Selections from the Middle English Metrical Paraphrase of the Old Testament
THE MIDDLE ENGLISH METRICAL PARAPHRASE OF THE OLD TESTAMENT: FOOTNOTES1 And presented herself so that the execution might take place
2 All they were able to seize lost their heads
THE MIDDLE ENGLISH METRICAL PARAPHRASE OF THE OLD TESTAMENT: NOTESS = MS Selden Supra 52, the manuscript on which this and the Kalén-Ohlander edition are based. L = MS Longleat 257, the only other known manuscript of the paraphrase. O = Ohlander's edition. Citations are by stanza number and line number within the stanza.
The Prologue: Since L is missing the first 1472 lines of the poem (i.e., all of Genesis and the first two and a half stanzas of Exodus) the Prologue in this edition is based exclusively on Selden Supra 52. Because of the great length of the poem and because I have selected only three disparate sections, lines commented on in the notes are indicated by stanza number in the Kalén-Ohlander edition (which is basically the same stanza arrangement as one would find in the Selden MS). Both manuscripts of the poem are written in long lines (two verses per line), with stanzas usually marked every six lines, either in the margin or by capitalization.
2.6 on, the maystur of storyse. The one referred to here is Peter Comestor, "magister historiarum," whose Historia scholastica (c. 1170) was a principal source for legendary events for this poet and other Northern writers such as the authors of Cursor Mundi, the York Plays, the Northern Cycle, and Genesis and Exodus (MS Corpus Christi College, Cambridge 444, which is based on a Northern original of the late twelfth century) as well. When the poet refers to the "storyse," he means Comestor's Historia.
2.8 schort. S: schortes. Kalén's emendation.
3.6 ever. S: ouer. Kalén's emendation.
3.8 kawn. Heuser (p. 4) would emend to knawn, but Kalén suggests that kawn is the past participle of OE ceowan in the ME sense of "meditate on" (I.4n).
The Story of Jephthah and His Daughter: For the Story of Jephthah and His Daughter and the Story of Judith, I follow Kalén-Ohlander in using S as the primary text, with emendation derived mainly from L. The story is found in stanzas 292-99 (lines 33493-588) of the Middle English poem. The narrative loosely follows the Vulgate account in Judges 11. The most radical divergences occur in the dialogue between Jephthah and the daughter. See the note to stanzas 294 ff., which provides the Douay translation of the Vulgate for comparison.
292.1 Jepte. S: Septe; L: Iepte.
292.10 S: all that armys beyre. Kalén emends to: [to] all that [my?t] armys beyre, following L: all to men that myght armes bere.
293.1 S: herthy; L: hertly.
294 ff. The poet alters several details of the Vulgate text by developing Jephthah's concern for his daughter, his falling from his horse in grief, his daughter's self-sacrificing responses to his vow; by deleting the daughter's lament for her virginity; and by adding details of Jephthah's execution of the vow with beheading and cremation. The Vulgate reads: "And when Jephte returned into Maspha to his house, his only daughter met him with timbrels and with dances: for he had no other children. / And when he saw her, he rent his garments, and said: Alas! my daughter, thou hast deceived me, and thou thyself art deceived: for I have opened my mouth to the Lord, and I can do no other thing. / And she answered him: My father, if thou hast opened thy mouth to the Lord, do unto me what soever thou hast promised, since the victory hath been granted to thee, and revenge of thy enemies. / And she said to her father: Grant me only this which I desire: Let me go, that I may go about the mountains for two months, and may bewail my virginity with my companions. / And he answered her: Go. And he sent her away for two months. And when she was gone with her comrades and companions, she mourned her virginity in the mountains. / And the two months being expired, she returned to her father, and he did to her as he had vowed, and she knew no man. From thence came a fashion in Israel, and a custom has been kept: / That from year to year the daughters of Israel assemble together, and lament the daughter of Jephte the Galaadite for four days" (Judges 11:34-40 - Douay translation).
294.4 home. Omitted in S; supplied according to L.
294.5 byd. S: hyd. L: noght abyde.
294.6 agayns. This word carries connotations of expectation, the sense here being that the daughter comes out joyously in anticipation of Jephthah's triumphal arrival.
294.7 saw. Omitted in S. L: hire saw allas.
294.10 not. Omitted in S. L: myght not sytt.
295.6 dyght. With dede (death), dyght bears the sense of something being destined, predetermined, foredoomed, or caused. See MED dighten 2b, 2c, 3a(d).
296.10 that may no thyng avayle: "who may accomplish nothing"; or, "who [compared to the soldiers who were saved] am of no value."
297.3 fader. Omitted in S. Emendation based on L.
297.5 two wekes. In the Vulgate she gets a two-month respite to lament that she dies a virgin, thus establishing a Hebrew ritual. The Christian paraphrase places a premium on virginity and alters both the time interval and the details of her lament (that is, she laments her death with her friends, but not that she dies a virgin). Compare Chaucer's Physician's Tale, where Virginia likewise cites Jephthah's daughter to celebrate her virginity in death rather than lament it.
299.4 S: that he heddyd hyr; L: that heded hire. I follow L for the sake of meter.
299.7 S: ffeyle bow; L: ffowle vow. K: ff[e]le [v]ow.
299.11 S and L begin the line with Both; Kalén deletes it to preserve the three-stress line, which makes sense to me.
The Story of Judith: Stanzas 1414-79 (lines 16957-17748) of the Middle English poem.
1415.1 L: mell with this. O follows L here.
1415.4 S omits our. L and O include it.
1416.7 S omits them. L: theym and O: them. O's emendation maintains the dialect.
1420.9-12 Perhaps the Jews in Jerusalem overlooking that land are to be understood as looking out upon Bethulia, the city under siege in the Vulgate. But Bethulia is never mentioned in the paraphrase, and the sense here is ambiguous. It seems that the poet means that the holy city of Jerusalem is under attack. See 1421.3, where the Cité seems to be Jerusalem. In S the scribe regularly capitalizes the references to the City in the Judith story, perhaps to focus attention on the Jews' special dwelling place. But n.b. 1426.11-12, where the poet refers to the water conduits from Jerusalem and Jericho being cut off, which suggests that some other Cité could be intended.
