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The Book of Judith

 

Chapters 1-8 | 9-end | Next Book


 

Chapter 9

      Now when they were gone their way, Judith went into her *oratory, put on an hairy smock, strewed ashes upon her head, fell down before the Lord, and cried unto him, saying O' Lord God of my father Simeon, which gavest him a sword for a defense against the enemies, that used violence and willfulness and that ravished the virgin and put her to dishonesty. Thou that gavest their wives into prey, and their daughters into captivity, and all their prey for a spoil unto thy servants, which bear a zeal unto thee, help me widow, O' Lord my God, I beseech thee For thou hast done all things from the beginning, and look what thou hast taken in hand and devised, it came ever to pass. For all thy ways are prepared, and thy judgements are done in thy everlasting for knowledge. O' look now upon the armies of the Assyrians, like as it was thy pleasure sometime to look upon the host of the Egyptians, when they being weaponed, persecuted thy servants, and put their trust in their chariots, horsemen, and in the multitude of their men of war. But thou lookest upon their host casting a thick darkness before them: and when they came into the deep, the waters overwhelmed them.
      Even so Lord let it go with these, that trust in the power and multitude of their men of war, in their chariots, arrows and spears, and know not, that thou only art our God, which destroyest wars from the beginning, and that thou art the Lord. O' lift up thine arm now like as ever from the beginning, and in thy power bring their power to naught, cause their might to fall in thy wrath. They make their boast, that they will unhallow and defile thy Sanctuary, and to waste the tabernacle of thy name and to cast down the horn of thine altar with their sword. Bring to pass ( O' Lord) that the pride of the enemy may be cut down with his own sword that he may be taken with the snare of his eyes in me and that thou mayest smite him with the lips of my love. O' give me a steadfast mind, that I may despise him and his strength, and that I may destroy him.
      This shall I bring thy name an everlasting remembrance, if the hand of a woman overthrow him. For thy power ( O' Lord ) standeth not in the power of men, neither hast thou any pleasure in the strength of horses. There was never proud person that pleaseth thee, but in the prayer of the humble and meek hath thy pleasure been evermore.
      O' thou God of the heavens, thou maker of the waters, and Lord of all creatures, hear me poor woman, calling upon thee, and putting my trust in thy mercy. Remember thy covenant O' Lord, and minister words in my mouth, and *stablish this devise in my heart, that thy house may continue still in holiness, and that all the Heathen may know and understand, that thou art God, and that there is none other but thou.

 

*oratory, (place speaking; in this case of prayer) *stablish (establish)

 

 

 

Chapter 10

      And when she had left off crying unto the Lord, she rose up from the place, where she had layen flat before the Lord, and called her maid, went down into her house, layed the hairy cloth from her, put off the garments of her widowhood, washed her body, annointed herself with precious things of sweet savior, *broided and plated her hair, set an *hoove upon her head, and put on such apparel as belongeth to gladness, slippers upon her feet, armlets, spangles, earings, finger rings, and decked herself with all her best array.
      The Lord gave her also a special beauty and fairness ( for all this decking of herself was not done for any voluptuousness and pleasure of the flesh, but of right descretion and vertue, therefore did the Lord increase her beauty ) so that she was exceedingly *amiable and well favored in all mens eyes. She gave her maid also a bottle of wine, a pot with oil, pottage, cake bread and cheese, and went her way.
      Now when she came to the port of the city, she found Osias and the elders of the city waiting there. Which when they saw her, they were astounded, and marveled at her great beauty, nevertheless, they asked no question at her, but let her go saying: The God of our fathers give thee his grace, and with his power perform all the devise of thy heart: that Jerusalem may rejoice over thee, and that thy name may be in the number of the holy and righteous. And all they that were there, said with one voice: so be it, so be it. Judith made her prayer unto the Lord, and went out the port, she and her maid.
      And as she was going down the mountain, it happened that about the spring of the day, the spies of the Assyrians met with her, and took her, saying: whence commest thou? Or whither goest thou? She answered: I am a daughter of the Hebrews, and am fled from them, for I know, that they shall be given unto you to be spoiled: because they thought scorn to yield themselves unto you, that they might find mercy in your sight. Therefore have I devised by myself after this manner: I will go before the prince Holofernes, and tell him all their secrets, and will show him, how he may come by them, and win them, so that not one man of his host shall perish.
      And when these men had heard her words, and considered her fair face, they were astonished ( for they wondered at her excellent beauty ) and said unto her: Thou hast saved thy life by finding out this devise, that thou wouldest come down to our lord: and be thou sure, that when thou comest unto him, he shall entreat thee well, and thou shall please him at the heart. So they brought her in to Holofernes pavilion, and told him of her. Now when she came in before him, immediately he was overcome and taken with her beauty. Then said his servants: who would despise the people of the Jews, that have so fair women? Should we not by reason fight against them for these? So when Judith saw Holofernes sitting in a canopy, that was wrought of purple, silk, gold Emeralds she looked fast upon him, and fell down upon the earth. And Holofernes servants took her up again, at their lords commandment.

