141Then Judith said to them, “My friends, please follow my advice. In the morning, take this head and hang it on the town wall. 2Appoint a leader for yourselves, and at sunrise get all your able-bodied men to take their weapons and march out of the town with him, as if they were going down into the valley to attack the Assyrian outpost. 3The Assyrian guards will grab their weapons and rush back to camp to wake up their officers. The officers will run to Holofernes' tent but will not find him, and the whole army will be terrified and retreat as you advance against them. 4Then you and all the other Israelites will be able to follow them and kill them as they retreat. 5But before you do any of this, send Achior the Ammonite to me. I want to see if he recognizes Holofernes, the man who spoke of Israel with contempt and sent Achior to us, thinking he would be killed along with the rest of us.”
6So they called Achior from Uzziah's house. But when he came and saw the head of Holofernes in the hands of one of the men, Achior fainted and fell to the floor. 7When they had helped him up, Achior bowed at Judith's feet in respect. “May every family in the land of Judah praise you,” he said, “and may every nation tremble with terror when they hear your name. 8Please tell me how you managed to do this.”
While all the people were gathered round, Judith told him everything that she had done from the day she left the town until that moment. 9When she had finished her story, the people cheered so loudly that the whole town echoed with sounds of joy. 10When Achior heard all that the God of Israel had done, he became a firm believer. He was circumcised and made a member of the Israelite community, as his descendants are to the present day.
11The next morning the Israelites hung the head of Holofernes on the wall of the town. All of them took up their weapons and went out in companies to the slopes in front of the town. 12When the Assyrians saw what was happening, they sent word to their officers, and these reported the matter to their superiors. 13These men then went to Holofernes' tent and said to Bagoas, “Wake up the general! Those worthless Israelites have dared to come down from the mountain to attack us; they are just asking to be destroyed.”
14Bagoas went in and clapped his hands in front of the sleeping quarters of the tent, thinking that Holofernes was in bed with Judith. 15When there was no answer, he drew the curtain aside and went in, and there he found the headless body sprawled over a footstool. 16Bagoas let out a yell. He screamed, tore his clothes, and started groaning and weeping. 17He went into the tent where Judith had stayed, but of course he did not find her. He rushed out and shouted to the officers, 18“They have tricked us! One Israelite woman has disgraced Nebuchadnezzar's whole kingdom. Look in there! Holofernes is lying dead on the ground and his head is gone!” 19When the officers heard this, they tore their clothes in grief; and as the panic spread, wild cries and shouts were heard throughout the camp.
151When the soldiers heard what had happened, they were horrified 2and began to tremble with fear. They all scattered in different directions from the camp, making no effort to stay together as they tried to escape along the paths in the mountains and valleys. 3The soldiers who had camped in the mountains round Bethulia also began to retreat. Then all the Israelite soldiers came charging down on them.
4Uzziah sent messengers to the towns of Betomesthaim, Bebai, Choba, and Kola, and throughout the land of Israel to tell everyone what had happened and to urge them to join in pursuing and destroying the enemy. 5When they received the message, they all attacked the Assyrians and chased them as far as Choba, slaughtering them as they went. Even the people of Jerusalem and others living in the mountains joined the attack when the messengers told them what had happened in the Assyrian camp. The people of the regions of Gilead and Galilee blocked the path of the retreating Assyrians and inflicted heavy losses on them. They pursued them as far as the region round Damascus.
6The rest of the people in Bethulia went down to the Assyrian camp, plundered it and carried away enough loot to make themselves very rich. 7When the Israelite soldiers returned from the slaughter, they helped themselves to what was left. There was so much of it that the people of the towns and villages in the hill-country also shared in the loot.
8The High Priest Joakim and the Council of Israel came from Jerusalem to see for themselves what great things the Lord had done for his people and to meet Judith and congratulate her. 9When they arrived, they all praised her, “You are Jerusalem's crowning glory, the heroine of Israel, the pride and joy of our people! 10You have won this great victory for Israel by yourself. God, the Almighty, is pleased with what you have done. May he bless you as long as you live.”
