Joan Of Arc
Catherine De Medici
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( Originally Published Early 1900's )
B. C. 650
SUBLIME COURAGE SUSTAINED BY FAITH
Some twenty-three hundred years ago a tale was written in the Hebrew language, picturing a feat of womanly courage so noble, so devoted, and so successful that it charmed the world. By its intrinsic beauty alone this tale eventually took the place of history and became a chapter in the sacred Scriptures.
In a word, the illustrious widow Judith, the most beautiful woman of Bethulia, mourning for her dead husband, heard that the King Nebuchodonosor, reigning at Nineveh, had proclaimed himself God, and offered peace to the Jews only on condition that they should offer sacrifice to him rather than to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The Assyrian general, Holofernes, was at the pass in the mountains, with a vast army. She robed herself in her finest garments and went forth sustained by the Lord. She insinuated herself into the good graces of Holofernes, and obtained permission to remain in his tent. She plied him with wine, and, while he slept in stupor, she drew his own sword and cut off his head, carrying that bloody trophy to Bethulia. With that, the Jewish warriors beset the Assyrians, and they, while waiting for commands from the general's tent, were wholly overcome and put to flight.
We have no mention of Judith in Josephus or Philo the Jew. Herodotus does not speak of her. Nebuchadnezzar did not reign at Nineveh, nor was he called King of the Assyrians. There was no city of Bethulia, or Betylia, near Jerusalem, although the father of Rebecca was named Bethuel.
It is probable that the Book of Judith was written by a Hebrew poet of fine imagination, who possessed but little knowledge of the outside world, or the state of the arts at the period in which he placed his drama.
But notwithstanding these things, the apostolic fathers of the Christian church accepted the Book of Judith as canonical. It was translated by the Seventy along with the rest of the Old Testament. It was translated into Latin from the Chaldee by St. Jerome. It was accepted as canonical by the Council of Carthage and by Pope Innocent I. of Rome, and cited as Scripture by Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Ambrose and Augustine. The earliest express reference to Judith is in Clement of Rome, a father and perhaps a martyr of the first century of the Christian era.
Thus highly indorsed, the story of Judith passed over Europe along with the Christian religion, a part of the faith of the Caucasian world, and it was not until the Protestant rebellion against the church that the contention of the Jews themselves, that Judith was not historical, began to take hold of men's minds. While the tale was undergoing criticism among the philosophers, and long after it had been rejected in the Protestant Bible, the Catholic world was edified with learned dissertations, of which Mr. Gibert's is an example (Academy of Inscriptions, Vol. 22) whereby it was shown that Diodorus of Sicily had an account of a Holofernes who was brother of the King of Cappadocia; that this Holofernes became commanding general of the army of Ochus, King of Persia, in his expedition against the west; that Nebuchadnezzar was a title like Caesar or Augustus, to be assumed by any sovereign, and that the kings of those regions moved their seats with the seasons, seeking the mountains at Nineveh in the hot months and coming nearer the sea in cooler weather.
Joined with the great age of the recital of Judith's heroism, was the enduring sense of its beauty, and it is not to be wondered at that the Christian people of the most highly civilized quarters of Europe clung to the Book of Judith for its power of inspiration; and if Judith, her-self, never lived, we should not the less have a place for her story, because of the direct effects which that story has wrought upon real history itself.
When Mr. Fronde was in the cabin of a sailing vessel, on his way to Australia, he tells us, in his "Oceana," he fell a-thinking whether, after all, there were any difference to him between Julius Caesar, the conqueror, who lived, and Hamlet, the melancholy Dane, who appeared only in the imagination of William Shakespeare. And Froude thought that perhaps Hamlet, to him (Froude), was the more important personage.
And to those readers whose sense of historical accuracy might be disturbed by the doubts attaching to the canonicity of the Book of Judith, it is only necessary to say that the drama itself, because the Book of Judith existed, has been played on the stage of modern events.
A young and beautiful girl, living in a peaceful French village, reading daily from her Bible, heard that rebels at Paris had slain her lord the King, had overthrown and forbidden the worship of God, and had violated the holy sanctuaries, before whose doors the bravest knights, in hottest pursuit, had ceased to advance upon their fleeing enemies. She heard there was a chief monster at Paris named Marat, who, covered with the eruptions of a loathsome disease, wreaked his vengeance on the world by devoting the pure, the good, and the noble to slaughter at the guillotine.
