When one first reads the book of Judith it seems like a work of fiction. The book has a very slow beginning, devoting seven chapters to the power of King Nebuchadnezzar and his powerful army, which the king feels will be able to control the world, as he understands it. The world, for the king could more aptly be considered to be the Mediterranean World. His armies lay siege to an insignificant Samaritan community called Bethilia, hoping to starve the citizens into surrender. Six chapters finally bring the reader to this point.

The general who is in charge, who is the leading general in the army of Nebuchadnezzar is Holofernes, who, in the first six chapters has seemingly conquered much of the territory for his king. Chapter seven describes the situation during the siege of Bethulia.

Finally the author of the book of Judith introduces Judith. She is a fabulously beautiful young widow, who is very pious and seeks to do what she feels is the will of God. The people are at a loss as to how they might be able to cope with the siege and Judith offers that she will take care of the entire situation.

She lays aside her widow’s clothing, and having made herself to be alluring appears near the tent of the General, who is informed about the beautiful and alluring young lady in the area. Holofernes invites her in but she gives the impression of her willingness but her religious beliefs prevent her from accepting the general’s desire. A week must pass first, followed by her providing a feast for the person who wants her.

The feast takes place and there is much drinking, to the point that the general passes out, and Judith, using the general’s sword, decapitates him and presents his head to the town of Bethulia. The book concludes with a hymn of praise presented by Judith.

The book sparked some opposing feelings within Judaism. Some felt since Judith was a widow she must continue wearing widow’s clothing and not venture into the presence of the general for she was acting as an adulterous. Others hailed her as a wonderful means, used by God, to halt the power of King Nebuchadnezzar.

While the book may have been written in Hebrew there are no ancient manuscripts. There are some very late manuscripts which appear to have been translated from Greek into Hebrew. The book appears in three recensions: Aleph, A, and B. Scholars feel that it was written in Greek in the second century BCE. The setting seems to be post-exilic. Words that are in brackets [ ] are from a different recension.

The references to history and geography are not exact, and improbable. The geography, especially in the first two chapters is far from correct. Even the location of Bethulia is unknown. The characters of the book and the message of the book appear to be ironic. To have one woman defeat the mightiest army of the time with her scheming has resulted in many people considering it to be a novel.

Scholars feel that the writer must have had some affiliation with the Pharisees because of its concern about laws, obedience to the law, etc.



Arphaxad Fortifies Ecbatana

1 In the twelfth year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, [1] the ruler of the Assyrians in the great city of Nineveh, and Arphaxad ruled over the Medes in Ecbatana, 2 he built walls around Ecbatana made of hewn stones which were four and a half feet thick, nine feet long, and built the walls one hundred five feet tall and seventy five feet wide. [2] 3 He built towers at the gates that were one hundred fifty feet high and ninety feet wide at their foundations. [3] 4 He made the gates one hundred five feet tall and sixty feet wide, in order to allow the army’s infantry regiments to march through the gates in formation. 5 King Nebuchadnezzar then made war against King Arphaxad in the great plain that lies along the border of Ragau. 6 He was joined by all the people from the hill country and all those who lived along the Euphrates, the Tigris, and the Hydaspes, [4] and on the plain he was joined by King Arioch, of Elymeans. Therefore, many nations joined the forces of the Chaldeans.

Nebuchadnezzar Issues an Ultimatum

7 It was then that King Nebuchadnezzar of Assyria sent messengers to all who lived in Persia, along with all who lived toward the west: those living in Cilicia and Damascus, Lebanon and Antilebanon, along with those who lived along the sea coast, 8 and those who lived among the regions of Carmel and Gilead, Upper Galilee and the great plain of Esdraelon, 9 and those who lived in Samaria and its towns, and as far as Jerusalem, Bethany Chelous, Kadesh, and the river of Egypt, including Tahpanhes, Raamses, the entire land of Goshen, 10 extending as far as Tanis, Memphis, all of the residents of Egypt as far as the borders of Ethiopia. 11 Those who lived in these regions disregarded the summons of Nebuchadnezzar, king of the Assyrians, and refused to join him in war, since they did not fear him, but regarded him merely as a man. Therefore they sent back his messengers empty-handed and disgraced.

12 Then Nebuchadnezzar became exceedingly angry with the entire region, and vowed, by his throne and kingdom that he would take revenge on the entire territory of Cilicia, Damascus and Syria and that with his sword he would slaughter all the inhabitants of the land of Moab, the residents of Ammon, all of Judea and everyone living in Egypt, as far as the two seas.

Arphaxad is Defeated

13 In the seventeenth year he led his forces against King Arphaxad and defeated him in battle, defeating him, his entire army, including his entire cavalry and chariots in battle. 14 He then took possession of all the towns of King Arphaxad and came to Ecbatana, capturing its towers, plundering its markets, and turning its glory into disgrace. 15 He captured Arphaxad in the mountain area of Ragau, striking him down with a hunting spear, thus destroying him once and for all. 16 He then returned to Nineveh, he and his combined forces, a vast body of troops, and there his forces rested and feasted for one hundred and twenty days.


The Expedition Against theWest

1 In the eighteenth year, on the twenty-second day of the first month, [5] there was a talk in the palace of Nebuchadnezzar, king of the Assyrians, about carrying out his revenge against the entire region, just as he said. 2 He summoned all his advisors and all his nobles, and proposed his secret plan, giving a detailed explanation, personally presenting to them the wickedness of the region. [6] 3 Their decision was that everyone who had not obeyed the commandments of the king should be destroyed.

4 Upon the completion of the plans the king sent for Holofernes, [7] the chief general of his army, second only to himself, and ordered him, 5 “This is the message of the Great King, the lord of the entire earth: Leave my presence! Take warriors with you who are confident in their strength, one hundred twenty thousand foot soldiers, and twelve thousand cavalry. 6 Take this army on a campaign, attacking the land to the west [8] because they have disobeyed my orders. 7 Tell them to prepared earth and water, [9] for I am attacking you because of my anger and I will cover the earth with my marching troops, and will give them orders to plunder your land. 8 Your wounded will fill your ravines and gullies, and the swelling river will be filled with the dead. 9 I will lead away the survivors as captives to the distant ends of the earth. 10 My army will seize the entire territory for my advancing power, and you will be held for me until the day of punishment. 11 Know this! Those who resist will be shown no mercy, but are to be handed over to slaughter and plunder through out the entire region. 12 As surely as I am alive, I will, by the power of my kingdom, personally accomplish what I have said. 13 All those who are in my army must take care not to transgress any of your lord’s commands, but carry them out exactly as I have ordered! Do this without delay!”

The Campaign of Holofernes

14 Holofernes left the presence of his lord, and gave orders to all his commanders, generals and offices of the Assyrian army. 15 He mustered the select troops by divisions, as his lord had ordered: one hundred twenty thousand of them, together with twelve thousand archers on horseback, 16 and he organized them as a tremendous army that is prepared for a major campaign. 17 He also took along a vast number of camels, donkeys, and mules for transport, along with innumerable numbers of sheep, oxen and goats for food; 18 also other ample rations for the entire army, and a huge amount of gold and silver from the royal palace.

