Bible Book List

Judith 14-16 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

V. Victory and Thanksgiving[a]

Chapter 14

Judith’s Plan of Attack. Then Judith said to them: “Listen to me,[b] my brothers and sisters. Take this head and hang it on the parapet of your wall. At daybreak, when the sun rises on the earth, each of you seize your weapons, and let all the able-bodied men rush out of the city under command of a captain, as if about to go down into the valley against the Assyrian patrol, but without going down. The Assyrians will seize their weapons and hurry to their camp to awaken the generals of the army. When they run to the tent of Holofernes and do not find him, panic will seize them, and they will flee before you. Then you and all the other inhabitants of the whole territory of Israel will pursue them and strike them down in their tracks. But before doing this, summon for me Achior the Ammonite, that he may see and recognize the one who despised the house of Israel and sent him here to meet his death.”

Achior’s Conversion.[c] So they called Achior from the house of Uzziah. When he came and saw the head of Holofernes in the hand of one of the men in the assembly of the people, he collapsed in a faint. Then, after they lifted him up, he threw himself at the feet of Judith in homage, saying: “Blessed are you in every tent of Judah! In every nation, all who hear your name will be struck with terror. But now, tell me all that you did during these days.” So Judith told him, in the midst of the people, all that she had done, from the day she left until the time she began speaking to them. When she had finished her account, the people cheered loudly, so that the city resounded with shouts of joy. 10 Now Achior, seeing all that the God of Israel had done, believed firmly in God. He circumcised the flesh of his foreskin and he has been united with the house of Israel to the present day.

Panic in the Assyrian Camp. 11 At daybreak they hung the head of Holofernes on the wall. Then all the Israelite men took up their weapons and went out by groups to the mountain passes. 12 When the Assyrians saw them, they notified their commanders, who, in turn, went to their generals, their division leaders, and all their other leaders. 13 They came to the tent of Holofernes and said to the one in charge of all his things, “Awaken our lord, for the slaves have dared come down against us in battle, to their utter destruction.” 14 So Bagoas went in and knocked at the entry of the tent, presuming that Holofernes was sleeping with Judith. 15 When no one answered, he parted the curtains, entered the bedchamber, and found him thrown on the floor dead, with his head gone! 16 He cried out loudly, weeping, groaning, and howling, and tore his garments. 17 Then he entered the tent where Judith had her quarters; and, not finding her, he rushed out to the troops and cried: 18 “The slaves have duped us! One Hebrew woman has brought shame on the house of King Nebuchadnezzar. Look! Holofernes on the ground—without a head!”

19 When the leaders of the Assyrian forces heard these words, they tore their tunics and were overcome with great distress. Their loud cries and shouts were heard throughout the camp.

Chapter 15

On hearing what had happened, those still in their tents were horrified. Overcome with fear and dread, no one kept ranks any longer. They scattered in all directions, and fled along every path, both through the valley and in the hill country. Those who were stationed in the hill country around Bethulia also took to flight. Then the Israelites, every warrior among them, came charging down upon them.

Uzziah sent messengers to Betomasthaim, to Choba and Kona, and to the whole territory of Israel to report what had happened and to urge them all to attack the enemy and destroy them. On hearing this, all the Israelites, with one accord, attacked them and cut them down as far as Choba. Even those from Jerusalem and the rest of the hill country took part in this, for they too had been notified of the happenings in the camp of their enemy. The Gileadites and the Galileans struck the enemy’s flanks with great slaughter, even beyond Damascus and its borders. The remaining people of Bethulia swept down on the camp of the Assyrians, plundered it, and acquired great riches. The Israelites, when they returned from the slaughter, took possession of what was left. Even the towns and villages in the hill country and on the plain got an enormous quantity of spoils, for there was a tremendous amount of it.

Israel Celebrates Judith’s Victory. Then the high priest Joakim and the senate of the Israelites who lived in Jerusalem came to see for themselves the good things that the Lord had done for Israel, and to meet and congratulate Judith. When they came to her, all with one accord blessed her, saying:

“You are the glory of Jerusalem![d]
    You are the great pride of Israel!
    You are the great boast of our nation!
10 By your own hand you have done all this.
    You have done good things for Israel,
    and God is pleased with them.
May the Almighty Lord bless you forever!”

And all the people said, “Amen!”

11 For thirty days[e] all the people plundered the camp, giving Judith the tent of Holofernes, with all his silver, his beds, his dishes, and all his furniture. She took them and loaded her mule, hitched her carts, and loaded these things on them.

12 All the women of Israel gathered to see her, and they blessed her and performed a dance in her honor. She took branches in her hands and distributed them to the women around her, 13 and she and the other women crowned themselves with olive leaves. Then, at the head of all the people, she led the women in the dance, while the men of Israel followed, bearing their weapons, wearing garlands and singing songs of praise. 14 [f]Judith led all Israel in this song of thanksgiving, and the people loudly sang this hymn of praise:

Chapter 16

Judith’s Hymn of Deliverance

And Judith sang:

“Strike up a song to my God with tambourines,
    sing to the Lord with cymbals;
Improvise for him a new song,
    exalt and acclaim his name.
For the Lord is a God who crushes wars;
    he sets his encampment among his people;
    he delivered me from the hands of my pursuers.

