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The Book of Judith is a
deuterocanonical The deuterocanonical books (from the Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its p ...
book, included in the
Septuagint The Greek Old Testament, or Septuagint (, ; from the la, septuaginta, lit=seventy; often abbreviated ''70''; in Roman numerals Roman numerals are a that originated in and remained the usual way of writing numbers throughout Europe wel ...
and the
Catholic The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian ...

Catholic
and
Eastern Orthodox The Eastern Orthodox Church, also called the Orthodox Church, is the second-largest Christian church, with approximately 220 million baptised members. It operates as a communion Communion may refer to: Religion * The Eucharist (also cal ...
Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus Christ. The words ''Christ (title), Christ'' and ''Christian'' derive from the Koi ...

Christian
Old Testament The Old Testament (often abbreviated OT) is the first division of the Christian biblical canon A biblical canon or canon of scripture is a set of texts (or "books") which a particular Jewish or Christian religious community regards as aut ...
of the
Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hellenistic or Biblical Greek, was the koiné language, common supra-regional form of Gree ...

Bible
, but excluded from the Hebrew canon and assigned by
Protestants Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be Criticism of the Catholic Church, errors in the Catholic Church. Protestants originating in the Ref ...
to their
apocrypha Apocrypha (Gr. ἀπόκρυφος, ‘the hidden hings) The biblical Books received by the early Church as part of the Greek version of the Old Testament, but not included in the Hebrew Bible, being excluded by the non-Hellenistic Jews fro ...
. It tells of a Jewish widow, Judith, who uses her beauty and charm to destroy an Assyrian general and save Israel from oppression. The surviving Greek manuscripts contain several historical
anachronism An anachronism (from the Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population i ...
s, which is why some scholars now consider the book non-historical: a
parable A parable is a succinct, Didacticism, didactic story, in prose or Verse (poetry), verse, that illustrates one or more instructive lessons or principles. It differs from a fable in that fables employ animals, plants, inanimate objects, or forces ...
, a theological novel, or perhaps the first
historical novel Historical fiction is a literary genre in which the plot takes place in a setting located in the past. Although the term is commonly used as a synonym for the historical novel, it can also be applied to other types of narrative, including theatr ...
. The name Judith () is the feminine form of
Judah Judah may refer to: Historical ethnic, political and geographic terms The name was passed on, successively, from the biblical figure of Judah, to the Israelite tribe; its territorial allotment and the Israelite kingdom emerging from it, with the ...
.


Historical context


Original language

It is not clear whether the ''Book of Judith'' was originally written in Hebrew or in Greek. The oldest existing version is the
Septuagint The Greek Old Testament, or Septuagint (, ; from the la, septuaginta, lit=seventy; often abbreviated ''70''; in Roman numerals Roman numerals are a that originated in and remained the usual way of writing numbers throughout Europe wel ...
and might either be a translation from Hebrew or composed in Greek. Details of vocabulary and phrasing point to a Greek text written in a language modeled on the Greek developed through translating the other books in the Septuagint. The extant
Hebrew language Hebrew (, , or ) is a of the . Historically, it is regarded as one of the spoken languages of the and their longest-surviving descendants: the and . It was largely preserved throughout history as the main of (post-) and . Hebrew is the ...
versions, whether identical to the Greek, or in the shorter Hebrew version, date to the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the beginning of ...
. The Hebrew versions name important figures directly such as the
Seleucid The Seleucid Empire (; grc, Βασιλεία τῶν Σελευκιδῶν, ''Basileía tōn Seleukidōn'') was a Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hell ...
king
Antiochus IV Epiphanes Antiochus IV Epiphanes (; grc, Ἀντίοχος ὁ Ἐπιφανής, ''Antíochos ho Epiphanḗs'', "God Manifest"; c. 215 BC – November/December 164 BC) was a Hellenistic The Hellenistic period spans the period of Mediterranean histo ...

Antiochus IV Epiphanes
, thus placing the events in the
Hellenistic period The Hellenistic period spans the period of History of the Mediterranean region, Mediterranean history between the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and the emergence of the Roman Empire, as signified by the Battle of Actium in 31  ...
when the
Maccabees The Maccabees (), also spelled Machabees ( he, מַכַּבִּים ''Makabīm'' or he, מַקַבִּים, ''Maqabīm''; or ''Maccabaei''; el, Μακκαβαῖοι, ''Makkabaioi''), were a group of Jewish rebel warriors who took control of J ...
battled the Seleucid monarchs. The Greek version uses deliberately cryptic and
anachronistic An anachronism (from the Greek , 'against' and , 'time') is a chronological inconsistency in some arrangement, especially a juxtaposition of persons, events, objects, language terms and customs from different time periods. The most common typ ...
references such as "
Nebuchadnezzar Nebuchadnezzar II (Babylonian cuneiform Cuneiform is a Logogram, logo-Syllabary, syllabic writing system, script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East. The script was in active use from the early Bronze Age until ...
", a "
King of Assyria The king of Assyria (Akkadian language, Akkadian: ''Išši'ak Aššur'', later ''šar māt Aššur'') was the ruler of the ancient Mesopotamia, Mesopotamian kingdom of Assyria, which was founded at some point in the 25th–20th centuries BC and fe ...
", who "reigns in
Nineveh Nineveh (; ar, نَيْنَوَىٰ '; syr, ܢܝܼܢܘܹܐ, Nīnwē; akk, ) was an ancient Assyria Assyria (), also called the Assyrian Empire, was a n kingdom and of the that existed as a state from perhaps as early as the 25th ...
", for the same king. The adoption of that name, though unhistorical, has been sometimes explained either as a copyist's addition, or an arbitrary name assigned to the '' ruler of Babylon''.


Canonicity


In Judaism

Although the author was likely Jewish, there is no evidence that the Book of Judith was ever considered authoritative or a candidate for canonicity by any Jewish group. The
Masoretic Text The Masoretic Text (MT or 𝕸; he, נוסח המסורה, Nusakh Ham'mas'sora) is the authoritative Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic languag ...
of the
Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites ...