She laid down her Bible, open at a marked passage in the fourth chapter of the Book of Judith, containing the prayer of the ancients of the city that God would prosper the enterprise of Judith for the deliverance of her people. She took the diligence for Paris, her project absolutely unknown to men, and arrived there on the 11th of July, 1793. The next day she penetrated to the inner apartments of Marat and found him in a bath, where he was compelled to stay in extremely warm weather. He wrote while partly immersed in the tub and took down names at her dictation, noble families whom he would at once send to execution. Having thus with her own eyes seen the proof of his sanguinary character, she drew a great knife and plunged it into his neck, killing him almost instantly. Her bearing, while the insane city was learning of her deed and inquiring of her motives, was lofty and heroic. She was quickly adjudged, and her execution followed a few days after her descent on Marat, and was probably delayed because of the festival of the 14th of July, which commemorated the capture of the Bastile by the people.
Such was the sublimely heroic deed of the beautiful Charlotte Corday, who implicitly believed that Judith had lived before her. Such was the historic act, which for its consequence caused the slaughter of 200,000 aristocrats by avengers of Marat. If Judith were not real, what could be more real than the bloody chapter of Charlotte Corday, in which Judith stands fully revealed? "There are deeds," says Lamartine, "of which men are no judges, and which mount without appeal direct to the tribunal of God. There are human actions so strange a mixture of weakness and strength, pure intent and culpable means, error and truth, murder and martyrdom, that we know not whether to term them crime or virtue. The culpable devotion of Charlotte Corday is among those acts which admiration and horror would leave eternally in doubt, did not morality reprove them. Had we to find for this sublime liberatrix of her country and generous murderess of a tyrant a name which should at once convey the enthusiasm of our feelings toward her and the severity of our judgment on her action, we should coin a phrase combining the extreme of admiration and horror and term her the Angel of Assassination."
Inasmuch as the history of Judith has been omitted from the ordinary Protestant Bible of the home and as the great episode of Charlotte Corday has given to the Hebrew poem a new meaning and interest, we shall now proceed to give an extended account of Judith's deed, taken directly from the book as it appears in the Apocrypha of the Douay Bible. "The Hebrews and the heretics of these times," says Moréri, bitterly, in his Grand Dictionary, "refuse to place the Book of Judith among the canonics, although it has always been received as such." And he refers to the Council of Nice, the Council of Trent and many authorities that we have not named on the preceding page. (See Moréri's Dictionary, Article Judith.) B. Gibert also finds in Diodorus of Sicily a Bagaos, or Vagaos, who rose from the condition of a slave to be the chief ruler of Persia. Modern French scholars of the highest class, like Lenormant, whose Christianity is not questioned, pass the Book of Judith without mention, thus condemning it as a work without historical value. It is because of its moral power and its hoary historical place in the minds of four hundred millions of people that we confidently offer it in this volume.
Portions of the Book of Judith were written as hymns to be chanted at public festivals. For many hundred years these hymns were so used in the great meetings of the chosen people. Their language, therefore, is often recitative, for the purpose of completing the musical phrase in a symmetrical manner. In a prose relation, these repetitions especially, as they must be in a language foreign to the original poet, will only be followed where they carry singular euphonious beauty. Yet the reader will perhaps be agreeably surprised in noting that, after two thousand years, with translations and recensions through the Chaldee, Syro-Chaldee, Arabic, Greek, Latin, French and English, the poems still retain passages of undoubted majesty and many charming sentences where pure euphony has been the desire of the poet and the result of his labors.
Arphaxad, King of the Medes, had built a very strong city, which he called Ecbatana. In the twelfth year of the reign of Nebuchodonosor, King of Assyria, who reigned at Nineveh, the great city, he went out against Arphaxad and overcame him. And Nebuchodonosor, needing allies for the taking of Ecbatana, sent out messages to all the nations westward, passing Jerusalem and going as far as the borders of Ethiopia. But these messengers came back empty-handed, thus mortally offending the Assyrian King. And in the thirteenth year of his reign Nebuchodonosor put Holofernes in command of an army of one hundred and twenty thousand infantry and twelve thousand horse-men, who, with a grand caravan of camels, heads of oxen, flocks of sheep, stores of wheat, and cash out of the treasury of the King's house, set out for the west to bring every strong city at once under subjection to the King.
