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2002 11 11
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Chapter 10


As soon as Judith had thus concluded, and ceased her invocation to the God of Israel,


she rose from the ground. She called her maid and they went down into the house, which she used only on sabbaths and feast days.


She took off the sackcloth she had on, laid aside the garments of her widowhood, washed her body with water, and anointed it with rich ointment. She arranged her hair and bound it with a fillet, and put on the festive attire she had worn while her husband, Manasseh, was living.


She chose sandals for her feet, and put on her anklets, bracelets, rings, earrings, and all her other jewelry. Thus she made herself very beautiful, to captivate the eyes of all the men who should see her.


She gave her maid a leather flask of wine and a cruse of oil. She filled a bag with roasted grain, fig cakes, bread and cheese; all these provisions she wrapped up and gave to the maid to carry.


Then they went out to the gate of the city of Bethulia and found Uzziah and the elders of the city, Chabri and Charmis, standing there.


When these men saw Judith transformed in looks and differently dressed, they were very much astounded at her beauty and said to her,


"May the God of our fathers bring you to favor, and make your undertaking a success, for the glory of the Israelites and the exaltation of Jerusalem." Judith bowed down to God. Then she said to them,


"Order the gate of the city opened for me, that I may go to carry out the business we discussed." So they ordered the youths to open the gate for her as she requested.


When they did so, Judith and her maid went out. The men of the city kept her in view as she went down the mountain and crossed the valley; then they lost sight of her.


As Judith and her maid walked directly across the valley, they encountered the Assyrian outpost.


1 The men took her in custody and asked her, "To what people do you belong? Where do you come from, and where are you going?" She replied: "I am a daughter of the Hebrews, and I am fleeing from them, because they are about to be delivered up to you as prey.


I have come to see Holofernes, the general in chief of your forces, to give him a trustworthy report; I will show him the route by which he can ascend and take possession of the whole mountain district without a single one of his men suffering injury or loss of life."


When the men heard her words and gazed upon her face, which appeared wondrously beautiful to them, they said to her,


"By coming down thus promptly to see our master, you have saved your life. Now go to his tent; some of our men will accompany you to present you to him.


When you stand before him, have no fear in your heart; give him the report you speak of, and he will treat you well."


So they detailed a hundred of their men as an escort for her and her maid, and these conducted them to the tent of Holofernes.


When the news of her arrival spread among the tents, a crowd gathered in the camp. They came and stood around her as she waited outside the tent of Holofernes, while he was being informed about her.


They marveled at her beauty, regarding the Israelites with wonder because of her, and they said to one another, "Who can despise this people that has such women among them? It is not wise to leave one man of them alive, for if any were to be spared they could beguile the whole world."


The guard of Holofernes and all his servants came out and ushered her into the tent.


Now Holofernes was reclining on his bed under a canopy with a netting of crimson and gold, emeralds and other precious stones.


When they announced her to him, he came out to the antechamber, preceded by silver lamps;


and when Holofernes and his servants beheld Judith, they all marveled at the beauty of her face. She threw herself down prostrate before him, but his servants raised her up.



1 [12] (12-13) The deceitful means used by Judith against Holofernes, here and in Judith 11:5-19, are to be judged in the light of the moral concepts of Old Testament times; cf Genesis 27:1-25; 34:13-29; 37:32-34; Joshua 2:1-7; Judges 4:17-22.

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