All the people responded, “Amen.”
11It took the people thirty days to finish looting the camp of the Assyrians. Judith was given Holofernes' tent, all his silver, his bowls, his couches, and all his furniture. She took them and loaded as much as she could on her mule; then she brought her wagons and loaded them too. 12All the Israelite women came to see her; they sang her praises and danced in her honour. On this joyful occasion Judith and the other women waved ivy-covered branches 13and wore wreaths of olive leaves on their heads. Judith took her place at the head of the procession to lead the women as they danced. All the men of Israel followed, wearing wreaths of flowers on their heads, carrying their weapons, and singing songs of praise.
161Then Judith sang a song of thanksgiving there with all Israel present, and the people joined in this song of praise. 2She sang,
“Praise my God and sing to him;
praise the Lord with drums and cymbals;
play a new song for him.
Praise him and call on him for help.
3The Lord is a warrior who ends war.
He rescued me from my pursuers
and brought me back to his people's camp.
4Down from the mountains of the north came the Assyrians,
with their tens of thousands of soldiers.
Their troops blocked the rivers in the valleys;
their cavalry covered the mountains.
5They threatened to set fire to our country,
slaughter our young men,
dash our babies to the ground,
take our children away as captives,
and carry off all our young women.
6But the Lord Almighty tricked them;
he used a woman to stop them.
7Their hero was not slain by young soldiers
or attacked and killed by mighty giants.
It was Judith, the daughter of Merari,
who brought him down with her beauty.
8She gave victory to the oppressed people of Israel,
when she took off her widow's clothes,
and put on a linen dress to entice him.
She put on her rich perfumes
and tied a ribbon round her hair.
9Her dainty sandal caught his eye;
her beauty captured his heart.
Then the sword slashed through his neck.
10The Persians trembled at her daring;
the Medes were amazed at her bravery.
11Then our people shouted in victory.
They had been weak and oppressed,
but they forced the enemy to retreat in panic and fear.
12We are descendants of slaves,
but our enemies turned and ran;
we killed them like runaway slaves.
They were destroyed by the army of the Lord.
“I will sing a new song to my God.
O Lord, you are strong and glorious!
You have never been defeated.
14Let all your creatures serve you.
You gave the command,
and all of them came into being;
you breathed on them,
and all of them were created.
No one can oppose your command.
15The mountains and the seas tremble,
and rocks melt like wax when you come near.
But there is mercy for all who obey you.
The Lord is more pleased with those who obey him
than with all the choice meat on the altar,
or with all the most fragrant sacrifices.
17The nations who rise up against my people are doomed.
The Lord Almighty will punish them on Judgement Day.
He will send fire and worms to devour their bodies,
and they will weep in pain for ever.”
18When the people arrived in Jerusalem, they purified themselves and worshipped God. They presented their burnt offerings, freewill offerings, and gifts. 19Judith dedicated to God all Holofernes' property, which the people had given to her. And as a special offering in fulfilment of a vow, she presented to the Lord the mosquito net which she had taken from Holofernes' bed. 20For three months the people continued to celebrate in front of the Temple in Jerusalem, and Judith stayed there with them.
21When the celebrations had ended, everyone returned home, and Judith went back to Bethulia to live on her own estate. For the rest of her life she was famous throughout the land of Israel. 22Many men wanted to marry her, but she never remarried after the death of her husband Manasseh. 23-24Her fame continued to spread, and she lived in the house her husband had left her. Before she died, Judith divided her property among her husband's and her own close relatives and set her slave woman free. When she died in Bethulia at the age of 105, she was buried beside her husband, and the people of Israel mourned her death for seven days. 25As long as Judith lived, and for many years after her death, no one dared to threaten the people of Israel.