Judith (NAB) 10
10 1 As soon as Judith had thus concluded, and ceased her invocation to the God of Israel,2 she rose from the ground. She called her maid and they went down into the house, which she used only on sabbaths and feast days.3 She took off the sackcloth she had on, laid aside the garments of her widowhood, washed her body with water, and anointed it with rich ointment. She arranged her hair and bound it with a fillet, and put on the festive attire she had worn while her husband, Manasseh, was living.4 She chose sandals for her feet, and put on her anklets, bracelets, rings, earrings, and all her other jewelry. Thus she made herself very beautiful, to captivate the eyes of all the men who should see her.5 She gave her maid a leather flask of wine and a cruse of oil. She filled a bag with roasted grain, fig cakes, bread and cheese; all these provisions she wrapped up and gave to the maid to carry.6 Then they went out to the gate of the city of Bethulia and found Uzziah and the elders of the city, Chabri and Charmis, standing there.7 When these men saw Judith transformed in looks and differently dressed, they were very much astounded at her beauty and said to her,
8 "May the God of our fathers bring you to favor, and make your undertaking a success, for the glory of the Israelites and the exaltation of Jerusalem." Judith bowed down to God. Then she said to them,
9 "Order the gate of the city opened for me, that I may go to carry out the business we discussed." So they ordered the youths to open the gate for her as she requested.10 When they did so, Judith and her maid went out. The men of the city kept her in view as she went down the mountain and crossed the valley; then they lost sight of her.
11 As Judith and her maid walked directly across the valley, they encountered the Assyrian outpost.12 The men took her in custody and asked her, "To what people do you belong? Where do you come from, and where are you going?" She replied: "I am a daughter of the Hebrews, and I am fleeing from them, because they are about to be delivered up to you as prey. 13 I have come to see Holofernes, the general in chief of your forces, to give him a trustworthy report; I will show him the route by which he can ascend and take possession of the whole mountain district without a single one of his men suffering injury or loss of life."14 When the men heard her words and gazed upon her face, which appeared wondrously beautiful to them, they said to her,15 "By coming down thus promptly to see our master, you have saved your life. Now go to his tent; some of our men will accompany you to present you to him.16 When you stand before him, have no fear in your heart; give him the report you speak of, and he will treat you well."17 So they detailed a hundred of their men as an escort for her and her maid, and these conducted them to the tent of Holofernes.
18 When the news of her arrival spread among the tents, a crowd gathered in the camp. They came and stood around her as she waited outside the tent of Holofernes, while he was being informed about her.19 They marveled at her beauty, regarding the Israelites with wonder because of her, and they said to one another, "Who can despise this people that has such women among them? It is not wise to leave one man of them alive, for if any were to be spared they could beguile the whole world."
20 The guard of Holofernes and all his servants came out and ushered her into the tent.21 Now Holofernes was reclining on his bed under a canopy with a netting of crimson and gold, emeralds and other precious stones.22 When they announced her to him, he came out to the antechamber, preceded by silver lamps;23 and when Holofernes and his servants beheld Judith, they all marveled at the beauty of her face. She threw herself down prostrate before him, but his servants raised her up.
11 1 Then Holofernes said to her: "Take courage, lady; have no fear in your heart! Never have I harmed anyone who chose to serve Nebuchadnezzar, king of all the earth.2 Nor would I have raised my spear against your people who dwell in the mountain region, had they not despised me and brought this upon themselves. 3 But now tell me why you fled from them and came to us. In any case, you have come to safety. Take courage! Your life is spared tonight and for the future.4 No one at all will harm you. Rather, you will be well treated, as are all the servants of my lord, King Nebuchadnezzar."
5 Judith answered him: "Listen to the words of your servant, and let your handmaid speak in your presence! I will tell no lie to my lord this night,6 and if you follow out the words of your handmaid, God will give you complete success, and my lord will not fail in any of his undertakings.7 By the life of Nebuchadnezzar, king of all the earth, and by the power of him who has sent you to set all creatures aright! not only do men serve him through you; but even the wild beasts and the cattle and the birds of the air, because of your strength, will live for Nebuchadnezzar and his whole house.
