Good News Translation (GNB)

Judith Goes to the Camp of Holofernes

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.