19 The entire army then advanced, that they might precede King Nebuchadnezzar and to cover the entire face of the earth to the west with their chariots, cavalry and select troops. 20 A mixed crowd of camp followers, like a swarm of locusts, like the sand, accompanied the troops, making a multitude that could not be counted. [10]

21 They marched for three days from Nineveh to the plain of Bectileth, [11] near the mountain that is to the north of Upper Cilicia. [12] 22 From there Holofernes took his entire army, infantry, cavalry and chariots, and went up into the hill country. 23 He ravaged Put and Lud, [13] and plundered Rassisites [14] and the Ishmaelites on the border of the desert [15] south of the country of the Chelleans. [16] 24 Holofernes then followed (or, crossed) the Euphrates, passing through Mesopotamia, and destroyed the fortified towns along the brook Abron, [17] as far as the sea. 25 He also seized the territory of Cilicia, and slaughtered everyone who resisted to him. Then he came to the southern borders of Japheth, facing Arabia. 26 He surrounded all the Midianites, and burned their tents and plundered their sheepfolds. 27 He then invaded the plain of Damascus during the wheat harvest [18] and burned all their fields, destroyed their flocks and herds and sacked their towns and ravaged their lands, and slaughtered all their young men with their swords

28 Fear and dread of Holofernes fell on all the people who lived along the coast, Sidon and Tyre, and all who lived in Sur and Ocina, and all who lived in Janmia. Those who lived in Azotus and Ascalon were terrified of him. [19]


Entreaties for Peace

1 They [20] therefore sent envoys as a peace delegation with a message: 2 “We, who are servants of Nebuchadnezzar, the Great King, lie prostrate before you. Do with us whatever you desire. 3 See our buildings, our entire land, our wheat fields, flocks, herds, and our encampments: [21] These all lie before you. Do with them as you please. 4 Our cities and their inhabitants are before you as your slaves. Deal with all this as seems proper for you.”

5 Those who heard the message of the peace envoys went to Holofernes, reporting all that had transpired. 6 Then he went down to the seacoast with his army and he stationed a garrison in the hilltop cities (or, fortified towns), and selected men from them that he considered would be his allies. 6 The people in the cities and the entire countryside welcomed him with garlands, dancing and tambourines. 8 In spite of their apparent acceptance of him, Holofernes destroyed their shrines [22] and cut down their sacred groves, since he had been commanded by King Nebuchadnezzar to destroy all the gods in the land, so that the nations would only worship Nebuchadnezzar, that all their languages and tribes should call upon him as a god.

9 He then came toward Esdraelon, near Dothan, facing the great ridge of Judea. 10 He camped between Geba and Seythopolis, [23] remaining there for an entire month in order to assemble all the needed supplies for his army.


Judea on the Alert

1 When the Israelites who lived in Judea heard of everything that Holofernes, the commander and chief of the army of King Nebuchadnezzar of Assyria had done to the nations: how he plundered and destroyed their temples, 2 they became exceedingly terrified at his approach, and feared for both Jerusalem and the temple of the Lord, their God. 3 It was recently that they had returned from exile, and all the people of Judea had just gathered together the sacred vessels that were used at the altar of the temple, and had recently consecrated the temple, after it had been profaned. 4 They therefore sent word to every district of Samaria: to Kona, Beth-horon, Belmain, Jericho, Choba, Aesora, and the valley of Salem, 5 and immediately seized all the summits of the hills (or, mountains), and fortified the villages on them as places of storage for food and provisions needed for war – since their fields had recently been harvested.

6 Joakim [24] the High Priest, who was in Jerusalem at that time, wrote to the people of Bethulia and Betomesthaim, which faces Esdraelon opposite the plain near Dothan, 7 ordering them to seize the mountain passes, since Judea could be invaded through them, and it would be easy to halt anyone who tried to enter, for the approach was narrow, only wide enough for one to pass at a time.

Prayer and Penance

8 So the Israelites did as was ordered by the High Priest, Joakim, and the senate [25] of all the people of Israel, who had just been in session in Jerusalem. 9 Every person in Israel complied with the order but also cried out to God with great fervor, and they all humbled themselves with much fasting. 10 They all: men, women, children, cattle, every resident alien, hired laborer, and purchased slave: -- all put sackcloth around their waists. 11 All the Israelite men, women, and children living in Jerusalem prostrated themselves before the temple and put ashes on their heads and spread out their sackcloth before the Lord. 12 Sackcloth even draped the altar and the people cried out in unison, praying fervently to the God of Israel, asking that God not allow their infants to be carried away and their wives not to be taken as booty, nor that the towns they inheritedwould be pillaged, and that the sanctuary of the temple would not be profaned and desecrated, to the glee of the Gentiles.

13 The Lord heard their distress, for the people fasted many days throughout Judea and in Jerusalem, [26] before the sanctuary of the Lord Almighty. 14 The High Priest, Joakim and the priests who stood before God, ministering to the Lord, wore sackcloth around their loins as they offered the daily burnt offerings and votive offerings of the people. 15 They had ashes on their turbans as they cried out to the Lord with all their might, begging him to have mercy on the entire nation, looking with favor on the entire house of Israel.


The Council Against the Israelites

1 It was reported to Holofernes, the chief general of King Nebuchadnezzar, that the people of Israel had prepared for war and had sealed off the mountain passes and fortified all the high hilltops and set up barricades in the plains. [27] 2 Holofernes was furious and summoned all the princes of Moab and the commanders of Ammon to meet along with all the governors of the coastland. [28] 3 He asked: “Tell me, you Canaanites, [29] what nation is there that lives in the hill country? What towns do they inhabit? How large is their army, and what is the source of their strength? Who is their ruler, what king? Does he lead their army? 4 Why have they become the only ones who live in the west, who have refused to come out and meet me?”

Achior’s Report

5 Then Achior, [30].the leader of all the Ammonites, said to Holofernes, ”Let my lord now hear a word from the mouth of your servant, and I will tell you the truth about this nation which resides in the mountain district near you. I will not permit any falsehood to be uttered from my mouth. 6 These people are descended from the Chaldeans. [31] 7 At one time they lived in Mesopotamia, [32] but because they did not want to follow the gods of their ancestors, and worshiped the God of Heaven, the God they had come to know, their ancestors [33] drove them out of the presence of their gods. They then fled to Mesopotamia and lived there for a long time. 9 Then their God commanded that they leave the place where they were living and to go to the land of Canaan. They settled there, becoming very prosperous, having gold and silver and a large amount of livestock. 10 When famine spread over the land of Canaan they went down to Egypt, living there as long as they had food. It was there that they became a great multitude, so large that the number of their people could not be counted. 11 It was then that the king of Egypt took measures against them and took advantage of them, making them to be slaves, and forcing them to make bricks, thereby degrading them. 12 They cried out to their God and he afflicted the entire land of Egypt with great plagues. Then the Egyptians drove them out of their sight. 13 It was then that their God dried up the Red Sea before them. 14 He then led them by way of Sinai and Kadesh-barnea. They drove out all the people who had been living in the desert, 15 and they began living in the land of the Amorites, and by their might in warfare they slaughtered all the inhabitants of Heshbon, and then crossed over the Jordan where they took possession of the hill country. 16 They drove out all the Canaanites, Perizzites, Jebusites, Shechemites and all the Gergasites, and lived there for a long period of time.

17 “As long as they did not sin against their God they prospered, for the God who hates iniquity is with them. 18 However, when they departed from the way he hand prescribed for them, they were utterly defeated in many battles, and were led away as captives in a foreign land. The temple of their god was razed totally and their towns were occupied by their enemies. [34] 19 Now they have returned to their God, and have come back from the places where they had been scattered, and have occupied Jerusalem, where their sanctuary is located, and have settled in the hill country, because it had become uninhabited.

