The Holy See
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2002 11 11
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Chapter 12


Then he ordered them to lead her into the room where his silverware was kept, and bade them set a table for her with his own delicacies to eat and his own wine to drink.


But Judith said, "I will not partake of them, lest it be an occasion of sin; but I shall be amply supplied from the things I brought with me."


Holofernes asked her: "But if your provisions give out, where shall we get more of the same to provide for you? None of your people are with us."


Judith answered him, "As surely as you, my lord, live, your handmaid will not use up her supplies till the Lord accomplishes by my hand what he has determined."


Then the servants of Holofernes led her into the tent, where she slept till midnight. In the night watch just before dawn, she rose


and sent this message to Holofernes, "Give orders, my lord, to let your handmaid go out for prayer."


So Holofernes ordered his bodyguard not to hinder her. Thus she stayed in the camp three days. Each night she went out to the ravine of Bethulia, where she washed herself at the spring of the camp.


After bathing, she besought the Lord, the God of Israel, to direct her way for the triumph of his people.


Then she returned purified to the tent, and remained there until her food was brought to her toward evening.


1 On the fourth day Holofernes gave a banquet for his servants alone, to which he did not invite any of the officers.


And he said to Bagoas, the eunuch in charge of his household: "Go and persuade this Hebrew woman in your care to come and to eat and drink with us.


It would be a disgrace for us to have such a woman with us without enjoying her company. If we do not entice her, she will laugh us to scorn."


So Bagoas left the presence of Holofernes, and came to Judith and said, "So fair a maiden should not be reluctant to come to my lord to be honored by him, to enjoy drinking wine with us, and to be like one of the Assyrian women who live in the palace of Nebuchadnezzar."


She replied, "Who am I to refuse my lord? Whatever is pleasing to him I will promptly do. This will be a joy for me till the day of my death."


Thereupon she proceeded to put on her festive garments and all her feminine adornments. Meanwhile her maid went ahead and spread out on the ground for her in front of Holofernes the fleece Bagoas had furnished for her daily use in reclining at her dinner.


Then Judith came in and reclined on it. The heart of Holofernes was in rapture over her, and his spirit was shaken. He was burning with the desire to possess her, for he had been biding his time to seduce her from the day he saw her.


Holofernes said to her, "Drink and be merry with us!"


Judith replied, "I will gladly drink, my lord, for at no time since I was born have I ever enjoyed life as much as I do today."


She then took the things her maid had prepared, and ate and drank in his presence.


Holofernes, charmed by her, drank a great quantity of wine, more than he had ever drunk on one single day in his life.



1 [10] Banquet for his servants alone . . . officers: Holofernes invited the officials of his household, but not the officers of his army, who were needed for military duty.

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