Judith’s Conduct. 1 Then he commanded them to bring her to the room where his silver dinnerware was kept, and he gave orders that a table be set for her with some of his own delicacies to eat and his own wine to drink. 2 But Judith said, “I cannot partake of these, in case doing so might cause me to break our law. What I have brought with me will be sufficient for my needs.” 3 “Should your provisions run out,” Holofernes asked her, “where can we acquire more of the same kind to replenish your supply? None of your people are here with us.” 4 Judith replied, “As surely as you live, my lord, your servant will not use up the supplies I have with me before the Lord accomplishes by my hand what he has foreordained.”
5 Then the attendants of Holofernes led her into the tent, where she slept until midnight. Shortly before the morning watch she arose 6 and sent this message to Holofernes: “Please give orders, my lord, to allow your servant to go out and pray.” 7 Holofernes commanded his guards not to restrict her movements. She remained in the camp for three days, going out each night to the Valley of Bethulia and bathing in the spring of the camp. 8 After bathing, she would implore the Lord, the God of Israel, to guide her way toward the triumph of his people. 9 Then she would return, purified, to the camp and remain in the tent until she took her evening meal.
Judith Overcomes Holofernes
10 The Tragic Banquet. On the fourth day Holofernes held a banquet for his personal attendants only. None of his army officers was invited. 11 He said to Bagoas, the eunuch in charge of his personal affairs, “Go to the Hebrew woman who is in your care and persuade her to come and join us and to eat and drink in our company. 12 We would be disgraced if we let such a woman go without enjoying her favors. If we do not seduce her, she will laugh us to scorn.”
13 So Bagoas left the presence of Holofernes and approached Judith. “My fair maiden,” he said, “do not be reluctant to come to my lord and enjoy the honor of his company. Enjoy yourself, drink wine with us, and behave today like one of the Assyrian women who are in attendance at the palace of Nebuchadnezzar.” 14 “Who am I to refuse my lord?” Judith replied. “I am eager to do promptly whatever is pleasing to him, and that will be a source of joy to me until the day of my death.”
15 Thereupon she proceeded to adorn herself with her festive garments and all her feminine finery. Her maid went ahead of her and spread out on the ground for her in front of Holofernes the fleece[a] she had received from Bagoas on which she might recline while dining. 16 Then Judith came in and took her place. Holofernes was overcome with desire for her, and his passion was aroused. He had been waiting for an opportunity to seduce her from the day he had first laid eyes on her. 17 He said to her, “Drink, and be merry with us!” 18 “I will gladly do so, my lord,” Judith replied, “for today is the greatest day of my life.” 19 Then she took what her maid had prepared, and she ate and drank in his presence. 20 Holofernes was so enchanted with her that he drank a great quantity of wine, more than he had ever drunk on any one day in his entire life.
- Judith 12:15 Fleece: a carpet on which one could stretch out to eat according to custom in the East.