The Book of Judith is a deuterocanonical book included in the Septuagint and the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christian Old Testament of the Bible but excluded from the Hebrew canon and assigned by Protestants to the apocrypha. It tells of a Jewish widow, Judith, who uses her beauty and charm to kill an Assyrian general who has besieged her city, Bethulia. With this act, she saves nearby Jerusalem from total destruction. The name Judith (Hebrew: יְהוּדִית, Modern: Yəhūdīt, Tiberian: Yŭhūḏīṯ), meaning "praised" or "Jewess", is the feminine form of Judah.
The surviving manuscripts of Greek translations appear to contain several historical anachronisms, which is why some Protestant scholars now consider the book non-historical. Instead, the book may be a parable, theological novel, or perhaps the first historical novel. The Roman Catholic Church has historically maintained that the book is an authentic history from the reign of Manasseh and that the names in the book were changed at a later date for an unknown reason. The Jewish Encyclopedia identifies the real name of "Bethulia" as Shechem and argues that the name was changed because of the feud between the Jews and Samaritans. If this is the case, it would explain why other names seem anachronistic as well.
Historical context edit
Original language edit
It is not clear whether the Book of Judith was originally written in Hebrew or Greek, as the oldest existing version is from the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures. However, due to the large amounts of Hebraisms in the text, it is most generally agreed that the book was written in a Semitic language, rather than Greek. When he did his Vulgate translation, Jerome believed the book was written "in Chaldean words". Jerome's translation for the Vulgate was based on an Aramaic manuscript and was shorter because he omitted passages that he could not read or understand in the Aramaic that otherwise existed in the Septuagint. The Aramaic manuscript used by Jerome has long since been lost. Carey A. Moore argued that the Greek text of Judith was a translation from a Hebrew original, and used many examples of conjectured translation errors, Hebraic idioms, and Hebraic syntax. The extant Hebrew manuscripts are very late and only date back to the Middle Ages. The two surviving Hebrew manuscripts of Judith are translated from the Greek Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate. The Hebrew versions name important figures directly, such as the Seleucid king Antiochus IV Epiphanes, and place the events during the Hellenistic period when the Maccabees battled the Seleucid monarchs. However, because the Hebrew manuscripts mention kingdoms that had not existed for hundreds of years by the time of the Seleucids, it is unlikely that these were the original names in the text. Jeremy Corley argued that Judith was originally composed in Greek that was carefully modeled after Hebrew and pointed out "Septuagintalisms" in the vocabulary and phrasing of the Greek text.
In Judaism edit
While the author was likely Jewish, there is no evidence aside from its inclusion in the Septuagint that the Book of Judith was ever considered authoritative or a candidate for canonicity by any Jewish group. The Masoretic Text of the Hebrew Bible does not contain it; it is not found among the Dead Sea Scrolls or any early Rabbinic literature. Speculated reasons for its exclusion include the possible lateness of its composition, possible Greek origin, apparent support of the Hasmonean dynasty (to which the early rabbinate was opposed), and perhaps the brash and seductive character of Judith herself.
After disappearing from circulation among Jews for over a millennium, however, references to the Book of Judith and the figure of Judith herself resurfaced in the religious literature of crypto-Jews who escaped Christian persecution after the capitulation of the Caliphate of Córdoba. 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 does not mention Hanukkah, it became customary for a Hebrew midrashic variant of the Judith story to be read on the Shabbat of Hanukkah as the story of Hanukkah takes place during the time of the Hasmonean dynasty.
That midrash, whose heroine is portrayed as gorging the antagonist 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 Hasmonean counterpart to Queen Esther, the heroine of the holiday of 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 (Syriac version) of Judith in support of his rendering of Deuteronomy 21:14.
In Christianity edit
Although early Christians, such as Clement of Rome, Tertullian, and Clement of Alexandria, 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 (2nd century), and Origen (3rd century), do not include it. Jerome, when he produced his Latin translation of the Hebrew Bible, the Vulgate, counted it among the apocrypha, (though he later changed his mind, quoted it as scripture, and said he merely expressed the views of the Jews), as did Athanasius, Cyril of Jerusalem, and Epiphanius of Salamis.
Many influential fathers and doctors of the Church, including Augustine, Basil of Caesarea, Tertullian, John Chrysostom, Ambrose, Bede the Venerable and Hilary of Poitiers, considered Judith sacred scripture both before and after councils that formally declared it part of the biblical canon. In a 405 letter, 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". Interestingly, no such declaration has been found in the Canons of Nicaea, and it is uncertain whether Jerome was referring to the book's use during the council's discussion or spurious canons attributed to that council. Catholic apologist Jimmy Akin speculates that Jerome was correct about the Council of Nicea establishing a canon and that the documents about this have been lost to time.
