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Hebrew Tales

The Story of Judith

Chapter 12 (Abridged Text)

Judith establishes a routine of exiting from the Assyrian camp to speak to God and then returning. Holofernes has difficulty containing his growing lust. On the fourth day Holofernes invites Judith to a feast and becomes very drunk.

[1] Then he commanded them to bring her in to where his plate was set; and he directed them to prepare for her from his own meats and that she should drink from his own wine. [2] And Judith said, “I will not eat of it, lest I offend, but provision will be made for me from the things which I have brought.”

[3] Then Holofernes said to her, “If your provisions should fail, how should we give you the like? For there are none among us from your nation.”


[4] Then Judith said to him, “As your soul lives, my lord, your handmaid will not use up those things which I have before the Lord works by my hand the things he has determined.”

[5] Then the servants of Holofernes brought her into the tent, and she slept until midnight, and she arose when it was toward the morning watch. [6] And she sent to Holofernes, saying, “Let my lord now command that your handmaid may go forth to prayer.”

[7] Then Holofernes commanded his guard not to prevent her; thus she resided in the camp for three days, and went out in the night into the valley of Bethulia and washed herself in a spring of water by the camp. [8] And when she came out, she beseeched the Lord God of Israel to direct her way in order to accomplish the raising up of the children of her people. [9] So she came in clean and remained in the tent until she ate her meat in the evening.

[10] And on the fourth day, Holofernes made a feast for his own servants only, and he called none of the officers to the banquet. [11] Then he said to Bagoas the eunuch, who was in charge of all that he had, “Go now and persuade this Hebrew woman who is with you that she should come to us, and eat and drink with us. [12] For, see, it will be a shame upon our person, if we let such a woman go without having had her company; for if we do not draw her to us, she will laugh at us in scorn.”

[15] So she arose, and she decked herself out with her apparel and all her woman’s attire. And her maid went and laid soft skins on the ground for her opposite Holofernes, which she had received from Bagoas for her daily use, so that she might sit and eat upon them. [16] Now when Judith came in and sat down with Holofernes, his heart was inflamed with her, and his mind was stirred up, and he greatly desired her company; for he had been waiting for sometime to deceive her, even from the day that he had first seen her.


[17] Then Holofernes said to her, “Drink now and be merry with us.” [18] So Judith said, “I will drink now, my lord, because my life is exalted in me this day more than all the days since I was born.”

[19] Then she took and ate and drank before him the things which her maid had prepared. [20] And Holofernes took great delight in her, and he drank more wine than he had drunk at any time in one day since he was born.

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This text has been reproduced from:

The World English Bible, a copyright-free modern English rendering of a 1901 translation that has now passed into the public domain.

The picture of Judith praying over the drunken Holofernes is by Giula Lama (1681-1747). It hangs in the Galleria dell'Academia, Venice. Lama was one of the few female painters of her era, and little is known about her. The painting shown here is probably her most famous.

The German stained glass rondel showing Judith and Holofernes trying to seduce each other at Holofernes' banquet dates from the early 1500s. It is in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nürnberg.