 

*broided (as embroidered) *hoove :(a covering for the head;)
*amiable (agreeably pleasant)

 

 

 

Chapter 11

      Then said Holofernes unto her: be of good cheer, and fear not in thine heart, for I never hurt man, that would serve Nabuchodonosor the king. As for thy people, if they had not despised me. I should not have lift up a spear against them. But tell me now, what is the cause that thou art departed from them, and wherefore art thou come unto us.
      And Judith said unto him: Sir understand the words of thy handmaiden: for if thou wilt do after the words of thy handmaiden, the Lord shall bring thy matter to a prosperous effect. As truly as Nabuchodonosor a lord of the land liveth, and as truly as his power liveth, which is in the punishment of all men that go wrong, all men shall not only be subdued unto him through thee, but all the beasts of the field. For all people speak of thy prudent activity, and it hath ever been reported, how thou only art good and mighty in all his kingdom, and thy discretion is command in all lands.
      The thing is manifest also, that Achior spake and it is well known, what thou commandest to do to him. For this is plain and of a surety, that our God is so wroth with us ( by reason of our sins ) that he hath showed by his Prophets unto the people, how that for their sins he will deliver them over unto the enemy. And for so much as the children of Israel know that they have so displeased their God, they are sore afraid of thee.
      They suffer great hunger also, and for want of water, they are dead now in a manner. Moreover they are appointed to slay all their cattle, that they may drink the blood of them: and are purposed to spend all the holy ornaments of their God ( which he hath forbidden them to touch ) for corn, wine and oil. Seeing now that they do these things, it is a plain cause, that they must needs be destroyed. Which when I thy handmaiden perceived, I fled from them and the Lord hath sent me unto thee, to show thee these things. For I thy handmaiden worship God even here beside thee, and thy handmaiden shall go forth, and will make my prayer unto God, and he shall tell me, when he will reward them their sin: then shall I come and show thee and bring thee through the midst of Jerusalem, so that thou shalt have all the people of Israel, as the sheep without a shepherd: there shall not so much as one dog bark against thee, for these things are showed me by the providence of God: and for so much as God is displeased with them, he hath sent me to tell thee the same.
      These words pleased Holofernes and all his servants, which marveled at the wisdom of her, and said one to another: there is not such a woman upon the earth, in beauty, and discretion of words. And Holofernes said unto her: God hath done well, that he hath sent thee hither before thy people, that thou mayest give them into our hands. And for so much as thy promise is good, if thy God perform it unto me, he shall be my God also, and thou shalt be excellent and great in the court of Nabuchodonosor, and thy name shall be spoken of in all the land.

 

 

 