Holofernes marched westward, destroying and devastating, and city after city fell before him. There came upon the western world, even at the ancient and powerful city of Damascus, a fear that unless peace could be made with the King of Assyria, not a soul would be left alive. Therefore the kings of the cities of Assyria, Mesopotamia, Syria-Sobal, Lydia and Cilicia, sent deputations to Holofernes, with offers of their subjection, and Holofernes, after entering their cities, gathered auxiliaries of valiant men, and increased his armies until they became as the locusts on the face of the earth.
Wherever Holofernes went, he had orders to destroy the worship of the local deities and set up statues of the Assyrian King, who proclaimed himself to be the only Lord of Heaven and Earth. And as Holofernes approached those of the Children of Israel who dwelt in the land of Juda, they heard with horror of what he pro-posed to do with the Holy Temple of Jerusalem, for they knew what had happened to the temples of other cities. While they might have subjected their bodies to the rule of the Assyrian, they saw no way to make peace with him, and Eliachim, the priest, wrote to all the Jews in the strong places of the mountains, by which ways Holofernes must pass if he penetrated to Jerusalem, and all the people fortified their souls with continued prayer and sacrifice.
When it was told to Holofernes that the Jews had shut the passes, he was transported with exceeding great fury and indignation. And he called the Princes of Moab and the leaders of Ammon and demanded to know of them what manner of people had dared to stand apart and refused the terms of peace which he was extending to the rest.
Then Achior, captain of all the Children of Ammon, recited the history of the Jews to Holofernes : That they were an offspring of the Chaldaeans; that they had separated for religious reasons, and dwelt in Charan; that because of famine they had gone into Egypt and dwelt four hundred years; that they had miraculously escaped from Egypt, evidently through the power of the unseen God whom they worshiped; that no nation could triumph over these Jews except at the times they had departed from the worship of the Lord, their God. In this way they had overthrown the Kings of the Canaanites, the Jebusites, the Pherezites, the Hittites, the Hevites, the Amarites, and many other captains, who, until the coming of the Jews, had been renowned for their power.
And now Achior counseled the haughty Assyrian to search well to find if there were any iniquity of the Jews in the sight of their God, which Achior conceived to offer the only practicable plan of overwhelming them.
But this manner of attributing power to the God of the Hebrews angered not only Holofernes, but all of the Assyrian leaders, who feared that their worship of Nebuchodonosor might be suspected. And Holofernes said to Achior : "Because thou hast prophesied unto us saying, that the nation of Israel is defended by their God, to show thee that there is no God but Nebuchodonosor when we shall slay them all as one man, then thou shalt die with them by the sword of the Assyrians, and all Israel shall perish with thee. But if thou think thy prophecy true, let not thy countenance sink, and let the paleness that is in thy face depart from thee."
Then Holofernes commanded his servants to take Achior, and to lead him to Bethulia, a strong place in the mountains, which was something more than a mere fortress, having inhabitants and houses where peaceful people permanently resided. There Achior was to be delivered to the Jews to share their destinies. And eventually Achior found himself before the ancients of the city, and he related faithfully to them all that had happened. And all the people fell upon their faces, adoring the Lord, and all of them together, moaning and weeping, poured out their prayers with one accord to the Lord, saying, "O, Lord, God of Heaven and Earth, behold the pride of the Assyrians, and look Thou on our low condition, and have regard to the face of Thy saints, and that Thou forsakest not them that trust in Thee; and that Thou humblest them that presume of themselves and glory in their own strength." And when their meeting was ended, they comforted Achior.
But the siege of Holofernes progressed in a manner foreboding great evil to the Jews, for he was able to stop their supplies of water, so that at last the people surrounded Ozias, and demanded that he should surrender the city. But he craved five more days, in which the Lord might deliver them.
Now there was shut in the chamber of a house in Bethulia, a widow named Judith (the word in Greek and Hebrew means "Jewess"), whose husband had been dead three years and six months, and she had fasted every day except the Sabbaths, the new moons, and the feasts of the House of Israel. She was exceedingly beautiful, and her husband left her great riches, very many servants, and large possessions of herds of oxen and flocks of sheep. She was greatly renowned among all because she feared the Lord very much, neither was there any one that spoke an ill word of her.
