Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. All. Greek, “Those who were in the tents heard, they were astonished at the fact; and fear and trembling fell upon them, and there was not a man remaining before his neighbour; but rushing out, with one accord, they fled through every path, in the plains and in the mountains; and those who were encamped in the high places around Bethulia, (Haydock; the Moabites, &c., chap. vii. 8.; Calmet) fled. Then every warrior of Israel rushed out upon them, and Ozias,” ver. 5.
Ver. 5. Israel. Greek adds, “informing them of what had been accomplished, and that all might pour upon the enemies, to cut them off. But when the Israelites heard this, they all, unanimously, fell upon them, as far as Chobai: (Haydock; Hoba.; Calmet) in like manner those from Jerusalem came up, and from all the mountainous country; for they also were informed of what had happened in the camp of their enemies; and the men of Galaad and of Galilee scattered them with great slaughter, till they had passed Damascus and its boundaries.” (Haydock) — As the enemy fled without a leader, we may easily imagine what carnage would ensue. (Calmet)
Ver. 7. The. Greek, “their spoils, and were greatly enriched.” (Haydock) — Mariana suggests that we should read honestati, which is used in this sense, (Ecclesiasticus xi. 23.) instead of onustati, loaded.
Ver. 8. They. Greek, “The Israelites, returning from the slaughter, took possession of the remainder, and the villages and cities, both in the mountains and champaign country, took many spoils; for there was great abundance. But Joachim,” &c.
Ver. 9. Came. Greek adds, “and the senate of Israel, residing at Jerusalem, came.” This alludes to the sanhedrim. (Grotius) — But, it seems, its institution was posterior to the captivity, and we may understand the principal men of the city, or of the priests. (Calmet) — To see. Greek adds, “the good things (Complutensian; to confirm or lay a foundation for, the good things) which God had done to Israel, and to see Judith, and speak peace with her.” Protestants, “to salute her.” (Haydock) — Joachim is the same with Eliacim; El being only prefixed. (Tirinus) — He is the Sadoc II or Odeas of Josephus; (Reinec.) and succeeded Sobna both in spiritual and temporal power, Isaias xxii. (Bellarmine)
Ver. 10. She. Greek, “They were gone into her apartment, they,” &c. — Art the. Greek adds, “great joy, and the great boast of our race; because thou hast done all these things with thy hand, thou hast procured the good of Israel, and God hath been pleased with them. Be thou blessed by the omnipotent Lord for ever.” (Haydock) — Judith was a figure of the blessed Virgin [Mary], to whom these praises chiefly belong. (Fulbert.) (Worthington)
Ver. 11. Chastity, &c. This is not in Syriac, &c., and though, generally speaking, celibacy was not esteemed honourable among the Jews, yet chastity was so much the more admired, as it was more uncommon. A widow was deserving of praise for not lightly entering upon a second marriage. (Calmet) — Those who abstain from it, were respected, like virgins, by the Romans. (Val. Maxim. ii. 1.)
Ver. 13. Thirty. Greek, “And the people plundered the camp thirty (Syriac; three) days.” The camp of the Assyrians was in various places, and the people waited a month before they began to divide the spoils among all, according to their laws, Numbers xxxi. 27., and 1 Kings xxx. 24. (Calmet)
Ver. 14. But. Greek, “And they gave to Judith the tent of Holofernes, and all the silver plate, and beds and basins, and all his furniture, which she taking, place upon her mule, and put to her chariots, and heaped them thereon; and every woman of Israel ran to see her, and they blessed her, and danced in her honour. Then she took some thyrsus (Haydock; or branches entwined with ivy, &c.; Calmet) in her hands, and gave to those women who accompanied her; and they crowned with olive both her and her attendant; (maid, or Alexandrian Septuagint, “and she was crowned with olive, and her mule;” Grabe substitutes “female companions,”) and she went before all the people, leading the dance of all the women; and every man of Israel followed in arms, with crowns, and with hymns in their mouth. Then,” &c., chap. xvi. (Haydock) — The bearing of green branches, on such occasions, was very common, Leviticus xxiii. 40., 2 Machabees x. 7., and Matthew xxi. 8. Hence Tacitus (Hist. v.) supposed that the Jews adored Bacchus. But there was nothing here of the immodesty, which generally attended the pagan festivals. We only find this instance of women being crowned with olive. But this tree was very proper, as it was used in rejoicings: Ramo felicis olivæ; (Virgil vi.) on which Servius remarks, olivæ, arboris festæ. At certain races in Greece, women who gained the victory, were thus crowned; (Alex. Genial v. 8.) and it was used by the Roman cavalry on the ides of July, and in ovations. (Pliny, [Natural History?] xv. 4.) — The processions of the Church often admit of similar ornaments in honour of God, (Tirinus) and to promote piety. (Haydock)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
The Assyrians flee: the Hebrews pursue after them, and are enriched by their spoils.
1 And when all the army heard that Holofernes was beheaded, courage and counsel fled from them, and being seized with trembling and fear, they thought only to save themselves by flight.
2 So that no one spoke to his neighbour, but hanging down the head, leaving all things behind, they made haste to escape from the Hebrews, who, as they heard, were coming armed upon them, and fled by the ways of the fields, and the paths of the hills.
3 So the children of Israel, seeing them fleeing, followed after them. And they went down sounding with trumpets and shouting after them.
4 And because the Assyrians were not united together, they went without order in their flight; but the children of Israel, pursuing in one body, defeated all that they could find.
5 And Ozias sent messengers through all the cities and countries of Israel.
6 And every country and every city, sent their chosen young men armed after them, and they pursued them with the edge of the sword, until they came to the extremities of their confines.
7 And the rest that were in Bethulia went into the camp of the Assyrians, and took away the spoils, which the Assyrians in their flight had left behind them, and they were loaded exceedingly.
8 But they that returned conquerors to Bethulia, brought with them all things that were theirs, so that there was no numbering of their cattle, and beasts, and of all their moveables, insomuch, that from the least to the greatest, all were made rich by their spoils.
9 And Joachim, the high priest, came from Jerusalem to Bethulia, with all his ancients, to see Judith.
10 And when she was come out to him, they all blessed her with one voice, saying: Thou art the glory of Jerusalem, thou art the joy of Israel, thou art the honour of our people:
11 For thou hast done manfully, and thy heart has been strengthened, because thou hast loved chastity, and after thy husband hast not known any other: therefore, also, the hand of the Lord hath strengthened thee, and therefore thou shalt be blessed for ever.
12 And all the people said: So be it, so be it.
13 And thirty days were scarce sufficient for the people of Israel to gather up the spoils of the Assyrians.
14 But all those things that were proved to be the peculiar goods of Holofernes, they gave to Judith, in gold and silver, and garments, and precious stones, and all household stuff, and they all were delivered to her by the people.
15 And all the people rejoiced with the women, and virgins, and young men, playing on instruments and harps.