Collaborative Translation of Judith

(by Susan Crook, Pirkko Koppinen, Jennifer Neville, Jane Page, and Hilary Thorn)

1 - 9a
… doubted gifts in this wide abyss. Then and there she readily found a protecting hand from the mighty prince, when she had the greatest need; found favour from the highest judge, so that He, founder of foundations, shielded her against the highest terror. To her the bright-minded Father in the heavens granted a gift because she always had firm belief in the Almighty. Then I heard that Holofernes urgently summoned men to wine and set up feasts, splendid with every wonder.

9b - 14
The prince of men called all the leading thegns to it; they, the shield-bearing ones, responded to the call with great speed; they came travelling to that powerful prince, the chief of the people. It was four days later that Judith, wise in her thought, an elf-bright lady, first sought him.

15 - 21a
The proud ones, all his companions in woe, bold mail-coated ones, went to sit at that feast and wine-drinking. There, deep bowls were borne often along the benches, likewise also, brimming goblets and pitchers and cups, to the hall-sitters. Those brave shield-bearing ones accepted that doom, although the powerful one, terrible lord of men, knew it not.

21b - 27
Then Holofernes, the gold friend of men, became drunk-happy; he laughed and shouted, roared and bellowed, so that from far away the sons of men could hear how the stout-hearted one, brave and flushed with mead, stormed and yelled and frequently encouraged those sitting on the bench to behave well.

28 - 34a
Thus the witless one, great-hearted treasure-giver, drenched his own troop of men with wine throughout the day, drowned all his company, until they lay in a swoon, as if they had been struck down dead, drained of all goodness. The leader of men commanded the hall-sitters to be served [or: to follow] in this way, until dark night drew near the sons of men.

34b - 46a
Corrupted by his own violent acts, he then commanded the rich/blessed maiden, laden with bangles and adorned with rings, to be fetched hastily to his bedroom. His serving men quickly carried out what their leader, chief of mailed warriors, commanded; they marched noisily to the guest-house, where they found Judith, wise in mind, and then shield-warriors boldly began to lead that brilliant maiden to the lofty tent wherein the powerful one, loathsome to [loathed by?] the saviour, Holofernes himself, rested always by night.

46b - 61a
There was a beautiful fly-net-entirely of gold-hanging around the bed of the people's chief, so that the baleful prince of warriors could spy through it on every warrior's son who came therein, while not one of the race of men could spy on him, unless the courageous one should spitefully command any bold warrior to come nearer to him for a private consultation. Then they brought the wise lady quickly to his resting place; the stout-hearted warriors then went to make known to their superior that the holy maiden had been brought to his tent-chamber. Then the famous leader of towns became joyful in mind; he intended to smite that bright lady with stains and with sin. The Judge of Glory, the Guardian of Power, would not permit that; rather, He, the Lord, the Ruler of the Troops, steered him from this deed.

61b - 69a
Then, intoxicated, the devilish man went, with his troop of men, to seek his bed with cruel intent; there, in the space of one night, he had swiftly to lose his glory. He had then attained his unpleasant end on earth, the very end towards which he, that tyrannical lord of men, previously had been working as long as he dwelt in this world, under heaven's roof. Then, the powerful one was so drunk with wine, he fell into the middle of his bed, as he had no sense in the confines of his mind.

69b - 82
Warring-ones/warriors marched out of the inn with great haste, men glutted with wine, who lead the treacherous one, the hateful tyrant, to bed for the last time. Then the glorious handmaid of the saviour was very mindful of how she most easily might deprive the terrible one of life before he, the unclean, foul one, awoke. The curly-haired maiden of the Creator then seized a sharp sword, hard from the scouring of weapons, and drew it from its sheath with her right hand. Then she began to call by name the guardian of heaven, saviour of all earth-dwellers, and said these words:

83 - 94a
'God of Creation, and spirit of comfort, son of the all-powerful ruler, I wish to pray to you, majestic trinity, for your mercy: I am in need. Now my heart is sorely enflamed and my mind is overcast, afflicted with sorrow. Lord of Heaven, give me victory and true belief, so that I, with this sword, can hew down this distributor of murder.

Stern-minded lord of men, grant me my deliverance. Never have I had more need of your mercy. Now, mighty lord, bright-minded distributor of glory, avenge what is so painful in my mind, so hot in my heart.'

94b - 111a
Then the highest judge quickly inspired her with courage, as he does for everyone here who seeks him for help, wisely and with true belief. Then her mind was opened and holy hope renewed. Then she seized the heathen man firmly by the hair; she dragged him, disgraced, towards her with her hands and skilfully positioned the evil one, the odious man, so that she might manage the wretched one most easily.