And to this beautiful woman, thus immured in her private chamber in Bethulia, came the word that Ozias, the Prince of Juda, would surrender the city in five days, unless the Lord should intervene for the deliverance of His people. Whereupon she sent for two of the ancients, and said to them : "Who are you, that tempt the Lord? You have set the time for the mercy of the Lord. Now, with many tears, let us beg His pardon. Let us ask the Lord with tears, for we have not followed the sins of our fathers who forsook their God and worshiped strange Gods. Let us humbly wait for His consolation, and He will humble all the nations that shall rise up against us, and bring them to disgrace."
And after many words of devotion she closed her speech, and Ozias and the ancients were convinced, and answered : "All things which thou hast spoken are true, and there is nothing to be reprehended in thy words. Now, therefore, pray for us, for thou art a holy woman." "As you know," replied Judith, "that what I have been able to say is of God, so that which I intend to do, prove ye if it be of God, and pray that God shall strengthen my design. You shall stand at the gate this night, and I will go out with my maid-servant; and pray ye that, as you have said, the Lord may look down upon his people of Israel. But I desire that you search not into what I am doing, and till I bring you word, let nothing else be done but to pray for me to the Lord, our God."
And Ozias said to her, "Go in peace, and the Lord be with thee; take revenge of our enemies." And when they were gone, Judith prayed in her oratory : "O, Lord, God of my father Simeon, look upon the camp of the Assyrians now, as Thou wast pleased to look upon the camp of the Egyptians when they pursued, armed, after Thy servants, trusting in their chariots, and in their horsemen, and in a multitude of warriors; but Thou lookedst over their camp and darkness wearied them; the deep held their feet, and the waters overwhelmed them. So may it be with these also, O, Lord, who trust in their multitude, and in their chariots, and in their pikes, and in their shields, and in their arrows, and glory in their spears; lift up Thy arm as from the beginning, and let it fall upon them that promise themselves to violate Thy sanctuary and defile the dwelling-place of Thy name. Bring to pass, O, Lord, that the pride of Holofernes may be cut off with his own sword; let him be caught in the net of his own eyes in my regard, and do Thou strike him by the basis of the words of my lips. Give me constancy in my mind that I may despise him, and fortitude that I may overthrow him. For this will be a glorious monument for Thy name, when Holofernes shall fall by the hand of a woman.
"O, God of the Heavens, Creator of the waters, and Lord of the whole Creation, hear me, a poor wretch, making supplication to Thee, and presuming of Thy mercy. Remember, O, Lord, Thy covenant, and put Thou words in my mouth, and strengthen the resolution in my heart, that Thy temple at Jerusalem may continue in Thy holiness."
When Judith rose from the place wherein she lay prostrate before the Lord she called her maid and put away the garments of her widowhood. And she washed her body and anointed herself with the best ointment, plaited the hair of her head, put on her head-dress, clothed herself with the garments of her gladness, put sandals on her feet, and took her bracelets, earlets, and rings, and adorned her-self with all her ornaments. And the Lord also gave her more beauty, because all this dressing-up proceeded only from virtue, so that she appeared to all men's eyes incomparably lovely.
She gave to her maid a bottle of wine to carry, and a vessel of oil, parched wheat, dry figs, bread and cheese, and went out. And when the twain came to the gate of the city, they found Ozias and the ancients of the city waiting. When they saw her they were astonished, and admired her beauty exceeding. They asked her no questions, but let her pass, saying : "The God of our fathers give thee grace, and may He strengthen all the council of thy heart with His power, that Jerusalem may glory in thee, and thy name be in the number of the Holy and Just."* And as Judith passed silently out, the multitude with one voice repeated : "So be it ! So be it !"
And at break of day, the watchmen of the Assyrians stopped her, and she said to them : "I am a daughter of the Hebrews, and I am fled from them because I knew they would be made a prey to you, because they despised you and would not of their own accord yield themselves, that they might find mercy in your sight. For this reason I said to myself : I will go to the presence of the Prince Holofernes, that I may take him their secrets, and show him by what way he may take them without the loss of one man of his army."
And when the watchmen had heard her words they beheld her face, and their eyes were amazed upon seeing her great beauty.
Therefore they assured her, saying: "Thou hast saved thy life by taking this resolution to come down to our Lord, for when thou shalt stand before him, he will treat thee well, and thou wilt be most acceptable to his heart."
