91Then Judith put ashes on her head, opened her robe to reveal the sackcloth she was wearing under her clothes, and bowed down with her face to the floor. It was the time that the evening incense was being offered in the Temple in Jerusalem, and Judith prayed in a loud voice: 2
“O Lord, the God of my ancestor Simeon, remember how you armed Simeon with a sword to take revenge on those foreigners who seized Dinah, who was a virgin, tore off her clothes,9.2 Probable text clothes; Greek unclear. and defiled her; they stripped her naked and shamed her; they raped her and disgraced her, even though you had forbidden this. 3That is why you let their leaders be killed — put to death on the same bed where they had raped the girl.9.3 Probable text put to death… woman; Greek unclear. You destroyed them all, slaves, princes, and rulers on their thrones. 4You let their wives be carried off, their daughters taken captive, and their possessions plundered by the Israelites, your chosen people, who were eager to do your will. Dinah's brothers were furious because of this disgrace to their family, so they called on you for help.
“O my God, listen to my prayer, the prayer of a widow. 5Your hand guided all that happened then, and all that happened before and after. You have planned it all — what is happening now, and what is yet to be. Your plans have always been carried out. 6Whatever you want to be done is as good as done. You know in advance all that you will do and what decisions you will make. 7Now the Assyrians are stronger than ever; they take pride in their cavalry and their infantry. They rely on their weapons, but they do not know that you, O Lord, are a warrior who ends war. The Lord is your name. 8In your anger, use your power to shatter their mighty army. They plan to defile your Temple, where you are worshipped, and to hack off the corners of your altar with their swords. 9Look how proud and boastful they are! Pour out your fury upon them! I am only a widow, but give me the strength to carry out my plan. 10Use my deceitful words to strike them all dead, master and slave alike. Let a woman's strength break their pride. 11Your power does not depend on the size and strength of an army. You are a God who cares for the humble and helps the oppressed. You give support and protection to people who are weak and helpless; you save those who have lost hope. 12Now hear my prayer, O God of my ancestor Simeon, the God in whom Israel trusts, ruler of heaven and earth, creator of the rivers and the seas, king of all creation. Hear my prayer and 13
let my deceitful words wound and kill those who have planned such cruelty against your covenant and your holy Temple, against Mount Zion and the land you have given to your people. 14Make your whole nation and every tribe recognize that you are God, almighty and all-powerful, and that you alone protect the people of Israel!”
101When Judith had finished her prayer to the God of Israel, 2she stood up, called her slave woman, and went down into the house as she always did on Sabbaths and festival days. 3She took off her sackcloth and her widow's clothes, had a bath, and put on rich perfumes. She brushed her hair, tied a ribbon round it, and dressed herself in the fine clothes she used to wear on joyful occasions when her husband Manasseh was still alive. 4She put on sandals and all her finest jewellery: rings and earrings, and bracelets on her wrists and ankles. She made herself so beautiful that she was sure to attract the attention of any man who saw her. 5Judith gave her slave woman a leather bag of wine and a jar of oil to carry. She filled a bag with roasted barley, cakes of dried figs, and several loaves of bread baked according to Jewish food laws. She carefully wrapped all the food and dishes and gave them to her slave. 6Then the two women left the house and went to the gates of Bethulia, where they found Uzziah and the town officials, Chabris and Charmis, standing guard. 7When the men saw Judith after she had changed her clothes and put on make-up, they were struck by her beauty and said to her, 8“May the God of our ancestors bless you and make your plan successful, so that you may bring glory to Jerusalem and victory to Israel.”
Judith prayed 9and then said, “Order the gates to be opened for me. I am on my way to do what we were talking about.” Then they ordered the young men to open the gates for her, 10and Judith and her slave left the city. The men watched her as she went down the mountain into the valley, until she was out of sight.
11As the two women were walking through the valley, an Assyrian patrol met them. 12They arrested Judith and questioned her, “What is your nationality? Where did you come from, and where are you going?”
“I am a Hebrew,” she answered, “but I am running away from the Israelites because God is going to let you destroy them. 13I am on my way to see Holofernes, the general in command of your army, to give him some reliable information. I can show him how to advance into the mountains and take control of the entire region without a single casualty.”
