The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Book of Judith
Then, her plea for the divine succour ended, Judith rose from the ground where she lay prostrate in the Lord’s presence,
called her maidservant to her, and went downstairs into her house. Flung aside, now, the sackcloth, folded away her widow’s weeds;
she bathed herself, anointed herself with the finest myrrh, parted and tied her hair. The garments of happier days she donned anew, put on her sandals, took bracelet and anklet, ear-ring and finger-ring; decked herself with every ornament she had.
The Lord himself lent grace to her mien; manly resolve, not woman’s wantonness, was the occasion of her finery, and he would enhance her beauty till all beholders should vow there was never woman so fair.
A bottle of wine she bade her serving-maid carry, and a phial of oil, parched corn and dry figs, and bread, and cheese, and so she went out on her journey.
When they reached the gates, they found Ozias and the elders of the city awaiting them there;
and no sooner did these catch sight of her, than they fell into a great wonderment of her beauty.
Still they did not question her, but let her pass; May the God of our fathers, they said, grant thee his favour, and his strength speed whatever design is in thy heart. Cause may Jerusalem have to be proud of thee; may thy name live among the holy and the just!
And all the bystanders, as with one voice, said Amen to that.
So, with a prayer to the Lord, Judith passed out at the gate, and her maidservant with her.
At break of day, while she was yet making her way down the mountain-slope, she fell in with the advance-guard of the Assyrians, who stopped her, and asked whence she came, whither she was bound?
A Hebrew, she said, but I have given my fellow-countrymen the slip, well knowing that the city must fall into your hands. Why did they defy you, and refuse to surrender, instead of throwing themselves on your mercy?
What was I to do? I determined to win audience with your general, Holofernes, and tell him of their secret plans; shew him, too, means by which he may reduce the city without losing a man of his army.
Her story told, they must next scan her face; and now their eyes dazzled with the admiration they had of her beauty.
It has been the saving of thy life, they told her, this plan thou hast formed of betaking thyself to our master yonder.
Of this be well assured, once thou hast found thy way to his presence he will use thee well; none so welcome as thou. And so they led her to Holofernes’ tent, and advised him of her coming.
No sooner did she stand before him, than Holofernes’ eyes made him her prisoner.
Meanwhile, his lords were saying to one another, Who shall belittle the Hebrew folk, or doubt they are worth the attacking, when for prize there are such women as this?
As for Judith, she saw only Holofernes, as he sat there with a canopy over him, a canopy of purple, with gold and emeralds and other precious stones worked into it.
She looked him full in the face, then did reverence, bowing down to earth, until his servants raised her to her feet, at their master’s bidding.
The Holy Bible