Holofernes said to Judith, "Don't worry; there's no need for you to be afraid. I have never hurt anyone who was willing to serve Nebuchadnezzar, king of the whole world.
Even now, if your people up in the mountains had not insulted me, I would not have declared war on them. They have brought all this trouble on themselves.
But tell me, why have you left them and come to us? You will be safe here. No need to be afraid! We have spared your life tonight, and you are in no danger for the future.
No one here will harm you; everyone will treat you well, like all other servants of my master, Nebuchadnezzar."
Then Judith said to Holofernes, "Allow me to speak to you, my lord, and please listen to what I have to say. I will tell you the truth.
If you follow my advice, God will do something great with you, and my lord will not fail in his plan.
For I swear to you by the life and strength of Nebuchadnezzar, king of the whole world, who sent you to bring order to all the subjects of his kingdom, that not only have you made people serve him, but because of you even the wild animals, the livestock, and the birds obey him. Because of you, Nebuchadnezzar and his entire kingdom will prosper.
We have heard how wise and clever you are. The whole world knows that you are the most competent, skilled, and accomplished general in the whole Assyrian Empire.
Achior was rescued by the men of Bethulia, and has told us what he said at your war council.
Please, sir, do not dismiss lightly what Achior told you, but take it seriously, because it is true. No one can harm or conquer our people unless they sin against their God.
"But you will not suffer any setbacks, nor will you fail to achieve your goal. When the Israelites sin and make their God angry, they will die.
Their food supply has already run out, and the water shortage has become serious, so they have decided to kill their livestock and eat foods that God's Law clearly forbids them to eat.
They have decided to eat the wheat set aside from the early harvest and the tithes of wine and oil, which are holy and are reserved for the priests who serve God in Jerusalem. The rest of us are forbidden even to touch this sacred food,
but since the people in Jerusalem have already broken this law, the people of our town have sent messengers to the Council there requesting permission to do the same.
On the day that they receive permission and actually eat the food, you will be able to destroy them.
As soon as I learned about this, I ran away from my people. God has sent me to do something with you that will amaze everyone in the entire world who hears about it.
Sir, I am a religious woman; I worship the God of heaven day and night. I will stay here in your camp, and each night I will go out into the valley to pray to God, and he will tell me when the Israelites have sinned.
As soon as I find out, I will come and tell you, and you can march out with your whole army. The Israelites will not be able to defend themselves against you.
I will guide you through the central part of the land of Judah until we come to Jerusalem, where I will crown you king in the center of the city. You will scatter the people of Jerusalem like sheep without a shepherd. Not even a dog will dare to growl at you. God has revealed these things to me in advance and has sent me to report them to you."
Holofernes and his personal servants were pleased with what Judith had said, and they admired her wisdom.
"She must be the wisest and most beautiful woman in the world," they commented one to another.
Then Holofernes said to her, "It's a good thing that God has sent you here to bring us victory and to destroy those who have insulted King Nebuchadnezzar.
Not only are you beautiful, but you know how to make a speech. If you do as you have promised, your God will be my God. You will live in King Nebuchadnezzar's palace and will be famous throughout the world."