13 1Finally, when it got late, the guests excused themselves and left. Bagoas then closed up the tent from the outside and prevented Holofernes' servants from going in. So they all went to bed; everyone was very tired because the banquet had lasted so long. 2Judith was left alone in the tent with Holofernes who was lying drunk on his bed. 3Judith's slave woman was waiting outside the tent for Judith to go and pray, as she had done each night. Judith had also told Bagoas that she would be going out to pray as usual. 4All the guests and servants were now gone, and Judith and Holofernes were alone in the tent. Judith stood by Holofernes' bed and prayed silently, “O Lord, God Almighty, help me with what I am about to do for the glory of Jerusalem. 5Now is the time to rescue your chosen people and to help me carry out my plan to destroy the enemies who are threatening us.” 6Judith went to the bedpost by Holofernes' head and took down his sword. 7She came closer, seized Holofernes by the hair of his head, and said, “O Lord, God of Israel, give me strength now.” 8Then Judith raised the sword and struck him twice in the neck as hard as she could, chopping off his head. 9She rolled his body off the bed and took down the mosquito net from the bedposts. Then she came out and gave Holofernes' head to her slave, 10who put it in the food bag. Judith and Her Slave Return to Bethulia Then the two women left together, as they always did when they went to pray. After they had walked through the Assyrian camp, they crossed the valley and went up the mountainside until they came to the gates of Bethulia. 11When they were a short distance away, Judith called out to the guards at the gate, “Open the gate! Open the gate! Our God is still with us. Today he has once again shown his strength in Israel and used his power against our enemies.” 12When the men heard her voice, they hurried down to the gates and called for the town officials. 13Everyone, young and old, ran together to the gate. No one could believe that Judith had come back. They opened the gate for her and her slave and welcomed them. Then, when they had lit a fire to give some light and had gathered around the two women, 14Judith shouted, “Praise God, give him praise! Praise God, who has not held back his mercy from the people of Israel. Tonight he has used me to destroy our enemies.” 15She then took the head out of the food bag and showed it to the people. “Here,” she said, “is the head of Holofernes, the general of the Assyrian army, and here is the mosquito net from his bed, where he lay in a drunken stupor. The Lord used a woman to kill him. 16As the Lord lives, I swear that Holofernes never touched me, although my beauty deceived him and brought him to his ruin. I was not defiled or disgraced; the Lord took care of me through it all.” 17Everyone in the city was utterly amazed. They bowed down and worshiped God, praying together, “Our God, you are worthy of great praise. Today you have triumphed over the enemies of your people.” 18 Then Uzziah said, “Judith, my dear, the Most High God has blessed you more than any other woman on earth. How worthy of praise is the Lord God who created heaven and earth! He guided you as you cut off the head of our deadliest enemy. 19Your trust in God will never be forgotten by those who tell of God's power. 20May God give you everlasting honor for what you have done. May he reward you with blessings, because you remained faithful to him and did not hesitate to risk your own life to relieve the oppression of your people.” All the people replied, “Amen, amen!”
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