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

Chapter 11

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1‘Do not be alarmed, madam,’ said Holophernes; ‘there is no cause for fear. I have never injured anyone who chose to serve Nebuchadnezzar, king of all the earth. 2I should never have raised my spear against your people in the hill-country had they not insulted me; they have brought it on themselves. 3Now tell me why you have run away from them and joined us. You have saved your life by coming. Be reassured! You are in no danger, this night or at any time; 4no one will harm you. On the contrary, you will enjoy the benefits that are accorded to the subjects of my master, King Nebuchadnezzar.’

5Judith replied, ‘My lord, grant your slave a hearing and listen to what I have to say to you. The information I am giving you tonight is the truth. 6If you follow my advice, through you God will accomplish a great thing, and my lord will not fail to attain his ends: 7I swear this by the life of Nebuchadnezzar, king of all the earth, and by the living might of him who sent you to bring order to all creatures. Thanks to you and to your power, not only do men serve him, but wild animals, cattle, and birds will live at the disposal of Nebuchadnezzar and his whole house. 8We have heard how wise and clever you are; you are known throughout the world as a man of ability who has no peer in all the empire, a man of powerful intellect and amazing skill in the arts of war.

9‘Now, we have heard about the speech that Achior made in your council; the men of Bethulia rescued him and he told them everything he had said in your presence. 10Do not disregard his words, my sovereign lord, but give them full weight. They are true: no punishment ever befalls our race nor does the sword subdue them, except when they sin against their God. 11And yet, my lord, you are not to be thwarted and cheated of success; they are doomed to die, and sin has them in its power, for whenever they do wrong they arouse their God's anger. 12Since they have run out of food and their water supply is desperately low, they have decided to lay hands on their cattle, proposing to eat all the things that God by his laws has strictly prohibited; 13they have resolved to use up the firstfruits of the grain and the tithes of wine and oil, although these are dedicated and reserved for the priests who stand in attendance before our God in Jerusalem, and no layman may so much as touch them. 14They have sent to Jerusalem for permission from the senate, because even the people there have done this. 15As soon as ever the word comes and they act on it, that same day they will be given up to you to be destroyed.

16‘When I learnt all this, my lord, I left them and made my escape; the things that God has sent me to do with you will be the wonder of the whole world, wherever men hear about them. 17For I, your servant, am a godfearing woman: day and night I worship the God of heaven. I shall stay with you now, my lord, and each night I shall go out into the valley and pray to God, and when they have committed their sins he will tell me. 18Immediately I bring you word, you may go out at the head of your army; you will meet with no resistance. 19I shall guide you across Judaea until you reach Jerusalem, and I shall set up your throne in the heart of the city. You will drive them like sheep that have lost their shepherd, and not a dog will so much as growl at you. I have been given foreknowledge of this; it has been revealed to me, and I have been sent to announce it to you.’

20Judith's words delighted Holophernes and all those in attendance on him and, amazed at her wisdom, 21they declared, ‘From one end of the earth to the other there is not a woman to compare with her for beauty of face or shrewdness of speech.’ 22Holophernes assured her, ‘Your God has done well in sending you out from your people, to bring strength to us and destruction to those who have insulted my lord! 23Your looks are striking and your words are wise. Do as you have promised, and your God shall be my god, and you shall live in King Nebuchadnezzar's palace and be renowned throughout the whole world.’

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