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The Oxford Study Bible Study Bible supplemented with commentary from scholars of various religions.

Chapter 10

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1When Judith had ended this prayer to the God of Israel, 2she rose from where she had been lying prostrate, called her maid, and went down into the house in which she spent her sabbaths and days of festival. 3She removed the sackcloth she was wearing and laid aside her widow's dress. After bathing, she anointed herself with rich perfume. She arranged her hair elaborately, tied it with a ribbon, and arrayed herself in her gayest clothes, those she used to wear while her husband Manasses was still alive. 4She put sandals on her feet and adorned herself with anklets, bracelets and rings, her ear-rings, and all her ornaments, and made herself very attractive, to catch the eye of any man who saw her. 5She gave her maid a skin of wine and a flask of oil; she filled a bag with roasted grain, cakes of dried figs, and loaves of fine bread, packed up her utensils, and gave it all to her maid to carry.

6From the house they made their way to the town gate of Bethulia, where they found Ozias standing with Chabris and Charmis, the elders of the town. 7When they beheld Judith transformed in appearance and quite differently dressed, they marvelled at her beauty and said to her, 8‘The God of our fathers grant that you meet with favour and accomplish what you are undertaking, so that Israel may triumph and Jerusalem be exalted!’ Judith bowed in worship to God 9and then said, ‘Give the order for the gate to be opened for me, and I shall go and carry out all we have spoken of.’ They ordered the young men to do as she asked, 10and when the gate was opened Judith went out, accompanied by her maid. The men of the town gazed after her until she had gone down the hillside and along the valley, where they lost sight of her.

11As the two women were making their way straight down the valley, they were confronted by an Assyrian outpost 12who stopped Judith and questioned her: ‘What is your nationality? Where have you come from, and where are you going?’ ‘I am a Hebrew,’ she replied; ‘but I am running away from my people, because they are about to fall into your hands and become your prey. 13I am on my way to Holophernes, your commander-in-chief, with accurate information for him: I shall show him a route by which he can gain control of the entire hill-country without one of you suffering injury or worse.’

14The men listened to her story, looking at her face and marvelling at her beauty. 15‘By coming down at once to see our master you have saved your life,’ they said. ‘You must go to his tent straight away; some of us will escort you and hand you over. 16When you are in his presence, do not be afraid; just tell him what you have told us, and he will treat you well.’ 17They detailed a hundred of their number to accompany her and her maid, and the two women were conducted to Holophernes' tent.

18 AS THE news of her coming spread from tent to tent, men ran from all parts of the camp and gathered in a circle round her as she stood outside Holophernes' tent waiting for him to be told about her. 19Admiration for her beauty led them to feel admiration for all Israelites; they said to each other, ‘Who could despise a nation whose women are like these? We had better not leave a man of them alive, for if they get away they will be able to outwit the whole world.’

20Holophernes' bodyguard and all his attendants came out and escorted her into the tent, 21where he was resting on his bed under a mosquito-net of purple interwoven with gold, emeralds, and precious stones. 22When Judith was announced he came out to the front part of the tent, with silver lamps carried before him. 23She entered his presence, and he and his attendants all marvelled at the beauty of her face. She prostrated herself and did obeisance to him, but his slaves raised her up.

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