Hebrew Bible
does not contain it, nor was it found among the
Dead Sea Scrolls The Dead Sea Scrolls (also the Qumran Caves Scrolls) are and religious first found in 1947 at the in what was then , near in the , on the northern shore of the . Dating back to between the and the , the Dead Sea Scrolls are considered ...

Dead Sea Scrolls
or referred to in any early Rabbinic literature.Flint, Peter & VanderKam, James, ''The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls: Their Significance For Understanding the Bible, Judaism, Jesus, and Christianity'', Continuum International, 2010, p. 160 (Protestant Canon) and p. 209 (Judith not among Dead Sea Scrolls)

/ref> Reasons for its exclusion include the lateness of its composition, possible Greek origin, open support of the
Hasmonean dynasty The Hasmonean dynasty ( audio
; he, חַשְׁמוֹנַּאִים, ''Ḥašmona'īm'') was a ruling ...

Hasmonean dynasty
(to which the early rabbinate was opposed), and perhaps the brash and seductive character of Judith herself. However, after disappearing from circulation among Jews for over a millennium, references to the Book of Judith, and the figure of Judith herself, resurfaced in the religious literature of
crypto-Jews Crypto-Judaism is the secret adherence to Judaism while publicly professing to be of another faith; practitioners are referred to as "crypto-Jews" (origin from Greek ''kryptos – κρυπτός'', 'hidden'). The term is especially applied histo ...
who escaped capitulation by the
Caliphate of Córdoba A caliphate ( ar, خِلَافَة, ) is an Islamic state {{Infobox war faction , name = Islamic State , anthem = '' Dawlat al-Islam Qamat'' {{small, ("My Ummah ' ( ar, أمة ) is an Arabic Arabic (, ' ...
. The renewed interest took the form of "tales of the heroine, liturgical poems, commentaries on the Talmud, and passages in Jewish legal codes." Although the text itself does not mention Hanukkah, it became customary for a Hebrew
midrash ''Midrash'' (;"midrash"
''Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary''.
he, מִדְרָשׁ; ...

midrash
ic variant of the Judith story to be read on the
Shabbat Shabbat (, , or ; he, שַׁבָּת, Šabat, , ) or the Sabbath, also called Shabbos ( yi, שבת) by , is 's day of rest on the seventh day of the —i.e., . On this day, religious remember the biblical stories describing the and the redem ...

Shabbat
of
Hanukkah or English translation: 'Establishing' or 'Dedication' (of the Temple in Jerusalem The Temple in Jerusalem was any of a series of structures which were located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, the current site of the Dome o ...

Hanukkah
as the story of Hanukkah takes place during the time of the Hasmonean dynasty. That midrash, whose heroine is portrayed as gorging the enemy on cheese and wine before cutting off his head, may have formed the basis of the minor Jewish tradition to eat dairy products during Hanukkah. In that respect, Medieval Jewry appears to have viewed Judith as the counterpart to , the heroine of the holiday of
Purim Purim (; Hebrew: ; , "Cleromancy, lots", from the word , , translated as 'lot' in the Book of Esther, perhaps related to Akkadian language, Akkadian , "stone, urn"; also called the Festival of Lots) is a Jewish holiday which commemorates the savi ...

Purim
. The textual reliability of the Book of Judith was also taken for granted, to the extent that Biblical commentator Nachmanides (Ramban) quoted several passages from a
Peshitta The Peshitta ( syc, ܦܫܺܝܛܬܳܐ ''or'' ') is the standard version of the Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hel ...

Peshitta
(Syriac version) of Judith in support of his rendering of
Deuteronomy The Book of Deuteronomy (literally "second law" from Greek ''deuteros'' + ''nomos'') is the fifth book of the Jewish , where it is called ''Devarim'' ( he, דְּבָרִים), "the words f Moses F, or f, is the sixth Letter (alphabet), let ...
21:14.


In Christianity

Although
early Christians The history of Christianity concerns the Christian religion Christianity is an Abrahamic The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semitic religions, are a group of Semitic-originated religi ...
, such as
Clement of Rome Pope Clement I ( la, Clemens Romanus; Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its p ...
,
Tertullian Tertullian (; la, Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus; 155 AD – 220 AD) was a prolific early Christian The history of Christianity concerns the Christian religion Christianity is an Abrahamic The Abrahamic religio ...

Tertullian
, and
Clement of Alexandria Titus Flavius Clemens, also known as Clement of Alexandria ( grc, Κλήμης ὁ Ἀλεξανδρεύς; – ), was a Christian theologian #REDIRECT Christian theology #REDIRECT Christian theology Christian theology is the theology of Chr ...
, read and used the Book of Judith, some of the oldest Christian canons, including the Bryennios List (1st/2nd century), that of
Melito of Sardis Melito of Sardis ( el, Μελίτων Σάρδεων ''Melítōn Sárdeōn''; died c. 180) was the bishop A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a p ...
(2nd century) and
Origen Origen of Alexandria, ''Ōrigénēs''; Coptic language, Coptic: Ϩⲱⲣⲓⲕⲉⲛ Origen's Greek name ''Ōrigénēs'' () probably means "child of Horus" (from , "Horus", and , "born"). ( 184 – 253), also known as Origen Adamantius, was an ...

Origen
(3rd century), do not include it.
Jerome Jerome (; la, Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus; grc-gre, Εὐσέβιος Σωφρόνιος Ἱερώνυμος; – 30 September 420), also known as Jerome of Stridon, was a Christian priest A priest is a religious leader authoriz ...

Jerome
, when he produced his Latin translation, counted it among the apocrypha, (although he changed his mind and later quoted it as scripture, and said he merely expressed the views of the Jews), as did Athanasius,
Cyril of Jerusalem Cyril of Jerusalem ( el, Κύριλλος Α΄ Ἱεροσολύμων, ''Kýrillos A Ierosolýmon''; la, Cyrillus Hierosolymitanus; 313 386 AD) was a theologian of the early Church. About the end of 350 AD he succeeded Maximus Maximus (Helle ...