1421.4 S omits dyght most. Included in L and O.
1421.7 S omits ther. Included in L and O.
1423.8 L: do in such a; O: deme in swylka.
1424.3 S omits of Moyses. Included in L and O.
1424.4 Abymalech. The Vulgate reads: "Remember Moses the servant of the Lord, who overcame Amalec that trusted in his own strength, and in his power, and in his army, and in his shields, and in his chariots, and in his horsemen, not by fighting with the sword, but by holy prayers" (Judith 4:12 - Douay translation). See also Exodus 17:8. The poet seems to have confused Amalec with Abimelech in Genesis 20, 21, or 26.
1425.1 L: as he theim red. O follows L.
1425.9 thoght. S: toy3t, the spelling throughout S, which I have universally emended to thoght, following L.
1426.1 thei. S: the; L: they.
1428.6 S omits God all. Included in L and O.
1429.2 land. S: sand; L: land. S enhances the alliteration and maintains the sense, though L is the more likely juxtaposition with "sea."
1430.5 hand. L: wand, in the sense of rod, is perhaps the preferable reading in that it picks up the alliteration.
1433.11 S omits us, which is supplied from L, as the sense of the line requires.
1433.12 S: at put us fro this payn. At appears to be a relative pronoun, the sense being "that will put us away from this agony." But L is more clear: to put us fro this payne.
1435.3 Job and Tobias survive by meekness and patience. In the Book of Tobias the younger Tobias, through prayer and patience, defeats a fiend who has slain Sarah's first seven husbands, and then weds her himself (chapters 6-9).
1436.2 S omits both, which is supplied from L.
1436.8 wayte. L: espy.
1437.6 gart. L: made hire seruant.
1437.12 wyse. L: help.
1438.3 pellour. O's emendation. S: plessour; L: pelure. O notes that S could be correct, however, citing NED pleasure sb B3 Torkington: "they Caryed with them Riches and plesurs, As clothe of gold and Crymsyn velvett."
1438.3 L: pured.
1439.10 S: tyll; L: to.
1440.12 S: sho fand them sone; L: toke theym sone in the felde. O emends to: [sone] fand them in the feld.
1441.1 They. S: The; L: they. So also in line 5.
1441.2 semly. S: sembly; L: semely.
1441.6 S: solace. L: so late, which is more likely.
1442.8 S: ther ere ther in; L: that er therin.
1442.12 S: have; L: creve.
1445.3 geyre. S: gyrde; L: gere. O's emendation.
1445.8 S omits sho. L: mery she made as his menye. O follows L.
1445.10 them. S: then; L: theim.
1446.10 how thou has. S: how that has; L: how thov haves.
1447.8 S: for fawt fell fay in feld; L: for faute of foode fall they shal in felde.
1450.6 thes. S: ther; L: thes.
1451.1 L: And ser I shal tell the a skill.
1451.3 S omits thy. L: at thy will is preferable metrically.
1453.1 O emends the line to read: And all that to [hym] may [be] [l]eue.
1454.10 S: gest; L: kest.
1454.12 rede. L: went.
1455.1-6 In the Vulgate Judith is sent to the place where Holofernes keeps his treasures, thus the beauteous things of line 3. See Judith 12:1.
1456.1-10 In romance tradition the woman normally needs a guardian for her well (e.g., Chrétien de Troyes' Yvain). Here Judith tends the well herself for the benefit of the whole city.
1458.2 The knight is identified in the Vulgate as Bagao, Holofernes' eunuch (Judith 12:10). See stanza 1469 (below), where he is identified as "the chamberer" but is still left unnamed. Bagoas and Holofernes were the chief Persian generals under the command of Artaxerxes Ochus in the expedition against Phoenicia and Egypt in 350 B.C., a fact that neither our poet nor the original author of Judith probably knew.
1462.6 suld sho. S: suld no man; L: shuld she.
1465.11 To mistakenly cancelled in S; L: To sett.
1471.2 S: all rafed; L: they raced. O emends to thei rafe.
1471.12 solpyng. L: spoiling.
1472.9 broght. S: brogh; L: broght.
by: Russell A. Peck (Editor)
God, Fader in Hevyn of myghtes most,
that mad this mold and all man kynd,
The Sun that sendes us throwth to tast
wesdom and welth and wytt at wyn,
The grace of the Holy Gast
in whom all gudness behoves to begyn
Thrugh mediacy of Mary chast
that helpes to safe uus of our syn,
Swylke myght unto me send
thys boke ryght to aray,
Begynnyng, myddes, and end,
that yt be to Goddes pay.
This buke is of grett degré,
os all wettys that ben wyse,
For of the Bybyll sall yt be
the poyntes that ar mad most in price,
Als maysters of dyvinité
and on, the maystur of storyse,
For sympyll men soyn forto se,
settes yt thus in this schort assyse.
And in moyr schort maner
is my mynd forto make yt,
That men may lyghtly leyre
to tell and under take yt.
This boke that is the Bybyll cald,
and all that owtt of yt is drawn,
For Holy Wrytt we sall yt hald
and honour yt ever os our awn.
All patriarkes and prophettes yt told,
so ever ther saynges sekerly ar knawn,
And all wer fygurs fayr to fald
how coymmyng of Crist myght be kawn.
God graunt us Crist to knaw
all our form faders cravyd
And so to lere Is law
that our sawlis may be savyd.
The Story of Jephthah and His Daughter*
Jepte was a knyght in armys clere;
fro bayle, he sayd, he suld them bryng.
A fayre lady he hade to fere,
and both thei lyvyd to Goddes lovyng.
He had a doyghtur that was hym dere
and no mo chyldder, old ne yyng.
To hyr befell, os men may heyre,
full gret myschefe, a mervel thyng.
He send to cetys and town,
to all that myght armys beyre
And bad thei suld be bown
to wend with hym in were.
