1. The news of what had happened came in those days to Judith, daughter of Merari, son of Joseph, of Oziel, of Elkiah, of Ananias, of Gideon, of Raphain, of Ahitub, of Elijah, of Hilkiah, of Eliab, of Nathanael, of Salamiel, of Sarasadai, of Israel.

2. Her husband was Manasseh, of the same tribe and family. He had died during the harvesting of the barley

3. as he was supervising the reapers who were binding the sheaves on the plain; he suffered sunstroke, took to his bed and died in Bethulia, his town. He was buried with his ancestors in the field which lies between Dothan and Balamon.

4. As a widow, Judith remained in her house for three years and four months.

5. She had built a room on the rooftop of the house where she lived.

6. She covered herself in sackcloth, put on widow's garments and fasted all the days of her widowhood with the exception of the eves of the Sabbath, the Sabbath day, the eves of the new moons, the days of the new moons, and all the celebrations of the people of Israel.

7. She was exceedingly beautiful and very pleasing to look at. Manasseh, her husband, had left her gold, silver, servants, cattle and fields and she remained the owner of all this estate.

8. No one could say anything evil of her because she greatly feared God.

9. She heard of the threatening words which the people had addressed to their leaders because they were downcast, suffering from lack of water. Judith also heard all that Uzziah had promised in reply, how he had sworn to hand over their city to the Assyrians at the end of five days.

10. So she sent the maidservant who looked after her affairs, to call Chabris and Charmis, two elders of the town, to come and see her.

11. They came to her house and she said to them, "Listen to me, you elders of Bethulia, for the words which you have spoken in front of the people today are not right. You did wrong to take an oath between God and yourselves, and to say that you would hand over the town to our enemies if, within a certain number of days, the Lord does not come to your help.

12. Who are you to put God to the test and take God's place when you answered the people?

13. That is not the way to call for his mercy, but rather, one that leads to his wrath.

14. For if you cannot probe the depths of the human heart nor know what a man is thinking, how can you understand the God who has made all things? Do you know his mind or understand his thoughts? No, my brothers, do not annoy the Lord our God.

15. For if he does not wish to come to our help within these five days, he has the power to protect us for as many days as he wishes or else to annihilate us in front of our enemies.

16. As for yourselves, do not challenge the designs of the Lord our God, for God cannot give in to threats as a man does, nor can any decision be imposed upon him as it can on the sons of men.

17. That is why, while waiting patiently for him to save us, let us beg him to come to our help. He will listen to our plea, if it pleases him.

18. For it has not happened in our generation nor is there among us today any tribe or family or people or city that worships gods made by human hands, as happened in days past.

19. It was for that reason that our fathers were handed over to be slain by the sword and pillaged, and that they suffered great disaster at the hands of their enemies.

20. But we do not recognize any other god than the One God, therefore let us hope that he will not look with contempt on us or on any of our race.

21. If the enemies capture us, so in the same way, the whole of Judea will be taken; our Sanctuary will be pillaged and we will answer for its profanation with our blood.

22. God will bring upon our heads the murder of our brothers, the bondage of our country and the devastation of our heritage. Wherever among the nations we shall be slaves, we shall be maltreated by those to whom we belong.

23. Our enslavement will not be changed in our favor, but the Lord our God will turn it into dishonor.

24. Now, my brothers, let us show our fellow countrymen that their lives depend on ours; that the safety of the Sanctuary, the Temple and the Altar rests with us.

25. Much more, let us thank the Lord our God who is putting us to the test as he did our fathers.

26. Remember what he did with Abraham, all the trials to which he subjected Isaac and all those that happened to Jacob in Mesopotamia of Syria where he looked after the sheep of Laban, his mother's brother.

27. Is not God making us pass through fire as he did the others to prove their hearts? The Lord is not punishing us, but he scourges those who draw near to him in order to admonish them."

28. Uzziah said to her, "All that you have said has been said with wisdom and no one can contradict your words.

29. In fact it is not just today that your wisdom is evident, but ever since your early days all the people have recognized your intelligence and the natural goodness of your heart.

30. But the people were suffering great thirst so they forced us to carry out what we have said, and they have charged us with an oath which we cannot break.

31. Since you are a devout woman, pray for us that the Lord will send rain to fill our reservoirs and we shall no longer be exhausted."

32. Judith said to them, "Listen to me, I will do something which will be handed down from generation to generation of the children of our race.

33. Tonight you will stand at the gate of the town and I will go out with my maidservant and, by the end of the time which has been fixed for you to hand over the town to our enemies, the Lord will visit Israel through my hand.

34. But do not try to find out what I shall do for I will not tell you, until I have fulfilled what I will do."

35. Then Uzziah and the leaders said to her, "Go in peace and may the Lord our God go before you so that you may take vengeance upon our enemies."

36. Then, leaving Judith's room, they went back to their posts.

Livros sugeridos

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