The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Book of Judith
And now Holofernes would have her repair to the tent where he kept his treasures, and lodge there; and he was for sending food to her there from his own table.
But Judith told him, Eat I may not of the portion thou wouldst assign me; that were a grave fault; I have brought my own provisions with me.
Ay, thou hast brought them, Holofernes said, but how if they should not suffice? How shall we fend for thee?
My lord, answered Judith, as thou art a living man, God will prosper thy handmaid’s undertaking before ever these are spent. So his servants shewed her to the tent he had designed for her;
but as she entered it, she asked that she might be allowed to leave it each night, before day broke, and, praying, make her peace with the Lord.
So he gave orders to his chamberlains, that for the next three days she should be allowed to come and go as she would, for the worship of her God;
each night she went out to the vale of Bethulia, and washed herself in a fountain there,
and prayed, as she came up out of the water, the God of Israel would speed her errand for his people’s deliverance.
Then she guarded herself against defilement by keeping her tent all day, till she made her meal at sun-down.
On the fourth day, Holofernes made a banquet for his own attendants, and sent his chamberlain Vagoa with an invitation to her. Prevail if thou canst, said he, on this Hebrew woman to grant me, of her own free will, her favours.
(Great shame the Assyrians hold it in a man, if any woman fools him, and contrives to escape from his company unmolested.)
So Vagoa waited on Judith, and said, Fair lady, make no scruple to appear as an honoured guest in my master’s presence, to eat with him, and make merry over the wine.
It is not for me, Judith answered, to gainsay my lord in this.
Whim and will of his shall be whim and will of mine; I ask no better, all my life, than to obey his pleasure.
With that, she rose up and threw her robe about her, and so made her way into Holofernes’ presence;
fast beat his heart within him, such was his longing for her charms.
Drink with me, he said; fall to, and make merry; thou art right welcome.
And Judith answered, Drink I will, my lord; never was a day in my life so proud as this.
So she ate and drank with him, but only what her serving-maid had prepared for her.
And Holofernes, basking in her smiles, drank ever deeper; never drank Holofernes as on that night.
The Holy Bible