Then unto God hertly he hett
and mad a vowe with all his mayne
That yf he myght the maystry geytt,
als sone os he com home agayn,
The fyrst qwyke catell that he mett
of his for Goddes sake suld be slayn
In sacrifyce so forto sett.
Thus sayd he suld be done certayn.
To batell then thei went
withowtyn more respyte.
Ther enmys sone was schent,
both slayn and dyscumfeytt.
Then past thei home with mekyll pride
becawse thei wan the vyctory.
His doyghtur herd, is not to hyde,
hyr fader suld come home in hy.
Be lyfe scho went, and wold not byd,
agayns hym with gud mynstralsy.
When he hyr saw, ``Alas!'' he cryed,
``My doyghtur dere, now sall thou dy!''
To his hors fette he fell -
in sadyll he myght not sytt.
No tong in erth may tell
what kare his hert had hytt.
So when he myght hymselfe stere,
he thoght in hert how he had heyght
To slo the fyrst that suld apeyre
and sacrifyce yt in Goddes syght.
``Alas,'' he sayd, ``my doyghtur dere,
for my doyng thi dede is dyght.''
Scho prayd hyr fader to mend his chere
and mad hym myrth all that scho myght.
The more that scho mad glee
to comforth hym with all,
The more sore hert had he,
for he wyst how yt suld fall.
``A, doyghtur,'' he sayd, ``I made a vowe
to God when I to batell wentt:
Yf I of panyms myght have prow,
what so com fyrst in my present,
That suld be slone - that same ys thou.
Alas for my sake now bees thou schent.''
``Fader,'' scho sayd, ``I beseke yow,
be trew and tornes not your entent.
For bettur is that I dye,
that may no thyng avayle,
Then so fayr cumpany
as ye broyght from batelle.''
``Sen ye heyght sacrifyce to make
to God that goverans gud and yll,
Leves it not, fader, for my sake,
bot all your forward fast fulfyll.
Bot graunteys me grace two wekes to wake,
to speke with lades lowd and styll
And of maydyns leve to take,
and then do with me what ye wyll.''
He gafe hyre leve to gang
with grefe and gretyng sore.
All that scho come amang
ay menyd hyr more and more.
So went scho furth to mony a frend,
that for hyr syghyng sayd, ``Alas.''
All weped for wo os scho can wend,
when thei wyst how that it was.
And when the tyme drogh nere the end
that hyr fader assygned has,
Scho went agayn with wordes hend
and proferd hyr with payn to pas.1
Therfor hyr fader noyght leved:
his sword in hand he hent
And swythly swopped of hyr hede
and bad scho suld be brent.
Grett sorow yt was this syght to se;
all weped that wyst of hyr wo.
Bot most sorow in hert had he
that heddyd hyr and had no mo.
Swylke folys suld men fayn to flee
and be abayst or thei vow so.
Fowle vow is bettur to broken be
then man or woman sakles slo.
Sex yere governd Jepte Ebrews
and saved them from all angers yll
Of Phylysteyns and Cananews,
and then he dyed as was Goddes wyll.
The Story of Judith*
Dame Judyth was a gentyll Jew
and woman wyse whore sho suld wende.
Now wyll we nevyn hyr story new,
for to sum men yt myght amend
To see how sho in trewth was trew
als lang als sho in lyf con lend,
And lufed the Law als lele Ebrew
that Moyses tyll hyr kynred kend.
That Law forto mayntene
sho ordand in all thyng,
Als insampyll was seyn
and wyttenest in werkyng.
Bot to mell this mater more
this lady now wyll we leve of hand,
And tell of fare that fell before,
als our faders before us fand.
A kyng, Nabogodhonosour,
in Bablion he was dwelland;
All other kynges and lordes wore
full stably at his stevyn to stand.
All that lufed paynyms law
and lyfed by mawmentry
Aftur his dedes con draw
and lowted hym fast forthi.
He had this werld sett at his wyll;
hym thoyght no noye suld neght hym nere,
For all his forwardes to fulfyll
all hethyn folke were full fayn in fere.
With Ebrews oft hym angerd yll,
for them lyst not his lare to lere.
Oft sythys he spyed them to spyll
with engynys and with sawtes sere.
By sere cautels he kest
how he myght bryng them down,
Bot whyls thei lufed God best,
to beld them ay was He bown.
This kyng was strang in ylke stoure,
and in all were he wan degré;
And so he gat to grett honowre
and conquered kynges in sere cuntré,
Wherfor he fell in fowle errowre,
als men may be exempyll see.
He couth not knaw his creatore
bot hoped ther was no god bot he.
On payn of lyf and lyme
he warned his men ylkon
And bad thei suld hald hym
ther god and other none.
So in this errour con he dwell
als maystur most of more and lese,
Wherfore fowle vengance on hym fell
to lyfe als best with grouand grese.
Bot here we have no tym to tell
the poyntes that proves all the procese.
Furth with our maters wyll we mell
how Jewys ware doyne to grett dystrese.
For then the kyng ordand
his ost with playn powere
To dystroy ylka land
that his law wyll not lere.
And to fulfyll all this in dede
to semble folke he wolde not sese.
He ordand on his ost to lede,
a dughty duke heyght Olyfernes,
And bad all men to hym take hede
and with hym wend in were and pese.
The folke were fayn and with hym yede,
and for ther cheftan thei hym chese.
The kyng bad them not spare
bot dyng down all bedeyne
That wold noyght luf ther lare,
tyll all be conquered cleyne.
This dughty duke that I of ment
fro his werke wold no langer abyde.
With full grett ost furth is he went
with mynstralsy and mekyll pride.
Cytes and burghes both thei brent,
the Jewys to harme full fast thei hyed.
Cornes and wynes shamly thei shent,
thor was no trews to take that tyde.
The Jewys that were dwelland
in Jerusalem Cité
Myght loke over all that land
and full grett soroyng see.
When thei had so dystroyd and strayd
and fuld the folke be fyrth and fell,
A sege to that Cité thei layd
whore Jews was dyght most forto dwell.
