1Then Holofernes said to her: “Take courage, woman! Have no fear in your heart! I have never harmed anyone who chose to serve Nebuchadnezzar, king of all the earth. 2As for your people who live in the hill country, I would never have raised my spear against them, had they not insulted me. They have brought this upon themselves. 3But now tell me why you have fled from them and come to us? In any case, you have come to safety. Take courage! Your life is spared tonight and for the future.a 4No one at all will harm you. Rather, you will be well treated, as are the servants of my lord, King Nebuchadnezzar.”
5Judith answered him: “Listen to the words of your servant, and let your maidservant speak in your presence! I will say nothing false to my lord* this night. 6If you follow the words of your maidservant, God will successfully perform a deed through you, and my lord will not fail to achieve his designs.* 7I swear by the life of Nebuchadnezzar, king of all the earth, and by the power of him who has sent you to guide all living things, that not only do human beings serve him through you; but even the wild animals, and the cattle, and the birds of the air, because of your strength, will live for Nebuchadnezzar and his whole house.b 8Indeed, we have heard of your wisdom and cleverness.c The whole earth is aware that you above all others in the kingdom are able, rich in experience, and distinguished in military strategy.
9d “As for Achior’s speech in your council, we have heard it. When the men of Bethulia rescued him, he told them all he had said to you. 10So then, my lord and master, do not disregard his word, but bear it in mind, for it is true. Indeed our people are not punished, nor does the sword prevail against them, except when they sin against their God.e 11But now their sin* has caught up with them, by which they will bring the wrath of their God upon them when they do wrong; so that my lord will not be repulsed and fail, but death will overtake them. 12Because their food has given out and all their water is running low, they have decided to kill their animals, and are determined to consume all the things which God in his laws has forbidden them to eat. 13They have decided that they would use the first fruits of grain and the tithes of wine and oil, which they had consecrated and reserved for the priests who minister in the presence of our God in Jerusalem—things which the people should not so much as touch with their hands.f 14They have sent messengers to Jerusalem to bring back permission from the senate, for even there people have done these things.g 15On the very day when the response reaches them and they act upon it, they will be handed over to you for destruction.
16“As soon as I, your servant, learned all this, I fled from them. God has sent me to perform with you such deeds as will astonish people throughout the whole earth who hear of them. 17Your servant is, indeed, a God-fearing woman, serving the God of heaven night and day. Now I will remain with you, my lord; but each night your servant will go out into the valley and pray to God. He will tell me when they have committed their offenses. 18Then I will come and let you know, so that you may march out with all your forces, and not one of them will be able to withstand you. 19I will lead you through the heart of Judea until you come to Jerusalem, and there in its center I will set up your throne. You will drive them like sheep that have no shepherd, and not even a dog will growl at you.h This was told to me in advance and announced to me, and I have been sent to tell you.”
20Her words pleased Holofernes and all his attendants. They marveled at her wisdom and exclaimed, 21“No other woman from one end of the earth to the other looks so beautiful and speaks so wisely!” 22Then Holofernes said to her: “God has done well in sending you ahead of your people, to bring victory to our hands, and destruction to those who have despised my lord. 23You are not only beautiful in appearance, but you are also eloquent. If you do as you have said, your God will be my God;* you will live in the palace of King Nebuchadnezzar and be renowned throughout the whole earth.”
* [11:5–6] Here the word “lord” has a double meaning, indicating both Holofernes and God. Much irony is evident in Judith’s conversation with Holofernes (e.g., 12:4).
* [11:6] Designs: cf. 10:8; 11:6; 13:5 where this word is used as a synonym for Judith’s “affair” (8:34), which she kept secret as she carried out the plan of her God (8:15, 16), unlike her counterpart Nebuchadnezzar, who told all the details of his plan (2:2, 4).
* [11:11] Sin: but in 8:18–20 Judith asserts that the people have not committed idolatry in recent generations.
* [11:23] Your God will be my God: in 3:8, Holofernes insisted that Nebuchadnezzar alone is god.
a. [11:3] 2 Mc 11:19.
b. [11:7] Jgs 8:19; 1 Sm 14:45; 25:26; 28:10; 2 Sm 11:11; Ez 17:16; Dn 2:38.