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once: your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt, have broken the Law. They have departed quickly from the path you commanded them to take and cast metal idols for themselves.” 3 And the Lord said to him, “I have spoken with you once and again: I have seen this people and know they are stiffnecked. Let me destroy them and I will blot their name out from beneath the sky; and I will make you into a great and spectacular nation, much greater than this one.” 4 And Moses said, “May it never be Lord! Forgive the sin of this people—or blot me also out from the book of the living.” 5 O great love! O incomparable per­ fection! The servant speaks boldly to the Lord, and asks for the multitude to be forgiven—or pleads for himself to be blotted out with them.


Who, therefore, among you is noble? Or compassionate? Or filled with love? 2 Let that one say, “If I am the cause of faction, strife, and schisms, I will de­ part; I will go wherever you wish and do what is commanded by the congregation. Only allow the flock of Christ to be at peace with the presbyters who have been appointed.” 3 The one who does this will have made himself eminent in Christ and will be welcomed everywhere. “For the earth, and all that is in it, belongs to the Lord.”63 4 Those who have performed their civic duty to God, without regrets, have done these things and will continue to do them.


But we should bring in exam­ ples from the Gentiles as well. Many kings and rulers, after receiving instruction from an oracle, have handed themselves over to death during the time


of plague, in order to deliver their fellow citizens by shedding their own blood. Many left their own cities to avoid cre­ ating more factions. 2 Among ourselves, we know many who put themselves in prison in order to ransom others; many placed themselves in slavery and fed others with the pur­ chase price they received. 3 Many women were empowered by the gracious gift of God to perform nu­ merous “manly” deeds. 4 The blessed Judith, when her city lay under siege, asked the elders for permis­ sion to go out to the foreigners’ camp.64 5 And so she handed herself over to danger, going out because she loved her homeland and the people under siege. And the Lord handed Holofernes over to the hand of a female. 6 No less did Esther, a woman perfect in faith, put herself in danger to rescue the twelve tribes of Israel who were about to perish.65 For through her fasting and humility she petitioned the all-seeing Master, the God of eternity, who saw the humbleness of her soul and rescued the people for whom she put herself in danger. . . .


But if some disobey the words he has spoken through us, they should realize that they entangle them­ selves in transgression and no little danger. 2 But we ourselves will be innocent of this sin, and we will ask with a fervent prayer and petition that the Creator of all may safeguard the number of those counted among his elect throughout the entire world, through his beloved child Jesus Christ, through whom he called us


Ps 24:1. 64The account is drawn from Judith 8ff. The account is drawn from Esther 7; 4:16.


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