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The Character of Judith
1At that time Judith heard about these things: she was the daughter of Merar'i the son of Ox, son of Joseph, son of O'ziel, son of Elki'ah, son of Anani'as, son of Gid'eon, son of Raph'a-im, son of Ahi'tub, son of Eli'jah, son of Hilki'ah, son of El'iab, son of Nathan'ael, son of Salam'iel, son of Sarasad'ai, son of Israel. 2Her husband Manas'seh, who belonged to her tribe and family, had died during the barley harvest. 3For as he stood overseeing the men who were binding sheaves in the field, he was overcome by the burning heat, and took to his bed and died in Bethu'lia his city. So they buried him with his fathers in the field between Dothan and Bala'mon. 4Judith had lived at home as a widow for three years and four months. 5She set up a tent for herself on the roof of her house, and girded sackcloth about her loins and wore the garments of her widowhood. 6She fasted all the days of her widowhood, except the day before the sabbath and the sabbath itself, the day before the new moon and the day of the new moon, and the feasts and days of rejoicing of the house of Israel. 7She was beautiful in appearance, and had a very lovely face; and her husband Manas'seh had left her gold and silver, and men and women slaves, and cattle, and fields; and she maintained this estate. 8No one spoke ill of her, for she feared God with great devotion.
Judith and the Elders
9When Judith heard the wicked words spoken by the people against the ruler, because they were faint for lack of water, and when she heard all that Uzzi'ah said to them, and how he promised them under oath to surrender the city to the Assyrians after five days, 10she sent her maid, who was in charge of all she possessed, to summona Chabris and Charmis, the elders of her city. 11They came to her, and she said to them,
"Listen to me, rulers of the people of Bethu'lia! What you have said to the people today is not right; you have even sworn and pronounced this oath between God and you, promising to surrender the city to our enemies unless the Lord turns and helps us within so many days. 12Who are you, that have put God to the test this day, and are setting yourselves up in the place ofb God among the sons of men? 13You are putting the Lord Almighty to the test-but you will never know anything! 14You cannot plumb the depths of the human heart, nor find out what a man is thinking; how do you expect to search out God, who made all these things, and find out his mind or comprehend his thought? No, my brethren, do not provoke the Lord our God to anger. 15For if he does not choose to help us within these five days, he has power to protect us within any time he pleases, or even to destroy us in the presence of our enemies. 16Do not try to bind the purposes of the Lord our God; for God is not like man, to be threatened, nor like a human being, to be won over by pleading. 17Therefore, while we wait for his deliverance, let us call upon him to help us, and he will hear our voice, if it pleases him.
18"For never in our generation, nor in these present days, has there been any tribe or family or people or city of ours which worshiped gods made with hands, as was done in days gone by- 19and that was why our fathers were handed over to the sword, and to be plundered, and so they suffered a great catastrophe before our enemies. 20But we know no other god but him, and therefore we hope that he will not disdain us or any of our nation. 21For if we are captured all Judea will be captured and our sanctuary will be plundered; and he will exact of usc the penalty for its desecration. 22And the slaughter of our brethren and the captivity of the land and the desolation of our inheritance-all this he will bring upon our heads among the Gentiles, wherever we serve as slaves; and we shall be an offense and a reproach in the eyes of those who acquire us. 23For our slavery will not bring us into favor, but the Lord our God will turn it to dishonor.
24"Now therefore, brethren, let us set an example to our brethren, for their lives depend upon us, and the sanctuary and the temple and the altar rest upon us. 25In spite of everything let us give thanks to the Lord our God, who is putting us to the test as he did our forefathers. 26Remember what he did with Abraham, and how he tested Isaac, and what happened to Jacob in Mesopota'mia in Syria, while he was keeping the sheep of Laban, his mother's brother. 27For he has not tried us with fire, as he did them, to search their hearts, nor has he taken revenge upon us; but the Lord scourges those who draw near to him, in order to admonish them."
28Then Uzzi'ah said to her, "All that you have said has been spoken out of a true heart, and there is no one who can deny your words. 29Today is not the first time your wisdom has been shown, but from the beginning of your life all the people have recognized your understanding, for your heart's disposition is right. 30But the people were very thirsty, and they compelled us to do for them what we have promised, and made us take an oath which we cannot break. 31So pray for us, since you are a devout woman, and the Lord will send us rain to fill our cisterns and we will no longer be faint."
32Judith said to them, "Listen to me. I am about to do a thing which will go down through all generations of our descendants. 33Stand at the city gate tonight, and I will go out with my maid; and within the days after which you have promised to surrender the city to our enemies, the Lord will deliver Israel by my hand. 34Only, do not try to find out what I plan; for I will not tell you until I have finished what I am about to do."
35Uzzi'ah and the rulers said to her, "Go in peace, and may the Lord God go before you, to take revenge upon our enemies." 36So they returned from the tent and went to their posts.