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Judith 3
Biblical Heritage: The Culture of Judith

note the spurting blood...
GENTILESCHI, Artemisia, "Judith Beheading Holofernes", 1612-1621

Judith is a powerful woman who is an agent of God. It is unnecessary to mention that she is a woman because although she uses her "feminine charms" to do her duty, gender isn't an issue here because men and women are equals. (Well, maybe women are a little better than men...)
Judith is unusually brave when compared with the scared (and fainting) military leaders and soldiers that surround her:
   "When the Israelites saw their vast numbers, they were greatly terrified...Yet they all seized their weapons, and...they remained on guard all that night." (Judith 7:4-5)
   "The Israelites then cried out to the Lord their God, for their courage had failed, because all their enemies had surrounded them, and there was no way of escape from them." (Judith 7:19)
   Judith tells the people to bring Achior the Ammonite to look at the head so that he can identify Holofernes. "So they summoned Achior from the house of Uzziah. When he came and saw the head of Holofernes in the hand of one of the men in the assembly of the people, he fell down on his face in a faint. When they raised him up he threw himself at Judith's feet, and did obeisance to her..." After hearing the story of Judith's act told, Achior believes in God and is circumcised to join the house of Israel. (Judith 14:6-10)
The people fear for their lives and the leaders of Bethulia get trapped in an oath to the people. It is left up to Judith to save them:
   The people beg the leaders of Bethulia: "Now summon them and surrender the whole town as booty to the army of Holofernes and to all his forces." (Judith 7:26)
   The leader, Uzziah, responds they will wait "five days more"; "But if these days pass by and no help comes for us, I will do as you say." (Judith 7:30)
   Uzziah tells Judith about this promise: "But the people were so thirsty that they compelled us to do for them what we have promised, and made us an oath that we cannot break." (Judith 8:30)
Judith is respected for her wisdom. She is able to chastize the leaders of her city. The leaders accept her plan without even hearing it, and people frequently comment that she is not just beautiful, but is wise as well. She gives the people and the leaders instruction.
   "When Judith heard...all that Uzziah had said to them...she sent her maid...to summon...the elders of her town." (Judith 8:9-10)
   "They came to her, and she said to them: 'Listen to me, rulers of the people of Bethulia! What you have said to the people today is not right...", and Judith advises them to pray. Judith lists reasons why God will be angry if they surrender, and says, "Therefore...let us set an example for our kindred, for their lives depend on us, and the sanctuary--both the temple and the altar--rests upon us." (Judith 8:11-24)
   Uzziah says, "Today is not the first time your wisdom has been shown, but from the beginning of your life all the people have recognized your understanding, for your heart's disposition is right." (Judith 8:29-31)
   Judith replies that she is about to do something that will become famous, and gives them instructions to stand by the town gate that night: "Only, do not try to find out what I am doing; for I will not tell you until I have finished what I am about to do." (Judith 8:32-34)
   She is captured by an Assyrian patrol: "When the men heard her words, and observed her face--she was in their eyes marvelously beautiful--" they welcomed her and escorted her to wait outside the tent of Holofernes. (Judith 10:14)
   "Her words pleased Holofernes and all his servants. They marvelled at her wisdom and said, 'No other woman from one end of the earth to the other looks so beautiful or speaks so wisely!'...Holofernes said to her...'You are not only beautiful in appearance, but wise in speech.'" (Judith 11:20-23)
   Judith advises the people about what to do with the head of Holofernes, and prophesies about the result of this action. (Judith 14:1-5)
Judith creates a plan to save her people and decapitate Holofernes by herself, without any prompting from God or man.
   Judith prays for the people of Bethulia, and says, "By the deceit of my lips strike down the slave with the prince and the prince with his servant; crush their arrogance by the hand of a woman." (Judith 9:10)
   Judith prays, standing beside Holofernes' bed where he has passed out drunk. "O Lord God of all might, look in this hour on the work of my hands for the exaltation of Jerusalem. Now indeed is the time to help your heritage and to carry out my design to destroy the enemies who have risen up against us." (Judith 13:4-5)
Judith has become a powerful leader.
   After the people of Bethulia were saved and they plundered the Assyrian camp, "All of the women of Israel gathered to see her, and blessed her, and some of them performed a dance in her honor. She took ivy-wreathed wands in her hands and distributed them to the women who were with her; and she and those who were with her crowned themselves with olive wreaths. She went before all the people in the dance, leading all the women, while all the men of Israel followed, bearing their arms and wearing garlands and singing hymns." (Judith 15:12-13)
   "For their mighty one did not fall by the hands of the young men, nor did the sons of the Titans strike him down, nor did tall giants set upon him; but Judith daughter of Merari with the beauty of her countance undid him." (Judith 16:6)