Regardless of Judith's status at Nicaea, the book was also accepted as scripture by the councils of Rome (382), Hippo (393), Carthage (397), and Florence (1442) and eventually dogmatically defined as canonical by the Roman Catholic Church in 1546 in the Council of Trent. The Eastern Orthodox Church also accepts Judith as inspired scripture; this was confirmed in the Synod of Jerusalem in 1672. The canonicity of Judith is typically rejected by Protestants, who accept as the Old Testament only those books that are found in the Jewish canon. Martin Luther viewed the book as an allegory, but listed it as the first of the eight writings in his Apocrypha. In Anglicanism, it has the intermediate authority of the Apocrypha of the Old Testament and is regarded as useful or edifying, but is not to be taken as a basis for establishing doctrine.
Plot summary edit
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, 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 edit
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. The first part, although at times tedious[according to whom?] 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.
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)
- D. Holofernes talks with Achior (5:1–6.9)
- C'. Holofernes prepares for war (7:1–3)
- C. Joakim prepares for war (4:1–15)
- 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), including her extended prayer (9:1–14)
- C. Judith and her maid leave Bethulia (10:9–10)
- D. Judith beheads Holofernes (10:11–13:10a)
- C. Judith and her maid leave Bethulia (10:9–10)
- 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)
Similarly, parallels within Part II are noted in comments within the New American Bible Revised Edition: Judith summons a town meeting in Judith 8:10 in advance of her expedition and is acclaimed by such a meeting in Judith 13:12–13; Uzziah blesses Judith in advance in Judith 8:5 and afterwards in Judith 13:18–20.
Literary genre edit
Most contemporary exegetes, such as Biblical scholar 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, or a propaganda 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 and Jael (Judges 4–5), who seduced and inebriated the Canaanite commander Sisera before hammering a tent-peg into his forehead.
In the Christian West from the patristic period on, Judith was invoked in a wide variety of texts as a multi-faceted allegorical figure. As a "Mulier sancta", she personified the Church and many virtues – Humility, Justice, Fortitude, Chastity (the opposite of Holofernes' vices Pride, Tyranny, Decadence, Lust) – and she was, like the other heroic women of the Hebrew scriptural tradition, made into a typological prefiguration of the Virgin Mary. Her gender made her a natural example of the biblical paradox of "strength in weakness"; she is thus paired with David and her beheading of Holofernes paralleled with that of Goliath – both deeds saved the Covenant People from a militarily superior enemy.
Main characters edit
Judith, the heroine of the book, introduced in chapter 8. A God-fearing woman, she is the daughter of Merari, a Simeonite, and widow of a certain Manasseh or Manasses, a wealthy farmer. She sends her maid or "waitingwoman" to Uzziah to challenge his decision to capitulate to the Assyrians if God has not rescued the people of Bethulia within five days, and she uses her charm to become an intimate friend of Holofernes, but beheads him allowing Israel to counter-attack the Assyrians. Judith's maid, not named in the story, remains with her throughout the narrative and is given her freedom as the story ends.
Holofernes, the villain of the book. He is a dedicated soldier of his king, general-in-chief of his army, 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, the king of Nineveh and Assyria. He is so proud that he wants to affirm his strength as a sort of divine power, although Holofernes, his Turtan (commanding general), goes beyond the king's orders when he calls on the western nations to "worship only Nebuchadnezzar, and ... invoke him as a god". Holofernes is ordered to take revenge on those who refused to ally themselves with Nebuchadnezzar.
Achior, an Ammonite leader at Nebuchadnezzar's court; in chapter 5 he summarises the history of Israel and warns the king of Assyria of the power of their God, the "God of heaven", but is mocked. He is protected by the people of Bethulia and becomes a Jew and is circumcised on hearing what Judith has accomplished.[a]
Bagoas, or Vagao (Vulgate), the eunuch who had charge over Holofernes' personal affairs. His name is Persian for a eunuch.[b] He brought in Judith to recline with Holofernes and was the first one who discovered his beheading.
Uzziah or Oziah, governor of Bethulia; together with Cabri and Carmi, he rules over Judith's city. When the city is besieged by the Assyrians and the water supply dries up, he agrees to the people's call to surrender if God has not rescued them within five days, a decision challenged as "rash" by Judith.
Judith's prayer edit
Chapter 9 constitutes Judith's "extended prayer", "loudly proclaimed" in advance of her actions in the following chapters. This runs to 14 verses in English versions, 19 verses in the Vulgate.
