Triumph of the People of God
Response to the News of Holofernes’s Death
Judith’s Counsel. 1 Then Judith said to them, “Listen to me, my friends. Take this head and hang it upon the parapet of your wall. 2 Then at daybreak, as soon as the sun rises, all of you should take up your weapons, and let all the able-bodied men march out of the city under the direction of a leader, as if you were about to march down to the plain to attack the Assyrian outpost. But do not go down. 3 Their soldiers will seize their weapons and go into the camp to rouse the commanders of the Assyrian army. When they rush 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 who live within the borders of Israel will pursue them and cut them down in their tracks. 5 [a]But before you do all this, bring Achior the Ammonite to me so that he may see and recognize the man who treated the house of Israel with contempt and sent him to us as if to his death.”
Achior Summoned. 6 Therefore, they summoned Achior from the house of Uzziah. When he came and saw the head of Holofernes held up by one of the men in the assembly of the people, he fell forward in a dead faint. 7 After they revived him, he threw himself at the feet of Judith and did homage to her. “Blessed are you in every tent in Judah,” he said, “and the people of every nation who hear your name will be terror-stricken. 8 But now please tell me everything that you did during these days.”
In the presence of the people Judith recounted all that she had done from the day she left until the very moment she began speaking to them. 9 When she had finished speaking, the people raised a great shout, and the town resounded with their cries of jubilation. 10 Upon seeing all that the God of Israel had done, Achior believed firmly in God. Therefore, he was circumcised, and he became a member of the community of Israel, as he is to the present day.
11 Consternation in the Camp.[b] At daybreak they hung the head of Holofernes on the wall. Then all the Israelite men took up their weapons and marched out in companies to the mountain passes. 12 When the Assyrians saw them, they sent word to their leaders, who immediately notified the generals and captains and all the other officers. 13 These in turn came to the tent of Holofernes and said to the steward in charge of all his personal affairs, “Wake up our master, for the slaves have had the audacity to come down to engage in battle against us, which will be their complete destruction.”
14 Bagoas went in and knocked at the entry of the tent, thinking Holofernes was sleeping with Judith. 15 But when no one answered, he parted the curtains, entered the bedchamber, and found him sprawled on the floor, dead, with his head missing. 16 He burst forth with a great cry, weeping and groaning and shouting, and he tore his garments. 17 Then he went into the tent that Judith had occupied, and when he did not find her, he rushed out to the assembled troops and shouted: 18 “The slaves have tricked us! A single Hebrew woman has brought disgrace on the house of King Nebuchadnezzar! Look! Holofernes is lying on the ground, headless!”
19 When the leaders of the Assyrian army heard these words, they tore their tunics and were greatly confounded. Loud cries and shouts arose in the camp.
- Judith 14:5 The courage of Achior the Ammonite is rewarded: he gives glory to the true God and is received in the holy community of Israel. In being converted, Achior begins to realize what awaits Israel: the salvation of non-Jews (Sir 36:1-3; Isa 60).
- Judith 14:11 Judith has proved right. Believing themselves attacked, the Assyrian soldiers run to get their arms. They already are treating the besieged people as slaves. However, a surprise awaits them: they discover the cadaver of the general-in-chief.