14The men stared at her because she was so beautiful. They listened to her story and said, 15“You have saved your life by coming down here to see our general. Some of us will take you to his headquarters and present you to him. 16Do not be afraid of him. Just tell him what you have told us, and he will treat you well.” 17They assigned a hundred men to escort Judith and her slave to the headquarters of Holofernes.
18There was great commotion in the Assyrian camp as news of Judith's arrival spread from tent to tent. While she stood outside the tent of Holofernes waiting to be presented to him, many Assyrian soldiers came and stood round her. 19They were greatly impressed by her beauty and wondered what kind of people the Israelites were. “Who can feel contempt for people whose women are so beautiful?” they asked one another. “We had better kill all the men, or else these Jews will be able to charm the whole world.”
20Then Holofernes' bodyguard and his personal servants came out and led Judith into the tent. 21Holofernes was resting on his bed under a mosquito net woven of purple and gold thread and decorated with emeralds and other precious stones. 22When the men told him that Judith had arrived, he came to the outer part of the tent. Silver lamps were carried ahead of him. 23When Judith came towards him and his servants, they were all astonished at her beauty. She bowed down to the ground before Holofernes, but his servants helped her to her feet.
111Holofernes said to Judith, “Don't worry; there's no need for you to be afraid. I have never hurt anyone who was willing to serve Nebuchadnezzar, king of the whole world. 2Even now, if your people up in the mountains had not insulted me, I would not have declared war on them. They have brought all this trouble on themselves. 3But tell me, why have you left them and come to us? You will be safe here. There's no need to be afraid! We have spared your life tonight, and you are in no danger for the future. 4No one here will harm you; everyone will treat you well, like all other servants of my master, Nebuchadnezzar.”
5Then Judith said to Holofernes, “Allow me to speak to you, my lord, and please listen to what I have to say. I will tell you the truth. 6If you follow my advice, God will do something great with you, and my lord will not fail in his plan. 7
For I swear to you by the life and strength of Nebuchadnezzar, king of the whole world, who sent you to bring order to all the subjects of his kingdom, that not only have you made people serve him, but because of you even the wild animals, the livestock, and the birds obey him. Because of you, Nebuchadnezzar and his entire kingdom will prosper.11.7 not only… prosper; Greek unclear. 8We have heard how wise and clever you are. The whole world knows that you are the most competent, skilled, and accomplished general in the whole Assyrian Empire. 9Achior was rescued by the men of Bethulia, and has told us what he said at your war council. 10Please, sir, do not dismiss lightly what Achior told you, but take it seriously, because it is true. No one can harm or conquer our people unless they sin against their God.
11“But you will not suffer any setbacks, nor will you fail to achieve your goal. When the Israelites sin and make their God angry, they will die. 12Their food supply has already run out, and the water shortage has become serious, so they have decided to kill their livestock and eat foods that God's Law clearly forbids them to eat. 13
They have decided to eat the wheat set aside from the early harvest and the tithes of wine and oil, which are holy and are reserved for the priests who serve God in Jerusalem. The rest of us are forbidden even to touch this sacred food, 14but since the people in Jerusalem have already broken this law, the people of our town have sent messengers to the Council there requesting permission to do the same. 15On the day that they receive permission and actually eat the food, you will be able to destroy them. 16As soon as I learnt about this, I ran away from my people. God has sent me to do something with you that will amaze everyone in the entire world who hears about it. 17Sir, I am a religious woman; I worship the God of Heaven day and night. I will stay here in your camp, and each night I will go out into the valley to pray to God, and he will tell me when the Israelites have sinned. 18As soon as I find out, I will come and tell you, and you can march out with your whole army. The Israelites will not be able to defend themselves against you. 19I will guide you through the central part of the land of Judah until we come to Jerusalem, where I will crown you king in the centre of the city. You will scatter the people of Jerusalem like sheep without a shepherd. Not even a dog will dare to growl at you. God has revealed these things to me in advance and has sent me to report them to you.”
20Holofernes and his personal servants were pleased with what Judith had said, and they admired her wisdom. 21“She must be the wisest and most beautiful woman in the world,” they commented one to another.
22Then Holofernes said to her, “It's a good thing that God has sent you here to bring us victory and to destroy those who have insulted King Nebuchadnezzar. 23Not only are you beautiful, but you know how to make a speech. If you do as you have promised, your God will be my God. You will live in King Nebuchadnezzar's palace and will be famous throughout the world.”