Judith responds to General Holofernes (Jdt 11:5-11:7)

“Judith answered General Holofernes.

‘Accept the words of your slave.

Let your servant speak in your presence.

I will say nothing false to my lord this night.

If you follow out the words of your servant,

God will accomplish something through you.

My lord will not fail to achieve his purposes.

By the life of Nebuchadnezzar, the king of the whole earth,

By the power of him who has sent you

To direct every living being!

Not only do human beings serve him because of you,

But also the animals of the field and the cattle

And the birds of the air will live

Because of your power,

Under Nebuchadnezzar and his entire house.’”

Judith pretends to be the humble slave and servant of General Holofernes. She wants to speak as his servant. She said that she was not going to say anything false. A few of the commentators have pointed out that her words have a double meaning. Certainly on their face, they are meant to flatter the general and his king. She said that God will work through him. She accepted King Nebuchadnezzar as the king of the whole earth, who had the power to direct all humans, even the livestock in the field, as well as the birds in the air. She almost sets him up as the power of the known universe. General Holofernes also got his power from his king.

General Holofernes speaks to Judith (Jdt 11:1-11:4)

“Then General Holofernes said to Judith.

‘Take courage, woman!

Do not be afraid in your heart.

I have never hurt anyone,

Who chose to serve Nebuchadnezzar,

The king of all the earth.

Even now,

If your people who live in the hill country had not slighted me,

I would never have lifted my spear against them.

They have brought this on themselves.

Now tell me,

Why you have fled from them?

Why have come over to us?

In any event,

You have come to safety.

Take courage!

You will live tonight and ever after.

No one will hurt you.

All will treat you well.

They will treat you as they do the servants of my lord,

King Nebuchadnezzar.’”

General Holofernes was very cordial. He told Judith to take courage and not be afraid. He has never hurt anybody who served his King Nebuchadnezzar, who was the king of the whole earth, certainly a humble title. He would not have lifted a spear against her people, but they brought this on themselves, by slighting him. He wanted to know why she had fled to his side. She could be assured that she would be safe tonight and forever. She would be treated like the other servants of King Nebuchadnezzar.