Judith 16

Chapter 16

1 “Break into song to my God with tambourines,
sing to the Lord with cymbals.
Offer to him a psalm of praise,
exalt him and invoke his name.
2 For the Lord is a God who crushes warfare
and establishes his camp in the midst of his people;
he delivered me from the hands of my oppressors.
3 “The Assyrian descended from the mountains of the north,
with myriads of his warriors he came.
Their troops choked the valleys
and their cavalry covered the hills.
4 He threatened to set my country aflame
and put my young men to the sword,
dash my infants to the ground,
seize my children as booty,
and carry off my virgins as spoil.
5 “But the Lord Almighty has thwarted them
by the hand of a woman.
6 For their mighty one was not brought low by young men;
no titans[a] struck him down,
nor did tall giants assault him.
But Judith, the daughter of Merari,
overcame him by the beauty of her face.
7 She laid aside her widow’s garb
to raise up the oppressed in Israel.
She anointed her face with perfume,
8 bound up her hair with a fillet,
and donned a linen gown to beguile him.
9 Her sandal attracted his gaze,
her beauty captivated his mind,
and the sword cut through his neck.
10 “The Persians quaked at her audacity,
the Medes cowered at her daring.
11 When my lowly ones shouted, they were terrified;
when my weak ones cried out, they trembled,
and when they raised their voices, the enemy took to flight.
12 The sons of slave girls ran them through
and wounded them like the children of deserters;
they perished before the army of my Lord.
13 “I will sing a new hymn to my God.
O Lord, you are great and glorious,
wonderful in strength, invincible.
14 Let all your creatures serve you,
for you spoke and they were made.
You sent forth your spirit and they were created;
no one can resist your voice.
15 The mountains are shaken to their foundations;
at your glance the rocks melt like wax.
“But to those who fear you
you still show compassion.
16 The fragrant offering of a sacrifice is a small thing,
as is the fat of all burnt offerings in your sight,
but whoever fears the Lord is great forever.
17 “Woe to the nations that rise up against my people.
The Lord Almighty will punish them on the day of judgment.
He will send fire and worms into their flesh;
they shall weep with pain forever.”

Thanksgiving at Jerusalem

18 The people then went to worship God at Jerusalem. As soon as the people were purified, they presented their holocausts, their free-will offerings, and their gifts. 19 Judith presented to God as a votive offering all the possessions of Holofernes that the people had given to her, as well as the canopy that she had taken for herself from his bedchamber. 20 For three months the people continued their celebration in Jerusalem before the sanctuary, and Judith stayed with them.

Epilogue

21 When those days ended, they all returned to their homes. Judith went to Bethulia and remained on her estate. For the rest of her life she was honored throughout the whole country. 22 Even though she received many proposals of marriage, she gave herself to no man from the time that her husband Manasseh died and was gathered to his ancestors. 23 Her reputation continued to grow as her years increased, and she lived in her husband’s house until her death at the advanced age of one hundred and five. She set her maid free, died in Bethulia, and was buried in the cave where her husband Manasseh was interred. 24 The house of Israel mourned her for seven days. Prior to her death she distributed her property to the close relatives of her husband Manasseh and to her own relatives.

25 During the lifetime of Judith and for a long time after her death, no one again dared to threaten the Israelites.[b]

Footnotes

  1. Judith 16:6 Titans and giants were current terms derived from Greek mythology.
  2. Judith 16:25 The Book ends on the same note as the ending of some of the stories in the Book of Judges: during the lifetime of Judith and for a long time after her death, no one again dared to spread terror among the Israelites (see Jdg 3:11, 30; 5:31; 8:28). The last part of the Book is also reminiscent of events in Judges. Bagoas’s discovery of Holofernes’s body recalls the discovery of Eglon (see Jdg 3:23-25); the fake attack by the Israelites recalls Gideon’s ploy (see Jdg 7:16-22); and the person of Judith recalls Deborah and Jael (Jdg 4–5). The Book also recalls the pattern of the stories in Judges: (1) the people are afflicted; (2) they call upon the Lord; (3) the Lord sends them a judge; (4) they are favored with peace throughout the lifetime of the judge.
    The Vulgate adds a note at the end of the chapter (v. 31) concerning the feast day on which Judith’s victory is celebrated: “31The day of festivity of this victory is received by the Hebrews in the number of their holy days, and is religiously observed by them from that day to this” [see Est 9:27f]. Although there is no evidence of this in the calendar, in Jewish folklore, the story of Judith is connected with the Feast of Hanukkah, the celebration of the purification of the temple at the time of the Maccabees (when the Book was most likely written). Some authors maintain that Judith was read in the synagogue at Hanukkah. Judith thus has a relation to Passover, Weeks, and Sukkoth.

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