20 “So now, my master and lord, if they have wandered from the way, and sinned against their God and we learn of their offense, then we can go up and defeat them. 21 But: if these people are not a guilty nation, then it would be advisable for my lord to bypass them, for their Lord and God will defend them, and we will become the laughing stock of (or, will be put to shame before) the entire world.”

22 When Achior had finished saying all these things, all the people who were listening as they stood around the tent began to complain. The officers of Holofernes and all the inhabitants of the seacoast, and Moab insisted that Achior should be hacked into pieces. 23 They said, “We are not fearful of these Israelites, for they are people who are without strength or power to make war. 24 Let us proceed to make war against them, Lord Holofernes, for your vast army will swallow them up.”


Achior is Handed Over to the Israelites

1 When the disturbance of the croud outside the council had died down Holofernes, the commander of the Assyrian army, said to Achior, and all the descendants of Moab, [in the presence of all the foreign representatives]: [35]

2 “Who do you think you are, Achior, and what about your mercenaries from Ephraim, [36] that you have the courage to prophesy among us, as you have done today, telling us not to make war against the people of Israel, because of their God, who will defend them? What god is there other than Nebuchadnezzar? He will send his army and he will destroy them so completely that they will be wiped off the face of the earth. Their God will not save them! 3 We are the king’s servants and we will destroy them as one man. They are unable to resist the might of our cavalry. 4 They will be so overwhelmed by us that the mountains will be drenched with their blood and their fields will be filled with their dead bodies. Not even their footprints will survive the attack, and they will all perish. This is the word of King Nebuchadnezzar, lord of the entire earth. He has spoken! None of his words will be in vain.

5 “As for you: Achior, you Ammonite mercenary, you have said these words in a moment that displays your evil intent. You will not see my face again from this day forward until I have taken revenge against this race that came out of Egypt. [37] 6 Then as I return, the sword of my army and the spear of my servants, will pierce your sides and you will fall in the midst of their wounded (or, you will just be another name on the casualty list). 7 Now my slaves are going to take you back to the hill country and put you into one of the towns beside the mountain passes. 8 You will not die until you perish along with them. 9 If you really hope that they will not be captured, then do not look downcast! I have spoken, and none of my words will fail to come true.”

10 Then Holofernes ordered his slaves, who waited on him, to seize Achior and take him away to Bethulia and hand him over to the Israelites. 11 The slaves took him, leading him out of the camp, to the plain, and from there they went into the hill country and came to the spring that was located just below Bethulia. 12 When the men of the town saw them [at the top of the hill] [38] they seized their weapons and ran out of the town to the top of the hill and all their slingers kept them from advancing because they pelted them with stones that were slung at them, preventing them from coming near. 13 The slaves of Holofernes then took refuge below the hill, and tied up Achior, leaving him lying at the foot of the hill, and returned to their master.

14 The Israelites then came down from their town and found Achior, and untying him they brought him into Bethulia, and presented him before the magistrates of the town. 15 In those days Uzziah son of Micah, of the tribe of Simeon, and Chabris son of Gothoniel, and Charmis son of Melchiel were the magistrates. [39] 16 They called together all the elders of the town, and all their young men and women ran to the assembly. They placed Achior in the midst of all their people, and Uzziah questioned him concerning what had taken place. 17 He answered them, telling them what had happened at the council of Holofernes, and all that he had said in the presence of the leaders of Assyria, and all the boasting of Holofernes, and his saying what he would do against the people of Israel. 18 The people fell down before God as they worshiped and cried out:

19 “O Lord God of heaven, see their arrogance, and have pity on your people in their humiliation, and look kindly today on those who are consecrated to you.”

20 Then they reassured Achior and praised him greatly. 21 Uzziah took him from the assembly, bringing him into his own house and gave a banquet for the elders, and all that night they called on the God of Israel for help.


The Campaign against Bethulia

1 The next day Holofernes ordered his entire army, and all the mercenaries who had joined him, to break camp and move against Bethulia, and to seize the passes up into the hill country and make war on the Israelites. 2 All their warriors moved on that day, their fighting force numbering one hundred seventy thousand infantry, [40] twelve thousand cavalry, which did not include those who handled all the baggage, which was a very sizeable number. 3 They encamped in the valley of Bethulia, beside the spring, and they spread out in width to Dothan and as far as Balhaim, [41] and in length to Cyamon [42] which faces Esdraelon.

4 When the Israelites saw the vastness of their opponent they were terrified, and everyone said to his neighbor, ‘They will strip the entire land clean, neither the high mountains or the low valleys will be able to bear their weight.’ 5 In spite of this they all seized their weapons, and [when they had lit fires on each of their towers], [43] they remained on guard, awaiting an attack all night.

6 On the second day Holofernes led his entire cavalry out, in full view of the Israelites in Bethulia. 7 He reconnoitered the approaches to the city, and visited the springs that supplied their water, seizing them and setting guards of soldiers over them and then returned to his army.

8 Then all the chieftains of the Edomites and all the leaders of the Moabites and the commanders of the coastland came to him, and said, 9 “My lord, listen to what we have to say, for if you do, your army will not have any losses. 10 These Israelite people do not rely on spears, but on the mountain heights where they live, for it is not easy for one to reach the top of their mountains. 11 Therefore, my lord, do not fight them in the usual fashion, [in a war conducted in the field], and not a man of your army will fall. 12 Remain in camp, keeping all the men of your forces with you, permit your servants to take possession of the spring of water that flows from the foot of the mountain, 13 for this is where all the population of Bethulia gets their water. They will be dying of thirst, and they will surrender their city. In the meantime, we and our troops will go up to the tops of the nearby mountains and camp there, keeping watch over them, [in outposts] to see that no one is able to leave the city.14 They and their wives and children will waste away with famine, and before the sword reaches them they will be strewn about in the streets where they live. 15 In this way you will pay them back with evil because they rebelled and did not receive you peacefully.”

16 Holofernes and his staff of officers approved of the plan, and issued orders to do as they had said. 17 Therefore the army of the Ammonites [44] moved forward, and along with five thousand Assyrians, the encamped in the valley and seized the water supply and the springs of the Israelites. 18 The Edomites and the Ammonites went up and encamped in the hill country opposite Dothan; and they sent some of their men toward the south and the east, toward Egrebeh, which is near Chusi, [beside the Wadi Mochmur]. The rest of the Assyrians encamped in the plain, and covered the entire face of the land. Their tents and their supply trains spread out in huge numbers, forming a vast multitude.

The Distress of the Israelites

19 The people of Israel cried out to the Lord their God for their courage had failed, because of all their enemies surrounding them, and there was no escape route left for them. 20 The entire Assyrian army, infantry, chariots, and cavalry, surrounded them for thirty four days, [45] at which time all of the water containers of Bethulia were empty. 21 Their cisterns were going dry, and there was no day in which the people had enough drinking water, for their water was rationed. 22 Their children were listless, the women and young men fainted from thirst and collapsed in the streets of the city and in the gateways; for they no longer had strength.

23 Then all the people, young and old, men, women and children gathered around Uzziah and the rulers of the city and cried out with loud voices, and said, in the presence of the elders: 24 “Let God judge between you and us. You have done us a great injury in not making peace with the Assyrians. 25 We now have no one to help us, God has sold us into their hands, to be strewn [on the ground] before them in thirst and exhaustion (or, destruction). 26 Summon them now and surrender the city as booty to the army of Holofernes and to his entire army. 27 It would be better for us to be captured by them [rather than to die by thirst]. We will, with out a doubt, become slaves, but our lives will be spared, and we will not see our little ones dying before our eyes, and our wives and children breathing their last breath. 28 We call heaven and earth and our God, the Lord of our ancestors, who punishes us for our sins and the sins of our ancestors against you! Do the things we have spoken about today (or, immediately)!”