``We sall not sese, for soth,'' thei sayd,
``or all the chylder of Israel
With all ther Godes to ground be grayd.
So sall thei never of maystry mell.''
Thei loged them thore to lend
and lyfyd at ther lykyng
Full fawrty days tyll end
that burgh in bale to bryng.
Bot folke within full wysly wake
ther Cyté fast forto dyffend
With allablasters and with bows of brake
ay redy bown forto be bend.
With gunys grett styfly thei strake,
within ther dynt durst no man lend.
And ever to God ther mayn thei make
ther mornyng with His myght to mend.
Within that Cyté ere
prestes to pray plenté
And knyghtes full wyse of were
to govern ther degré.
Bot ther degré was not to deme
all yf thei were dughty of dede.
Ther enmyse were so bold and breme,
to them thei durst not batell bede.
Ther byschope heyght Elyachym,
and unto hym holy thei yede
And prayd hym say how yt suld seme
them forto deme swylka drede.
He commawnd then that thei
suld both with hert and hend
Mekly unto God pray
ther myschefe to amend.
``For so,'' he says, ``ye sall encrese
and no thyng of your rebels reke.''
He sett ensampyll of Moyses
and of the grett Abymalech:
``He putt his pepyll fast in prese,
to fell Goddes folke thei were full freke.
Bot ay whyls Moyses prayd for pese,
God sett ther noys in ther enmys neke.
Yf we werke on swylke wyse
and faynd our God to plese,
Then sall non yll enmyse
unto us do dysesse.''
Thei were full redy, os he red
forto aray aftur his resown.
Full bowsomly, os he them bed,
on the bare erth thei sett them down.
In hayrys and sekkes sone were thei cled
and kest powder apon ther crown.
All yf ther enmyse wele were fed,
to fyght then had thei no fusyown.
Ser Olyfernes thoght
they lay ther full lang whyle.
Sere soteltes he soyght
to wyn them be sum wyle.
He wyst wele thei wold have no dawt
whyls thei had welth of waters clere.
Therfor he gart spare ylk spowte
whore any wels of watur were.
He mad ther bekkes to ryn abowt
that non suld negh that Cité nere.
So menes he forto make them lowt
and be full blyth his lay to lere.
Then were the Jews in wo
when thei saw stopped ylke streme
Fro the Cité of Jerico
and fro Jerusalem.
Thei saw ther wellys wex all dry,
thei fand no tast in town ne feld.
No wounder yf thei were sory,
for wyn was wasted all that thei weld.
Ther price prophett them heyght Ozi
that in batell them best wold beld.
To hym thei come with carfull crye
and bad he suld ther bodes yeld.
``Our lyfes so forto save,
for, sothly, ser,'' thei say,
``bettur is our hele to have
then dye all on a day.''
When Ozi herd them sorowyng so
and lyke to lose all that land,
He weped and wrang his hend for wo,
and unto them thus he cummand
Unto the tempyll all forto go
and pray ther God all weldand
``Us forto wyn out of this wo,
sen all our hele henges in His hand.''
Full prestly thore thei pray,
nevenand grett God be name,
And thus hymself con say,
for thei suld say that same:
``Lord God, that mad kyrnell and corne
and all may save be land and see,
That fed our faders fare beforn
and fro Kyng Pharo mad them free,
Sene The lykes noyght that thei be lorn
that trewly trows and treystes in The,
Have mercy on us evyn and morn;
save Thi servandes and this Cyté!
We wott full wele us aw
for syn swylke lyf to lede,
Bot Thi mercy we knaw
is more then our mysdede.
``We wott wele Thou is all weldand
and all may govern gud and yll,
Agayn Thi stevyn may no thyng stand,
all states may Thou steme and styll.
Chasty us, Lord, with Thi hand
that our enmyse say not this skyll:
`Ther God was wunt them to warrand;
now wyll He not tent them untyll.'''
Then all that pepyll prayd
full lowly, lese and more
And forto make them payd
to them thus sayd he thore:
``I rede we fast fyve days to end
with all wrschep we may weld,
And see yf God wyll socour send
us forto save under his sheld.
And yf no comforth then be kend,
this Cyté sone then sall I yeld
Our enmyse to have in ther hend,
so that thei hete to be our beld.''
Thei sayd, ``We all assent
this forward to fulfyll.''
And so ther ways thei went
ylkon at ther awn wyll.
Bot then this wyse woman Judyth,
when scho herd of ther tythyng tell,
How Ser Ozi had ordand yt
ther Cyté and therselfe to sell,
And how he made that mesure fytt
to dome of God fyve days to dwell,
Sho wold yt wast with womans wytt,
and furth scho went that fare to fell.
To the tempyll rayked scho ryght
and cald tho folke in fere,
And up sho stud on heyght
so that thei suld hyr here.
To Ozi fyrst hyr mone sho mase
als to most maystur tho men amang.
Sho says, ``Omyse thou takes thi trace,
and to my wytt thi werke is wrang.
How dere thou sett in certayn space
the wyll of God to come or gang,
Sene He is gyfer of all grace
sone forto leve or to last lang!
This is more lyke to greve
our God, that most may gayn;
Then us oght to releve
to put us fro this payn.
Therfor is gud that we begyne
of this grevance to geyte relese,
And say: This sorow is sent for syn
that we have wroyght and wold not sese,
Als was with elders of our kyn,
Abraham, Ysaac, and Moyses.
Thei had wo, for God wold them wyn
aftur ther payn to endlese pese
And also forto prove
with teyne and with trayveyle
Whedder thei wold last in love
or fro hym fayntly fayle.
And for thei wold not groche agayn
bot schewed ay meknes and more and more,
Als Job and Thoby dyde sertayn
that were assayd with seknes sor,
To Goddes bydyng ay were thei bayn;
therfor ther guddes He con restore
And put them into power playn
more fast then ever thei wore before.
The same then sall us fall,
and we this fare fulfyll.''
Then Ozi and thei all
graunted to werke hyr wyll.
Thei prayd hyr forto tell them to
hyr purpase both by nyght and day.