8 Indeed, we have heard of your wisdom and sagacity, and all the world is aware that throughout the kingdom you alone are competent, rich in experience, and distinguished in military strategy.9 "As for Achior's speech in your council, we have heard of it. When the men of Bethulia spared him, he told them all he had said to you.10 So then, my lord and master, do not disregard his word, but bear it in mind, for it is true. For our people are not punished, nor does the sword prevail against them, except when they sin against their God.11 But now their guilt has caught up with them, by which they bring the wrath of their God upon them whenever they do wrong; so that my lord will not be repulsed and fail, but death will overtake them.12 Since their food gave out and all their water ran low, they decided to kill their animals, and determined to consume all the things which God in his laws forbade them to eat.13 They decreed that they would use up the first fruits of grain and the tithes of wine and oil which they had sanctified and reserved for the priests who minister in the presence of our God in Jerusalem: things which no layman should even touch with his hands.14 They have sent messengers to Jerusalem to bring back to them authorization from the council of the elders; for the inhabitants there have also done these things.15 On the very day when the response reaches them and they act upon it, they will be handed over to you for destruction.
16 "As soon as I, your handmaid, learned all this, I fled from them. God has sent me to perform with you such deeds that people throughout the world will be astonished on hearing of them.17 Your handmaid is, indeed, a God-fearing woman, serving the God of heaven night and day. Now I will remain with you, my lord; but each night your handmaid will go out to the ravine and pray to God. He will tell me when the Israelites have committed their crimes.18 Then I will come and let you know, so that you may go out with your whole force, and not one of them will be able to withstand you.19 I will lead you through Judea, till you come to Jerusalem, and there I will set up your judgment seat. You will drive them like sheep that have no shepherd, and not even a dog will growl at you. This was told me, and announced to me in advance, and I in turn have been sent to tell you."
20 Her words pleased Holofernes and all his servants; they marveled at her wisdom and exclaimed,21 "No other woman from one end of the world to the other looks so beautiful and speaks so wisely!"22 Then Holofernes said to her: "God has done well in sending you ahead of your people, to bring victory to our arms, and destruction to those who have despised my lord.23 You are fair to behold, and your words are well spoken. If you do as you have said, your God will be my God; you shall dwell in the palace of King Nebuchadnezzar, and shall be renowned throughout the earth."
12 1 Then he ordered them to lead her into the room where his silverware was kept, and bade them set a table for her with his own delicacies to eat and his own wine to drink.2 But Judith said, "I will not partake of them, lest it be an occasion of sin; but I shall be amply supplied from the things I brought with me." 3 Holofernes asked her: "But if your provisions give out, where shall we get more of the same to provide for you? None of your people are with us."4 Judith answered him, "As surely as you, my lord, live, your handmaid will not use up her supplies till the Lord accomplishes by my hand what he has determined."5 Then the servants of Holofernes led her into the tent, where she slept till midnight. In the night watch just before dawn, she rose6 and sent this message to Holofernes, "Give orders, my lord, to let your handmaid go out for prayer."7 So Holofernes ordered his bodyguard not to hinder her. Thus she stayed in the camp three days. Each night she went out to the ravine of Bethulia, where she washed herself at the spring of the camp.8 After bathing, she besought the Lord, the God of Israel, to direct her way for the triumph of his people.9 Then she returned purified to the tent, and remained there until her food was brought to her toward evening.