Then the curly-haired one struck the dire enemy, that man with foul intentions, with the gleaming sword, so that she carved through half his neck, so that he lay in a swoon, drunken and mortally wounded. He was not yet dead, [not] entirely deprived of soul. Then the courageous lady resolutely struck another time the heathen hound, so that his head rolled out across the floor.

111b - 124
The foul carcass lay behind it, dead. His spirit turned elsewither, beneath the vertiginous cliff, and there it was abased, sealed in suffering for ever after, bound in torment, painfully chained in hell-fire, after the journey thence.

Enveloped in darkness, he need not hope that he be allowed thence from the serpent-hall; no, rather, forever and ever he must dwell there in that dark home, without end henceforth, deprived of hope of pleasure.

Then Judith had carved out most illustrious glory in battle, as God granted her; the Prince of Heaven bestowed victory on her.

125 - 146a
Then Judith, that wise maiden, quickly placed the head of the warrior, so bloody, into the bag in which her attendant, a lady of fair complexion, excellent in her virtues, had brought provisions thither for both of them, and she gave it, thus gory, into the hand of her thoughtful maid to carry home.

Then both those women, bold in courage, immediately went thence, until the stout-hearted, triumphant maidens passed out of the army, so that they might clearly see Bethuliam, and the walls of the beautiful strong-hold shining.

Ring-adorned, they then hastened their steps forth on the foot-path until, glad at heart, they arrived at the rampart-gate.

The warriors sat; vigilant men kept guard in the fortress, as Judith, that shrewd maiden, commanded that miserable folk, when she, a bold and courageous woman, went away on her journey.

146b - 158
Then, the beloved woman had come back to the people, and then, quickly, the wise-thinking woman commanded a certain man from that spacious walled town to go towards her, and then they immediately let them in through the wall's gate, and she uttered this speech to the victorious people:

'I may say to you a thought-worthy (or thank-worthy) thing, that you no longer need to be mournful in mind. On you, the glory of kings, the Creator smiles; it became known widely throughout the world, that to you radiant glory and fame is given for the afflictions that you long endured.'

159 - 186a
Then those holding the fortress became glad when they heard how the holy one spoke over the lofty wall. The army was joyful. The people, men and women together, old and young, hurried towards the fortress gates, in crowds and throngs, troops and bands, in their thousands (they?) pressed forward and ran towards the Lord's maid. Every man's mind in the mead-city (The mind of every man in the mead-city?) was cheered when they realised that Judith had come back home again, and then they hastily and humbly let her in. Then, adorned with gold, the wise one commanded her knowledgeable handmaid to reveal the warrior's head and to show it as a bloody sign to the people of the fortress, a sign of how she had prospered in battle. Then the princess spoke to all the people: 'Victorious heroes, leaders of the people, here you can openly stare upon the head of the most loathèd heathen warrior, Holofernes the Dead. No other man performed more injuries, inflicted more painful sorrows upon us and intended to increase them yet more; but God did not grant him longer life nor that he be permitted to molest us with malice. I thrust out his life with God's help.'

186b - 204a
'Men, fortress-dwellers, shield-warriors: I command each of you to hasten quickly to the fight. After the God of beginnings, the ever-gracious King, sends a shining light from the East, carry forth lindwood shields before your hearts; carry mail-coats and gleaming helmets into the enemy throng and cut down the commanders and the doomed chiefs with blood-marked swords. Your enemies are doomed to death, and fame, glory in battle, is yours, as the mighty Lord has shown you through my hand.'

Then quickly the swift, eager troop was prepared for the fight. Men and companions as brave as kings marched carrying banners of victory; warriors under helmets travelled forth righteously into battle, out of the holy fortress on that very dawn.

204b - 235a
Shields thndered and resounded loudly. the lean worlf of the forest and the dark raven, a bird greedy for slaughter, rejoiced in this. Both knew that the nation's warriors intended to supply them with a feast upon the doomed ones. Moerover behind them flew a dewy-winged eagle eager for food; dark-coated and horny-beaked, he sang a battle-song.

Battle-warriors, heroes protected by hollow linden-wood shields, marched into battle-those who previously endured the foreigners' contempt, the heathens' abuse. That insult was harshly revenged upon all the Assyrians in the play of spears, once the Hebrews under their war-standards had arrived at the army-camp. Then they promptly let showers of arrows, battle-snakes, and sturdy darts fly forth from horn-tipped bows; fierce warriors stormed loudly and sent spears amongst the cruel ones.