And they brought her to the tent of Holofernes, telling him of her. And when she was come into his presence, forthwith Holofernes was made captive by her eyes, so that his officers said to him: "Who can despise the people of the Hebrews, who have such beautiful women, that we should not think it worth while for their sakes to fight against them ?"
Now, Holofernes was sitting in such state under a canopy, which was woven of purple and gold, with emeralds and precious stones, that Judith, after she had looked upon his face, bowed down to him, prostrating herself to the ground, and the servants of Holofernes lifted her up, by the command of their master. Then Holofernes said to her : "Be of good comfort, and fear not in thy heart; for I have never hurt any one that was willing to serve Nebuchodonosor, the King, and if thy people had not despised me, I would never have lifted up my spear against them. Now, tell me for what cause hast thou left them, and come to us?"
And Judith replied : "Receive the words of thy hand-maid, for if thou dost follow them, the Lord will do thee a perfect thing, for as Nebuchodonosor, the King, liveth, then his power liveth in thee for chastising all straying souls. Not only men serve him when they serve thee, but also the beasts of the fields. For the industry of thy mind is spoken of among all nations, and it is told to the whole world that thou only art excellent and mighty in all his kingdom, and thy discipline is extolled in all provinces. It is known also what Achior said to thee, nor are we ignorant of what thou hast commanded to be done to him. It is so certain that our God is so offended with our sin that He hath sent word by His prophets to the people that He will deliver them up for their sins. And because the Children of Israel know they have offended their God, dread of thee is upon them. Moreover, a famine hath come upon them, and, for drought of water, they are ready to be counted among the dead. They are pressed to kill their cattle and drink their blood, and to eat the consecrated things of the Lord, their God, which God forbids them to touch, in wheat, wine and oil, therefore, because they do these things, it is certain they will be given up to destruction; and I, thy handmaiden, knowing this, am fled from them, and the Lord hath sent me to thee to tell thee these very things, for I, thy handmaiden, worship God even now that I am with thee, and I will go out and pray to God. He will tell me when He will repay them for their sins, and I will come and tell thee, so that I may bring thee to the midst of Jerusalem, and thou shalt have all the people of Israel, as sheep that have no shepherd, and there shall not be so much as one dog bark against you. Because these things are told me by the providence of God, and God is angry with them, I am sent to tell these very things to thee."
And all these words pleased Holofernes and his servants. They admired her wisdom, and they said one to another : "There is not such another woman upon earth, in look, in beauty, and in sense of words." And Holofernes said to her : "Thy God hath done well who sent thee out before thy people that thou mightest give them into our hands. And because thy promise is good, if thy God shall do this for me, He shall also be my God and thou shalt be great in the house of Nebuchodonosor, and thy name shall be renowned through all the earth."
Then Holofernes ordered that Judith should go in where his treasures were laid up, and bade her tarry there, and he appointed what should be given her from his own table; but Judith answered him, saying: "I cannot eat of these things which thou commandest to be given me, lest sin come upon me; but I will eat of the things which I have brought."
But Holofernes asked : "If these things which thou hast brought with thee fail thee, what shall we do for thee?" "As my soul liveth, my Lord, thy handmaiden shall not spend all these things till God do by my hand that which I have proposed."
And the servants of Holofernes brought Judith into the tent which he had commanded for her. But when she was going in, she desired that she might have liberty to go out at night and before day to prayer. And he commanded his chamberlain, that she might go out and in, to adore her God as she pleased for three days. There-fore she went out in the night into the valley of Bethulia, and washed herself in a fountain of water. And as she came up she prayed to the Lord, God of Israel, that He would direct her ways to the deliverance of His people.
On the fourth day Holofernes made a supper for his servants and said to Vagaos, his eunuch : "Go and persuade that Hebrew woman of her own accord to dwell with me."
Then Vagaos went to Judith, and said: "Let not my good maid be afraid to go before my lord, that she may be honored before his-face, that she may eat with him, and drink wine and be merry."
And Judith answered him : "Who am I, that I should gainsay my lord? All that shall be good and best before his eyes, I will do. Whatsoever shall please him, that shall be best to me, all the days of my life."
And she arose and dressed herself out with her garments, and going in she stood before his face. And the heart of Holofernes was deeply smitten with love of her, so that he said to her : "Drink now, and sit down and be merry; for thou hast found favor before me."
