Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Walls. Greek adds, “upon the pinnacle.” (Haydock)
Ver. 2. Beneath. Into the valley; but make your appearance just out of the walls, as if you were rushing upon the enemy. Greek adds after arms, “and you shall appoint a leader over them, as if descending into the plain to the advanced guard of the Assyrians; but ye shall not go down. Then these seizing all their armour, will go to the camp, and awaken the leaders of the Assyrians, and they will run to the tent of Holofernes, and shall not find him. Then fear shall seize upon them, and they will flee before us. Whereupon ye, and all who inhabit the confines of Israel, shall follow after, and strew them in their paths,” slain and wounded, ver. 6. (Haydock)
Ver. 6. Then. Greek, &c., “But before ye do this, call to me Achior, the Ammonite, that seeing, he may recognize the contemner of the house of Israel, and the man who sent him away to us unto certain death. And they called Achior from the house of Ozias. But as soon as he came, and saw the head of Holofernes in the hand of one of the assembly of the people, he fell,” &c., as [in] chap. xiii. 29, 30. “Blessed art thou in every tent of Juda, and in every nation. All who shall hear thy name shall be amazed. But now tell me what thou hast done during these days. And Judith, in the midst of the people, informed him of all that she had performed, since the day of her departure till the time when she was speaking. She had no sooner ended her speech, than all the people set up a loud shout of joy in their city. Then,” &c. — Leaving. Greek, “He believed in God greatly,” or with the utmost sincerity. (Haydock) — Hitherto Achior had only considered the Deity as the peculiar God of Israel, (Calmet) or as the common gods “revered by all nations;” (Virgil xii.; Servius) but not as the only supreme Being. He now becomes a proselyte, not merely, like Naaman, to adore one God; but also to observe all the rites of the Jewish religion. The latter was a matter of choice, chap. vi. 18. It is not still clear that he could enjoy the privileges of the nation as a magistrate, or even marry, (Calmet) which shews his greater fervour. (Grotius) — It is certain that no nation could be forbidden to worship God, Deuteronomy xxiii. 3. St. Thomas Aquinas (1. 2. q. 105. a. 3.) believes that a dispensation was granted to Achior, (Calmet) so that he might be treated like an Israelite in all respects. (Serarius q. 1.) (Menochius) — This evinces that only the impenitent Ammonites, &c., were excluded from the Church. (Worthington) — With. Greek, “till this day.”
Ver. 7. With. Greek, “In companies, to the ascent of the mountain.”
Ver. 8. Ran. Greek, “Sent to their officers. But they went to the leaders and captains of thousands, and to every chief among them, and they proceeded to the tent of Holofernes, and said to his chief steward: Awaken now our lord, for the slaves have been so bold as to come down to offer us battle for their utter ruin. The Bagoas,” &c., ver. 13. (Haydock)
Ver. 12. Mice. They speak contemptuously of their foes, like the Philistines, 1 Kings xiv. 11. (Menochius)
Ver. 13. Into. Greek, “In, knocked at the hall, (aule, or antichamber) of the tent, for he suspected that he was sleeping with Judith. But as no one answered, he opened and went into the bed-chamber, and found him thrown upon the floor, dead, and his head taken from him, and he cried,” &c. — Curtain, which separated this apartment from the rest, (Haydock) and hung before the door, as Heraclides describes the tent of the Persian kings. Holofernes assumed the like importance, and was treated almost as a deity. (Calmet) — Hence he must not be awaked, in a rude manner. (Haydock) — Civility requires that we should knock modestly at the doors of the great. (Calmet)
Ver. 16. Said. Greek, “cried aloud, the slaves have prevaricated. One,” &c. (Haydock) — Perhaps he thought that Judith had introduced some of the Jews. (Calmet)
Ver. 18. Cry. Greek adds, “and shouting of them (the captains) in,” &c. (Haydock)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
The Israelites assault the Assyrians, who, finding their general slain, are seized with a panic fear.
1 And Judith said to all the people: Hear me, my brethren, hang ye up this head upon our walls:
2 And as soon as the sun shall rise, let every man take his arms, and rush ye out, not as going down beneath, but as making an assault.
3 Then the watchmen must needs run to awake their prince for the battle.
4 And when the captains of them shall run to the tent of Holofernes, and shall find him without his head, wallowing in his blood, fear shall fall upon them.
5 And when you shall know that they are fleeing, go after them securely, for the Lord will destroy them under your feet.
6 Then Achior, seeing the power that the God of Israel had wrought, leaving the religion of the gentiles, he believed God, and circumcised the flesh of his foreskin, and was joined to the people of Israel, with all the succession of his kindred, until this present day.
7 And immediately at break of day, they hung up the head of Holofernes upon the walls, and every man took his arms, and they sent out with a great noise and shouting.
8 And the watchmen, seeing this, ran to the tent of Holofernes.
9 And they that were in the tent, came and made a noise before the door of the chamber to awake him, endeavouring by art to break his rest, that Holofernes might awake, not by their calling him, but by their noise.
10 For no man durst knock, or open and go into the chamber of the general of the Assyrians.
11 But when his captains and tribunes were come, and all the chiefs of the army of the king of the Assyrians, they said to the chamberlains:
12 Go in, and awake him, for the mice coming out of their holes, have presumed to challenge us to fight.
13 Then Vagao going into his chamber, stood before the curtain, and made a clapping with his hands: for he thought that he was sleeping with Judith.
14 But when with hearkening, he perceived no motion of one lying, he came near to the curtain, and lifting it up, and seeing the body of Holofernes, lying upon the ground, without the head, weltering in his blood, he cried out with a loud voice, with weeping, and rent his garments.
15 And he went into the tent of Judith, and not finding her, he ran out to the people,
16 And said: One Hebrew woman hath made confusion in the house of king Nabuchodonosor: for behold Holofernes lieth upon the ground, and his head is not upon him.
17 Now when the chiefs of the army of the Assyrians had heard this, they all rent their garments, and an intolerable fear and dread fell upon them, and their minds were troubled exceedingly.
18 And there was a very great cry in the midst of their camp.