“The Assyrian came from the mountains of the north,
    with myriads of his forces he came;
Their numbers blocked the wadies,
    their cavalry covered the hills.
He threatened to burn my territory,
    put my youths to the sword,
Dash my infants to the ground,
    seize my children as plunder.
    And carry off my virgins as spoil.

“But the Lord Almighty thwarted them,
    by the hand of a female!
Not by youths was their champion struck down,
    nor did Titans bring him low,
    nor did tall giants attack him;
But Judith, the daughter of Merari,
    by the beauty of her face brought him down.
She took off her widow’s garb
    to raise up the afflicted in Israel.
She anointed her face with fragrant oil;
    fixed her hair with a diadem,
    and put on a linen robe to beguile him.
Her sandals ravished his eyes,
    her beauty captivated his mind,
    the sword cut through his neck!

10 “The Persians trembled at her boldness,
    the Medes were daunted at her daring.
11 When my lowly ones shouted,
    and my weak ones cried out,
The enemy was terrified,
    screamed and took to flight.
12 Sons of maidservants pierced them through;
    wounded them like deserters’ children.
    They perished before the ranks of my Lord.

13 “I will sing a new song to my God.
    O Lord, great are you and glorious,
    marvelous in power and unsurpassable.
14 Let your every creature serve you;
    for you spoke, and they were made.
You sent forth your spirit, and it created them;
    no one can resist your voice.
15 For the mountains to their bases
    are tossed with the waters;
    the rocks, like wax, melt before your glance.

“But to those who fear you,
    you will show mercy.
16 Though the sweet fragrance of every sacrifice is a trifle,
    and the fat of all burnt offerings but little in your sight,
    one who fears the Lord is forever great.

17 “Woe to the nations that rise against my people!
    the Lord Almighty will requite them;
    in the day of judgment he will punish them:
He will send fire and worms into their flesh,
    and they will weep and suffer forever.”

18 When they arrived at Jerusalem, they worshiped God. As soon as the people were purified, they offered their burnt offerings, voluntary offerings, and donations. 19 Judith dedicated to God all the things of Holofernes that the people had given her, putting under the ban the canopy that she herself had taken from his bedchamber. 20 For three months the people continued their celebration in Jerusalem before the sanctuary, and Judith remained with them.

The Renown and Death of Judith. 21 When those days were over, all of them returned to their inheritance. Judith went back to Bethulia and remained on her estate. For the rest of her life she was renowned throughout the land. 22 Many wished to marry her, but she gave herself to no man all the days of her life from the time her husband, Manasseh, died and was gathered to his people. 23 Her fame continued to increase, and she lived in the house of her husband, reaching the advanced age of one hundred and five.[g] She set her maid free. And when she died in Bethulia, they buried her in the cave of her husband, Manasseh; 24 and the house of Israel mourned her for seven days.[h] Before she died, she distributed her property to the relatives of her husband, Manasseh, and to her own relatives.

25 During the lifetime of Judith and for a long time after her death, no one ever again spread terror[i] among the Israelites.


  1. 14:1–16:25 This section describes Judith’s plan to attack the Assyrian camp (14:1–5) and its execution (14:11–15:7). Between the plan and its execution, Achior identifies the head of Holofernes and is converted to Judaism. The book concludes with the victory celebration (15:8–14), hymn of thanksgiving (16:1–20), and a description of Judith’s final days (16:21–25). Elements from chaps. 8–9 recur here: Judith, widow of Manasseh (8:2; 16:22), lived alone in Bethulia on her estate (8:4; 16:22), with servants and property (8:7; 16:21). Judith’s instructions begin with the words “listen to me” (8:11; 14:1). Her prayer for success (9:1–14) is balanced by a prayer and display of success in 14:14–16.
  2. 14:1–5 Listen to me: an imperative (used also in 8:11, 32) opens Judith’s instruction that the people display the head of Holofernes on the parapet and themselves in ranks before the enemy at daybreak. The strategy is to throw the Assyrians into panic and strike them down in their confusion; cf. 15:1–3.
  3. 14:6–10 Recognizing the head of Holofernes, Achior faints. Then he throws himself down before Judith, acclaiming her blessed in Judah and every nation. After listening to all she had done, Achior is circumcised and joins the house of Israel. Since this violates the prohibition of Dt 23:4 that no Ammonite or Moabite shall enter the assembly, even to the tenth generation, some suggest that the book was not included in the Hebrew scriptures for this reason. However, see Is 56:3–6.
  4. 15:9 In the Lectionary of the Catholic Church, this passage is one of several choices for feasts of Mary (e.g., the Presentation of Mary). These words of praise are also echoed in antiphons for the Liturgy of the Hours on Marian feasts.
  5. 15:11 Thirty days: the central actions in each half of the book are accomplished in a total of thirty-four days. Bethulia was without water for thirty-four days (7:20). Judith spent four days in the enemy camp and the Israelites plunder the Assyrian camp for thirty days.
  6. 15:14–16:17 Judith’s hymn of deliverance is patterned on the Song of Miriam (Ex 15:20–21).
  7. 16:23 One hundred and five: long life was a sign of blessing (see Jb 42:16; Prv 16:31; 20:29). The fact that the Maccabean period was one hundred and five years long (168–63 B.C.) may account for assigning this age to Judith.
  8. 16:24 Seven days: the customary period for mourning the dead (1 Sm 31:13).
  9. 16:25 Spread terror: Judith is compared to the heroes of the Book of Judges (cf. Jgs 3:11, 30).
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.


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