Cyril of Jerusalem
and
Epiphanius of Salamis Epiphanius of Salamis ( grc-gre, Ἐπιφάνιος; c. 310–320 – 403) was the bishop of at the end of the . He is considered a and a by both the and es. He gained a reputation as a strong defender of . He is best known for composing th ...
. However, such influential fathers of the Church, including ,
Ambrose Ambrose of Milan (born Aurelius Ambrosius; c. 340 – 397), venerated as Saint Ambrose, ; lmo, Sant Ambroeus . was the Bishop of Milan The Archdiocese of Milan ( it, Arcidiocesi di Milano; la, Archidioecesis Mediolanensis) is a metropolitan ...

Ambrose
, and
Hilary of Poitiers Hilary of Poitiers ( la, Hilarius; ) was Bishop of Poitiers and a Doctor of the Church. He was sometimes referred to as the "Hammer of the Arians" () and the "Athanasius of Alexandria, Athanasius of the West", His name comes from the Latin word ...
, considered Judith sacred scripture, and
Pope Innocent I Pope Innocent I ( la, Innocentius I) was the bishop of Rome A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within ...

Pope Innocent I
declared it part of the canon. In Jerome's ''Prologue to Judith'' he claims that the Book of Judith was "found by the Nicene Council to have been counted among the number of the Sacred Scriptures". It was also accepted by the councils of
Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, Italy).svg , map_caption = The te ...
(382),
Hippo The hippopotamus ( ; ''Hippopotamus amphibius''), also called the hippo, common hippopotamus or river hippopotamus, is a large, mostly herbivorous File:Land_Snail_radula_tracks.jpg#, 250px, Tracks made by terrestrial gastropods with their ...
(393),
Carthage Carthage was the capital city of the ancient , on the eastern side of the in what is now . Carthage was the most important trading hub of the Ancient Mediterranean and one of the most affluent cities of the . The city developed from a n colony ...
(397),
Florence Florence ( ; it, Firenze ) is a city in Central-Northern Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of Italian Peninsula, a peninsula delimited by the Al ...
(1442) and eventually dogmatically defined as canonical by the Roman Catholic Church in 1546 in the
Council of Trent The Council of Trent ( la, Concilium Tridentinum), held between 1545 and 1563 in Trent (or Trento, in northern Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of ...

Council of Trent
. The Eastern Orthodox Church also accepts Judith as inspired scripture, as was confirmed in the Synod of Jerusalem in 1672. The canonicity of Judith is rejected by Protestants, who accept as the Old Testament only those books that are found in the Jewish canon.
Martin Luther Martin Luther (; ; 10 November 1483 – 18 February 1546) was a German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citiz ...

Martin Luther
viewed the book as an allegory, but listed it as the first of the eight writings in his Apocrypha. Among
Anglicanism Anglicanism is a Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town in the US *Western Creek, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western Junction, Tasmania, a locality in Australia * ...
, Anglo-Catholics consider it to be either an apocryphal or deuterocanonical book. The United States Episcopal Church calls for a reading of Judith 9:1, 11–14 at Mass on the Feast of St Mary Magdalen, July 22. Judith is also referred to in chapter 28 of 1 Meqabyan, a book considered canonical in the
Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church ( am, የኢትዮጵያ ኦርቶዶክስ ተዋሕዶ ቤተ ክርስቲያን, ''Yäityop'ya ortodoks täwahedo bétäkrestyan'') is the largest Oriental Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodox church. On ...
.


Contents


Plot summary

The story revolves around Judith, a daring and beautiful widow, who is upset with her Jewish countrymen for not trusting God to deliver them from their foreign conquerors. She goes with her loyal maid to the camp of the enemy general,
Holofernes In the deuterocanonical Book of Judith, Holofernes (; Hebrew language, Hebrew הולופרנס) was an Assyrian invading general dispatched by Nebuchadnezzar to take vengeance on the nation who withheld assistance for his recent war. Holofe ...

Holofernes
, with whom she slowly ingratiates herself, promising him information on the Israelites. Gaining his trust, she is allowed access to his tent one night as he lies in a drunken stupor. She decapitates him, then takes his head back to her fearful countrymen. The Assyrians, having lost their leader, disperse, and Israel is saved. Though she is courted by many, Judith remains unmarried for the rest of her life.


Literary structure

The Book of Judith can be split into two parts or "acts" of approximately equal length. Chapters 1–7 describe the rise of the threat to Israel, led by the evil king Nebuchadnezzar and his sycophantic general Holofernes, and is concluded as Holofernes' worldwide campaign has converged at the mountain pass where Judith's village, Bethulia, is located. Chapters 8–16 then introduce Judith and depict her heroic actions to save her people. Part I, although at times tedious in its description of the military developments, develops important themes by alternating battles with reflections and rousing action with rest. In contrast, the second half is devoted mainly to Judith's strength of character and the beheading scene. The New Oxford Annotated Apocrypha identifies a clear
chiastic In rhetoric, chiasmus ( ) or, less commonly, chiasm (Latin term from Greek , "crossing", from the Ancient Greek, Greek , , "to shape like the letter chi (letter), Χ"), is a "reversal of grammatical structures in successive phrases or clauses ...
pattern in both "acts", in which the order of events is reversed at a central moment in the narrative (i.e., abcc'b'a'). Part I (1:1–7:23) A. Campaign against disobedient nations; the people surrender (1:1–2:13) :B. Israel is "greatly terrified" (2:14–3:10) ::C. Joakim prepares for war (4:1–15) :::D. Holofernes talks with Achior (5:1–6.9) ::::E. Achior is expelled by Assyrians (6:10–13) ::::E'. Achior is received in the village of Bethulia (6:14–15) :::D'. Achior talks with the people (6:16–21) ::C'. Holofernes prepares for war (7:1–3) :B'. Israel is "greatly terrified" (7:4–5) A'. Campaign against Bethulia; the people want to surrender (7:6–32) Part II (8:1–16:25) A. Introduction of Judith (8:1–8) :B. Judith plans to save Israel (8:9–10:8) ::C. Judith and her maid leave Bethulia (10:9–10) :::D. Judith beheads Holofernes (10:11–13:10a) ::C'. Judith and her maid return to Bethulia (13.10b–11) :B'. Judith plans the destruction of Israel's enemy (13:12–16:20) A'. Conclusion about Judith (16.1–25)


Literary genre

Most contemporary exegetes, such as Biblical scholar
Gianfranco Ravasi Gianfranco Ravasi (born 18 October 1942) is an Italian prelate A prelate () is a high-ranking member of the clergy Clergy are formal leaders within established religions. Their roles and functions vary in different religious traditions ...