Chapter 12

      Then commanded he her to go in, where his treasure lay, and charged that she should have her dwelling there, and appointed what should be given her from his table. Judith answered him and said: As for the meat that thou hast commanded to give me, I may not eat of it as now ( least I displease my God ) but will eat of such as I have brought with me. Then said Holofernes unto her: If these things that thou hast brought with thee fail, what shall we do unto thee? And Judith said: As truly as thou livest my lord, thy hand maiden shall not spend all this, till God have brought to pass in my hand, the things that I have devised.
      So his servants brought her in to the tent, whereas he had appointed. And as she was going in, she desired that she might have leave to go forth by night and before the day, to her prayer and to make intercession unto the Lord. Then commanded Holofernes his Chamberlains, that she should go out and in at her pleasure, to pray unto God those three days.
      And so in the night season she went forth into the valley of Bethulia, and washed herself in the well water. Then went she up, and besought the Lord God of Israel that he would prosper her way, for the deliverance of his people. And so she went in, and remained clean in her tent, till she took her meat in the evening.
      Upon the fourth day it happened, that Holofernes made a costly supper unto his servants, and said unto Uagao his Chamberlain: Go thy way, and counsel this Hebrewess, that she may be willing to consent to keep company with me. For it were a shame unto all Assyrians, that a woman should so laugh a man to scorn, that she were come from him unmeddled withal.
      Then went Uagao unto Judith, and said: Let the good daughter be afraid, to come in to my Lord, that she may be honored before him, that she may eat and drink wine, and be merry with him. Unto whom Judith answered: Who am I, that I should say my Lord nay? Whatsoever is good before his eyes, I shall do it: and look what is his pleasure, that shall I think well done, as long as I live.
      So she stood up and decked herself with her apparel, and went in, and stood before him. And Holofernes heart was whole moved, so that he burnt with desire toward her. And Holofernes said unto her: drink now and sit down, and be merry, for thou hast found favor before me. Then said Judith: Sir I will drink, for my mind is merrier today, then ever it was in all my life. And she took and ate and drank before him, the things that her maiden had prepared for her. And Holofernes was merry with her, and drink more wine, than ever he did afore in his life.

 

 

 

Chapter 13

      Now when it was late in the night his servants made haste every man to his lodging. And Uagao shut the chamber doors, and went his way, for they were all over laden with wine. So was Judith alone in the chamber. As for Holofernes he lay upon the bed all drunken, and of very drunkenness fell asleep.
      Then commanded Judith her maiden, to stand without before the door, and to wait. And Judith stood before the bed, making her prayer with tears, and moved her lips secretly, and said: Strengthen me O' Lord God of Israel, and have respect unto the works of my hands in this hour, that thou mayest set up thy city of Jerusalem, like as thou hast promised: O' grant that by thee I may perform the thing, which I have devised through the believe that I have in thee.
      And when she had spoken this, she went to the bedstead, and loosen the sword that hanged upon it, and drew it out. Then she took hold of the hairy locks of his head, and said: Strengthen me O' Lord God in this hour: and with that she gave him two strokes upon the neck, and smote off his head. Then took she the canopy away, and rolled the dead body aside. Immediately she gat her forth, and delivered the head of Holofernes unto her maiden, and bade her to put it in her wallet.
      And so these two went forth together after their custom, as thought they would pray, and so passed by the Host, and came through the valley unto the port of the city. And Judith cried afar off unto the watchmen upon the walls: Open the gates ( said she ) for God is with us, which hath showed his power in Israel. And when they heard her voice, they called the elders of the city together. And they came all to meet her, little and great, young and old, for they thought not that she should have come so soon. So they lighted candles, and gathered around her every each one: but she went up into an high place, and caused silence to be proclaimed.
      When every man now held his tongue, Judith said: O' praise the Lord our God, for he hath not despised, nor forsaken them, that put their trust in him: and in me his handmaiden he hath performed his mercy, which he promised unto the house of Israel: yee in my hand this same night hath he slayen the enemy of his people.
      And with that she took forth the head of Holofernes out of the wallet, and showed it them, saying: Behold the head of Holofernes the Captain of the Assyrians, and this is the canopy, where he layed in his drunkenness : where the Lord our God hath slayen him by the hand of a woman.
      But truly as the Lord liveth, his Angel hath kept me, going hither remaining there, and coming hither again from thence. And the Lord hath not suffered me his handmaiden to be defiled, but without any filthiness of sin hath he brought me again unto you: and that with great victory, so that I am escaped, and ye delivered. O' give thanks unto him every each one, for he is gracious, and his mercy endureth forever.
      So they praised the Lord altogether, and gave thanks unto him. And to her they said: The Lord hath blessed thee in his power, for through thee he hath brought our enemies to naught. And Osias the chief ruler of the people of Israel, said unto her: Blessed art thou of the Lord the high God, above all women on earth.
      Blessed be the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth, which hath guided thee aright to wound and to smite off the head of the Captain of our enemies. For this day he hath made thy name so honorable, that thy praise shall never come out of the mouth of men, which shall alway remember the power of the Lord: seeing that thou hast not spared thy own self, but put thee in jeopardy, considering the anguish and trouble of thy people, and so hast helped their fall before God our Lord. And all the people said: Amen, Amen.
      Achior also was called, and he came. Then said Judith unto him: The God of Israel unto whom thou gavest witness, that he would be avenged of his enemies, even he hath this night through my hand smitten off the head of all the unfaithful. And that thou mayest see that it so is, behold this is the head of Holofernes, which in his presumptuous pride despised the God of the people of Israel, and threatened thee with destruction, saying: when the people of Israel is taken, I shall also cause thee to be sticked with the sword. When Achior saw Holofernes head he fell down upon his face to the ground for very anguish and fear, so that he swooned withal. But after that he was come again to himself, he fell down before her, and praised her, saying: Blessed art thou of thy God in all the tabernacles of Jacob: for all the people that hear of thy name, shall praise the God of Israel because of thee.