29 Great and general lamentation arose through the entire assembly, and they cried out to the Lord God with a loud voice. 30 Uzziah said to them, “Have courage my brothers [and sisters]! Let us hold out for five more days. By then the Lord our God will surely turn his mercy to us again, for he is not one who will forsake us utterly. 31 However, if these days go by, and no help comes for us, I will do as you say!”

32 He then dismissed the crowd, [asking them to return to their various posts] and they again returned to the towers and walls of their city. The women and children he sent home. There was great misery in the city.


The Character of Judith

1 In those days Judith [who lived in the city] heard about these things. She was the daughter of Merari son of Ox son of Joseph son of Oziel son of Elkiah son of Ananias son of Gideon son of Raphain son of Ahitub son of Elijah son of Hilkiah son of Eliab son of Nathanael son of Salamiel son of Sarasadai son of Israel. [46] 2 Her husband was Manasseh, and belonged to the same tribe and family as his wife. He died during the barley harvest. 3 As he stood, supervising those who were binding the sheaves in the field, he was overcome by the excessive heat, and needed to lie in bed, where he died, in the city of Bethulia. He was buried in the field where his ancestors were buried which was between Dothan and Balamon. 4 Judith remained in her home, as a widow for three years and four months, 5 where she erected a tent for herself on the roof of her house. She put sackcloth around her waist and dressed in the clothing that is suitable for a widow (or, widow’s weeds). 6 She fasted daily during the entire time of her widowhood with the exception of the day prior to the Sabbath, and the Sabbath itself, the day before the new moon and on the day of the new moon, and the festivals and public days of rejoicing in the house of Israel. 7 She was a ravishing beauty in appearance and lovely to behold. Her husband, Manasseh [47] had left her gold and silver, female slaves, livestock, and fields and she supervised the estate. 8 No one ever slandered her, for she had reverence for God, and was deeply religious.

Judith and the Elders

9 When Judith learned of the harsh words that the people were speaking against their ruler for they were weak because of lack of water, and when she had heard all that Uzziah had said to them, and how he vowed to surrender the city to the Assyrians in five days, [48] 10 she sent her maid who was in charge of all she possessed, to summon Uzziah and Chabris and Charims, the elders of the city. 11 They came to her, and she told them:

“Listen to me, rulers of the people of Bethulia! What you have told the people today is not right; You have even vowed and sworn an oath between God and you, promising to surrender the city to our enemies unless the Lord turns and helps us in a designated number of days, 12 Who are you to put God to the test today, and to set yourself up in place of God in human affairs? 13 You are putting the Lord Almighty to the test, but by that you will never learn anything. 14 You cannot plumb the depths of the human hear, nor can you understand the workings of the human mind. How then do you expect to search out God who made all these things and find out what is in his mind or comprehend his thoughts? No, my brothers, do not anger the Lord our God! 15 If God decides not to help us within these five days, [49] he has the power to protect us at any time he pleases, or even to destroy us in the presence of our enemies. 16 Do not try to pressure the purposes of the Lord our God, for God is not like a human being, who can be threatened, or like a mere mortal, to be won over by pleading. 17 Therefore, while we wait for God’s deliverance, let us call upon God to help us, and he will hear our prayers, if it pleases him.

18 “Never in our generation, nor in these present days, has there been any tribe or family or people, or city like ours, that worshiped gods with their hands, as was done in the ancient past. 19 That was why our ancestors were handed over to the sword and were pillaged, and suffered great catastrophes before our enemies. 20 We, on the other hand, know no other god but one, and so we hope that he will not reject us or any other nation. 21 If we are captured, all Judea will be captured and our sanctuary will be plundered, and he will make us pay for its desecration with our blood. 22 The slaughter of our relatives and the captivity of the land and the desolation of our inheritance—all this will bring shame on us before the Gentiles and wherever we serve as slaves we will be an offence and a disgrace in the eyes of those who own us as slaves. 23 Our being enslaved will not bring us into favor, but the Lord our God will turn it to dishonor.

24 “Therefore, my brothers, let us not set an example for the succeeding generations, for their lives depend on us, and our sanctuary – both the temple and the altar rests on us. 25 In spite of all this, let us give thanks to the Lord our God, who is putting us to the test, as he previously had done to our ancestors. 26 Remember what he did with Abraham, and how he tested Isaac, and what happened to Jacob in Syrian Mesopotamia, while he was tending the flocks of Laban, his mother’s brother. 27 God has not tried us by fire, as he did to them, nor has he taken vengeance on us, but the Lord scourges those who are close to him in order to admonish them.”

28 Uzziah then said to her: “Everything that you have said has come from a true heart, and there is no one who can deny your words. 29 What you have said today is not the first time that you have displayed your wisdom, for, from the beginning of your life all those who know you have recognized your understanding, for the disposition of your heart is right. 30 However, the people were so thirsty that they compelled us to do for them what we have promised, and we have made an oath that we dare not break. 31 Now then, you are a God-fearing woman, so I ask you to pray for us, so that the Lord may send us rain to fill our cisterns. Then we will no longer feel faint from thirst.”

32 Then Judith said to them, “Listen to me. I am about to do something that will go down through all the generations of our descendants. 33 Stand at the city gate tonight so that I maid go out with my maid, and within the days after which you have promised to surrender the city to our enemies, the Lord will deliver Israel by my hand. 34 Only, do not try to figure out what I am doing; for I will not tell you until I will have finished what I am about to do.”

35 Uzziah and the rulers said to her, “Go in peace, and may the Lord God go before you to take vengeance on our enemies.” 36 So they returned to their [50] tents and went to their posts.


The Prayer of Judith

1 Then Judith prostrated herself she put ashes on her head and uncovered the sackcloth [51] she was wearing. This took place at the very same time that the evening incense was being offered in the house of God in Jerusalem. Judith cried out with a loud voice to the Lord, saying:

2 “O Lord God, you who have been the God of my ancestor Simeon, in whose hand you gave a sword to be used to carry out vengence on those strangers who had torn the clothing off a virgin in order to defile her, and exposed her thighs to put her to shame, and polluting her womb in order to profane her, for you said, ‘It is not to be done’ – yet they did it. [52] 3 So you gave up their rulers to be slain, and their bed which was ashamed of the deceit they had done, for it was stained in blood, and then you struck down all the slaves and princes, even princes on their thrones, [53] 4 and you gave their wives as booty, and their daughters as captives, and all their booty was to be divided among all the children you loved, who were burning with zeal for you, and thus they called upon you for help, since they abhorred the pollution of their blood. O my God, also hear my prayer, I who am a widow.

5 “You have done these things, along with others that preceded them, and those that followed. You have designated the things that are now, and that are in the future. Whatever you had in mind has taken place. 6 The things you wanted done took place, saying, ‘Here we are.’ All your ways are prepared in advance, and all your judgments take place through your fore-knowledge.

