The Prayer of Judith[a]
Tribal Memories. 1 Then Judith prostrated herself, strewed ashes on her head, and uncovered the sackcloth she was wearing. At the same time when the evening incense was being offered in the temple of God in Jerusalem, Judith besought the Lord in a loud voice:
2 “O Lord, God of my ancestor Simeon,
you have armed him with a sword
so that he could exact vengeance on those foreigners
who had torn off a virgin’s girdle to defile her,
exposed her thighs to cause her to be ashamed,
and violated her womb to dishonor her.
“Even though you had warned them,
‘This must not happen,’
they proceeded to do so.[b]
3 As a result, you turned over their rulers
to be slaughtered,
and you covered with their blood
the bed that they had defiled with their treachery.
You struck down slaves as well as their princes,
even princes as they sat on their thrones.
4 You handed over their wives as booty
and sent their daughters into captivity,
and all the spoils you apportioned among your beloved sons
who had burned with zeal for you
and who in their abhorrence at the defilement of their kinswoman
called on you for help.
5 “O God, my God,
heed also the prayer of a widow.
You were the source of these events
and those that occurred before and those that followed.
You have planned what is happening now
and what will occur in the future.
Whatever you devise comes to pass.
6 The things you decide upon present themselves and proclaim:
‘Here we are.’
All your ways are prepared in advance,
and your judgment is made with foreknowledge.
Trust Only in God
7 “Here are the Assyrians,
a vast force, glorying in their horses and riders,
boasting of the strength of their foot soldiers,
and placing their trust in shield and spear, bow and sling.
They are not aware that you are the Lord
who obliterates wars;
the title of Lord is yours alone.
8 “Shatter their strength with your power
and crush their might in your wrath.
For they are determined to desecrate your sanctuary
and to defile the tabernacle where your glorious name resides,
and with their swords to cut down the horns of your altar.
9 Take note of their arrogance
and bring down your wrath on their heads.
Give me, a widow,
the strength of hand to accomplish my plan.
10 [c]By the guile of my lips
strike down the slave together with the master,
the ruler together with the servant.
Shatter their arrogance
by the hand of a woman.
11 “Your strength does not lie in numbers
nor does your power depend upon strong men.
You are the God of the lowly,
the helper of the oppressed,
the support of the weak,
the protector of the forsaken,
the savior of those who have lost all hope.
12 “Please, please, God of my forefather,
God of the heritage of Israel,
Lord of heaven and earth,
Creator of the waters,
king of all your creation,
hear my prayer.
13 Grant that my deceitful words may result
in the wounding and destruction of those
who have devised dire plans
against your covenant and against your temple,
against Mount Zion and the dwelling place your children have inherited.
14 Let your whole nation and all its tribes clearly understand
that you are God,
the God of all power and might,
and that there is no other who protects the people of Israel
but you alone.”
- Judith 9:1 It is the hour of evening prayer. In union with the worshipers in the temple, Judith prostrates herself and addresses a long prayer to God (see Neh 9:5f; Tob 3:1f; 4:11f; Est 4:17f).
- Judith 9:2 The virgin referred to was Dinah, daughter of Jacob, who was victimized by the Hivite Shechem (Gen 34:2). In revenge, Dinah’s brothers, Simeon and Levi, persuaded Shechem and the men of his city into being circumcised and then slew them while they lay weak in bed (see Gen 34:13-29).
- Judith 9:10 Judith proposes to captivate Holofernes with her beauty and then slay him. She could do this legitimately using guile and violence because Holofernes was waging war on Bethulia.