Judith Prepares to Depart. 1As soon as Judith had ceased her prayer to the God of Israel and finished all these words, 2she rose from the ground. She called her maid and they went down into the house, which she used only on sabbaths and feast days. 3She took off the sackcloth she had on, laid aside the garments of her widowhood, washed her body with water, and anointed herself with rich ointment. She arranged her hair, put on a diadem, and dressed in the festive attire she had worn while her husband, Manasseh, was living.a 4She chose sandals for her feet, and put on her anklets, bracelets, rings, earrings, and all her other jewelry.b Thus she made herself very beautiful, to entice the eyes of all the men who should see her.*
5She gave her maid a skin of wine and a jug of oil. She filled a bag with roasted grain, dried fig cakes, and pure bread.* c She wrapped all her dishes and gave them to the maid to carry.d
6Then they went out to the gate of the city of Bethulia and found Uzziah and the elders of the city, Chabris and Charmis, standing there. 7When they saw Judith transformed in looks and differently dressed, they were very much astounded at her beauty and said to her, 8“May the God of our ancestors grant you favor and make your design successful, for the glory of the Israelites and the exaltation of Jerusalem.” 9Judith bowed down to God.
Judith and Her Maid Leave Bethulia. Then she said to them, “Order the gate of the city opened for me, that I may go to accomplish the matters we discussed.” So they ordered the young men to open the gate for her, as she had requested, 10and they did so. Then Judith and her maidservant went out. The men of the city kept her in view as she went down the mountain and crossed the valley; then they lost sight of her.
IV. JUDITH GOES OUT TO WAR*
11As Judith and her maid walked directly across the valley, they encountered the Assyrian patrol. 12The men took her in custody and asked her, “To what people do you belong? Where do you come from, and where are you going?”e She replied: “I am a daughter of the Hebrews, and I am fleeing from them, because they are about to be delivered up to you as prey. 13I have come to see Holofernes, the ranking general of your forces, to give him a trustworthy report; in his presence I will show him the way by which he can ascend and take possession of the whole hill country without a single one of his men suffering injury or loss of life.”f
14When the men heard her words and gazed upon her face, which appeared marvelously beautiful to them, they said to her, 15“By hastening down to see our master, you have saved your life. Now go to his tent; some of us will accompany you to hand you over to him. 16When you stand before him, have no fear in your heart; give him the report you have given us, and he will treat you well.” 17So they selected a hundred of their men as an escort for her and her maid, and these conducted them to the tent of Holofernes.
18As the news of her arrival spread among the tents, a crowd gathered in the camp. They came and stood around her as she waited outside the tent of Holofernes, while he was being informed about her. 19They marveled at her beauty, regarding the Israelites with wonder because of her, and they said to one another, “Who can despise this people who have such women among them? It is not good to leave one of their men alive, for if any were to be spared they could beguile the whole earth.”
Judith Meets Holofernes. 20Then the guards of Holofernes and all his attendants came out and ushered her into the tent. 21Holofernes was reclining on his bed under a canopy* woven of purple, gold, emeralds, and other precious stones. 22When they announced her to him, he came out to the front part of the tent, preceded by silver lamps. 23When Judith came before Holofernes and his attendants, they all marveled at the beauty of her face. She fell prostrate and paid homage to him, but his servants raised her up.g
* [10:4] Judith’s beauty overcomes all who meet her (8:7; 10:7, 14, 19, 23; 11:21, 23; 12:13).
* [10:5] Concern for Israel’s dietary laws, reflected in her selection of wine, roasted grain, and bread, emphasizes Judith’s religious fidelity (cf. 1 Sm 25:18 and Dn 1:8–16).
* [10:11–13:20] In this section Judith and her maid arrive in the Assyrian camp (10:11–19), where Judith meets (10:20–12:9) and triumphs over Holofernes (12:10–13:10a). Then she and her maid return to Bethulia and announce the victory (13:10b–20).
* [10:21] Canopy: netting for protection against insects. A prized possession in this story (cf. 13:15; 16:19).
a. [10:3] Gn 43:24; Lv 8:6; 22:6; Tb 6:3; Ez 16:4, 9.
b. [10:4] Gn 24:47, 53; 35:4; Ex 3:22; 12:35; 32:3; 35:22; Nm 31:50; Is 3:18, 21; Hos 2:15.
c. [10:5] 1 Sm 25:18.
g. [10:23] Ru 2:10; 1 Sm 25:41; 2 Sm 14:4.