7 “The Assyrians are here now, a much larger force, proud of their horses and riders, boasting in the strength of their infantry, and trusting in their shields and spears, their bows and slings. They have no knowledge that you are the Lord who crushes wars, the Lord is your name. 8 Break their strength through your might, and destroy their power in your anger, for it is their intention to defile your sanctuary, and pollute the tabernacle where your glorious name resides, and they plan to break off the horns [54] of your altar with the sword. 9 Look at their pride, and send your wrath against their heads. Grant to me, a widow, the strong hand to do what I plan. 10 Through the deceit of my lips strike down the slave along with the prince, and the prince along with his servant, crushing their arrogance through the hand of a woman. [55]

11 “Your strength is not determined by numbers, nor is your might based on the actions of the powerful. You are the God of the lonely (or, the savior of the forlorn), the helper of those who are oppressed, the upholder of the weak, the protector of the forsaken, the savior of those without hope. 12 I beg you, O God of my father, God of the heritage of Israel, Lord of heaven and earth, creator of the waters, King over your entire creation, hear my prayer (or, plea)! 13 Grant that my deceitful words will bring wounds and bruises to those who harbor cruel plans against your covenant, your sacred house, against Mount Zion, and the houses of your children. 14 Let your entire nation and all its tribes realize and understand that you are God, the God of all power and might, and that there is no one else who protects the people of the land of Israel but you.”


Judith Prepares to Go to Holofernes

1 When Judith had stopped crying out to the God of Israel, and had ended all these words, 2 she rose from where she had lain prostrate. She called her maid (or, slave), [56]and went down to the house where she lived on Sabbaths and Festival Days. 3 She removed the sackcloth which she had been wearing, took off her widow’s clothing (or, widow’s weeds), bathed her body with water, and anointed her body with rich perfume, arranged her hair elaborately, [57] put on a tiara, and dressed herself in attire which she wore to please her husband, Manasseh, when he was still living. 4 She put sandals on her feet, ankle and arm bracelets, rings, earrings, and additional jewelry. She made sure to make herself very beautiful, intending to entice the eyes of all the men who might see her. 5 She gave her maid a skin of wine and a flask of oil, [and some bread and cheese], filling the bag with parched grain, fig cakes, [58] and wrapped up all her dishes, giving all this to her maid to carry. [59]

6 They then went to the city gate of Bethulia and found Uzziah standing there with the Elders of the city, Chabris and Charmis. 7 When they saw her, transformed in appearance and wearing different clothing, they were very astonished at her beauty and said to her, 8 “May the God of our ancestors grant you favor and may your plans be fulfilled, so that the people of Israel might be enabled to give glory, and Jerusalem might be exalted.” She bowed down to worship God.

9 Then she said to them, “Order the city gate to be opened for me that I may go out and accomplish the things you have just said to me.” So: the young men were ordered to open the gate for her, just as she had requested. 10 When they had done this Judith went out, accompanied by her maid (or, slave), The men of the city watched her as she walked down the mountain and when she passed through the valley they could no longer see her.

Judith is Captured

11 As the women were going directly through the valley an Assyrian patrol met her, 12 and took her into custody, and asked her, “To what nation do you belong? Where are you from? Where are you going?” She answered: “I am a daughter of the Hebrews, but I am fleeing from them, for they are about to be handed over to you to be annihilated. 13 I am on my way to see Holofernes. 18 There was great excitement in the entire camp for her arrival was reported from one tent to the next. They came and gathered around her, as she stood outside the tent of Holofernes, waiting until they informed Holofernes about her. 19 They marveled at her beauty and admired the Israelites, based on what they saw when the admired her. [When they had seen her among them, they said, “It is not right to leave one man of them alive. But if we let them go they will be able to beguile the entire earth.”]

Judith is Brought before Holofernes

20 Then the guards [60] of Holofernes and all his servants came out and led her into the tent. 21 Holofernes was resting on his bed under a canopy that was woven with purple, gold, emeralds and other precious stones. 22 When he was told about Judith he came to the front of the tent, with [very many] silver lamps carried by servants who went before him. 23 When Judith came into the presence of Holofernes and his servants they were all amazed (or, marveled) at the beauty of her face. She prostrated herself and did obeisance to him, but the slaves lifted her up.


1 Holofernes then said to her: “Take courage, woman, do not have fear within you, [61] for I have never harmed anyone who has chosen to serve Nebuchadnezzar, king of all the earth. 2 Even now, if your people who live in the hill country had not slighted me, I would not have lifted my spear against them. What is happening they brought on themselves. 3 but now tell me why you have fled from them, coming over to us, since you have come to a place of safety [or, You have run away and joined us]. 4 No one will harm you. In fact, everyone will treat you well, as well as they do the servants of my lord, King Nebuchadnezzar.” [62]

Judith Explains Her Presence

5 Judith replied, “Accept the words of your slave, and let your servant speak in your presence. I will not say anything that is false to my lord tonight. 6 If you comply with the words of your servant, God will accomplish something through you so that you will not fail to achieve his purposes. [63] 7 As assuredly as King Nebuchadnezzar, king of the entire earth lives, and by the power that endures in him, for he sent you to direct every living thing, -- not only human beings will serve you but also the animals of the fields, [or, wild animals, cattle and wild birds.] and the birds of the air – all these will live because of your power, under Nebuchadnezzar and his entire house. [64] 8 We have heard of your wisdom and skill, and have learned that it is reported through the entire world that you alone are the best [65] in the entire kingdom, the most informed and the most capable in military strategy.

9 “Now: as for the speech given by Achior to you and your council, we heard his words, for the people of Bethulia spared him and he told them all that he had said to you. 10 Therefore: lord and master, do not disregard what he has said, keep it in your mind, for it is true. It is absolutely true that our nation can not be punished, nor can the sword prevail against them, unless they sin against their God.

11 “However: in order that my lord will not be defeated, and his purpose frustrated, death will fall on them, for sin has them in its power. This will certainly provoke their God to anger when they do what is wrong. 12 Their food supply is exhausted and their water supply has almost given out. The are planning to kill their livestock, and they are determined to use everything—even what God has decreed should not be consumed. 13 They have also decided to eat the first fruits of the grain and the tithes of the wine and oil, which they had already consecrated to be set aside for the priests who serve in the temple in Jerusalem – things that are not lawful for any of the people, not so much as even to touch them with their hands. 14 Since even the people of Jerusalem have done this [in the past] so they have sent messengers there in order to receive the permission from the council of elders to do the same. When they receive the reply, they will act upon it and on that day they will be handed over to you that they be destroyed.

16 “Therefore, when your servant learned all this, I fled from them. God has sent me to accomplish, with you, things that will astonish the entire world wherever people are who hear about them. 17 Your servant is devout and serves the God of heaven day and night. Therefore, my lord, I will remain here in your camp, and every night your servant will go out into the valley and I will pray to God, and he will tell me when the people have committed their sin. 18 I will then come and tell you, and you will go out with your entire army. Not a single one of them will be able to withstand you. 19 I will then lead you through Judea, until you arrive at Jerusalem; there I will set you on your throne. [66] You will drive them as one might drive sheep that have no shepherd, and no dog will so much as open his mouth the growl [67] at you. This is the message that has been told to me, giving me foreknowledge, for it was announced to me, and as a result I was sent to tell you.”

20 Her words pleased Holofernes and all his aides,. [68] They were amazed at her wisdom, and said, 21 No other woman from one end of the earth to the other looks so beautiful and speaks so wisely.” 22 Holofernes then said to her, “God has done well to send you ahead of the people, to strengthen our hands and to bring destruction on those who have despised my lord. 23 You are not only beautiful in appearance, but wise in speech. If you do as you have said, your God will be my God, and you will live in the palace of King Nebuchadnezzar and you will be renowned throughout the entire earth.