The native heroes were angry with that loathéd race; stern-minded, fierce-hearted they marched and ungently wakened their old enemies, who were weary from drinking. Retainers' hands from sheaths drew brightly decorated swords, chosen for their edges. They eagerly slew those ill-intentioned Assyrian boasters; they spared none from that invading army, neither high nor low, no living man whom they could overtake.

236 - 241a
Thus in the morning-time the thegns continuously harried the foreign people until those hostile ones, the chieftains of the enemy army, perceived that the Hebrew men showed them vicious sword-strokes.

241b - 267a
They went to make that known with words to the leading thegns. They woke up the standard-bearers and fearfully announced to the mead-weary ones the shocking news: the morning slaughter and the terrible sword-play. At once I heard those warriors who were doomed to die shake off sleep, and, weary-hearted, they thronged to the cruel man's tent-chamber-to Holofernes. They intended immediately to inform their lord about the battle, before the terror, the might of the Hebrews, set upon them.

They all assumed that the chief of men and the bright maiden were together in that gorgeous tent-noble Judith and that other one-lustful, awful, and savage. However, there was none amongst the earls who dared awaken the warrior or inquire how the standard-bearer had fared with the holy maiden, the creator's woman.

The army, the Hebrew people, approached, fought fiercely with deadly weapons, repaid their old grudges and ancient insults with hilts and blood-marked swords; the glory of the Assyrians was destroyed and their pride humiliated in that day's work.

267b - 284
Warriors stood around their lord's tent, very agitated, with sinking hearts. Then they, alienated from any good, all together began to cough, call out loudly, and gnash their teeth--enacting their grief with their teeth. That was the end of their glory, their prosperity and their courageous deeds. Those warriors thought to waken their lord and friend; their intention came to naught. Then at last one of the warriors became bold enough so that he, daring, ventured into that tent-chamber because necessity drove him. He found his bloodless gold-giver lying on the bed, deprived of spirit, stripped of life. Then he, chilled, at once fell to the ground; distraught in mind he began to tear his hair, and also his clothing, and spoke these words to the hapless warriors, who were there outside:

285 - 91a
'Here is the clear and obvious sign of our own impending dire fate-that the time is nigh, pressing fiercely, when we must by necessity lose and thus perish in battle together. Here lies our leader hacked with a sword--his head not upon him.

Then, overcome with grief, they flung down their weapons and, despairing, departed in haste to flee.

291b - 300
That powerful people fought them from behind until most of that invading army lay slain in battle, hacked down with swords on the field of victory - to the delight of the wolves and also for the comfort of the blood-thirsty birds. The shield-troop of loathed ones - those who lived - fled. The Hebrew corps advanced upon them from behind, honoured with victory, exalted with glory. The Lord God Almighty justly helped them.

301 - 318
Then with their bloody swords those brave-hearted heroes boldly made a war-path through the midst of those they loathed; they hewed down shields, cut down the shield-wall. The archers, the Hebrew men, were angered in battle; the men dearly wanted a spear-struggle on that occasion. There the majority of the nobility of the loathsome Assyrian race fell in the dirt. Few came home alive. Warriors, brave as kings, retraced their steps among the heaps of slain, the reeking corpses. The natives had the opportunity to seize gory spoils of war from their most loathsome former enemies, now lifeless: shining trappings, shields and broadswords, gleaming helmets, precious treasures.

318b - 334a
The native guardians had gloriously overcome the enemy/ies on their native soil and put their ancient foes to sleep with swords. Those whom, when alive, they hated most of all living people, rested behind them. Then, for the duration of a month, all that race, proud, curly-haired [damp], the greatest of peoples, lugged and hauled helmets, hip-swords, grey mailcoats, the gold-adorned war garments of men to that shining city, Bethulia: more treasures than any knowledgeable men can say. The native warriors, brave under banners in the battle, gained all that with might through the wise advice of Judith, that courageous woman.

Lines 334b-341a

As a reward for her own venture the brave spear-warriors brought her Holofernes' sword and bloody helmet as well as his vast coat of mail adorned with red gold; all the riches and personal belongings, rings and bright treasures that the stout-hearted prince of men possessed they gave to the beautiful, deep-thinking lady.

Lines 341b - end
For all this Judith proclaimed glory to the God of Hosts who gave her worthy honour, renown in the earthly kingdom and also payment up above, reward for victory in the glory of heaven, because she possessed true faith in the Almighty; certainly, in the end, she had no doubt about the reward for which she had long yearned. For this be glory for ever to the Beloved Lord, He who created wind and air, skies and roomy lands, as well as raging waters and the joys of heaven, through His own mercy.


[completed June 2003]

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Last updated 26 May, 2009 13:35