Gianfranco Ravasi
, generally tend to ascribe Judith to one of several contemporaneous literary genres, reading it as an extended parable in the form of a
historical fiction #REDIRECT historical fiction #REDIRECT historical fiction#REDIRECT historical fiction Historical fiction is a literary genre in which the plot takes place in a setting located in the past. Although the term is commonly used as a synonym for the ...
, or a
propaganda Propaganda is communication that is primarily used to Social influence, influence an audience and further an Political agenda, agenda, which may not be Objectivity (journalism), objective and may be selectively presenting facts to encourage a pa ...
literary work from the days of the Seleucid oppression. It has also been called "an example of the ancient Jewish novel in the Greco-Roman period." Other scholars note that Judith fits within and even incorporates the genre of "salvation traditions" from the Old Testament, particularly the story of
Deborah According to the Book of Judges The Book of Judges (, ') is the seventh book of the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical collection of Hebrew language, Hebrew scriptures, including t ...

Deborah
and
Jael Jael or Yael ( he, יָעֵל ''Yāʿēl'') is the name of the heroine who delivered from the army of King of in the of the . After failed to take action at the behest of the prophetess , God turned over to Yael, who killed him by driving ...
(
Judges A judge A judge is a person who presides over court A court is any person or institution, often as a government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. ...
4–5), who seduced and inebriated the Canaanite commander
Sisera Sisera ( he, סִיסְרָא ''Sîsərā'') was commander of the Canaanite peoples, Canaanite army of King Jabin of Tel Hazor, Hazor, who is mentioned in of the Hebrew Bible. After being defeated by the forces of the Israelite tribes of Zebulun ...
before hammering a tent-peg into his forehead. There are also thematic connections to the revenge of
Simeon Simeon is a given name, from the Hebrew (Biblical The Bible (from Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hellenistic or Biblical Greek, was the ...
and
Levi Levi (; ) was, according to the Book of Genesis The Book of Genesis,, "''Bərēšīṯ''", "In hebeginning" the first book of the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical collection o ...

Levi
on Shechem after the rape of
Dinah In the Book of Genesis, Dinah (; ) was the daughter of Jacob, one of the Patriarchs (Bible), patriarchs of the Israelites, and Leah, his first wife. The episode of her violation by Shechem, son of a Canaanite or Hivite prince, and the subsequen ...

Dinah
in Gen. 34. In the Christian West from the
patristic Patristics or patrology is the study of the early Christian writers who are designated Church Fathers. The names derive from the Classical compound, combined forms of Latin ''pater'' and Greek ''patḗr'' (father). The period is generally consider ...
period on, Judith was invoked in a wide variety of texts as a multi-faceted allegorical figure. "''Mulier sancta''," she personified the Church and many
virtues Virtue ( la, virtus) is morality, moral excellence. A virtue is a trait or quality that is deemed to be morally good and thus is Value (ethics), valued as a foundation of principle and good moral being. In other words, it is a behavior that sho ...
Humility Humility is the quality of being humble. Dictionary definitions accentuate humility as a low self-regard and sense of unworthiness. In a religious context humility can mean a recognition of self in relation to a deity (i.e. God) or deities, and ...
,
Justice Justice, in its broadest sense, is the principle that people receive that which they deserve, with the interpretation of what then constitutes "deserving" being impacted upon by numerous fields, with many differing viewpoints and perspectives, ...

Justice
,
Fortitude Fortitude meaning courage or bravery is the ability and willingness to confront fear, pain, danger, uncertainty, or intimidation. Fortitude may also refer to: Ships * HMS Fortitude, HMS ''Fortitude'', any one of several Royal Navy ships and insta ...
,
Chastity Chastity, also known as purity, is a virtue Virtue ( la, virtus ''Virtus'' () was a specific virtue in Ancient Rome. It carries connotations of valor, manliness, excellence, courage, character, and worth, perceived as masculine strength ...

Chastity
(the opposite of Holofernes'
vices A vice is a practice, behaviour, or habit A habit (or wont as a humorous and formal term) is a routine of behavior Behavior (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English ...
Pride Pride is emotion Emotions are psychological state A mental state is a state of mind that an agent is in. Most simplistically, a mental state is a mental condition. It is a relation that connects the agent with a proposition. Several of th ...

Pride
,
Tyranny A tyrant (from Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following peri ...
,
Decadence The word decadence, which at first meant simply "decline" in an abstract sense, is now most often used to refer to a perceived decay in social norm, standards, morality, morals, dignity, religion, religious faith, honor, discipline, or competen ...

Decadence
,
Lust Lust is a psychological force producing intense desire Desires are states of mind that are expressed by terms like "wanting", "wishing", "longing" or "craving". A great variety of features is commonly associated with desires. They are seen ...

Lust
) – and she was, like the other heroic women of the Hebrew scriptural tradition, made into a typological prefiguration of the Virgin
Mary Mary may refer to: People * Mary (name) Mary is a feminine Femininity (also called womanliness or girlishness) is a set of attributes, behaviors, and roles generally associated with women and girls. Although femininity is socially constru ...
. Her gender made her a natural example of the biblical paradox of "strength in weakness"; she is thus paired with
David David (; ) (traditional spelling), , ''Dāwūd''; grc-koi, Δαυΐδ, Dauíd; la, Davidus, David; gez , ዳዊት, ''Dawit''; xcl, Դաւիթ, ''Dawitʿ''; cu, Давíдъ, ''Davidŭ''; possibly meaning "beloved one". is described in th ...

