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  • Judith 13

    Judith kills Holofernes

    13 When evening came, his slaves left quickly, and Bagoas closed up the tent from the outside and shut out those who had been waiting on his master. They all went to bed, for they were exhausted because the party had lasted a long time. Judith was left alone in the tent with Holofernes sprawled out on his bed, dead drunk.

    Now Judith told her servant to stand outside of the bedroom and to watch for her to come out just as she had done on other days. She said that she would be going out to pray, and she told Bagoas the same thing. So everyone went out, and there was no one left with them in the bedroom, either small or great. Then Judith stood next to his bed and said in her heart, Lord, God of all power, look at this hour upon the work of my hands for the glory of Jerusalem. Now is the time to help your inheritance and to accomplish my plans to destroy the enemies who have risen up against us.

    Then she went to the bedpost near Holofernes’ head and took down his sword. When she came closer to the bed, she grabbed the hair on his head and said, “Give me strength today, Lord God of Israel.” She struck him in the neck twice with all her might and cut off his head. Then she rolled his body off the bed and pulled down the canopy from the rods. After a little while she went out and handed Holofernes’ head to her servant, 10 who placed it in her food bag.

    Judith and her servant escape to Bethulia

    The two of them went out to pray, as was their habit. They walked through the camp, circled around the valley, went up the hill to Bethulia, and arrived at the city gates. 11 From a distance Judith called out to the guards at the gate, “Open, open the gate! God, our God, is with us and is still demonstrating strength in Israel and power against our enemies! He has done so even today!”

    12 When the people in her city heard her voice, they hurried down to the city gate and called together the elders of the city. 13 They all ran together, from the youngest to the oldest, because it seemed impossible that she had returned safely. They opened the gate and welcomed them. After lighting a fire to give some light, they stood around them. 14 Then Judith said to them in a loud voice, “Praise God! Praise, praise God, who hasn’t taken his mercy away from the house of Israel! Rather, he has destroyed our enemies by my hand this very night!”

    15 And with that she pulled the head out of the bag. Showing it to them, she said, “Look! Here’s the head of Holofernes, the general of the Assyrian army, and here too is the canopy under which he was lying in a drunken stupor. The Lord struck him down by the hand of a woman! 16 As the Lord lives, who protected me on my mission, I deceived him with my appearance in order to kill him. But he committed no sin with me, to pollute or shame me.”

    17 Everyone was completely amazed and bowed down, worshipping God. They said with one voice, “Blessed are you, our God, who has disgraced the enemies of your people this day.”

    18 Then Uzziah said to her, “Daughter, you are blessed by the Most High God above all other women on the earth. And blessed is the Lord God, who made the heavens and the earth, who guided you to cut off the head of our enemy’s leader. 19 Your hope will never fade away from the hearts of the people who remember God’s strength. 20 May God make these things a continual source of honor for you and give you good things. You risked your own life for our nation when it was being oppressed, and you prevented our destruction by walking a straight line before our God.”

    And all the people said, “Amen, amen.”