10 On the fourth day Holofernes gave a banquet for his servants alone, to which he did not invite any of the officers. 11 And he said to Bagoas, the eunuch in charge of his household: "Go and persuade this Hebrew woman in your care to come and to eat and drink with us.12 It would be a disgrace for us to have such a woman with us without enjoying her company. If we do not entice her, she will laugh us to scorn."13 So Bagoas left the presence of Holofernes, and came to Judith and said, "So fair a maiden should not be reluctant to come to my lord to be honored by him, to enjoy drinking wine with us, and to be like one of the Assyrian women who live in the palace of Nebuchadnezzar."14 She replied, "Who am I to refuse my lord? Whatever is pleasing to him I will promptly do. This will be a joy for me till the day of my death."15 Thereupon she proceeded to put on her festive garments and all her feminine adornments. Meanwhile her maid went ahead and spread out on the ground for her in front of Holofernes the fleece Bagoas had furnished for her daily use in reclining at her dinner.16 Then Judith came in and reclined on it. The heart of Holofernes was in rapture over her, and his spirit was shaken. He was burning with the desire to possess her, for he had been biding his time to seduce her from the day he saw her.17 Holofernes said to her, "Drink and be merry with us!"18 Judith replied, "I will gladly drink, my lord, for at no time since I was born have I ever enjoyed life as much as I do today."19 She then took the things her maid had prepared, and ate and drank in his presence.20 Holofernes, charmed by her, drank a great quantity of wine, more than he had ever drunk on one single day in his life.
13 1 When it grew late, his servants quickly withdrew. Bagoas closed the tent from the outside and excluded the attendants from their master's presence. They went off to their beds, for they were all tired from the prolonged banquet.2 Judith was left alone in the tent with Holofernes, who lay prostrate on his bed, for he was sodden with wine.3 She had ordered her maid to stand outside the bedroom and wait, as on the other days, for her to come out; she said she would be going out for her prayer. To Bagoas she had said this also.
4 When all had departed, and no one, small or great, was left in the bedroom, Judith stood by Holofernes' bed and said within herself: "O Lord, God of all might, in this hour look graciously on my undertaking for the exaltation of Jerusalem;
5 now is the time for aiding your heritage and for carrying out my design to shatter the enemies who have risen against us."
6 She went to the bedpost near the head of Holofernes, and taking his sword from it,7 drew close to the bed, grasped the hair of his head, and said, "Strengthen me this day, O God of Israel!"8 Then with all her might she struck him twice in the neck and cut off his head. 9 She rolled his body off the bed and took the canopy from its supports. Soon afterward, she came out and handed over the head of Holofernes to her maid,
10 who put it into her food pouch; and the two went off together as they were accustomed to do for prayer. They passed through the camp, and skirting the ravine, reached Bethulia on the mountain. As they approached its gates,
11 Judith shouted to the guards from a distance: "Open! Open the gate! God, our God, is with us. Once more he has made manifest his strength in Israel and his power against our enemies; he has done it this very day."12 When the citizens heard her voice, they quickly descended to their city gate and summoned the city elders.13 All the people, from the least to the greatest, hurriedly assembled, for her return seemed unbelievable. They opened the gate and welcomed the two women. They made a fire for light; and when they gathered around the two,14 Judith urged them with a loud voice: "Praise God, praise him! Praise God, who has not withdrawn his mercy from the house of Israel, but has shattered our enemies by my hand this very night."15 Then she took the head out of the pouch, showed it to them, and said: "Here is the head of Holofernes, general in charge of the Assyrian army, and here is the canopy under which he lay in his drunkenness. The Lord struck him down by the hand of a woman.16 As the Lord lives, who has protected me in the path I have followed, I swear that it was my face that seduced Holofernes to his ruin, and that he did not sin with me to my defilement or disgrace."
17 All the people were greatly astonished. They bowed down and worshiped God, saying with one accord, "Blessed are you, our God, who today have brought to nought the enemies of your people."
18 Then Uzziah said to her: "Blessed are you, daughter, by the Most High God, above all the women on earth; and blessed be the Lord God, the creator of heaven and earth, who guided your blow at the head of the chief of our enemies.
19 Your deed of hope will never be forgotten by those who tell of the might of God.
20 May God make this redound to your everlasting honor, rewarding you with blessings, because you risked your life when your people were being oppressed, and you averted our disaster, walking uprightly before our God." And all the people answered, "Amen! Amen!"