David
and her beheading of Holofernes paralleled with that of
Goliath Goliath ( ) ''Goləyāṯ''; ar, جُليات ''Ǧulyāt'' (Christian term) or (Quranic term). is described in the biblical Book of Samuel as a Philistines, Philistine giant defeated by the young David in single combat. The story signified Sau ...

Goliath
– both deeds saved the Covenant People from a militarily superior enemy.


Main characters

Judith, the heroine of the book. She is the daughter of Merari, a , and widow of a certain Manasses. She uses her charm to become an intimate friend of Holofernes, but finally beheads him allowing Israel to counter-attack the Assyrians. Holofernes, the
villain A villain (also known as a "black hat Black hat, blackhats, or black-hat refers to: Arts, entertainment, and media * Black hat (computer security), a hacker who violates computer security for little reason beyond maliciousness or for person ...
of the book. He is a devout soldier of his king, whom he wants to see exalted in all lands. He is given the task of destroying the rebels who did not support the king of Nineveh in his resistance against Cheleud and the king of Media, until Israel also becomes a target of his military campaign. Judith's courage and charm occasion his death.
Nebuchadnezzar Nebuchadnezzar II (Babylonian cuneiform Cuneiform is a Logogram, logo-Syllabary, syllabic writing system, script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East. The script was in active use from the early Bronze Age until ...

Nebuchadnezzar
, claimed here to be the king of Nineveh and Assyria. He is so proud that he wants to affirm his strength as a sort of divine power. Holofernes, his Turtan (commanding general), is ordered to take revenge on those who refused to ally themselves with him. Bagoas, a Persian name denoting an official of Holofernes. He is the first one who discovers Holofernes' beheading. Achior, an Ammonite king at Nebuchadnezzar's court; he warns the king of Assyria of the power of the God of Israel but is mocked. He is the first one to recognize Holofernes' head brought by Judith in the city, and also the first one to praise God. Oziah, governor of Bethulia; together with Cabri and Carmi, he rules over Judith's city.


Historicity of Judith

It is generally accepted that the Book of Judith is ahistorical. The fictional nature "is evident from its blending of history and fiction, beginning in the very first verse, and is too prevalent thereafter to be considered as the result of mere historical mistakes." Thus, the great villain is "Nebuchadnezzar, who ruled over the ''Assyrians''" (1:1), yet the historical
Nebuchadnezzar II Nebuchadnezzar II (Babylonian cuneiform Cuneiform is a Logogram, logo-Syllabary, syllabic writing system, script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East. The script was in active use from the early Bronze Age until ...
was the king of ''Babylonia''. Other details, such as fictional place names, the immense size of armies and fortifications, and the dating of events, cannot be reconciled with the historical record. Judith's village, Bethulia (literally "virginity") is unknown and otherwise unattested to in any ancient writing. Nevertheless, there have been various attempts by both scholars and clergy to understand the characters and events in the Book as allegorical representations of actual personages and historical events. Much of this work has focused on linking Nebuchadnezzar with various conquerors of Judea from different time periods and, more recently, linking Judith herself with historical female leaders, including , Judea's only female monarch (76–67 BC) and its last ruler to die while Judea remained an independent kingdom.


Identification of Nebuchadnezzar with Artaxerxes III Ochus

The identity of Nebuchadnezzar was unknown to the Church Fathers, but some of them attempted an improbable identification with Artaxerxes III Ochus (425–338 BC), not on the basis of the character of the two rulers, but due to the presence of a "Holofernes" and a "Bagoas" in Ochus' army. This view also gained currency with scholarship in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.


Identification of Nebuchadnezzar with Ashurbanipal

In his comparison between the Book of Judith and Assyrian history, Catholic priest and scholar Fulcran Vigouroux (1837–1915) attempts an identification of Nabuchodonosor king of Assyria with
Ashurbanipal Ashurbanipal, also spelled Assurbanipal, Asshurbanipal and Asurbanipal (Neo-Assyrian cuneiform Cuneiform is a logo up Chiswick_Press.html"_;"title="Coat_of_arms_of_the_Chiswick_Press">Coat_of_arms_of_the_Chiswick_Press_ A_logo_(abbrevi ...
(668–627 BC) and his rival
Arphaxad Arpachshad ( he, אַרְפַּכְשַׁד – ''ʾArpaḵšaḏ'', in pausa In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for ...

Arphaxad
king of the
Medes The Medes ( peo, 𐎶𐎠𐎭 ; akk, , ; grc, Μῆδοι ) were an Iranian peoples, ancient Iranian people who spoke the Median language and who inhabited an area known as Media (region), Media between western Iran, western and nor ...
with
Phraortes Phraortes (from peo, 𐎳𐎼𐎺𐎼𐎫𐎡𐏁, ''Fravartiš'', or ''Frâda'' via Ancient Greek Φραόρτης; died c. 653 BC), son of Deioces, was the second king of the Median Empire. Like his father Deioces, Phraortes started wars against ...
(665–653 BC), the son of
Deioces Deioces ( grc, Δηιόκης), from the Old Iranian ''Dahyu-ka-'', meaning "the lands" (above, on and beneath the earth), was the founder and the first shah as well as priest of the Median Empire. His name has been mentioned in different forms in ...

Deioces
, founder of
Ecbatana Ecbatana (; peo, 𐏃𐎥𐎶𐎫𐎠𐎴 ''Hagmatāna'' or ''Haŋmatāna'', literally "the place of gathering"; Elamite language, Elamite: 𒀝𒈠𒁕𒈾 ''Ag-ma-da-na''; Middle Persian: 𐭠𐭧𐭬𐭲𐭠𐭭; Parthian language, Parthian: ...

