Now in those days Judith heard about these things. She was the daughter of Merari son of Ox son of Joseph son of Oziel son of Elkiah son of Ananias son of Gideon son of Raphain son of Ahitub son of Elijah son of Hilkiah son of Eliab son of Nathanael son of Salamiel son of Sarasadai son of Israel.
Her husband Manasseh, who was from her tribe and her family, had died during the barley harvest.
He suffered heat stroke while he was overseeing the workers in the fields, and died in his bed in Bethulia, his hometown. They buried him with his ancestors in the field between Dothan and Balamon.
Judith had lived as a widow in her house for three years and four months.
She pitched a tent for herself on the roof of her house, put funeral clothing around her waist, and wore widow's clothing.
She fasted all the days of her widowhood except for the day before the Sabbath and the Sabbath itself, the day before the new moon, the day of the new moon, and the feasts and celebration days of the house of Israel.
She was very beautiful and lovely to stare at. Her husband Manasseh left her gold and silver, male and female slaves, cattle, and fields, which she continued to oversee.
And no one had a bad word to say about her, for she revered God greatly.
Judith heard the people's harsh words against the ruler, for they were growing weak from the lack of water. Judith also heard everything that Uzziah told them, how he promised to surrender the city to the Assyrians in five days.
So she sent her most trusted servant, the one who managed her property, to call for Uzziah, Chabris, and Charmis, the elders of her city.
When they came to her, she said to them: “Listen to me, rulers of the inhabitants of Bethulia. What you have said to the people today isn't right. What is this promise you have made? How can you bargain with God by saying that you'll surrender the city to our enemies if the Lord doesn't send help within a certain time?
So who are you to test God today and set yourselves up in the place of God in the midst of the people?
You can question the Lord Almighty, but you won't ever learn anything.
You can't sound the depths of a person's heart or comprehend the thoughts of that person's mind. How then will you search out God, who made all these things? How will you understand God's mind and comprehend God's thoughts? “No, brothers, don't provoke the Lord our God,
even if he chooses not to help us in the next five days. God has the power to visit us in however many days he wishes or to destroy us in front of our enemies.
Don't attempt to block the plans of the Lord our God. God isn't like a human being who can be argued with, a person who can be threatened.
Therefore, while we're waiting for his rescue, we should call upon him for help, and he will hear our voice if it pleases him.
There hasn't been in our generation, nor is there today, a tribe, a family, a people, or a city among us who worships gods made with human hands as happened in times past.
This is the reason why our ancestors were handed over to the sword and to plunder, and they suffered greatly in the presence of our enemies.
But we have known no other gods except him. “Therefore, we hope that he won't forget about us and our generation.
If we are captured, so also will the rest of Judea be captured. Then our sanctuary will be plundered, and God will hold us responsible for its ruin with our own blood.
He will bring the murder of our families, the captivity of the land, and the destruction of our inheritance down upon our heads, wherever we may be enslaved among the nations. Those who purchase us as slaves will consider us offensive and disgraceful.
Our slavery won't bring us favor. Rather, the Lord our God will turn it into a disgrace.
"Now, brothers, let us be an example to those whose lives depend on us. The sanctuary, the temple, and the altar depend on us as well.
In the midst of all this, let us give thanks to the Lord our God, who is testing us just as he did our ancestors.
Remember what he did with Abraham, how he tested Isaac, and what happened to Jacob while he was in Mesopotamia of Syria, tending his uncle Laban's sheep?
He hasn't yet tested us with fire, as he did them to examine their hearts, nor has he taken vengeance upon us. Rather, the Lord afflicts those close to him in order to warn them."
Uzziah said to her: "You have spoken all this from a genuine heart, and no one disagrees with your words.
Today isn't the first time you have demonstrated your wisdom. Since your earliest days, all the people have observed your insight and the goodness of your heart.
But the people are very thirsty, and they strongly urged us to do what we promised them, and to make a solemn promise that we can't break.
You are a godly woman. So pray for us, and the Lord will send rain to fill our reservoirs, and we won't die."
Judith said to them: "Listen to me. I'm going to do something that will be remembered for generations to come.
Stand at the gate tonight, and I, along with my most trusted servant, will go out. By the deadline you set for surrendering the city to our enemies, the Lord will deliver Israel by my hand.
Don't ask what I will do. I won't tell you until I'm finished."
Then Uzziah and the rulers said to her: "Go in peace, and may the Lord God go before you to take vengeance on our enemies."
So they left the tent and returned to their posts.