``Now, sers,'' sho sayd, ``sen ye wyll so,
all myn entent I sall yow say.
This nyght I wyll wende furth yow fro
in other place my God to pray,
And pray ye that God with me go,
and lokes none wayte eftur my way.
I kepe no cumpany
bot my servand sertayn.
Kepes this Cyté seurly
tyll God send us agayn.''
Sho sett yyng men to yeme the gate
and bad thei suld be redy bown
To kepe hyr in the evyn late,
for that tyme wold scho wend o town.
Then to hyr howse scho toke the gate
and gart hyr servand in that sesown
With bawme and with bathes hate
clense all hyr cors fro fote to crown.
And sythyn sho hyr arayd
in garmentes gud and gay,
And ever to God sho prayd
to wyse hyr in hyr way.
With sylke and sendell and satayn
and baulkyn bettur non myght be,
Hyr pellour all of pure armyne,
with pyrry plett full grett plenté,
With gyrdyll and garland of gold fyne
to make hyr semly unto se.
Hyre maydyn bare both bred and wyne
to fynd them fode for days thre.
God wyst wele that sho went
to save His pepyll exprese.
Therfor to hyr He sent
both favour and fayrnese.
When hyr aray was all redy,
down on hyr knesse sho kneled then,
And sayd, ``My Lord God Allmighty,
That wyll and thoght may clerly kene,
Sen in The lygges all vyctory,
to me, Thi servand, myght Thou lene
Forto overcom our yll enmy
and save this Cyté and Thi men.''
Scho prayd to God thus gaite
tyll lyght of day con sese.
Then wentt scho to the gate
full prevely to prese.
When sho com ydder, redy sho fand
Ozi and other to tent ther toure.
Sho bad that thei suld stably stand
that Cyté to save and socoure,
And that prestes suld pray with hert and hand
that God suld be hyr governoure.
So sent sho furth with hyr servand
to enmys that were strang in stoure.
Ever to God sho prays
to be hyr helpe and beld.
Wach men that kepes ways
toke them sone in the feld.
They merveld of hyr rych aray
for so semly had thei sene none.
Sum of them ware prowd of that pray,
for gay geyre had sho full gud woyne.
They asked wher scho was o way
and why sho welke so late allon;
And to them sothly con scho say,
``Sers, fro my frendes thus am I gone.
I com to yow in trewse,
and that sall ye here and see.
I am on of the Ebrews
that wuns in this Cyté.
To fle ther fro I am full fayn
and leve both catell, kyth and kyn.
For wele I wott myself certayn
that ye and yours sone sall yt wyn.
To your prince is my purpase playn,
and I sall tell hym, or we twyn,
To wyne yt wele withoutyn payn
and dystroy all that ere therin.
Sen thei wyll not them yeld
to men that may them save,
Yt is no boyte to beld
them that no helpe wyll have.
Unto my hele I wyll take hede
and to my servand that is here.
And, sers, I pray yow me to lede
unto your prince that has no pere.''
Thei herd hyr spech was for ther sped;
therfor thei were full fayn in fere.
To Olyfernes so thei yede
and fand hym syttand with solace sere.
That lady in thei lad
and told thei fand hyr flayd
And fro hyr frenschep fled,
and how sho to them sayd.
When Olyfernes saw this syght
and herd ther tayles how thei con tell,
In hyr hys hert was ravyscht ryght
and demed that sho suld with hym dwell.
Than forto marre hym more in myght
full flatt unto the grownd sho fell.
He commawnd men that wer full wyght
to take hyr tyte up them omell.
Then on hyr knese sho kneled
and prayd his helpe to have.
He sayd he suld hyr beld
in oght that scho wold crave.
Sho thanked hym frendly, noyght at hyde,
and ryght glad in his hert was he.
He saw hyr geyre of so heygh prid,
he trowed sho was of grett degré.
He made hyr sytt hymself besyd,
that was ryght semly syght to see.
Thei fell in talkyng so that tyde
that mery sho mad als his meneyé.
Yt was solace sertayn
to se them syt togeydder,
And fyrst he con hyr frayn
cause of hyr comyng ydder.
Sho sayd, ``Ser, and yow lyke to here,
I am an Ebrew ald and yyng.
My menyng is to mend your chere
by gud bodword that I yow bryng.
I wyll maynteyn in my manere
Nabogodhonosour, your kyng,
And his law wyll me lyke to lere
when we have endyd other thyng.
And, ser, fully I fynd
how thou has in his sted
Power to lowse and bynd
als lord of lyfe and ded.
And, ser, I se the soth certayn:
Ebrews, whyls thei may wepyns weld,
Wyll hold yond Ceté the agayn
and never assent yt forto yeld.
Therfor to fle I am full fayn
to the, that best may be my beld.
For wele I wott thei sal be slayn,
for fawt of fode fall fay in feld.
And sen thei wyll not crye
to the, that may them save,
I hald them wele worthy
swylk hydows herm to have.
And therfore come I to the here,
by certayn sygnes the to say
How thou sall all that kynd conquere
lyghtly withoutyn lang delay.
Thei may not last, thus I the lere,
because ther watur is haldyn away.
I herd them say with sympyll chere
that all suld fayle or the faurt day.
And I saw, or I yode,
how thei ther bestes sloght
For thyrst to drynke the blood,
bot non had half enogh.
And when I saw that thei dyd so
and that yt wold no bettur be,
I hyde me fast to fle them fro
so to save my servand and me.
Sen thei wyll not be ware with wo
to save themself and ther Cyté,
Yt was Goddes wyll that I suld go
and tell ther tythynges unto the.
Lo, ser, this is,'' sho sayd,
``the cause of my comyng.''
Then was the prince wele payd:
the wyn he bad them bryng.
He dranke and bed hyr furth by raw;
sho thanked hym with hert and hende:
``Ser, me behovys lyfe eftur my law
tyll this bargan be broyght tyll ende.
We have ordand, als Ebrews aw,
fode thes four days forto spend.
And, ser, by that day sall we knaw
how wele our myrth sal be amend.