Judith as a Guest of Holofernes

1 Then Holofernes commanded his servants to bring her in where his silver dinnerware was kept, and ordered them to set a table for her with some of his own food and his own wine to drink [and asked them to prpare a couch for her so she could eat his own food and drink his own drinks]. 2 Judith said, “I cannot eat the food for it would be an offence, [69] but I have enough to eat with the things I brought along to eat.” 3 Holofernes said to her, “If your supply runs out where can we get additional food for you? None of your people is here with us.” 4 Judith replied, “Just as surely as you are alive, my lord, I am convinced that I will not run out of the supplies I brought with me before the Lord carries out, by my hand, what he has determined.” \

5 The servants of Holofernes then bought her into the tent, and she slept until midnight. Toward the morning watch she rose, 6 and sent a message to Holofernes. “Let my lord give orders that permit your servant to go out to pray.” 7 Holofernes then commanded the guards not to hinder her. She remained in the camp for three days and each nigh she went out to the valley in Bethulia, and bathed at the spring in the camp. [70] 8 When she came up from the spring, having bathed, she prayed to the Lord God of Israel to direct her along her way that there might be triumph for her people. 9 Then she returned, purified and stayed in the tent until she ate her food toward evening.

Judith Attends Holofernes’ Banquet

10 On the fourth day Holofernes held a banquet for his personal servants only, [71] and did not invite any of his officers. 11 He said to Bagoas, the eunuch who was in charge of his personal affairs, “Persuade the Hebrew woman who is under your care to join us and to eat and drink with us. 12 It would be a disgrace if we let such a woman go without having intercourse with her. If we do not seduce her, she will laugh at us.”

13 So Bagoas left the presence of Holofernes and approached the woman, saying, ”My beautiful lady, do not be bashful, come to the banquet, for my lord, to be honored in his presence and to enjoy drinking wine with us, and to become today like one of the daughters of the Assyrians who serve in the palace of Nebuchadnezzar.” 14 Judith replied, “Who am I to refuse my lord? Whatever pleases him I will do at once, and it will be a joy for me to remember it until my dying day.” 15 She got up and dressed herself in all her finery. Her maid preceded her and spread the lamb skins which she had received from Bagoas, which he had given her to use daily when reclining, on the ground before Holofernes.

16 Then Judith came in and lay down. Holofernes’ heart was ravished with her and his passion was aroused, for he had been exceedingly desirous to have intercourse with her from the day he first saw her. 17 Holofernes said, “Have a drink and join in the merriment.” 18 Judith said, “I will gladly drink, my lord, because today is the greatest day in my entire life.” 19 Then she took what her maid had prepared for her, and drank it before him. 20 Holofernes was greatly pleased with her and drank a great amount of wine, more than he had ever consumed in his entire life.


Judith Beheads Holofernes

1 When evening came, his slaves quickly withdrew. Bagoas closed the tent from the outside, and shut out the attendants [72] from his master’s presence, and they went to bed, for they all were weary because of the banquet that had lasted so long. 2 Judith was left alone in the tent, and Holofernes had passed out, falling face forward, [on his bed which was drenched with wine].

3 Judith had told her maid to stand outside the bedchamber and wait for her to come out, as she had done on the previous days; for she said she would be going out for her prayers. She had said the same thing to Bagoas. 4 Everyone had gone out, whether a slave or someone important, all had left the bedchamber. Then Judith, standing beside his bed, said in her heart, “O Lord God of all might, look in this hour on what I am about to do [73] for the exaltation of Jerusalem. 5 Now is definitely the time [which you appointed] to help your heritage and to carry out my plan to destroy the enemies who have arisen against us.”

6 She went up to the rail [74] near Holofernes head, and taking the scimitar [75] that was hanging there, 7 she came close to his bed, [and taking hold of his hair, standing close to the bed, she gripped the scimitar], and said, “Give me strength today; Lord God of Israel.” 8 She struck his neck twice with all her might, cutting off his head. 9 Then she rolled his body off the bed [and it fell to the floor, partially lying on a footstool (or, step)]. She then pulled down the canopy (or, mosquito netting) from its posts. Soon thereafter she went out and gave the head of Holofernes to her maid, 10 who placed it in her food bag.

Judith’s Return to Bethulia

The two of them then went out together, as they were accustomed to do, to go for prayer. [76] They passed through the camp and then circled around the valley before going up the mountain to Bethulia and to the city gate. 11 Judith shouted to the sentries from a distance, saying, “Open, open the gate! God, our God, is with us, for God has shown his power in Israel and his strength against our enemies: this is what he has done today.”

12 When the men of the city [77] heard her voice they hurried down to open the city gate and called together all the elders of the city. 13 They all ran together, common citizens and officials, for it seemed impossible that she could have returned. The gate was opened and Judith and her maid entered. A fire was built so there could be light, as they all gathered around. 14 Judith then spoke to them in a loud voice, saying, “Praise God! O Praise! Praise God, who has not withdrawn his mercy from the house of Israel, but has destroyed our enemies through my hand by his might.”

15 Then she took the head out of the bag and showed it to them, and said, “Look! Here is the head of Holofernes, the commander of the Assyrian army, and here is the canopy under which he lay in his drunken stupor. The Lord has struck him down, using the hand of a woman. 16 As surely as the Lord lives, who protected me in the way I went, I swear that it was my face that seduced him to his destruction, and that he committed no sin with me, to defile and shame me.”

17 The people were all greatly astonished. They bowed down and worshiped God, saying with one accord, “Blessed be you, our God, who on this day has humiliated the enemies of your people.” [78]

18 Then Uzziah said to her, “O daughter, you are blessed by the Most High God above all other women on the earth and blessed be the Lord God, who created the heavens and he earth, who guided you to cut off the head of the leader of our enemies. 19 Your praise [79] will never disappear from the hearts of those who remember the power of God. 20 May God grant that this will be a perpetual honor to you, and may he bless you with blessings, because you did not seek to spare your own life but risked it when our nation was brought low, thus averting our ruin, walking in the straight path before our God.” All the people said, “Amen. Amen.” [80]


Judith’s Council

1 Judith then said to them: “Listen to me, my friends. Take this head and hang it on the parapet of our city wall. [81] 2 Immediately after dawn, when the sun rises, let everyone who is physically able to engage in warfare [is valiant] take up your weapons. Select someone to be the captain over this army, and move as if you were going to engage in battle with the Assyrian outpost on the plain. 3 Then they will seize their arms and go into the camp to rouse the officers of the Assyrian army. They will rush into the tent of Holofernes but will not find him. They will have a panic attack, and they will flee before you. 4 Then you and all who live within the borders of Israel will pursue them and slaughter them, leaving them lying in the path by which they fled. [82] 5 Before you do all this, bring Achior to me so that he may see and recognize the man who despised the house of Israel, and sent him to us as if he were sending Achior to his death.”

6 So they summoned Achior to come from the house of Uzziah and upon his arrival he saw the head of Holofernes and fainted. 7 When he was revived, the men assisted him in standing. He threw himself at Judith’s feet and did obeisance to her saying, “Blessed are you in every tent in Judah. Every nation that hears your name will be alarmed. 8 Now please tell me what you have done during these days.”

Judith then told him, in the presence of all the people, everything that she had done, from the day she left until the moment when she began speaking to them. 9 When she had finished speaking the people raised a great shout, making a joyful noise in their city. 10 When Achior learned of all that the God of Israel had done, he believed in God wholeheartedly. He was circumcised and joined the house of Israel, and remains faithful, even now, at the time this is written. [83]

Holofernes’ Death Is Discovered

11 As the day dawned the head of Holofernes was hung on the wall. Then all the men took their weapons, going out of the city in companies to the mountain passes. 12 When the Assyrians saw them they sent word to their commanders, who went to their generals, and to their captains, and all their other officers. 13 They came to Holofernes’ tent and said to the officer in charge of all his personal affairs, “Wake up our lord. The slaves have the audacity to want to attack us and engage us in battle, to their own destruction.”

