Judith 11

Chapter 11

1 Then Holofernes said to her, “Have courage, woman! You have no reason to fear. I have never done harm to anyone who chose to serve Nebuchadnezzar, the king of the whole earth. 2 As for your people who dwell in the hill country, if they had not insulted me, I would never have raised my spear against them. They have brought this on themselves. 3 But now tell me why you have fled from them and have come over to us. In any case, you have guaranteed your safety by joining us. Have courage! You will survive this night and countless nights thereafter. 4 No one will harm you. On the contrary, you will be well treated, as is true of all the subjects of my lord, King Nebuchadnezzar.”

5 Judith replied, “Please listen to the words of your servant, and allow your handmaid to speak in your presence. I will utter no deceitful untruth to my lord this night. 6 If you follow the advice of your handmaid, God will grant success to your efforts, and my lord will not fail to achieve any of his purposes. 7 By the life of Nebuchadnezzar, the king of all the earth, and by the power of him who has sent you to bring a sense of order to the lives of all creatures! Not only do all people serve him through you, but even the wild beasts, the cattle, and the birds of the air as a result of your power will live in the service of Nebuchadnezzar and his entire house! 8 We have indeed heard of your wisdom and cleverness. You are renowned everywhere throughout the whole world as being unsurpassed in ability anywhere in the kingdom, a man of superior intellect and brilliant as a military tactician.

9 “We have also learned of Achior’s speech to your council. When the men of Bethulia spared him, he told them everything he had said to you. 10 Please do not disregard his words, but keep them in mind, for what he said is true. Our people cannot be punished nor will the sword prevail over them unless they sin against their God. 11 But now, my lord, you will not experience any defeat or failure, for sin has permeated their lives and they are doomed to die.

12 “Since their food supply is exhausted and their water is desperately low, they have decided to slaughter their animals, and they are determined to consume all the things that God by his laws has forbidden them to eat. 13 They have decided to eat the firstfruits of the grain and the tithes of oil and wine that they had consecrated and reserved for the priests who minister in the presence of our God in Jerusalem—things it is unlawful for any layperson to so much as touch. 14 They have sent messengers to Jerusalem to seek authorization from the council of elders, since even the people there have been doing these things. 15 On the very day that authorization arrives and they act upon it, they will be handed over to you to be destroyed.

16 “When I, your servant, learned all this, I fled from them. God has sent me to accomplish with you such deeds that will astonish people throughout the world whenever they learn about them. 17 [a]I, your servant, am a God-fearing woman, and I worship the God of heaven night and day. Now, my lord, I ask your authorization to remain with you. Every night your servant will go out into the valley and pray to God. He will reveal to me when they have committed their sinful acts. 18 Then I will come and let you know, so that you may go out with your whole army, and none of them will be able to withstand you. 19 I will guide you through Judea until you reach Jerusalem, and there I will set up your throne in the very center of the city. You will drive them as if they were sheep without a shepherd, and not even a dog will dare to growl at you. I have been granted foreknowledge of this; it was revealed to me, and I have been sent to proclaim it to you.”

20 No Other Woman Is Her Equal! Her words pleased Holofernes and all his attendants. They marveled at her wisdom and exclaimed, 21 “No other woman from one end of the earth to the other is her equal in beauty and in wisdom of speech!” 22 Then Holofernes said to her, “God has done well in sending you ahead of your people so that victory will be ours and destruction will be the fate of those who have insulted my lord. 23 Not only are you beautiful to behold, but you are eloquent in your wisdom. If you do as you have promised, your God shall be my God; furthermore, you shall dwell in the palace of King Nebuchadnezzar and you shall be renowned throughout the entire world.”

Footnotes

  1. Judith 11:17 Judith takes advantage of the idea of the pagans who believed in divine communications given as oracles in determinate places almost always at night, and says that she is going to receive the orders of her God outside the camp. She does this so as to have ease of flight once Holofernes is slain (see Jud 13:10).

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