1 'Courage, woman,' Holofernes said, 'do not be afraid. I have never hurt anyone who chose to serve Nebuchadnezzar, king of the whole world.
2 Even now, if your nation of mountain dwellers had not insulted me, I would not have raised a spear against them. This was their fault, not mine.
3 But tell me, why have you fled from them and come to us? . . . Anyhow, this will prove the saving of you. Courage! You will live through this night, and many after.
4 No one will hurt you. On the contrary, you will be treated as well as any who serve my lord King Nebuchadnezzar.'
5 Judith said, 'Please listen favourably to what your slave has to say. Permit your servant to speak in your presence, I shall speak no word of a lie to my lord tonight.
6 You have only to follow your servant's advice and God will bring your work to a successful conclusion; in what my lord undertakes he will not fail.
7 Long life to Nebuchadnezzar, king of the whole world, who has sent you to set every living soul to rights; may his power endure! Since, thanks to you, he is served not only by human beings, but because of your might the wild animals themselves, the cattle, and the birds of the air are to live in the service of Nebuchadnezzar and his whole House.
8 'We have indeed heard of your genius and adroitness of mind. It is known everywhere in the world that throughout the empire you have no rival for ability, wealth of experience and brilliance in waging war.
9 We have also heard what Achior said in his speech to your council. The men of Bethulia having spared him, he has told them everything that he said to you.
10 Now, master and lord, do not disregard what he said; keep it in your mind, since it is true; our nation will not be punished, the sword will indeed have no power over them, unless they sin against their God.
11 But as it is, my lord need expect no repulse or setback, since death is about to fall on their heads, for sin has gained a hold over them, provoking the anger of their God each time that they commit it.
12 As they are short of food and their water is giving out, they have resolved to fall back on their cattle and decided to make use of all the things that God has, by his laws, forbidden them to eat.
13 Not only have they made up their minds to eat the first-fruits of corn and the tithes of wine and oil, though these have been consecrated by them and set apart for the priests who serve in Jerusalem in the presence of our God, and may not lawfully even be handled by ordinary people,
14 but they have sent men to Jerusalem -- where the inhabitants are doing much the same -- to bring them back authorisation from the Council of Elders.
15 Now this will be the outcome: when the permission arrives and they act on it, that very day they will be delivered over to you for destruction.
16 'When I, your servant, came to know all this, I fled from them. God has sent me to do things with you at which the world will be astonished when it hears.
17 Your servant is a devout woman; she honours the God of heaven day and night. I therefore propose, my lord, to stay with you. I, your servant, shall go out every night into the valley and pray to God to let me know when they have committed their sin.
18 I shall then come and tell you, so that you can march out with your whole army; and none of them will be able to resist you.
19 I shall be your guide right across Judaea until you reach Jerusalem; there I shall enthrone you in the very middle of the city. And then you can round them up like shepherd-less sheep, with never a dog daring to bark at you. Foreknowledge tells me this; this had been foretold to me and I have been sent to reveal it to you.'
20 Her words pleased Holofernes, and all his adjutants. Full of admiration at her wisdom they exclaimed,
21 'There is no woman like her from one end of the earth to the other, so lovely of face and so wise of speech!'
22 Holofernes said, 'God has done well to send you ahead of the others. Strength will be ours, and ruin theirs who have insulted my lord.
23 As for you, you are as beautiful as you are eloquent; if you do as you have promised, your God shall be my God, and you yourself shall make your home in the palace of King Nebuchadnezzar and be famous throughout the world.'