Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Oratory. Of such our Saviour speaks, Matthew vi.; and Baronius at large. (The year of our Lord 293.) (Worthington) — Greek, “But Judith fell prostrate, and sprinkled ashes upon her head, (Syriac adds, and tore her tunic) and uncovered the sackcloth which she had on. That evening the incense had just been offered, in the house of the Lord, at Jerusalem. And Judith cried aloud,” &c.
Ver. 2. Gavest him a sword, &c. The justice of God is here praised, in punishing by the sword of Simeon the crime of the Sichemites: and not the fact of Simeon, which was justly condemned by his father, Genesis xlix. 5. Though even with regard to this fact, we may distinguish between his zeal against the crime committed by the ravishers of his sister, which zeal may be considered just: and the manner of his punishing that crime, which was irregular and excessive. (Challoner) — The former is here commended. (Worthington) (Menochius) — Yet Simeon was not blameless. God put the sword into his hand as he makes use of tyrants; in which sense Nabuchodonosor is styled his servant, Jeremias xxv. 9., Ezechiel xxix. 18., and Genesis xxxiv. 2, 25.
Ver. 3. And. Greek, “For thou didst say: It shall not be so: and they did it because thou hadst given their princes unto slaughter, and their bed, which had perceived their deceit, unto blood; and thou didst slay the slaves with the princes, and the princes on their thrones; and thou gavest,” &c. (Haydock) — This style seems rather poetical. (Grotius) (Calmet)
Ver. 4. Of old. Greek, “before these, and these, and what followed, and is at present, and things to come, thou hast foreseen.” All events depend on Thee. “For the things which thou hadst decreed were at hand, and said: Behold, we are here.” (Haydock)
Ver. 5. Judgments. All is foreseen: nothing can resist the decrees of God. (Calmet)
Ver. 6. As. Greek speaks not of the Egyptians: “For behold the Assyrians are multiplied in their power, and exalted on account of their cavalry; they have boasted on the strong arm of the infantry, have trusted in their shield, and bow, and sling; and they have not known that thou art the Lord, making an end of wars: Thy name is Lord; break their force, by thy power,” &c., ver. 11. (Haydock)
Ver. 7. Them, as they were not able to come to action during the night, Exodus xiv.
Ver. 13. Lips, or with my endearing speeches. (Menochius) — She meant innocently to engage the affections of Holofernes, (Haydock) and prays that he may receive her in that manner, as he might have done without sin. But when he abused his free-will, God turned his sin to the good of others. See Exodus vii. (St. Augustine, ser. 288.) (Worthington) — Greek, “Give that power which I have devised to the hand of me, a widow. Strike the slave by the lips of my delusion, (or by my ensnaring words) with the prince; and the chief, with his minister, break their haughtiness by the hand of a female, ver. 15. (Haydock) — This prayer seems contrary to sound morality, as well as the indiscreet conduct of Judith, in exposing herself to danger, though her intention was good. (Calmet) — But are not stratagems lawful in war? See 2 Kings xv. Is it sinful for a woman to endeavour to captivate the heart? The situation might be dangerous, but it was not criminal; and Judith was certainly determined to yield to no dishonest proposals. God therefore approved of her designs, and enhanced her beauty, chap. x. 4. (Haydock)
Ver. 16. Horses. Greek, “the potent, but thou art the Lord of the humble.”
Ver. 17. And. Greek, “give my word and deceit to be a wound and a scar to them, who, against thy covenant and sanctified house, and the summit of Sion,…have devised cruel things, and do for all thy nation according to thy power and strength; for there is no other to shield Israel but Thou.”
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Judith’s prayer, to beg of God to fortify her in her undertaking.
1 And when they were gone, Judith went into her oratory: and putting on hair-cloth, laid ashes on her head: and falling down prostrate before the Lord, she cried to the Lord, saying:
2 O Lord God of my father Simeon, *who gavest him a sword to execute vengeance against strangers, who had defiled by their uncleanness, and uncovered the virgin unto confusion:
3 And who gavest their wives to be made a prey, and their daughters into captivity: and all their spoils to be divided to thy servants, who were zealous with thy zeal: assist, I beseech thee, O Lord God, me, a widow.
4 For thou hast done the things of old, and hast devised one thing after another: and what thou hast designed, hath been done.
5 For all thy ways are prepared, and in thy providence thou hast placed thy judgments.
6 *Look upon the camp of the Assyrians now, as thou wast pleased to look upon the camp of the Egyptians, when they pursued armed after thy servants, trusting in their chariots, and in their horsemen, and in a multitude of warriors.
7 But thou lookedst over their camp, and darkness wearied them.
8 The deep held their feet, and the waters overwhelmed them.
9 So may it be with these also, O Lord, who trust in their multitude, and in their chariots, and in their pikes, and in their shields, and in their arrows, and glory in their spears,
10 And know not that thou art our God, who destroyest wars from the beginning, and the Lord is thy name.
11 Lift up thy arm as from the beginning, and crush their power with thy power: let their power fall in thy wrath, who promise themselves to violate thy sanctuary, and defile the dwelling-place of thy name, and to beat down with their sword the horn of thy altar.
12 Bring to pass, O Lord, that his pride may be cut off with his own sword.
13 Let him be caught in the net of his own eyes, in my regard, and do thou strike him by the graces of the words of my lips.
14 Give me constancy in my mind, that I may despise him: and fortitude, that I may overthrow him.
15 *For this will be a glorious monument for thy name, when he shall fall by the hand of a woman.
16 For thy power, O Lord, is not in a multitude, nor is thy pleasure in the strength of horses, nor from the beginning have the proud been acceptable to thee: but the prayer of the humble and the meek hath always pleased thee.
17 O God of the heavens, creator of the waters, and Lord of the whole creation, hear me a poor wretch, making supplication to thee, and presuming of thy mercy.
18 Remember, O Lord, thy covenant, and put thou words in my mouth, and strengthen the resolution in my heart, that thy house may continue in thy holiness:
19 And all nations may acknowledge that thou art God, and there is no other besides thee.
2: Genesis xxxiv. 26.
6: Exodus xiv. 9.
15: Judges iv. 21. and v. 26.