14 1 Then Judith said to them: "Listen to me, my brothers. Take this head and hang it on the parapet of your wall.2 At daybreak, when the sun rises on the earth, let each of you seize his weapons, and let all the able-bodied men rush out of the city under command of a captain, as if about to go down into the plain against the advance guard of the Assyrians, but without going down.3 They will seize their armor and hurry to their camp to awaken the generals of the Assyrian army. When they run to the tent of Holofernes and do not find him, panic will seize them, and they will flee before you.4 Then you and all the other inhabitants of the whole territory of Israel will pursue them and strike them down in their tracks.
5 But before doing this, summon for me Achior the Ammonite, that he may see and recognize the one who despised the house of Israel and sent him here to meet his death."6 So they called Achior from the house of Uzziah. When he came and saw the head of Holofernes in the hand of one of the men in the assembly of the people, he fell forward in a faint.
7 Then, after they lifted him up, he threw himself at the feet of Judith in homage, saying: "Blessed are you in every tent of Judah; and in every foreign nation, all who hear of you will be struck with terror.
8 But now, tell me all that you did during these days." So Judith told him, in the presence of the people, all that she had been doing from the day she left till the time she began speaking to them.9 When she finished her account, the people cheered loudly, and their city resounded with shouts of joy.10 Now Achior, seeing all that the God of Israel had done, believed firmly in him. He had the flesh of his foreskin circumcised, and he has been united with the house of Israel to the present day.
11 At daybreak they hung the head of Holofernes on the wall. Then all the Israelite men took up their arms and went to the slopes of the mountain.12 When the Assyrians saw them, they notified their captains; these, in turn, went to the generals and division leaders and all their other commanders.13 They came to the tent of Holofernes and said to the one in charge of all his things, "Waken our master, for the slaves have dared come down to give us battle, to their utter destruction."14 Bagoas went in, and knocked at the entry of the tent, presuming that he was sleeping with Judith.15 As no one answered, he parted the curtains, entered the bedroom, and found him lying on the floor, a headless corpse.16 He broke into a loud clamor of weeping, groaning, and howling, and rent his garments.17 Then he entered the tent where Judith had her quarters; and, not finding her, he rushed out to the troops and cried:18 "The slaves have duped us! A single Hebrew woman has brought disgrace on the house of King Nebuchadnezzar. Here is Holofernes headless on the ground!"19 When the commanders of the Assyrian army heard these words, they rent their tunics and were seized with consternation. Loud screaming and howling arose in the camp.
15 1 On hearing what had happened, those still in their tents were amazed,2 and overcome with fear and trembling. No one kept ranks any longer; they scattered in all directions, and fled along every road, both through the valley and in the mountains.3 Those also who were stationed in the mountain district around Bethulia took to flight. Then all the Israelite warriors overwhelmed them.4 Uzziah sent messengers to Betomasthaim, to Choba and Kona, and to the whole country of Israel to report what had happened, that all might fall upon the enemy and destroy them.5 On hearing this, all the Israelites, with one accord, attacked them and cut them down as far as Choba. Even those from Jerusalem and the rest of the mountain region took part in this, for they too had been notified of the happenings in the camp of their enemies. The Gileadites and the Galileans struck the enemy's flanks with great slaughter, even beyond Damascus and its territory.6 The remaining inhabitants of Bethulia swept down on the camp of the Assyrians, plundered it, and acquired great riches.7 The Israelites who returned from the slaughter took possession of what was left, till the towns and villages in the mountains and on the plain were crammed with the enormous quantity of booty they had seized.
8 The high priest Joakim and the elders of the Israelites, who dwelt in Jerusalem, came to see for themselves the good things that the Lord had done for Israel, and to meet and congratulate Judith.
9 When they had visited her, all with one accord blessed her, saying: "You are the glory of Jerusalem, the surpassing joy of Israel; You are the splendid boast of our people.