Ecbatana
. As argued by Vigouroux, the two battles mentioned in the Septuagint version of the Book of Judith are a reference to the clash of the two empires in 658–657 and to Phraortes' death in battle in 653, after which Ashurbanipal continued his military actions with a large campaign starting with the Battle of the Ulaya River (652 BC) on the 18th year of this Assyrian king. Contemporary sources make reference to the many allies of
Chaldea Chaldea () was a small country that existed between the late 10th or early 9th and mid-6th centuries BCE, after which the country and its people were absorbed and assimilated into the indigenous population Babylonia. Semitic language, Semitic-s ...
(governed by Ashurbanipal's rebel brother
Shamash-shum-ukin Shamash-shum-ukin or Shamashshumukin (Neo-Assyrian/Babylonian cuneiform: or ,' meaning "Shamash has established the name"),' also known as Saulmugina and Sarmuge, was the son of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, Neo-Assyrian king Esarhaddon and his appoin ...
), including the Kingdom of Israel and the
Kingdom of Judah The Kingdom of Judah ( he, יְהוּדָה, ''Yəhūdā''; akk, 𒅀𒌑𒁕𒀀𒀀 ''Ya'uda'' 'ia-ú-da-a-a'' arc, 𐤁‬𐤉‬𐤕‬𐤃𐤅‬𐤃 ''Bēyt David, Dāwīḏ'') was an Israelites, Israelite kingdom of the Southern Le ...
, which were subjects of Assyria and are mentioned in the Book of Judith as victims of Ashurbanipal's Western campaign. During that period, as in the Book of Judith, there was no king in Judah since the legitimate sovereign,
Manasseh of Judah Manasseh (; Hebrew language, Hebrew: ''Mənaššé'', "Forgetter"; akk, 𒈨𒈾𒋛𒄿 ''Menašši'' (written ''me-na-si-i''); grc-gre, Μανασσῆς ''Manasses''; la, Manasses) was the fourteenth king of the Kingdom of Judah. He was the ...
, was being held captive in Nineveh at this time. As a typical policy of the time, all leadership was thus transferred in the hands of the
High Priest of Israel High Priest ( he, כהן גדול ''Kohen Kohen ( he, כֹּהֵן' Cohen, "priest", pl. Cohanim, ' "priests") is the Hebrew word for "priest A priest is a religious leader authorized to perform the Sacred rite, sacred rituals of a ...
in charge, which was Joakim in this case (''Judith ''4:6). The profanation of the temple (''Judith'' 4:3) might have been that under king
Hezekiah Hezekiah (; he, חִזְקִיָּהוּ ''H̱īzəqīyyahū''), or Ezekias, ''Ḥazaqia'ú'' 'ḫa-za-qi-a-ú'' el, Ἐζεκίας Septuagint">/nowiki>Septuagint:_Εζεζία.html" ;"title="Septuagint.html" ;"title="/nowiki>Septuagint"> ...

Hezekiah
(see
2 Chronicles The Book of Chronicles ( he, דִּבְרֵי־הַיָּמִים ) is a Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is ...
, xxix, 18–19), who reigned between c. 715 and 686 BC. Although Nebuchadnezzar and Ashurbanipal's campaigns show direct parallels, the main incident of Judith's intervention has never been recorded in official history. Also, the reasons for the name changes are difficult to understand, unless the text was transmitted without character names before they were added by the Greek translator, who lived centuries later. Moreover, Ashurbanipal is never referenced by name in the Bible, except perhaps for the corrupt form " Asenappar" in
2 Chronicles The Book of Chronicles ( he, דִּבְרֵי־הַיָּמִים ) is a Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is ...
and
Ezra Ezra (; he, עֶזְרָא, '; fl. 480–440 BCE), also called Ezra the Scribe (, ') and Ezra the Priest in the Book of Ezra The Book of Ezra is a book of the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; : , or ), is the of scripture ...
4:10 or the anonymous title "The King of Assyria" in the 2 Kings, which means his name might have never been recorded by Jewish historians.


Identification of Nebuchadnezzar with Tigranes the Great

Modern scholars argue in favor of a 2nd–1st century context for the Book of Judith, understanding it as a sort of
roman à clef ''Roman à clef'' (, anglicised Linguistic anglicisation (or anglicization, occasionally anglification, anglifying, or Englishing) is the practice of modifying foreign words, names, and phrases to make them easier to spell, pronounce, or unders ...
, i.e. a literary fiction whose characters stand for some real historical figure, generally contemporary to the author. In the case of the Book of Judith, Biblical scholar Gabriele Boccaccini, identified Nebuchadnezzar with
Tigranes the Great Tigranes II, more commonly known as Tigranes the Great ( hy, Տիգրան Մեծ, ''Tigran Mets''; grc, Τιγράνης ὁ Μέγας ''Tigránes ho Mégas''; la, Tigranes Magnus) (140 – 55 BC) was King of Kingdom of Armenia (ant ...
(140–56 BC), a powerful
King of Armenia This is a list of the monarchs of Armenia, for more information on ancient Armenia and Armenians, please see History of Armenia. For information on the medieval Armenian Kingdom in Cilicia, please see the separate page Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia. ...
who, according to
Josephus Flavius Josephus (; grc-gre, Ἰώσηπος, ; 37 – 100) was a first-century Roman Jews, Romano-Jewish historian and military leader, best known for ''The Jewish War'', who was born in Jerusalem—then part of Judea (Roman province), Roman ...

Josephus
and
Strabo Strabo''Strabo'' (meaning "squinty", as in strabismus Strabismus is a condition in which the eyes do not properly align with each other when looking at an object. The eye that is focused on an object can alternate. The condition may be pre ...

Strabo
, conquered all of the lands identified by the Biblical author in Judith. Under this theory, the story, although fictional, would be set in the time of Queen
Salome Alexandra Salome Alexandra or Alexandra of Jerusalem ( he, שְׁלוֹמְצִיּוֹן אלכסנדרה, ''Shelomtzion'' or ''Shlom Tzion''; 141–67 BCE), was one of only two women to rule over Judea (the other being Athaliah). The wife of Aristo ...