14 So Bagoas went in and knocked at the entry to his tent, for he assumed that Holofernes and Judith were sleeping. 15 When no one answered, he drew aside the tent curtain and went into the bedchamber, and found Holofernes sprawled out [across a footstool] on the floor, dead, and his head was missing. 16 He cried out with a loud voice, wept, groaned, shouted and tore his garments. 17 Then he went to the tent where Judith had stayed , and not finding her, he rushed out to the people and shouted, 18 “The slaves have dealt treacherously with us. A single Hebrew woman has brought disgrace on the house of King Nebuchadnezzar. Look! Holofernes is lying on the ground and his head is missing!”

19 When the leaders of the Assyrian army heard this, they tore their tunics and were greatly dismayed. Their loud cries and shouts rose up in the entire camp.


The Assyrians Flee in Panic

1 When the men in the tents heard it, they were amazed at what had happened. 2 They were overcome with fear and trembling. They did not wait for any orders, or one another. As if with a single impulse, they all rushed out and fled, making no effort to stay together, using any path that crossed the plain and went through the hill country. 3 Those who had camped in the hills around Bethulia also fled. The men of Israel, every one who was a warrior, rushed out to attack them. [84] 4 Uzziah sent messengers to Betomasthaim, [85] Choba, Bebai, [86] Choba, [87] and Kola, [88] as well as to the frontiers of Israel to inform them, urging them to rush out against the enemy to destroy them. 5 When the Israelites learned what had taken place they united in attacking the enemy [89] and slaughtered them as far as Choba. Those who lived in Jerusalem and all the hill country came, for they had been informed as to what happened in the camp of the enemy. The men in Gilead and in Galilee outflanked the fleeing enemy and there was a great slaughter of the fugitives, reaching even beyond Damascus and its surrounding territory. [90] 6 The remainder of the people who resided in Bethulia attacked the Assyrian camp and plundered it, becoming greatly enriched. 7 When the Israelites returned from the slaughter they also took possessions that had been left in the Assyrian camp, bringing a great amount of booty to their villages, cities, [91] farmsteads, [92] the hill country and the plain, for there was a vast quantity of booty left behind in the Assyrian camp.

The Israelites Celebrate Victory

8 Then the High Priest, Joakim and the elders of the Israelites who lived in Jerusalem came to see for themselves the good things the Lord had done for Israel and to see Judith, and greet her. 9 [When she went out to meet them] [93] they met her and all blessed her with one accord, saying, “You are the glory (or, exaltation) [94] of Jerusalem! You are the great pride of our nation! 10 You have all this single-handedly, you have done great good for Israel, and God is well pleased with what you have done. May the Almighty Lord bless you forever,” And all the people said, “Amen.”

11 The people plundered the camp of the Assyrians for thirty days. Judith was given the silver dishes from the tent of Holofernes, along with his bowls and all his furniture. She hitched up her mule and loaded up her carts, and stacked things on the mule and carts.

12 All the women of Israel came flocking to see her, and blessed her. Some of them performed a dance in her honor. She took garlanded wands [95] to the women who were with her. 13 She and those who were with her crowned themselves with olive wreaths. [96] She went before all the people in the dance, leading all the women while all the men of Israel followed, bearing their arms and wearing garlands and singing psalms.

Judith Offers Her Hymn of Praise

14 Judith began this thanksgiving before all of Israel, and loundly sang this song of praise.


1 Judith began singing her thanksgiving song:

“Begin the song to my God with tambourine,

sing to the Lord with cymbals,

Raise him to a new psalm [and praise],

exalt him, calling on his name.

2 The Lord is a God who crushes wars,

for he has delivered me from the hands of my pursuers.

3 The Assyrian came down from the northern mountains,

coming with myriads of his warriors,

their numbers blocked up the wadis (or, streams0.,

and their cavalry covered the hills.

4 He boasted that he would burn up my territory,

kill my young men with the sword,

and hurl my infants to the ground,

seize my children as booty,

and take my virgins as spoil.

5 ”But the Lord Almighty has foiled them [97]

by the hand of a woman [she brought them to shame].[98]

6 Their mighty leader did not fall by the hands of young men,

nor were their sons struck down by Titans,

nor did tall giants attack him,

but Judith, daughter of Merari,

with the beauty of her face,

[who bound up her hair with a headband (or, turban)]

and who was able to deceive him.

7 ”She laid away her widow’s clothing,

to exalt the oppressed people of Israel.

She anointed her face with scented ointment,

8 she adorned her hair with a tiara

and donned a linen gown to beguile him.

9 Her adorned sandals ravished his eyes,

and her beauty captured his mind;

ant the sword severed his neck!

10 The Persians shuddered at her boldness,

and the Medes were daunted by her actions. [99]

11 ”It was then that my oppressed people shouted,

my weak people cried out and the enemy trembled,

lifting up their voices, and the enemy turned away.

12 Some slave girls (or, young children) pierced them through,

wounding them like the children of fugitives, [100]

they perished before the army of the Lord.

13 “I will sing a new song to my God.

O Lord, you are great and glorious,

wonderful in your strength, for you are unsurpassed.

14 Let all your creatures serve you,

for you spoke, and they came into being (or, were made),

You sent forth your spirit [101] and it formed them,

nothing can resist your voice.

15 ”The mountains will be shaken

to their foundations with the waters,

the rocks will melt like wax before your glance.

But those who revere you show mercy.

16 Every sacrifice is as a fragrant offering,

an offering which seems like a small thing,

and the fat of all whole burnt offerings

are to you as if they are very little,

but whoever reveres the Lord is great forever.

17 ”Woe to the nations that rise up against my people!

The Lord Almighty will carry out vengeance

on them in the day of judgment,

for he will send fire and worms into their flesh,

and they will weep in pain forever.”

18 When they arrived at Jerusalem they worshiped God. As soon as the people were ceremonially purified they offered their burnt offerings, freewill offerings, and their gifts.19 Judith also dedicated all the silver vessels [102] of Holofernes which had been given her by the people, and the mosquito netting that she had taken from his bedchamber, giving these as a votive gift to the Lord. 20 The people continued feasting before the sanctuary in Jerusalem for three months [103] and Judith remained with them.

The Renown and Death of Judith

21 After this all the people returned to their homes, [104] and their inherited land. Judith went to Bethulia, [105] and remained on her estate. She was honored throughout the entire country for the rest of her life. 22 After the death of her husband Manasseh many men desired to marry her but she remained single. [106] 23 Her fame increased, [as did her reputation], and she grew old in her husband’s house, attaining the age of one hundred five years. She freed her maid from slavery. She died in Bethulia, and she was buried in the cave of her husband Manasseh. 24 The people of Israel mourned her for seven days. Prior to her death she distributed her property to all the relatives of her husband Manasseh, and to her own closest relatives. 25 No one ever again spread terror among the people of Israel during the life time of Judith, nor for a long time following her death.

[The Vulgate Adds]

A festival was instituted to commemorate the death of Judith. [107]

[1] Nebuchadnezzar reigned from 604 – 501 BCE.

[2] The Greek uses the word “cubit.” A cubit was the length from the elbow to the finger tip, or approximately eighteen inches.

[3] The oldest known foundations in Ecbatana were from about 700 BCE.

[4] There is no such river.

[5] The entry in the Greek text is incorrect. The above is the corrected text based on historic records.

