Judith 10

Judith Goes to War

Chapter 10

The Preparations. 1 When Judith had concluded her petition to the God of Israel and had ended all these words, 2 she rose from the ground where she had been lying prostrate, summoned her maid, and went down into the house, whose use she restricted only to Sabbaths and feast days. 3 Removing the sackcloth she had been wearing and laying aside her widow’s garb, she bathed her body with water and anointed herself with precious perfumes. She arranged her hair, tied a ribbon around it, and donned the festive attire she was accustomed to wear when her husband Manasseh was still alive. 4 She put sandals on her feet and arrayed herself with anklets, bracelets, rings, earrings, and all her jewelry. In this way she made herself beautiful enough to entice the eyes of all the men who might see her.

5 She gave her maid a skin of wine and a flask of oil, and she filled a bag with roasted grain, cakes of dried figs, bread, and cheese. Wrapping up all these provisions, she gave them to the maid as well.[a]

6 They then went out to the town gate of Bethulia, where they found Uzziah waiting with the elders of the city, Chabris and Charmis. 7 When they beheld Judith transformed in looks and dressed quite differently, they were amazed at her beauty and said to her, 8 “May the God of our ancestors grant his favor to you and crown your efforts with success, so that the Israelites may be glorified and Jerusalem may be exalted.”

Judith bowed down to God. Then she said to them, 9 “Order that the town gate be opened for me so that I may go forth and carry out the things you have just said to me.” They complied with her request and ordered the young men to open the gate for her. 10 When they had done so, Judith went out, accompanied by her maid. The men of the city continued to watch her until she went down the mountain and crossed the valley, at which point they lost sight of her.

11 In the Enemy Camp. As the two women were proceeding straight across the valley, they were intercepted by an Assyrian patrol. 12 [b]The soldiers took Judith into custody and asked her, “To what people do you belong? Where have you come from, and where are you going?” “I am a daughter of the Hebrews,” she replied, “and I am fleeing from them, because they are about to be delivered into your hands and become your prey. 13 I am on my way to see Holofernes, the commander-in-chief of your army, to give him a trustworthy intelligence report. I will show him a route by which he can gain control of the entire hill country without a single one of his men being either injured or slain.”

14 As the soldiers listened to what she had to say, they gazed upon her face and marveled at her beauty. 15 “By coming down so promptly to see our master, you have saved your life,” they said. “Go immediately to his tent. Some of us will escort you and present you to him. 16 When you are in his presence, do not be afraid. Just report to him what you have told us, and he will treat you well.” 17 Then they detailed a hundred of their men to serve as an escort for her and her maid, and they brought them to the tent of Holofernes.

18 When the news of her arrival spread through the tents of the camp, a crowd gathered around her as she stood outside the tent of Holofernes while he was being informed about her. 19 They were filled with admiration for her beauty, which caused them to feel a sense of wonder in respect to all the Israelites. They said to one another, “How can anyone despise these people who have women like this among them? It would be a wise move on our part not to leave a single one of their men alive, for if they get away, they will be able to beguile the entire world.”

Judith Meets Holofernes

20 First Meeting. Then the bodyguards of Holofernes and all of his attendants came out and escorted her into the tent. 21 Holofernes was reclining on his bed under a canopy of purple and gold decorated with emeralds and other precious stones. 22 When they announced her to him, he came to the entrance of the tent, with lamps of silver borne before him. 23 As Judith came into the presence of Holofernes and his attendants, they all marveled at the beauty of her face. She prostrated herself before him and paid him homage, but his attendants raised her up.

Footnotes

  1. Judith 10:5 Judith brought food with her so as not to be made unclean by taking pagan food.
  2. Judith 10:12 Judith’s use of deceit here and in 11:5-19 is in accord with Old Testament morality (see Gen 27:1-25; 34:13-29; 37:32ff; Jos 2:1-7; Jdg 4:17-22).

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