Judith was a heroic woman who has long been admired by both Jews and Christians. Her story is found in the book that bears her name and is included in Roman Catholic and Orthodox Bibles. It was also included in early editions of the King James Bible until it began to be published without the apocryphal (or deuterocanonical) books. Since then, the memory of Judith’s exploits has faded among Protestant Christians.

    Judith by August Riedel (1840).

    The Book of Judith was written around 100 BCE and is part of our Judeo-Christian heritage. It is mentioned, for example, in the early Christian letter known as First Clement (1 Clem. 55). Judith is a work of fiction and contains several historical inaccuracies. But it is an interesting tale with echoes of stories of real women in the Hebrew Bible.

    The setting of the narrative is the siege of a town in Judea named Bethulia. The Assyrian army, led by Holofernes, has cut off the town’s water supply and the Jews of Bethulia appear to be doomed. So Judith, a beautiful, wealthy and respected widow, takes matters into her own hands. With her female servant, she goes to the enemy’s camp where she pretends to defect to the Assyrian side.

    Judith asks to see Holofernes and, as planned, the general is charmed by her beauty and wants to have sex with her. Judith waits a few days and at an opportune moment, when Holofernes is dead drunk, she stabs at his neck and cuts off his head. She and her servant then escape back to Bethulia with the severed head of the general, and with Judith’s virtue intact. The assassination of Holofernes marks a turning point in the siege and the people of Judea triumph over their enemy.

    Throughout the story, Judith is portrayed as a formidable and pious woman who knows her own mind. The people around her, including the high priest and elders of Judea, respect her, listen to her, and do what she says. The Book of Judith also contains several of Judith’s prayers and her song of praise and victory. It’s a worthwhile read and can be read here.

    https://margmowczko.com/judith-thecla-catherine-of-alexand …/


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