[6] The Greek is uncertain.

[7] There is no such general in any record of the Assyrians. There was a general with a Persian name, “Orophernes” but he general in Cappadocia (in east central Turkey). This could not be the general Holofernes.

[8] In history this was the territory describes the campaign of Artaxerxes, not Nebuchadnezzar.

[9] These were signs of submission. The expression was not Assyrian or Babylonian. It was of earlier origin.

[10] Note the exaggeration.

[11] This location is unheard of.

[12] The location is five hundred miles from Nineveh, which would be impossible to march an army in three days.

[13] Put and Lud are always mentioned together. Their location is unknown.

[14] The location is unknown.

[15] The movements described here are impossible. The troops are sent south, then north, then sosuth again. One feels this is an attempt by the editor to describe the ‘blitz krieg’ of Nebuchadnezzar, without any knowledge of the location of sites that are mentioned. It seems like a desire to list names with no knowledge of locations or geography.

[16] Recension B and the Syriac have “Chaldeans.” Chelleans” can’t be correct.

[17] The location is unknown. Recension A reads “Chebron.” Recension B reads “Abrona.” The Syriac has “Jabbok.” The Vulgate has “Mambres.”

[18] June would be the time of wheat harvest.

[19] The communities mentioned in verse 28 were along the shore of the Mediterranean. This chapter seems to be more involved with the names of places than accurate movements by the army of Nebuchadnezzar.

[20] “They’” seems to be people who were non-Jewish who sent ambassadors to Holofernes.

[21] Literally: “all the sheepfolds of our tents.”

[22] So: Syriac. Greek: “borders.”

[23] Geba” was six miles south of Dothan. Scythopolis” is the Greek way of saying “Bethshan.” It is only used in Judith by its Greek name.

[24] Cf.: Nehemiah 12:26. It is thought by scholars that this name is just selected for use, from the book of Nehemiah.

[25] It is possible that this group, several centuries later was called the “Sanhedrin.”

[26] Recension A has “and those in Jerusalem fell down before the sanctuary…”

[27] The Moabites and the Ammonites were engaged in war against Judea at the time of Nebuchadnezzar, Cf.”: II Kings 24:2. One recension reads: “dug pitfalls in the plains.”

[28] The last phrase about the governors of the coastland is omitted in recension Aleph.

[29] This was a derogatory way of addressing tribes in Syria.

[30] The name very likely is “Ahihud” and the Hebrew “Daleth” was used in stead of the Hebrew “Resh.”

[31] Abraham had left from Ur of the Chaldeans.

[32] This was the site of Haran where they settled for a time prior to God’s urging Abraham to move to the mountainous area of what is now Israel.

[33] Literally: “they.” Goodspeed translates the word as “their parents.”

[34] This took place in about 588 BCE Achior is telling this, possibly as early as a year later.

[35] This is omitted in recension B.

[36] Another recension has “you and your mercenaries from Ammon.”

[37] The reference to Egypt is surely a derogatory remark, showing his impression of Egypt. It could be translated as “this brood of runaways that came out of Egypt.”

[38] The bracketed phrase is from a different recension.

[39] The various recensions have somewhat different names, based on their transliteration.

[40] Recension Aleph has 8,000 and a marginal correction of 12,000.

[41] The location now is called Abelmaim.

[42] The spelling varies in the manuscripts. “Kadmun” or “Chalmona.” The site is unknown.

[43] This is omitted in recension Aleph.

[44] Some recensions have “Moabites.”

[45] The various recensions differ in the number of days.

[46] Scholars feel the names are corrupt, but there is no way to check the accuracy of the names. The names are not the sort of names that were used in that time period.

[47] One recension inserts the genealogy from verses 1 & 2 here.

[48] One recension adds: “he gave it to her.”

[49] “Within five days” is omitted in some recensions. One recension has: “to destroy them as an example before us.”

[50] Literally: “and went down to their tents.”

[51] The Vulgate and Syriac have, “tore her mantle.” One of the Greek recensions has “opened her robe to reveal the sackcloth she was wearing under her clothing.”

[52] Some scholars feel this verse is out of place. Other scholars feel this verse is perhaps a reference to the story of Dinah. Genesis 34:1 - 31.

[53] Most scholars feel that the text of verses 2 – 3 is corrupt.

[54] Literally: “horn.”

[55] She is no doubt thinking of Judges 9:54.

[56] Judith seems to be modeled after the LXX version of Esther.

[57] Some scholars translate the Greek word as “braided or combed.”

[58] Literally: “lumps of figs.”

[59] This was done so she would have a supply of kosher food.

[60] Literally: “those that lay near.”

[61] Literally: “do not have fear in your heart.”

[62] Literally: “there is no one who will harm you but will entreat.” The construction in Greek is awkward.

[63] The words in 6b seem to be intended to give the idea that Holofernes will be equal to God.

[64] Verse 7 is not very clear.

[65][65] The Greek word is “agaqox.

[66] Some scholars feel the Greek word should be translated as “chariot.”

[67] Literally: “growl with his tongue.”

[68] Literally: “servants.”

[69] Literally: “lest there be an occasion for stumbling.”

[70] “In the camp” is omitted in some recensions.

[71] Scholars struggle with understanding the significance of “his personal servants only.” The Greek in this verse is unclear. Presumably Holofernes only invited his personal friends.

[72] Literally: “it was shut out.”

[73] Literally: “on the work of my hands.”

[74] This was a bar at the head of the bed. In the past the Greek word has been translated as “post.” Rail describes the meanning more clearly.

[75] The Greek word describes a Persian sword which had the shape of a scimitar.

[76] “To go for prayer” is omitted in recension B. The Syriac translation has “as if to pray.”

[77] “City” is only found in recension Aleph.

[78] This was a common formula of praise that was used at that time.

[79] Some recensions have “hope.”

[80] Literally: “So be it. So be it.”

[81] In the Vulgate the account of Achior, verses 5 – 10, precede verse one of chapter 14.

[82] Literally: “cut them down as they flee.”

[83] Apparently the Law of the Proselyte with its time to demonstrate one’s faith prior to becoming an Israelite was no longer observed or, in the excitement of the moment was set aside.

[84] Some scholars feel that those soldiers who were encamped near Bethulia were Edomites and Ammonites.

[85] The location is not known.

[86] This city is only found in recension A.

[87] This city is only found in recension Aleph.

[88] This city is only found in recension A.

[89] Literally: “them.”

[90] This was the area where the invasion of Israel began on the part of the army of King Nebuchadnezzar.

[91] So: recensions Aleph and A.

[92] So: recension B.

[93] This is found in the Vulgate and Syriac.

[94] Literally: “boast.”

[95] The Greek word qursouz” is a strange word which is normally used in connection with the word “Bacchunis.” It is used here and in II Maccabees 10:7.

[96] Literally: “they crowned themselves with olive.” To use olive leaves to make a crown was a custom in Greece, not among the people of Israel.

[97] Literally: “brought them to naught.”

[98] Or: “he has confounded them.”

[99] The recensions all have different wording for the last phrase of the sentence.

[100] Literally: “like the sons of runaway slaves.”

[101] Literally: “breath.”

[102] Literally: “stuff.”

[103] This is one of several examples of apparent exaggeration on the part of the author.

[104] Literally: “tent.”

[105] Recension Aleph has “to her house in Bethulia.”

[106] While the Greek is rather carefully written it makes a clear point that she had no sexiual intimacy with anyone.

[107] Thre is no evidence in the history of the Israelites that such a festival ever existed.