For als lang als I dwell
His law sadly to save,
Then wyll my God me tell
how we sall helpyng have.
And, ser, so sall I tell the tyll
to make a sawt by sotell gyne
To weld the Cyté at thy wyll
and esely forto entur therin.
And, ser, than may thou spare or spyll
the Ebrews ylkon or thou blyn,
And, yf the lyke, to lend thor styll
or home agayn with wrschep wyn.''
With gawdes thus scho hym glosed
to have hyr purpase playn.
Hyr sawys soth he supposed,
And thus he glosed agayn:
``I gyfe the leve to make thi mese
of mete and drynke at thy lykyng,
For thou ow wele thi God to plese
That out of bale wyll the bryng.
And when we sall the ceté sese,
thou sall have chose of all thyng
And lyfe ever then at thin awn ese
with Nabogodhonosour, the kyng.
For and I fynd yt fyne
that thou says in thi saw,
Then sall thi God be myne,
and I wyll luf thi law.
And all that unto Hym may heve
byd I thou do both nyght and day.
Yt is not gud that thou Hym greve,
sen He all soth to the wyll say.''
Sho sayd, ``Then bus thou gyfe me leve
forto have rowm and redy way
Ever more at myd nyght forto meve
to certayn place my God to pray.''
Of hyr wyll noyght he wyst;
therfor he graunt sone
To lyf at hyr awn lyst
tyll all thier dedes be done.
And to his kepers cummand he
o payn to lose both lyf and land
That thei suld to hyr bowsom be
and holy held unto hyr hand
And make uschew and entré,
so that no stekyll agayn hyr stand.
Thei graunt ylkon in ther degré
kyndly to do als he them cummand.
Full mery was ylk man
and full glad of ther gest.
So depart thei than
And rede them all to rest.
Then to a chamber thei hyr led
that was with alkyns wrschepe wroyght.
All bewtese both for burd and bed
with mekyll blyse was ydder broyght;
And in that sted so was sho stede
with alkyns solace sere unsoght.
Bot to slepe was sho never unclede;
of other thyng was mare hyr thoght.
Ylke nyght scho toke hyr way
ferre down into a dale.
Thor menys sho, and sho may,
to hald the Ebrews hale.
In that ylke dale was dyght a well
with Ebrews that before had bene.
Thorof thei dranke whore thei con dwell,
and thorin ware thei weschyn clene.
And thore scho and hyr damsell
trayveld so them two betwene.
Thei mad a spryng that fro yt fell
at the Cyté syde forto be sene,
So that thei that wund within
ware warescht wele of thryst.
Thus myght sho wende with win
and lend at hyr awn lyst.
So trayveld scho be tyms thre
into that place hyr God to pray.
Scho had fre eschew and entré.
And so befell on the fourt day,
Olyfernes bad his men suld be
ay redy in ther best aray.
For on the fyft day hoped he
the Ebrews folke to fell for ay,
For so had Judyth sayd.
he gart ordan forthi
A soper gudly grayd
for hyr sake soveranly.
When all was poynted with pomp and pryd,
a knyght then unto hyr sent he
Forto com and sytt hym besyde
thar maner of solace forto se.
The knyght hyr told so in that tyd.
Sho thanked hym with wordes free
And sayd, ``I sall not lang abyde,
for at his bydyng wyll I be.''
Rychly sho hyr arayd
to seme fayr in ther syght.
The pepyll were full wele payd,
and the lord was most lyght.
Befor hymself hyr sett was wroyght
full presciosly forto apere.
Hyr ryalnes rayvyschyd his thoght;
he bede hyr mete with meré chere.
Sho ete mete that hyr maydyn broyght,
and toke that coupe with wyn full clere
And made semland and dranke ryght noyght.
Bot Olyfernes for that fere
Of myghty wyne dranke more,
for myrth that thei were mett,
Than ever he dranke before.
So hymself he oversett.
When Judyth saw that yt was so,
of that werke was sho wele payd.
Sho made talkyng betwyx them two
tyll he wyst noyght wele what he sayd.
He bad all men to bed suld go
and radly to ther rest arayd,
And that none suld take tent hym to,
for at hys lyst he wold be layd.
He thynkes that he sall have
that lady hym forto plese.
Bot God wyll evermore save
his servand fro dysese.
Unto his bed fast con he hye
hys foly fare forto fulfyll.
He bad that lady com lyg hym by,
for all the doreys ar stokyn styll.
Sho sayd, ``Ser, I sall be redy
with word and werke to wyrke thi wyll.
Bot to my chamber wend wyll I,
and full sone sall I come the tyll.''
To hyr chambre scho wentt
and prayd God specially,
Als he knew hyr entent,
to kepe hyr fro velany.
Unto God thor sho prayd and wepe
forto vouchsave hyr sorow to slake.
Sone Olyfernes fell on slepe,
for dronkyn man may not wele wake.
Sho warnd hyr servand to take kepe
that no kyns noyse suld sho make,
And prevely als sho couth crepe
hyr way to his bed con sho take.
Thor kneled sho on the ground
and prayd God with Hys wyll
To strengh hyr in that stownd
hyr forward to fullfyll.
Sho drogh his sword full sone sertayn,
qwylke sho fand standand in that sted,
And with that brand sho brest his brayn;
so with that dynt sone was he dede.
Then cutted sho sunder synow and vayn,
and fro hys halse hewed of hys hed
And putt yt in a poket playn,
whore thei befor had born ther bred.
Sho bad hyr maydyn yt bere
whore als thei were wunt to pray.
Thei geydderd sayme ther geyre
and wyghtly went ther way.
To have ther hele thei hastyd fast
and made no tareyng in that tyde.
Tyll tyme thei were all perels past,
thei wyst yt was no boyte to byde.
Yf yt were late, so at the last
thei neghted nere to the Cyté syde.
To the kepers a crye scho cast
and bad them opyn the wekett wyde.
Hyr voyce full wele thei knew;
for fayn full fast thei wepe.
Full mony a bold Ebrew
com thore hyr forto kepe.
