slaves tie Alchior up and go home. The Israelites pick him up and take him back to the city, where they present him to the mayor, who calls all the citizens together to try Alchior. Alchior tells them what happened in Holofernes' tent, and the people fall all over the place to worship god. Then they have a feast for Alchior, then they pray some more.

Chapter 7

Holofernes declares war and sets up camp in the valley under Bethulia. The Israelites see this and arm themselves. As he and his scouts try to determine the best way of attacking the city, one of his generals rides up and points out how hard it is to attack a fortified city on top of the hill. The smarter move, he points out, would be to simply cut off the city's water supply. Holofernes sees the merit of this plan and tells the army to encircle the city and wait.

The siege lasts 34 days, during which the Israelites use up every drop of water in the city, and everybody gets super thirsty. They go to the mayor and ask him to sue for peace, because it only takes them 34 days to lose all faith in god. Now they want to give Holofernes the whole city and become slaves. Then they cry, with what tears is unclear, and the mayor asks them for five more days in hopes god will remember them. They agree to wait.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Judith, Chapters 1-4: Where is the main character?

Chapter 1

King Arphaxad built a wall around Ecbatane. The Apocrypha goes into great detail about the thickness of the walls and the height of the towers, which I will spare you. Lucky for him he did that, because soon King Nabuchodonosor invades. The city is flooded with refugees. King Nab tries to draft a bunch of tribes under his auspices into his army, but it's kind of like that scene in Braveheart where the Irish refuse to attack the Scots: they all laugh at him and send his recruiters home. Nab is understandably pissed at this and vows to kill all their children. Someday. When he manages to recruit a bigger army. For now, though, he contents himself with besieging Ecbatane. Eventually he prevails and he kills Arphaxad in the mountains with darts. Then he goes back and has a feast for 120 days, during which, understandably, the city gets wrecked.

Chapter 2

The following year, Nab decides to exact his revenge on all the people who laughed at him. He calls all of his officers together and tells them to destroy the belligerents. The promise to do it, then don't. He calls his best 5-star general, Holofernes in and orders him to go west and kill anything that stands in his way. He can take prisoners if they surrender. So he gathers 120 000 men, horses and provisions and heads out to Nineve, then up into the mountains, killing and burning all the while. Word spreads of this early General Sherman, and people are very afraid.

Chapter 3

The coastal cities try to bribe Holofernes with everything they own, and he accepts, but he does insist on destroying all their shrines, because King Nab has declared himself a god and only wants people to worship him. Then he leaves for a place called Scythopolis, right on the border with Judea, where he camps for a month as his army regroups.

Chapter 4

The people of Judea are well aware of Holofernes, and afraid. Not for their own silly lives, no, they're afraid he'll destroy their shiny new temple. So they prepare all their fortified towns for a siege. The high priest in Jerusalem writes to all of them and says they really need to keep Holofernes out. Fortunately, the mountain passes are so narrow the men will have to walk two abreast. Meanwhile, the people in Jerusalem pray, rather than doing anything useful like making weapons or going out to the mountains to help with the defense. God looks down and sees all these silly people and their cows worshiping in their sackcloth and decides to spare them this time.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Tobit, Chapters 11-14: Here's fish gall in your eye

Chapter 11

Raphael the angel proposes running ahead of Sara and preparing her new bridal home with fish gall. Anna is sitting outside the house and spots them. She calls out to Tobit that their son is home. Raphael instructs Tobias to rub the fish gall in his father's eyes so he'll be able to see again, but he can't because his mother throws herself on his neck and sobs that she can die happy now. Tobit comes out of the house, but trips on the step. Tobias goes to him and pokes fish gall in his eyes, which hurts, but when Tobit rubs his eyes, the cataracts fall away and he can see again. Tobias tells him all about the wife he left sitting at the gate to Nineve, because she wouldn't want a shower or dinner or food or anything. They go and pick her up and have another wedding feast.

Chapter 12

Tobit remembers the tip he promised Raphael if he brought Tobias back in one piece and mentions it to his son, who wants to give him half of his wedding bounty. They call Raphael in, and he finally reveals his angelness to them. The two mortals fall to the ground, but he tells them to get up, then leaves to write a book.

Chapter 13

Tobit writes a prayer that is heavy on what happens to sinners and light on what happens to the righteous, save that someday Jerusalem will have walls of sapphires and emeralds, gold towers, and streets of beryl and carbuncle stones.

Chapter 14

At the end of his life, Tobit calls Tobias and his six sons (it doesn't specify, but I'm betting their names are all variations on the theme) and tells them to go to Media because of a prophecy by Jonah of whale fame. Before they go, they're supposed to bury their grandparents. Then he dies at age 158, along with his wife. Instead of going to Media, however, Tobias and his family pay that long-promised visit to Raguel. They end up living there until its time to bury the in-laws as well. As for Tobias, he lives to be 120 and to hear about the sack of Nineve.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Tobit, Chapters 8-10: Wait, is Sara a necrophiliac?

Chapter 8

After dinner, Tobias goes to his bride. On the way, he sets fire to the fish liver and heart, which scares the spirit into darkest Egypt, where Raphael binds him. Tobias and his wife do the nasty and afterwards he says the words every bride longs to hear: Sister, arise, and let us pray that God would have pity on us (v. 4). Ever the ladies' man, this is a line from his prayer: I take not this my sister for lust, but uprightly (v. 5), so therefore they should be allowed to grow old together. How very convenient that lust and childbearing are so closely linked, especially in a society that lacks reliable birth control. Sara chimes in on the amen and they go to sleep.

In the morning, Raguel digs a grave, thinking his latest son in law is dead and his daughter has just been hanging out with a corpse all night. He tells his wife to send a slave girl up to their room to see if they're alive, like, why didn't you do that before you dug a stupid hole in your stupid yard. The maid returns with the news that Tobias is still alive, and Raguel praises god, even though god sent the demon that killed his first seven sons in law. Then he tells his servants to fill in the stupid grave. Then, I guess to make it look like the earth was supposed to be messed up, they have a 14 day wedding feast, after which he gives Tobias half of his stuff and promises the other half when he and his wife die.

Chapter 9

Tobias sends Raphael, a slave and two camels along for Gabael to invite him for the wedding. He reminds him (and me) about the money that was the original reason for this journey, and tells him to bring it back.

Chapter 10

Tobit is anxiously awaiting his son, who, despite sending him off with a disguised angel and his dog, he isn't convinced is smart enough to make his way back home. His wife certainly thinks her son is dead and she starts wailing that her life is over. Tobit tells her to shut up, Tobias might be stupid, but he isn't dead. His wife insists that he is and goes to sit in front of the house. She won't eat by day and she spends all night howling because apparently she's a dog.

Anyway, Tobias knows that his parents are insane and so as soon as the feast is over, he asks Raguel to let him go home. Raguel doesn't see what the big deal is and offers to send a letter, but Tobias insists he needs to go back in person or no one in their entire town will ever sleep again. So Raguel packs up half his belongings and sends them off. He reminds Sara to behave and does that annoying parent thing where he's all grant that I may see the children of my daughter Sara before I might die (v. 17) that not nearly enough people get clocked for saying.