 

 

 

Chapter 14

      Judith said unto all the people: Brethren hear me. Stick up this head upon our walls, and when the *Sun arizeth, take every man his weapon, and fall out violently: not as though ye would go beside them, but to run upon them, with violence. When the spies in the tents see this, they shall of necessity be compelled to flee backward, and to raise up their captain to the battle. So when their captains come into Holofernes pavilion, and find the dead body wrapped in blood, fearfulness shall fall upon them: and when ye perceive that they flee, follow them without all care, for God shall deliver them unto you, to be destroyed. Then Achior seeing the power of God which he had showed unto the people of Israel, fell off from his Heathen belief, and put his trust in God, and let himself be circumcised: and so was he numbered among the people of Israel, he and all his posterity unto this day.
      Now as soon as it was day, they sticked up Holofernes head upon the walls, and everyman took his weapon, and so they went out with an horrible cry. When the spies saw that, they ran unto Holofernes tent, came before his chamber, and made a great rushing to wake him up, because they thought with noise to raise him. For there durst not one of the Assyrians knock, go in or open.
      But when the captains and the princes and all the chief in the king of the Assyrians host came together, they said unto the chamberlains: Go your way in, and wake him up, for the mice are crept out of there holes, and dare provoke us unto battle.
      Then went Uagao in to his chamber, stood before the bed, and clapped with his hands, for he thought that he had been sleeping with Judith.
      But when he had harkened perfectly with his ears, and could perceive no stirring, he went nearer to the bed, and lift it up, and then saw the dead body of Holofernes lying there without a head, weltered in his blood upon the earth. Then cried he with loud voice, and with weeping rent his clothes, and went into Judiths tent, and found her not: and so he leapt out unto the people and said: one woman of the Jews, hath brought all Nabuchodonosors people to shame. For lo, Holofernes lieth upon the ground and hath no head.
      When the chief of the Assyrians host heard that, they rent their clothes, and there fell an intolerable fear and trembling upon them, so that their minds were sore afraid. And there was an exceedingly great cry in the whole host.

 

* Sun exactly as from the text

 

 

 