Salome Alexandra
, the only Jewish regnant queen, who reigned over Judea from 76 to 67 BC. Like Judith, the Queen had to face the menace of a foreign king who had a tendency to destroy the temples of other religions. Both women were widows whose strategical and diplomatic skills helped in the defeat of the invader. Both stories seem to be set at a time when the temple had recently been rededicated, which is the case after Judas Maccabee killed Nicanor and defeated the
Seleucids The Seleucid Empire (; grc, Βασιλεία τῶν Σελευκιδῶν, ''Basileía tōn Seleukidōn'') was a Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), off ...
. The territory of Judean occupation includes the territory of
Samaria Samaria, , also known as , 'Nablus Mountains' () is a historical and biblical name used for the central region of the Land of Israel, bordered by Galilee to the north and Judaea to the south. For the beginning of the Common Era, Josephus set t ...

Samaria
, something which was possible in Maccabean times only after
John Hyrcanus John Hyrcanus (; ''Yōḥānān Hurqanōs''; grc, Ἰωάννης Ὑρκανός, Iōánnēs Hurkanós) was a (an) and Jewish of the 2nd century BCE (born 164 BCE, reigned from 134 BCE until his death in 104 BCE). In he is often referred t ...

John Hyrcanus
reconquered those territories. Thus, the presumed
Sadducee The Sadducees (; he, צְדוּקִים ''Ṣĕdûqîm'') were a sect or group of Jews who were active in Judea Judea or Judaea ( or ; from he, יהודה, Standard Standard may refer to: Flags * Colours, standards and guidons * Stand ...
author of Judith would desire to honor the great (Pharisee) Queen who tried to keep both Sadducees and
Pharisees The Pharisees (; Hebrew: ''Pərūšīm'') were a social movement and a school of thought in the Levant during the time of Second Temple Judaism. After the Siege of Jerusalem (AD 70), destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, Pharisaic belie ...
united against the common menace.


Later artistic renditions

The character of Judith is larger than life, and she has won a place in Jewish and Christian lore, art, poetry and drama. Her name, which means "she will be praised" or "woman of Judea", suggests that she represents the heroic spirit of the Jewish people, and that same spirit, as well as her chastity, have endeared her to Christianity. Owing to her unwavering religious devotion, she is able to step outside of her widow's role, and dress and act in a sexually provocative manner while clearly remaining true to her ideals in the reader's mind, and her seduction and beheading of the wicked Holofernes while playing this role has been rich fodder for artists of various genres.


In literature

The first extant commentary on The Book of Judith is by
Hrabanus Maurus Rabanus Maurus Magnentius ( 780 – 4 February 856), also known as Hrabanus or Rhabanus, was a Franks, Frankish Benedictine monk, theologian, poet, encyclopedist and military writer who became archbishop of Mainz in East Francia. He was the author ...
(9th century). Thenceforth her presence in medieval European literature is robust: in homilies, biblical paraphrases, histories and poetry. An Old English poetic version is found together with
Beowulf ''Beowulf'' (; ang, Bēowulf ) is an Old English epic poem An epic poem is a lengthy narrative poem Narrative poetry is a form of poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek language, Greek ''poiesis'', "making") is a form of literat ...

Beowulf
(their epics appear both in the
Nowell Codex The Nowell Codex is the second of two manuscripts comprising the bound volume Cotton MS Vitellius A XV, one of the four major Anglo-Saxon poetic manuscripts. It is most famous as the manuscript containing the unique copy of the epic poem ''Beowul ...
). "The opening of the poem is lost (scholars estimate that 100 lines were lost) but the remainder of the poem, as can be seen, the poet reshaped the biblical source and set the poem's narrative to an Anglo-Saxon audience." At the same time she is the subject of a homily by the
Anglo-Saxon The Anglo-Saxons were a cultural group Cultural identity is a part of a person's identity Identity may refer to: Social sciences * Identity (social science), personhood or group affiliation in psychology and sociology Group expression ...
abbot Ælfric. The two conceptual poles represented by these works will inform much of Judith's subsequent history. In the epic, she is the brave warrior, forceful and active; in the homily she is an exemplar of pious chastity for cloistered nuns. In both cases, her narrative gained relevance from the
Viking Vikings—"pirate", non, víkingr is the modern name given to seafaring people primarily from Scandinavia Scandinavia; Sami Places * Sápmi, a cultural region in Northern Europe * Sami, Burkina Faso, a district of the Banwa Pro ...

Viking
invasions of the period. Within the next three centuries Judith would be treated by such major figures as
Heinrich Frauenlob ''Meister'' Frauenlob in the '' Codex Manesse'' Heinrich Frauenlob (between 1250 and 1260 – 29 November 1318), sometimes known as Henry of Meissen (''Heinrich von Meißen''), was a Middle High German poet, a representative of both the '' Sangspru ...
,
Dante Dante Alighieri (), probably baptized Durante di Alighiero degli Alighieri and often referred to Mononymous person, simply as Dante (, also ; – 14 September 1321), was an Italian Italian poetry, poet, writer and philosopher. His ''Divine Co ...

Dante
, and
Geoffrey Chaucer Geoffrey Chaucer (; – 25 October 1400) was an English poet and author. Widely considered the greatest English poet of the Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and coll ...

Geoffrey Chaucer
. In medieval Christian art, the predominance of church patronage assured that Judith's patristic valences as "Mulier Sancta" and Virgin Mary prototype would prevail: from the 8th-century frescoes in Santa Maria Antigua in Rome through innumerable later bible miniatures. Gothic cathedrals often featured Judith, most impressively in the series of 40 stained glass panels at the
Sainte-Chapelle The Sainte-Chapelle (; en, Holy Chapel) is a royal chapel in the Gothic Gothic or Gothics may refer to: People and languages *Goths or Gothic people, the ethnonym of a group of East Germanic tribes **Gothic language, an extinct East Germanic ...

Sainte-Chapelle
in Paris (1240s). In
Renaissance The Renaissance ( , ) , from , with the same meanings. is a period Period may refer to: Common uses * Era, a length or span of time * Full stop (or period), a punctuation mark Arts, entertainment, and media * Period (music), a concept in ...