And Judith said : "I will drink, my lord, because my life is magnified this day above all my days."
And she took and ate and drank before him what her maid had prepared for her. And Holofernes was made merry, and drank exceeding much wine, more than he had ever before drunk in his life. And when it was grown late, his servants went to their lodgings, and Vagaos shut the chamber doors and went his way. And all the Assyrians were overcharged with wine, Holofernes lying on his bed, fast asleep and drunk with wine, and Judith was alone in his chamber. Therefore she spoke to her maid to stand outside and to watch.
And Judith stood before the bed, praying with tears, and the motion of her lips in silence, saying : "Strength-en me, O, Lord, God of Israel, and in this hour look on the work of Thy hands, that as Thou hast promised Thou mayst raise up Jerusalem Thy city; and that I may bring to pass that which I have purposed, having a belief that it might be done by Thee."
And when she had thus prayed, she went to the pillar that was at his bed's head and loosed his sword that hung tight upon it. When she had drawn it out, she took Holofernes by the hair of his head, and prayed, "Strength-en me, O, Lord, God, at this hour;" and she struck twice upon his neck and cut off his head, and took off his canopy from the pillars and rolled away his headless body. And after a while she went out and delivered the head of Holofernes to her maid, bidding her to put it in her wallet. And the twain went out, according to their custom, as if it were to prayer, and they passed the tent, and having compassed the valley they came to the gate of the city. And Judith from afar off cried to watchmen upon the walls : "Open the gates, for God is with us, who hath shown His power in Israel."
When the men heard her voice, they called the ancients of the city, and all ran to meet her, from the least to the greatest; for they had abandoned hope that she would return. And lighting up lights, they all gathered round about her. She, going to a higher place, commanded silence to be made, and when all had held their peace, Judith cried, "Praise ye the Lord, our God, who hath not forsaken them that hope in Him. By me, His handmaiden, He hath fulfilled His mercy which He promised to the House of Israel, for He hath killed the enemy by my hand this night."
Then she brought forth the head of Holofernes out of the wallet and showed it to them, saying : "Behold the head of Holofernes, the general of the army of the Assyrians, and behold his canopy, wherein he lay in his drunkenness, where the Lord, our God, slew him by the hand of a woman. As the same Lord liveth, His angel bath been my keeper, both going hence and abiding there and returning from thence hither; and the Lord hath brought me back to you without pollution of sin, rejoicing for His victory, for my escape, and for your deliverance. Give all of you glory to Him because He is good, because His mercy endureth forever."
And they all adored the Lord, and said to her : "The Lord hath blessed thee by His power, because by thee He bath brought our enemy to nought." And Ozias, the prince of the people of Israel, said to her : "Blessed art thou, O daughter, by the Lord, the Most High God, above all women upon the earth. Blessed be the Lord who made Heaven and earth, who hath directed thee to the cutting off of the head of the prince of our enemies; because He bath so magnified thy name this day that thy praise shall not depart out of the mouth of men, who shall be mindful of the power of the Lord forever, for that thou hast not only risked thy life to lessen the distress and tribulation of thy people, but hast prevented our ruin in the presence of our God." And all the people said: "So be it! So be it!"
Then they called for Achior, captain of all the children of Ammon, who had been delivered to them by Holofernes, and Judith said to him : "The God of Israel, to whom thou gayest testimony, He hath cut off the head of all the unbelievers this night by my hand, that thou mayst find that it is so, who in the contempt of his pride despised the God of Israel and threatened thee with death."
Then Achior, seeing the head of Holofernes, fell on his face upon the earth and his soul swooned away, but after he had recovered his spirits he fell down at her feet, reverencing her, and said : "Blessed art thou by thy God in all the dwellings of Jacob, for in every nation they shall hear thy name, the God of Israel shall be magnified because of thee." And Achior and all the succession of his kindred were joined to the people of Israel.
And following the command of Judith they hung the head of Holofernes on the wall, and at break of day every man took his arms and then went out with a great noise and shouting. The Assyrian watchmen, seeing this, ran to the tent of Holofernes. And the great officers that were in the tent made a noise before the door of his chamber, hoping thus to awaken him; for no man durst knock, or open and go into the chamber of the general of the Assyrians. But when his captains and tribunes were come, and all the chiefs of the army, they said to the chamberlain : "Go in and wake him, for the mice, coming out of their holes, have presumed to challenge us to fight."
