Holofernes said to her, “Take courage, woman, and don’t let your heart be afraid. I’ve never harmed anyone who chose to serve Nebuchadnezzar king of all the earth. Even now, if your people who live in the highlands hadn’t insulted me, I wouldn’t have raised my spear against them. But they have brought this on themselves. Now tell me why you escaped from them and came to us. You’re safe now, so take courage. You will live tonight and from now on. No one will harm you. They will treat you well, just like all the slaves of my master King Nebuchadnezzar.”

Judith’s speech

Judith answered him, “Listen to the words of your slave and let your servant woman speak in your presence. I won’t lie to you this night, my master. If you follow the instructions of your female servant, God will accomplish something great through you, and my master’s plans won’t fail. As Nebuchadnezzar king of the whole earth lives, and as his power that sent you to direct every living being endures—not only do humans serve him because of you, but even the animals of the field, the cattle, and the birds in the sky live under Nebuchadnezzar and all his house because of your power. We’ve heard about your wisdom and your cunning spirit, and it was reported throughout all the land that, out of the entire kingdom, you alone are dignified, capable in intellect, and wonderful in military campaigns. We heard what Achior told your council and his advice. The men of Bethulia spared him, and he told us everything he said to you. 10 Now, my master and lord, don’t ignore what he told you, but keep it in mind because it’s all true. Our nation can’t be punished, and the sword won’t succeed against the Israelites, unless they have sinned against their God. 11 But now, death will soon fall upon them, so that my master won’t end up frustrated and defeated. A sin has overtaken them, and they will anger their God when they do what is wrong. 12 Their food supply is almost used up, and water is scarce. So they have determined to kill their cattle and to consume everything that God, by his laws, has commanded them not to eat. 13 They have decided to eat the early produce from the grain and one-tenth of the wine and olive oil that were set apart and reserved for the priests who serve in Jerusalem in the presence of our God—things it isn’t lawful for the people even to touch with their hands. 14 Since even the people who live in Jerusalem have been doing the same thing, they sent messengers there to bring back permission from the council. 15 Whenever they receive this communication and act on it, that very same day they will be handed over to you for destruction.

16 “Therefore, when I your slave woman learned of all this, I escaped from them. God sent me to accomplish things with you that will amaze the whole world, wherever people hear about these things. 17 Your slave woman is pious, and I serve the God of heaven, day and night. So I will stay with you, my master, and each night your slave woman will go out to the valley and pray to God. He will tell me when the people have committed their sins. 18 I’ll come and report to you, and you’ll go out with your whole army, and none of them will be able to resist you. 19 Then I will lead you through Judea to Jerusalem, and I will set your throne in her midst. You will drive them out like sheep without a shepherd, and not even a dog will growl at you. This was predicted to me and announced to me, and I was sent to tell you.”

20 Everything she said pleased Holofernes and all his attendants. They wondered at her wisdom and said to her, 21 “There isn’t another woman anywhere in the whole world as lovely in appearance or as wise in speech.”

22 Holofernes said to her, “God did well by sending you ahead of the people to strengthen our hands and to bring destruction on those who despise my master. 23 You are beautiful in appearance and impressive in speech. If you do as you have said, your God will be my God. You will live in the house of King Nebuchadnezzar, and your name will be known throughout the entire world.”