Renaissance
literature and visual arts, all of these trends were continued, often in updated forms, and developed. The already well established notion of Judith as an ''
exemplum An exemplum (Latin for "example", pl. exempla, ''exempli gratia'' = "for example", abbr.: ''e.g.'') is a moral anecdote, brief or extended, real or fictitious, used to illustrate a point. The word is also used to express an action performed by anot ...

exemplum
'' of the courage of local people against tyrannical rule from afar was given new urgency by the Assyrian nationality of Holofernes, which made him an inevitable symbol of the threatening Turks. The
Italian Renaissance The Italian Renaissance ( it, Rinascimento ) was a period in Italian history The history of Italy covers the Ancient Period, the Middle Ages and the modern era. Since classical times, ancient Phoenicians, Magna Graecia, Greeks, Etruscan civi ...
poet
Lucrezia Tornabuoni Lucrezia Tornabuoni (22 June 1427 – 25 March 1482) was an influential Italians, Italian political adviser and author during the 15th century. She was a member of one of the most powerful Italian families of the time and married Piero di Cosimo d ...
chose Judith as one of the five subjects of her poetry on biblical figures. A similar dynamic was created in the 16th century by the confessional strife of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation. Both Protestants and Catholics draped themselves in the protective mantle of Judith and cast their "heretical" enemies as Holofernes. In 16th-century France, writers such as Guillaume Du Bartas, Gabrielle de Coignard and Anne de Marquets composed poems on Judith's triumph over Holofernes. Croatian poet and humanist Marko Marulić also wrote an epic on Judith's story in 1501, the ''Judita''. The Catholic tract ''A Treatise of Schisme'', written in 1578 at Douai by the English Roman Catholic scholar Gregory Martin (scholar), Gregory Martin, included a paragraph in which Martin expressed confidence that "the Catholic Hope would triumph, and pious Judith would slay Holofernes". This was interpreted by the English Protestant authorities at the time as incitement to slay Queen Elizabeth I. It served as the grounds for the death sentence passed on printer William Carter (martyr), William Carter who had printed Martin's tract and who was executed in 1584.


In painting and sculpture

The subject is one of the most commonly shown in the Power of Women ''topos''. The account of Judith's beheading Holofernes has been treated by several painters and sculptors, most notably Judith and Holofernes (Donatello), Donatello and Caravaggio, as well as Sandro Botticelli, Andrea Mantegna, Giorgione, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Titian, Horace Vernet, Gustav Klimt, Artemisia Gentileschi, Jan Sanders van Hemessen, Trophime Bigot, Francisco Goya, Francesco Cairo and Hermann-Paul. Also, Michelangelo depicts the scene in multiple aspects in one of the Pendentives, or four spandrels on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Judy Chicago included Judith with a place setting in ''The Dinner Party''.


In music and theatre

The famous 40-voice motet ''Spem in alium'' by English composer Thomas Tallis, is a setting of a text from the Book of Judith. The story also inspired oratorios by Antonio Vivaldi, Betulia Liberata, W. A. Mozart and Hubert Parry, and an operetta by Jacob Pavlovitch Adler. Marc-Antoine Charpentier has composed, ''Judith sive Bethulia liberata'' H.391, oratorio for soloists, chorus, 2 flutes, strings, and continuo (? mid-1670s). Élisabeth Jacquet de La Guerre, Elisabeth Jacquet de La Guerre (EJG.30) and Sébastien de Brossard have composed a cantate Judith. Alessandro Scarlatti wrote an oratorio in 1693, ''La Giuditta'', as did the Portuguese composer Francisco António de Almeida in 1726; ''Juditha triumphans'' was written in 1716 by Antonio Vivaldi; Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Mozart composed in 1771 ''Betulia Liberata, La Betulia Liberata'' (KV 118), to a libretto by Pietro Metastasio. Arthur Honegger composed an oratorio, ''Judith'', in 1925 to a libretto by René Morax. Operatic treatments exist by Russian composer Alexander Serov, ''Judith (Serov), Judith'', and ''Judith (Matthus), Judith'' by German composer Siegfried Matthus. The French composer Jean Guillou wrote his Judith-Symphonie for Mezzo and Orchestra in 1970, premiered in Paris in 1972 and published by Schott-Music. In 1840, Friedrich Hebbel's play ''Judith (Hebbel), Judith'' was performed in Berlin. He deliberately departs from the biblical text:
I have no use for the biblical Judith. There, Judith is a widow who lures Holofernes into her web with wiles, when she has his head in her bag she sings and jubilates with all of Israel for three months. That is mean, such a nature is not worthy of her success [...]. My Judith is paralyzed by her deed, frozen by the thought that she might give birth to Holofernes' son; she knows that she has passed her boundaries, that she has, at the very least, done the right thing for the wrong reasons.
The story of Judith has been a favourite of latter-day playwrights; it was brought alive in 1892 by Abraham Goldfaden, who worked in Eastern Europe. The American playwright Thomas Bailey Aldrich's ''Judith of Bethulia'' was first performed in New York, 1905, and was the basis for the 1914 production ''Judith of Bethulia'' by director D. W. Griffith. A full hour in length, it was one of the earliest feature films made in the United States. English writer Arnold Bennett in 1919 tried his hand at dramaturgy with ''Judith'', a faithful reproduction in three acts; it premiered in spring 1919 at Devonshire Park Theatre, Eastbourne.Arnold Bennett: "Judith"
Gutenberg Ed.
In 1981, the play "Judith among the Lepers" by the Israeli (Hebrew) playwright Moshe Shamir was performed in Israel. Shamir examines the question why the story of Judith was excluded from the Jewish (Hebrew) Bible and thus banned from Jewish history. In putting her story on stage he tries to reintegrate Judith's story into Jewish history. English playwright Howard Barker examined the Judith story and its aftermath, first in the scene "The Unforeseen Consequences of a Patriotic Act", as part of his collection of vignettes, ''The Possibilities''. Barker later expanded the scene into a short play ''Judith''.


References


External links


The Book of Judith
Full text (also available i


''Jewish Encyclopedia'':
Judith * ''Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia''
Judith: Apocrypha


* * {{Authority control Book of Judith, Deuterocanonical books Ancient Hebrew texts Historical novels Jewish apocrypha