Then Vagaos, going into the chamber of Holofernes, stood before the curtain and made a clapping with his hands, but when with hearkening he conceived no notion of one lying, he lifted the curtain, and, seeing the body of Holofernes lying on the ground, without the head, weltering in his blood, he cried out with a loud noise with weeping, and rent his garments. And he went into the tent of Judith, and not finding her, he ran out to the people and said : "One Hebrew woman hath made confusion in the house of King Nebuchódonosor; for behold Holofernes lieth upon the ground, and his head is not upon him."
When the chiefs of the Assyrians heard this, an intolerable fear and dread fell upon them, and when all the army heard it, courage and councils fled from them. And because the Assyrians were not united together under the attack of the Hebrews, they came with loud noise, as of a vast multitude, they went without order in their flight. And Ozias sent messengers through all the cities and countries of Israel, and every city sent chosen young men after the Assyrians and they pursued them out of Israel with the edge of the sword. And they that returned conquer-ors to Bethulia brought with them all things that were the Assyrians', so that there was no numbering their cattle and beasts, and all their movables, insomuch that from the least to the greatest all were made rich by their spoils. All those things that were proved to be the peculiar goods of Holofernes they gave to Judith, in gold and silver and garments, and precious stones, and all household stuff.
And Joachim, the high priest, came from Jerusalem to Bethulia with all his ancients, to see Judith. And when she was come out to them, they all blessed her with one voice, saying : "Thou art the glory of Jerusalem; thou art the glory of Israel; thou art the honor of our people!"
And all the people rejoiced with the women and virgins and young men, playing on instruments and harps. And Judith sang a canticle to the Lord, which occupies the greater portion of the last chapter of the Book of Judith.
And when all the people came up to Jerusalem to adore the Lord, Judith offered for an anathema of oblivion that is, an offering to the Lord, as an everlasting monument to prevent forgetfulness of His benefits all the arms of Holofernes, and the canopy that she had carried out of his chamber. For three months the joy of this victory was celebrated with Judith. And Judith was made great in Bethulia and she was most renowned in all the land of Israel. Chastity was joined to her virtue, and on festival days she came forth with great glory. She abode in her husband's house a hundred and five years, and died and was buried with her husband in Bethulia, and all the people mourned for her seven days. During all her life there was none that troubled Israel, nor many years after her death.
The painting of "Judith and Holofernes," by Horace Vernet, hangs in the museum of the Louvre, at Paris, and has been copied in countless engravings, as Vernet was in his day, doubtless, the most popular of French painters, always choosing subjects in which the people took a deep interest and representing them, if not with genius, at least with the dramatic spirit highly pleasing to the people. Boethius, the last of the great Roman authors (he whom King Alfred and Queen Elizabeth held in so high esteem), has left a musical rendition of the story of Judith. The lines are very short. The Latin writer was able to give some color of luxury to the scene of the tent of Holofernes, his golden fly-net and other trappings being evidently unknown to the Hebrew author.
In 1 565 there was printed at London an octavo volume entitled : "The Famous History of the Vertuous and Godly Woman Judeth."
The Abbot de la Chambre, in the funeral oration over the Queen of France in 1684, took for his text the passage in the Book of Judith wherein it is stated that "She made herself famous in all things, and there was none that gave her an ill word," said that it was perhaps the first commendation that was ever given to a woman; for notwithstanding the prodigious detraction that has prevailed so long in the world, there are some women that remain untouched by that implacable monster; yet this good fortune rarely happens to those who have otherwise a shining reputation, so that we may boldly challenge all the Greeks and Romans to show us a passage in their books that in so few words gives us so great an idea as that which the Book of Judith gives us in the words beforementioned. The address that Homer made use of to give his reader a great notion of the beauty of Helen is certainly inferior to the plainness and simplicity of the Jewish author, and that which is most excellent in his way of praising is that he has included in his elegy the true cause and source of the virtue he has described. "She had," says he, "a great reputation in all things, and was secure from every evil challenge, because she was sensibly touched with the fear of the Lord."
The Book of Judith is a shining picture of the possible courage in woman; it found its exact human exemplification in Charlotte Corday young, devout, beautiful, lion-hearted. "Courage," says Aaron Hill, "is poorly housed that dwells in numbers; the lion never counts the herds that are about him nor weighs how many flocks he has to scatter."