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Hebrew Tales

The Story of Judith

Chapter 14 (Full Text)


Holofernes’ head is hung upon the gates of the Israelite encampment. Anchior, on sight of it, becomes an Israelite. Discovering the murder, the Assyrians are thrown into disarray.

[1] Then Judith said to them,

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“Hear me now, my brethren! Take this head and hang it on the highest place of your walls! [2] And so, as soon as morning appears and the sun shines upon the earth, everyone must take his weapons and go forth, every valiant man out of the city, and with a captain set over them, as though you were going down into the field toward the watch of the Assyrians; but do not go down. [3] Then they will take their amour and go into their camp and call for the captains of the army of Assur; and they will run to the tent of Holofernes, but will not find him; then fear will fall upon them, and they will flee before your face. [4] So then you, and all who inhabit the coast of Israel, will pursue them and overthrow them as they go.

[5] “But before you do these things, call Achior the Ammonite to me, so that he may see and know him who despised the house of Israel and who sent him to us as if to his death.”

[6] Then they called Achior out of the house of Uzziah; and when he arrived and saw the head of Holofernes in a man’s hand in the assembly of the people, he fell down on his face and fainted. [7] But when they had revived him, he fell at Judith’s feet and reverenced her and said, “Blessed are you in all the tents of Judah and in all nations, who when they hear your name will be astonished. [8] Now therefore tell me all the things which you have done in these days.”

Then Judith declared to him in the midst of the people all that she had done, from the day that she went forth until that hour when she spoke to them. [9] And when she had finished speaking, the people shouted with a loud voice and made a joyful noise in their city.

[10] And when Achior had seen all that the God of Israel had done, he believed in God greatly; and he circumcised the flesh of his foreskin and was joined to the house of Israel unto this day.

[11] And as soon as morning arose, they hung the head of Holofernes on the wall, and every man took his weapons, and they went forth by bands to the straits of the mountain. [12] But when the Assyrians saw them, they sent word to their leaders, who went to their captains and tribunes, and to every one of their rulers. [13] So they came to Holofernes’ tent, and said to him who had the charge of all his things, “Awaken our lord now, for the slaves have been so bold as to come down against us in battle, so that they may be utterly destroyed.”

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[14] Then Bagoas went in and knocked at the door of the tent; for he thought that he had slept with Judith. [15] But, because no one answered, he opened it and went into the bedroom; and he found him cast upon the floor dead, and his head had been taken from him.

[16] Therefore he cried with a loud voice, with weeping and sighing and a mighty cry, and he tore his garments. [17] After this, he went into the tent where Judith lodged, and when he didn’t find her, he dashed out to the people and cried,

[18] “These slaves have dealt treacherously; one woman of the Hebrews has brought shame on the house of king Nebuchadnezzar; for, behold, Holofernes lies on the ground without a head!”

[19] When the captains of the Assyrians’ army heard these words, they tore their coats, and their minds were exceptionally troubled; and there was a cry and a very great noise throughout the camp.

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Source:

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 returning with the head of Holofernes is by Giovan Battista Salvi (Sassoferrato) and hangs in the Basilica of San Pietro in Perugia, Italy.

The picture of Bogoas discovering the headless body of Holofernes is by Alessandro Botticelli (1445-1510). It hangs in the Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence. Botticelli was fascinated by this story, and painted several pictures relating to it.