Thei lete hyr in with torches lyght
and lowtyng low, is not to layn,
Thei were full glad to se that syght,
for wele thei wend sho had bene slayn.
Sho stud up in a sted of hyght
that all men myght se hyr certayn.
And thore scho schewed hyr releke ryght,
the hede out of hyr poket playn.
``Loves God,'' sho sayd sadly,
``That for you hath ordand
To sett your vyctory
in a wake womans hand.''
Then all the pepyll in that place
down on ther knese low thei knele.
Thei thanked grett God of his grace
That kyndly so thar care wold kele.
When thei saw Olyfernes face,
no wonder yf thei lyked yt wele.
Then Judyth spake furth in that space
how thei suld do ever ylke dele.
Sho sayd, ``In this same day
belyve loke ye be bowne
All in your best aray
to dyng your enmys downe.
Set up this hed over the gate,
so that your enmyse may yt se.
For fro thei wyt, full well I wayte,
that ther prince so perysched be,
His men wyll make no more debate
bot fayn to cayre to ther cuntré.
Then sall ye folow on them fote hate
and fell them or thei ferre flee.
Thei sall lefe welth gud woyne,
bot lokes non tent thertyll.
When thei ere fled and sloyn,
then may ye fang your fyll.
Evyn als sho demed was done in hye:
the hede was sone sett up on the heyght.
Then mad thei myrth and melody
with bemys, als thei were bown to fyght.
And when the hethyn hard them crye
And saw a sygne sett in ther syght,
Thei ware full yll abayst therby.
To warne ther prince thei went full wyght.
To his chambre they hyed
and bad his servandes say
How the Ebrews them ascryde
Forto have dede that day.
The chamberer durst make no dyne
for ferd yt suld turn hym to tayne.
He wend the woman were within,
and that thei both on slepe had beyne.
Bot with hys handes he con begyn
to wakyn them be cowntenance cleyne.
And sythyn he come to the curtyn,
thore was no segne of solace seyne.
Then nere the bed he yode
and fand rewfull aray:
A body laped in blod,
bot the hed was away.
Full lowd he cryd, ``Alas! alas!
Our lyves ere lorn, my lord is ded.''
``How is yt so?'' ylkon thei asse.
He sayd, ``Se here, he has no hede.''
To Judyth chamber con thei pase
and saw hyr stollyn out of that sted.
Then wyst thei wele that werkyng was
by hyr wyles and hyr wekyd red.
Thore was no boyte to byde
there welthes oway to wyn,
Bot ylkon to ryn and ryd
and forsake kyth and kyn.
Thus of the rest thei were remeved,
ther ryche robes all rafed and rent.
Ther restyng thore full sore them rewed,
withoutyn welth away thei went.
The Ebrews prestly them persewed,
all lost ther hedes that thei myght hent.2
Thor tho all that this bargan brewed,
full shortly were thei shamed and shent.
Then come Ebrews agayn
whore ther enmyse had beyne.
Thei fand all safe certayn;
ther was no solpyng seyne,
Bot only of Olyfernes blod
that out of his body was bled.
Thor ware garmentes of gold full gud
and gold in bages abowt that bed.
The body thei kest to bestes fud
and fowles therwith forto be fede.
Thresour thei toke and hame thei yode,
non other welth with them thei led.
Non other thyng thei broght
bot of gold full gud woyn.
To Judyth sone thei soyght
and thanked hyr everylkon.
Thei broyght hyr gold in bages bun,
and bed themself at hyr wyll to be.
Thei say, ``We wott we have yt wun
With wyll of God and wyt of the.''
Scho says, ``Sen God thus has begun
to save your selfe and your Cyté,
His tempyll sall therwyth be fun
and goveren ever in gud degré.''
Thei say, ``We have leved thore
of erthly welth to wyn
To make us mery evermore
and comforth all our kyn.''
Sho bad them wyghtly wend ther ways
to steyr tho folke that thei not stryfe.
``And partyes the mobyls, sers,'' sho says,
``be mesure both to man and wyfe.''
And so thei dyd by thirty days
or thei that ryches myght up ryfe.
Tho that before were pore to prayse
wer then relyfed for all ther lyfe.
Grett myrth was them amang;
thei loved God of His grace
With solace and with sange
full specially that space.
And when that space was sped and spend
that thirty days were fully gone,
Then Judyth bad them with hyr wend
unto ther tempyull everylkon
And love God thor with hert and hend,
that swylke thressour had to them toyne.
And thei dyd evyn als sho them kend,
Thei offerd gold ther full grett wone.
Sho bad them love only
God, that is all weldand,
That sett Hys vyctory
and ther helpe in hyr hand.
Als sho wold deme, thei dyd in dede,
als worthy was withoutyn were.
Then home to hyr hows scho yede,
and pepyll past to ther places sere.
A lades lyfe then con sho led,
and Goddes law lyked hyr ever to lere.
And furth sho weryd hyr wedow wede
bot in soverane sesons of the yere.
Then wold sho be more gay
to syght and more honest
In purpas God to pay
for wrschepe of that fest.
Sho had enogh of rent and land
in ylke sted whore sho was sted
Aftur Manasses, hyr husband,
that lordly lyf before had led.
And of all that sho had in hand
over honest spence that suld be sped,
Ther with pore folke sho fed and fand
and beldyd both to bake and bede.
Sho ocupyed so hyr sted
in pennance and in prayer
Fro hyr husband was dede
a hundred and fyve yere.
Hyr servandes, man, maydyn, and knave,
mad sho to goveren gud degré.
Then dyed scho as God voched save,
for fro that fytt may no man flee.
By hyr husband thei can hyr grave
full solemply in that Cyté,
And by sevyn days sorowyng thei have,
als costome was in that cuntré.
The Jews makes hyr in mynd
evermore to be on ment,
For scho comforth ther kynd
when thei in bale were bent.
Now be this werke wele may we wytt
how God wyll pupplysch his power
In wemen forto fall als fytt
als in men on the same manere.
Thus endes the Boke of Judyth,
als clerkes may knaw by clergy clere.
