Judith and Holofernes
“And in the fourth day Holofernes made a feast to his own servants only, and called none of the officers to the banquet.
Then said he to Bagoas the eunuch, who had charge over all that he had, Go now, and persuade this Hebrew woman which is with thee, that she come unto us, and eat and drink with us.
For, lo, it will be a shame for our person, if we shall let such a woman go, not having had her company; for if we draw her not unto us, she will laugh us to scorn.
Then went Bagoas from the presence of Holofernes, and came to her, and he said, Let not this fair damsel fear to come to my lord, and to be honoured in his presence, and drink wine, and be merry with us and be made this day as one of the daughters of the Assyrians, which serve in the house of Nabuchodonosor.
Then said Judith unto him, Who am I now, that I should gainsay my lord? surely whatsoever pleaseth him I will do speedily, and it shall be my joy unto the day of my death.
So she arose, and decked herself with her apparel and all her woman's attire, and her maid went and laid soft skins on the ground for her over against Holofernes, which she had received of Bagoas for her daily use, that she might sit and eat upon them.
Now when Judith came in and sat down, Holofernes his heart was ravished with her, and his mind was moved, and he desired greatly her company; for he waited a time to deceive her, from the day that he had seen her.
Then said Holofernes unto her, Drink now, and be merry with us.
So Judith said, I will drink now, my lord, because my life is magnified in me this day more than all the days since I was born.
Then she took and ate and drank before him what her maid had prepared.
And Holofernes took great delight in her, and drank more wine than he had drunk at any time in one day since he was born.
Now when the evening was come, his servants made haste to depart, and Bagoas shut his tent without, and dismissed the waiters from the presence of his lord; and they went to their beds: for they were all weary, because the feast had been long.
And Judith was left alone in the tent, and Holofernes lying alone upon his bed: for he was filled with wine.
Now Judith had commanded her maid to stand without her bedchamber, and to wait for her. coming forth, as she did daily: for she said she would go forth to her prayers, and she spake to Bagoas according to the same purpose.
So all went forth and none was left in the bedchamber, neither little nor great. Then Judith, standing by his bed, said in her heart, O Lord God of all power, look at this present upon the works of mine hands for the exaltation of Jerusalem.
For now is the time to help thine inheritance, and to execute thine enterprizes to the destruction of the enemies which are risen against us.
Then she came to the pillar of the bed, which was at Holofernes' head, and took down his fauchion from thence,
And approached to his bed, and took hold of the hair of his head, and said, Strengthen me, O Lord God of Israel, this day.
And she smote twice upon his neck with all her might, and she took away his head from him.
And tumbled his body down from the bed, and pulled down the canopy from the pillars; and anon after she went forth, and gave Holofernes his head to her maid”.
The Book of Judith, Chapters 12 and 13
This series of photographs modelled by Stephanie Dubois, Kayt Webster-Brown, Ella Rose, Suki Miles and Joel Hicks, and styled by Suki Miles and Claudia Oliver. The series is a collaboration with Paola Sammartino.