Chapter 15

      Now when all the host heard that Holofernes was headed, their mind and counsel fell from them: and such a fear came upon them, that they undertook to defend themselves by fleeing away: one spoke not to another, but hanged down their heads, left all behind them, and made haste to escape from the Hebrews: for they heard, that they were hastening to come after them with their weapons, and so they fled by the ways of the fields, and through all the foot paths of the dales.
      And when the children of Israel saw that they fled, they followed upon them, and went down with trumpets, blowing and making a great cry after them. As for the Assyrians, they had no order, and kept not themselves together, but fled their way. Nevertheless the children of Israel fell upon them with one company and order, and discomfited as many as they might get. And Osias sent messengers unto all the cities and countries of Israel.
      So all the regions and every city sent out their best men after them in harness, and smote them with the sword, till they came to the uttermost part of their borders. And the other that were in Bethulia came into the tents of the Assyrians, and took all that they which were fled had left behind them, and so they found great good. And they that came again to Bethulia from the battle, took with them such things as had been theirs: there was no number of cattle, and of all costly Jewels, so that from the lowest to the highest, they were all made rich of the spoils of them. And Joachim the High priest at Jerusalem, came to Bethulia with all the elders, that they might see Judith.
      Now when she came out unto them, they began to praise her all with one voice, saying: thou worship of the city of Jerusalem, thou joy of Israel, thou honor of our people, thou hast done manly, and thy heart is comforted, because thou hast loved cleanness an chastity, and hast no man but thine own husband: therefore hath the hand of the Lord comforted thee, and blessed shalt thou be for ever. And all the people said: so be it, so be it.
      In thirty days could the people of Israel scarce gather up the spoils of the Assyrians. But all that belonged unto Holofernes, and been his specially, ( whether it were of gold, of silver, precious stones, clothing and all ornaments ) they gave it unto Judith. And all the people rejoiced, both women, maidens, and young people, with pipes and harps.

 

 

 

Chapter 16

      Then sung Judith this song unto the Lord: Began unto the Lord upon tabernettes, sing unto the Lord upon the cymbals. O' sing unto him a new song of thanksgiving, be joyful and call upon his name. It is the Lord that destroyeth wars, even the Lord is his name. Which hath pitched his tents in the midst of his people, that he might deliver us from the hand of all our enemies. Assur came out of the mountains in the multitude of his strength. His people stopped the water brooks, and their horses covered the valleys. He purposed to have burnt up my land, and to slay my young men with the sword.
      He would have carried away my children and virgins into captivity, but the Allmighty Lord hurt him, and delivered him into the hands of a woman, which brought him to confusion. For their mighty was not destroyed of young men. It was not the sons of Titan that slew him, neither have the great giants set themselves against him: but Judith the daughter of Merari with her fair beauty hath discomfited him, and brought him to naught. For she layed away her widows garment, and put on the apparel of gladness in the rejoicing of the children of Israel. She anointed her face, and bound up her hair in a *hoove to beguile him. Her slippers ravished his eyes, her beauty captivated his mind, with the sword she smote off his neck. The Persians were astonished at her steadfastness, and the Medes at her boldness. Then howled the armies of the Assyrians, when my simple appeared dry of thirst. The sons of the daughters have pared them through, and slain them as fugitive children: they perished in the battle, for the very fear of the Lord my God. Let us sing a song of thanks giving unto the Lord, a new song of praise will we sing unto our God. Lord, Lord, thou art a great God, mighty in power, whom no man may overcome. All thy creatures should serve thee: for thou spakest but the word, and they were made: thou sentest thy spirit, and they were created, and no man can withstand thy voice. The mountains shall move from the foundations with the waters, the stoney rocks shall melt before thee like wax. But they that fear thee: shall be great with thee in all things. Woe unto the people that rise up against my generation, for the Almighty Lord will avenge himself of them, and in the day of judgement will he visit them. For he shall give fire and worms in to their flesh, that they may burn an feel it forevermore.
      After this it happened, that after the victory all the people came to Jerusalem, to give praise and thanks unto the Lord. And when they were purified, they offered all their burnt sacrifices and their promised offerings. And Judith offered all of Holofernes weapons, and all the Jewels, that the people had given her, and the canopy that she took from his bed, and hanged them up unto the Lord. The people was joyful, as the use is: and this joy by reason of the victory, with Judith endured three months.
      So after these days every man went home again, and Judith was in great reputation at Bethulia, and right honorably taken in all the land of Israel. Unto her virtue was chastity joined, so that after her husband Manasses died, she never knew a man all the days of her life. Upon the high solemn days she went out with great worship. She dwelt in her husbands house an hundred and five years, and left her handmaiden free, and died, and was buried beside her husband in Bethulia. And all the people mourned for her seven days. So long as she lived, there was none that troubled Israel, and many years also after her death.
      The day wherein this victory was gotten, was solemnly holden, and reckoned of the Jews in the number of the holy days, and it is yet greatly holden of the Jews ever since unto this day.

 

*hoove (a covering for the head;)

 

Chapters 1-8 | 9-end | Next Book


 

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