God graunt hym hele that hath turned yt
in Ynglysch lawd men forto lere!
Insampyll may men here se
to be trew in trowyng.
God graunt us so to be
and to His blyse to bryng!
Son; truth; taste
wisdom; intelligence to obtain
goodness must needs begin
save us from
correctly to compose
as all know
are made; excellence
and also by; story-telling; (see note)
paraphrase; (see note)
as our own
wherever; certainly; (see note)
were figures; tell
meditated upon; (see note)
desired to know
learn His law
bright; (see note)
confinement; [the Jews]
bear; (see note)
heartily; promised; (see note)
enemies soon were destroyed
passed; great; (see note)
heard, there's no hiding it
should; haste; (see note)
Quickly; wait; (see note)
toward (in anticipation of) him; (see note)
shall you die
death is doomed; (see note)
knew; turn out
over the pagans; victory
will you be destroyed
true; don't change
Since you promised
Tarry not; (see note)
covenant precisely fulfill
weeks to lament (keep vigil); (see note)
ladies openly and privately
gave her permission to go
grief; weeping sorrow
ever grieved for her
woe as she left
quickly swapped off; head
wept; knew; woe
beheaded; more [children]; (see note)
fools; be eager to avoid
A foolish vow; (see note)
than; be slain without guilt
Philistines; Canaanites; (see note)
wise wherever; go
Moses to; taught
witnessed in her behavior
speak of; matter; (see note)
leave for awhile
found; (see note)
bowed to him firmly therefore
desired not; teaching; learn
times; to destroy them; (see note)
machines; many assaults
many crafty devices
comfort; ever; committed
powerful; every battle
live; beast upon growing grass
army; naked power
ordered one; army
go; war; peace
strike; straight away
love their teaching
living; (see note)
despoiled; woods; hills
were most prepared; (see note)
stop; they [Holofernes' army]
smitten; (see note)
speak of victory
wisely are vigilant
steel cross-bows; winches and racks
already prepared to be cocked
great cannons powerfully
their complaint (moan)
learned in warfare
maintain their position
whether they were all doughty warriors
as a group they went
understand such terror; (see note)
He [Abimalech]; conscription
work in similar manner
no wicked enemies
as he advised; (see note)
Many subtle tricks
by deceitful strategem
knew; doubt; (see note)
as long as; plenty
made scarce every spout
brooks to be diverted
nigh; run near
eager; law; learn
best; was named Ozias
dwelling place surrender
powerful; (see note)
Ozias himself did say
made seed and grain
food in former times; (see note)
Since You like not; lost
who; believes; trusts
night and day
because of; such
greater than our sins
Against Thy voice
contain and silence
Chasten; (see note)
Their God used to protect them
care for them so long
meekly, the lesser and the greater
heard tell of their plans
Ozias, the high priest; proclaimed
demand of God results in five days
it [their plan] destroy; intelligence
plan to squelch
she went steadfastly
called those people together
stood in a prominent place
they should hear her
complaint she makes
most important among those
Amiss; your course
dare; specific time
who may help most
find relief; (see note)
to get release
because of sin
woe; win them
ever showed meekness
shall befall us
make sure that none follow; (see note)
bade; readily prepared
To attend her; evening
made her servant; time; (see note)
ointment; hot baths
then she had herself dressed
guide; (see note)
silk; fine silk; satin
furs; ermine; (see note)
precious stones adorned
provide them with food
knees she kneeled
Since in Thee lies
in this way
was gone; (see note)
secretly to hasten forward
attend their tower
So she sallied forth
powerful in battle
Watchmen who patrol the ways
captured; field; (see note)
fancy dress; great plenty
walked; alone; (see note)
truly she said
abandon; property; family; kin
soon shall conquer it
before we depart
How to win it easily
are; (see note)
Since; surrender themselves
profit in helping
found; sitting; apart
heart; utterly ravished
in order to deceive him
quickly up between them
knees she kneeled
there's no hiding it
apparel; high; (see note)
company; (see note)
did ask her
if you wish to hear
adhere; behavior [to]
have; place; (see note)
speak the absolute truth
lack of food fall dead; (see note)
such hideous harm
signs to tell you
before the fourth
before I left
invited her [to drink] in turn
it behooves me to live according to
tell you when; (see note)
assault by subtle device
conquer; (see note)
everyone before you stop
to stay there still
return home decked with honors
flattering promises; deceived
words (sayings) true
permission; prepare your food
Who out of grief
For if I find; true
pertain; (see note)
must; give; permission
leeway; ready access
he knew nothing
live according to her own desire
upon pain of loss of
exit (issue); entrance
guest; (see note)
prepare themselves; (see note)
all manner of splendor
beauteous things; board
all manner of unsought comforts
for sleep; undressed
There she intends if she may
same; a well had been dug; (see note)
by; in years past
Thereof; where; went
return with joy
remain; own pleasure
to destroy forever
gave orders therefore
at that time
her chair; prepared
ordered her to feast; merry cheer
semblance but drank nothing
pay attention to him
did he hasten
doors are firmly barred
come to thee
no kind of noise; (see note)
quietly as she could creep
There she kneeled
asunder sinew; vein
neck cut off
to the place where; wont
gathered together their gear
To secure their welfare
use to tarry
bowing; it is no lie
see her for sure
Love God; solemnly
Who; relieve (cool)
should do each and every detail
strike down your enemies
For when they know; know
be eager to go
pursue them hot-foot
destroy; before; flee far
leave much desirable wealth
pay no attention to that
Even as; quickly
cried out to them
fear; get him in trouble
wiles; evil counsel
no use to take time
their loot to take away
each one did run; ride
tattered and torn; (see note)
There then all who; seige dreamed up
where their; been
defiling seen; (see note)
cast out as food for beasts
Treasure; home they went
each and everyone
bade; quickly go
divide; moveable goods
over and past
wore her widow's weeds
except; religious holidays
provided; clothes and lodging
From the time
a hundred and five years
make known (publish)
into; unlearned people to teach
true in belie
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