Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. And bade. Greek, “and ordered a bed (or table) to be prepared for her, to eat of his own meat, and drink of his wine,” (Haydock) that her beauty might be enhanced, (Daniel i.) and to honour her. (Menochius)

Ver. 2. Upon me, as these meats had been offered to idols; (Worthington) or she might fear they had, and wished to avoid all scandal, 2 Machabees vi. 21., and Tobias i. 12. (Calmet)

Ver. 3. Thee. Greek adds, “for there is none of thy race.”

Ver. 4. Which I. Greek, “he.” — Which. Greek, “and she slept till midnight and she arose at the morning watch.” (Haydock) — The mode of counting by hours prevailed after the captivity. (Calmet)

Ver. 5. And. Greek, “and she sent to Holofernes, saying: May my lord please to order that thy handmaid may go out to pray. And,” &c., ver. 6. (Haydock) — She had prepared him to grant this request before: but out of civility, and that he may have greater confidence in her, she asks again. The choice of a retired place for prayer is very commendable, but she made choice of the fields, that she might go out of the camp afterwards without being suspected. (Calmet)

Ver. 6. Chamberlains. Greek, “life-guards, not to hinder her; and she remained in the camp three days.” (Haydock)

Ver. 7. Water. Greek, “in the camp;” perhaps she washed only her hands and face. (Calmet)

Ver. 9. Pure, from forbidden food. (Worthington) — Evening. Thus she continued to fast, to draw down the blessing of God. (Calmet)

Ver. 10. Servants. Greek adds, “only, and he did not call any of those whom he usually employed,” (Haydock) that they might not witness his excesses. Vagao, or Bagoas, the Persian name for an “eunuch,” or chief officer; though such were generally to wait on the ladies.

Quem penes est Dominam servandi cura BagoƦ. (Ovid, Amor. ii.)

— Eunuch. Greek and Syriac add, “who was appointed over all his affairs. Persuade the Hebrew woman who is with thee to come to us, and to eat and drink with us. For we deem it shameful to dismiss such a woman, without having commerce with her; and if we do not attract her, she will deride us.”

Ver. 12. Merry. This would pave the way for greater liberties. (Calmet) — Greek adds, “and to become this day as a daughter of the Assyrians, standing to wait in the house of Nabuchodonosor.” He probably alludes to those courtezans (Calmet) who sung at night, before the palace, &c. (Athen. Dip. xii. 2.) The Persians admitted women to their feasts, though they were generally excluded in the East, Esther i. 12. (Herodotus v. 18.)

Ver. 14. Best. Greek, “a boast, or matter of exultation.” (Haydock) — This answer seems to shock our delicacy. Did she not understand the meaning of the eunuch, which was sufficiently plain? She only passed a compliment, which always implies a tacit condition, if the thing be practicable and honest: as the words might have two meanings, she was bound in charity to interpret them in the best sense. (Calmet) — It was surely lawful to be merry. (Menochius)

Ver. 15. Garments. Greek adds, “and all her female ornaments; and her servant came and spread on the ground, before Holofernes, the fleeces which she had received from Bagoas, for her daily use, to eat lying upon them. And coming in, Judith fell prostrate.” (Haydock) — The custom of sitting on the ground, upon skins, to eat, is very ancient, (Targum, Esther i.) and is still observed by the Turks. The kings of Persia let none eat with them at the same table. (Heraclides; Athen. v. 10.) — The character of drunkenness, with which this nation has been branded, seems not unfounded. (Calmet)

Ver. 16. Her. Greek adds, “company; and he had sought an opportunity of deluding her, from the day when he first beheld her.” He justly, therefore, fell into the snare which he had laid.

Ver. 20. Life. Greek adds, “in any one day,” (Haydock) at supper. (Menochius)

Bible Text & Cross-references:

Judith goeth out in the night to pray: she is invited to a banquet with Holofernes.

1 Then he ordered that she 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.

2 And Judith answered him and said: Now 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.

3 And Holofernes said to her: If these things which thou hast brought with thee fail thee, what shall we do for thee?

4 And Judith said: As thy soul liveth, my lord, thy handmaid shall not spend all these things till God do by my hand that which I have purposed. And his servants brought her into the tent which he had commanded.

5 And when she was going in, she desired that she might have liberty to go out, at night, and before day, to prayer, and to beseech the Lord.

6 And he commanded his chamberlains that she might go out and in, to adore her God as she pleased, for three days.

7 And she went out in the nights into the valley of Bethulia, and washed herself in a fountain of water.

8 And as she came up, she prayed to the Lord, the God of Israel, that he would direct her way to the deliverance of his people.

9 And going in, she remained pure in the tent, until she took her own meat in the evening.

10 And it came to pass on the fourth day, that Holofernes made a supper for his servants, and said to Vagao, his eunuch: Go, and persuade that Hebrew woman, to consent of her own accord to dwell with me.

11 For it is looked upon as shameful among the Assyrians, if a woman mock a man, by doing so as to pass free from him.

12 Then Vagao went in to Judith, and said: Let not my good maid be afraid to go in to my lord, that she may be honoured before his face, that she may eat with him and drink wine, and be merry.

13 And Judith answered him: Who am I, that I should gainsay my lord?

14 All that shall be good and best before his eyes, I will do. And whatsoever shall please him, that shall be best to me all the days of my life.

15 And she arose and dressed herself out with her garments, and going in, she stood before his face.

16 And the heart of Holofernes was smitten, for he was burning with the desire of her.

17 And Holofernes said to her: Drink now, and sit down and be merry; for thou hast found favour before me.

18 And Judith said: I will drink, my lord, because my life is magnified, this day, above all my days.

19 And she took, and eat and drank before him, what her maid had prepared for her.

20 And Holofernes was made merry on her occasion, and drank exceedingly much wine, so much as he had never drunk in his life.