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Judith 1
Biblical Heritage: The Culture of Judith


LAMA, Giulia, "Judith and Holofernes", c.1730

Judith as a weak woman, who must be supported, guided, and strengthened constantly by men.
This view as I show it makes the assumption that God is a man; assuming that God is a woman entirely changes the interpretation of the text.
Achior, leader of the Ammonites, says to Holofernes, "But if they are not a guilty nation, then let my lord pass them by; for their Lord and God will defend them, and we shall become the laughingstock of the whole world." (Judith 5:21)
All the men, even the enemies, know that it is God, not Judith, who defends Bethulia.
"No one spoke ill of [Judith], for she feared God with great devotion." (Judith 8:8)
Judith is protected and guided by God.
Judith says to the leaders of Bethulia: "Therefore, while we wait for [God's] deliverance, let us call upon him to help us, and he will hear our voice, if it pleases him." (Judith 8:17)
God has the power, and it is God, not Judith, that delivers the people.
The leaders of Bethulia tell Judith to pray: "Now since you are a God-fearing woman, pray for us, so that the Lord may send us rain to fill our cisterns." (Judith 8:31)
The leaders tell Judith when to pray.
"Uzziah and the rulers said to her, 'Go in peace, and may the Lord God go before you, to take vengeance on our enemies.'" (Judith 8:35)
Judith goes only after she has the blessing of the local leaders. It is God's vengeance, not Judith's.
"Give to me, a widow, the strong hand to do what I plan." (Judith 9:9)
Judith prays to God for the strength she needs. Her hands are weak alone, but strong with God.
"you are the God of the lowly, helper of the oppressed, upholder of the weak, protector of the forsaken, savior of those without hope." (Judith 9:11)
Judith is like the people she mentions in her prayer, asking God to make her strong.
"Let your whole nation and every tribe know and understand that you are God, the God of all power and might, and that there is no other who protects the people of Israel but you alone!" (Judith 9:14)
Judith shows she knows that she is only a subject to God's power and might.
"Then she said to [the leaders of Bethulia], 'Order the gate of the town to be opened for me so that I may go out and accomplish the things you have just said to me.' So they ordered the young men to open the gate for her, as she requested." (Judith 10:9)
She has to ask the leaders of Bethulia to be able to leave her own city; she cannot even open the city gate without the help and permission of men.
"As the women were going straight on through the valley, an Assyrian patrol met her and took her into custody." (Judith 10:11-12)
"They chose from the number a hundred men to accompany her and her maid, and they brought them to the tent of Holofernes." (Judith 10:17)
Men bring Judith and her maid to Holofernes.
"Give me strength today, O Lord God of Israel!" (Judith 13:7)
Judith cries out for strength right before she decapitates Holofernes. She needs to ask God for permission to have strength.
"They passed through the camp, circled around the valley, and went up the mountain to Bethulia, and came to its gates. From a distance Judith called out to the sentries at the gates, 'Open, open the gate! God, our God, is with us, still showing his power in Israel and his strength against our enemies, as he has done today!'" (Judith 13:10-11)
Once again, Judith asks permission to re-enter her city, and states that power and strength belong to God, not to her.
"Then Uzziah said to her, 'O daughter, you are blessed by the Most High God above all other women on earth; and blessed be the Lord God, who created the heavens and the earth, who has guided you to cut off the head of the leader of our enemies.'" (Judith 13:18)
The city leaders bless Judith and state that God guided her.