10 With your own hand you have done all this; You have done good to Israel, and God is pleased with what you have wrought. May you be blessed by the Lord Almighty forever and ever!" And all the people answered, "Amen!"
11 For thirty days the whole populace plundered the camp, giving Judith the tent of Holofernes, with all his silver, his couches, his dishes, and all his furniture, which she accepted. She harnessed her mules, hitched her wagons to them, and loaded these things on them.12 All the women of Israel gathered to see her; and they blessed her and performed a dance in her honor. She took branches in her hands and distributed them to the women around her,13 and she and the other women crowned themselves with garlands of olive leaves. At the head of all the people, she led the women in the dance, while the men of Israel followed in their armor, wearing garlands and singing hymns.
14 Judith led all Israel in this song of thanksgiving, and the people swelled this hymn of praise:
16 1 "Strike up the instruments, a song to my God with timbrels, chant to the Lord with cymbals; Sing to him a new song, exalt and acclaim his name.
2 For the Lord is God; he crushes warfare, and sets his encampment among his people; he snatched me from the hands of my presecutors.
3 "The Assyrian came from the mountains of the north, with the myriads of his forces he came; Their numbers blocked the torrents, their horses covered the hills.
4 He threatened to burn my land, put my youths to the sword, Dash my babes to the ground, make my children a prey, and seize my virgins as spoil.
5 "But the Lord Almighty thwarted them, by a woman's hand he confounded them.
6 Not by youths was their mighty one struck down, nor did titans bring him low, nor huge giants attack him; But Judith, the daughter of Merari, by the beauty of her countenance disabled him.
7 She took off her widow's garb to raise up the afflicted in Israel. She anointed her face with fragrant oil;
8 with a fillet she fastened her tresses, and put on a linen robe to beguile him.
9 Her sandals caught his eyes, and her beauty captivated his mind. The sword cut through his neck.
10 "The Persians were dismayed at her daring, the Medes appalled at her boldness.
11 When my lowly ones shouted, they were terrified; when my weaklings cried out, they trembled; at the sound of their war cry, they took to flight.
12 Sons of slave girls pierced them through; the supposed sons of rebel mothers cut them down; they perished before the ranks of my Lord.
13 "A new hymn I will sing to my God. O Lord, great are you and glorious, wonderful in power and unsurpassable.
14 Let your every creature serve you; for you spoke, and they were made, You sent forth your spirit, and they were created; no one can resist your word.
15 The mountains to their bases, and the seas, are shaken; the rocks, like wax, melt before your glance. "But to those who fear you, you are very merciful.
16 Though the sweet odor of every sacrifice is a trifle, and the fat of all holocausts but little in your sight, one who fears the Lord is forever great.
17 "Woe to the nations that rise against my people! the Lord Almighty will requite them; in the day of judgment he will punish them: He will send fire and worms into their flesh, and they shall burn and suffer forever."
18 The people then went to Jerusalem to worship God; when they were purified, they offered their holocausts, freewill offerings, and gifts. 19 Judith dedicated, as a votive offering to God, all the things of Holofernes that the people had given her, as well as the canopy that she herself had taken from his bedroom.
20 For three months the people continued their celebration in Jerusalem before the sanctuary, and Judith remained with them.
21 When those days were over, each one returned to his inheritance. Judith went back to Bethulia and remained on her estate. For the rest of her life she was renowned throughout the land.
22 Many wished to marry her, but she gave herself to no man all the days of her life from the time of the death and burial of her husband, Manasseh.
23 She lived to be very old in the house of her husband, reaching the advanced age of a hundred and five. She died in Bethulia, where they buried her in the tomb of her husband, Manasseh;
24 and the house of Israel mourned her for seven days. Before she died, she distributed her goods to the relatives of her husband, Manasseh, and to her own relatives; and to the maid she gave her freedom.
25 During the life of Judith and for a long time after her death, no one again disturbed the Israelites.
Judith (NAB) 10