1 Thus Judith called on the God of Israel. When she had finished praying,
2 she got up from the floor, summoned her maid and went down into the rooms which she used on Sabbath days and festivals.
3 There she removed the sackcloth she was wearing and taking off her widow's dress, she washed all over, anointed herself plentifully with perfumes, dressed her hair, wrapped a turban round it and put on the robe of joy she used to wear when her husband Manasseh was alive.
4 She put sandals on her feet, put on her necklaces, bracelets, rings, earrings and all her jewellery, and made herself beautiful enough to beguile the eye of any man who saw her.
5 Then she handed her maid a skin of wine and a flask of oil, filled a bag with barley girdle-cakes, cakes of dried fruit and pure loaves, and wrapping all these provisions up gave them to her as well.
6 They then went out, making for the town gate of Bethulia. There they found Uzziah waiting with the two elders of the town, Chabris and Charmis.
7 When they saw Judith, her face so changed and her clothes so different, they were lost in admiration of her beauty. They said to her:
8 May the God of our ancestors keep you in his favour! May he crown your designs with success to the glory of the children of Israel, to the greater glory of Jerusalem!
9 Judith worshipped God, and then she said, 'Have the town gate opened for me so that I can go out and fulfil all the wishes you expressed to me.' They did as she asked and gave orders to the young men to open the gate for her.
10 This done, Judith went out accompanied by her maid, while the men of the town watched her all the way down the mountain and across the valley, until they lost sight of her.
11 As the women were making straight through the valley, an advance unit of Assyrians intercepted them,
12 and, seizing Judith, began to question her. 'Which side are you on? Where do you come from? Where are you going?' 'I am a daughter of the Hebrews,' she replied, 'and I am fleeing from them since they will soon be your prey.
13 I am on my way to see Holofernes, the general of your army, to give him trustworthy information. I shall show him the road to take if he wants to capture all the hill-country without losing one man or one life.'
14 As the men listened to what she was saying, they stared in astonishment at the sight of such a beautiful woman.
15 'It will prove the saving of you,' they said to her, 'coming down to see our master of your own accord. You had better go to his tent; some of our men will escort you and hand you over to him.
16 Once you are in his presence do not be afraid. Tell him what you have just told us and you will be well treated.'
17 They then detailed a hundred of their men as escort for herself and her attendant, and these led them to the tent of Holofernes.
18 News of her coming had already spread through the tents, and there was a general stir in the camp. She was still outside the tent of Holofernes waiting to be announced, when a crowd began forming round her.
19 They were immediately impressed by her beauty and impressed with the Israelites because of her. 'Who could despise a people who have women like this?' they kept saying. 'Better not leave one of them alive; let any go and they could twist the whole world round their fingers!'
20 The bodyguard and adjutants of Holofernes then came out and led Judith into the tent.
21 Holofernes was resting on his bed under a canopy of purple and gold studded with emeralds and precious stones.
22 The men announced her and he came out to the entrance to the tent, with silver torches carried before him.
23 When Judith confronted the general and his adjutant, the beauty of her face astonished them all. She fell on her face and did homage to him, but his servants raised her from the ground.