Historicity of Judith edit
Today, 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." The names of people are either unknown to history or appear to be anachronistic, and many of the place names are also unknown. The Catholic Church has always considered the book to be a historical document, and it is included with the other historical books in the Old Testament of Catholic Bibles. For this reason, there have been various attempts by both scholars and clergy to understand the characters and events in the Book as either an allegorical representation of actual events, or a historical document that had been altered or translated improperly. The practice of changing names has been observed in documents from the Second Temple period, such as the Damascus Document, which apparently contains references to an uncertain location referred to by the pseudonym of "Damascus". The writings of the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus also frequently differ from the Biblical record regarding the names of the high priests of Israel. Elsewhere in the Bible there are also names of rulers that are unknown to history, such as Darius the Mede from the Book of Daniel, or Ahasuerus from the Book of Esther. The large size of the Assyrian army and the large size of Median walls in the book have also been criticized, but both of these have been attested to elsewhere in the Bible and in secular historical records. The Assyrian army that besieged Jerusalem in 2 Kings 19 was said to have been 185,000 strong, a number several tens of thousands larger than the Assyrian army described in the book of Judith. Also, the Greek historian Herodotus described the walls of Babylon to have been similar in size and extravagance to the walls of Ecbatana in the book of Judith. Herodotus's account was corroborated by similar accounts of the scale of the walls of Babylon by the historians Strabo, Ctesias and Cleitarchus. The identity of the "Nebuchadnezzar" in the book has been debated for thousands of years and various rulers have been proposed by scholars, including Ashurbanipal, Artaxerxes III, Tigranes the Great, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, Cambyses II, Xerxes and Darius the Great.
Identification of Nebuchadnezzar with Ashurbanipal edit
For hundreds of years, the most generally accepted view within the Roman Catholic Church is that the book of Judith is occurs during the reign of Ashurbanipal, a notoriously cruel and brutal Assyrian king whose reign was marked by various military campaigns and invasions. Ashurbanipal ruled the Neo-Assyrian Empire from Nineveh in 668 to 627 BC. The Challoner Douay-Rheims Bible states that the events of the book begin in A.M. 3347, or Ante C. 657, which would be during the reign of Ashurbanipal. This would be the twelfth year of Ashurbanipal's reign, which lines up with the book of Judith beginning in the twelfth year of "Nebuchadnezzar". If the rest of the book occurs in the seventeenth and eighteenth years of Ashurbanipal, the years would be 653 and 652 BC, which would also be in Ashurbanipal's reign. The traditional Catholic view that the book dates to the reign of Manasseh corresponds to Ashurbanipal's reign, and Ashurbanipal's records name Manasseh as one of a number of vassals who assisted his campaign against Egypt. The profanation of the temple described in Judith 4:3 might have been that under king Hezekiah (see 2 Chronicles 33:18–19), who reigned between c. 715 and 686 BC. And in that same verse, the return from the dispersion (often assumed to refer to the Babylonian captivity) might refer to the chaos that resulted in people fleeing Jerusalem after Manasseh was taken captive by the Assyrians. The reinforcement of the cities as described in Judith 4:5 matches up with the reinforcement that happened in response to the Assyrians under Manasseh. Judith 4:6 claims that the High Priest of Israel was in charge of the country at the time, and a king is not mentioned. However, it is generally assumed that the book takes place after Manasseh's return from captivity in Assyria and his subsequent repentance. Nicolaus Serarius, Giovanni Menochio and Thomas Worthington speculated that Manasseh was busy fortifying Jerusalem at the time (which also fits with 2 Chronicles 33) and left the matters of the rest of the Israelites to the high priest. Others, such as Houbigant and Haydock, speculate that the events of the book occurred while Manasseh was still captive in Babylon. Whatever the case, it was a typical policy of the time for the Israelites to follow the high priest if the king could not or would not lead. Manasseh is thought by most scholars to have joined a widespread rebellion against Ashurbanipal that was led by his brother, Šamaš-šuma-ukin. Contemporary sources make reference to the many allies of Chaldea (governed by Šamaš-šuma-ukin), including the Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Judah, which were subjects of Assyria and are mentioned in the Book of Judith as victims of Ashurbanipal's Western campaign. The Encyclopædia Britannica identified "Judah" as one of the vassal kingdoms in Šamaš-šuma-ukin's rebel coalition against Ashurbanipal. The Cambridge Ancient History also confirms that "several princes of Palestine" supported Šamaš-šuma-ukin in the revolt against Ashurbanipal, which seemingly confirms Manasseh's involvement in the revolt. This would explain the reinforcement of the cities described in this book and why the Israelites and other western kingdoms rejected "Nebuchadnezzar's" order for conscription, because many of the vassal rulers of the west supported Šamaš-šuma-ukin.
It is of further interest that Šamaš-šuma-ukin's civil war broke out in 652 BC, the eighteenth year of Ashurbanipal's reign. The book of Judith states that "Nebuchadnezzar" ravaged the western part of the empire in the eighteenth year of his reign. If the events of this book did occur during Ashurbanipal's reign, it is possible that Assyrians did not record it because they were preoccupied with Šamaš-šuma-ukin's revolt, which was not crushed for years to come. Ashurbanipal's successful crushing of Šamaš-šuma-ukin's civil war also prevented the Assyrians from retaking Egypt, which gained independence from Assyria around 655 BC. Numerous theologians, including Antoine Augustin Calmet, suspect that the ultimate goal of the western campaign was for the Assyrians to sack Egypt, because Holofernes appeared to be heading directly towards Egypt on his campaign through the west. If Calmet and others are correct in suspecting that Holofernes was intending to sack Egypt, this would give further evidence to the theory that the book is set during the reign of Ashurbanipal, who had previously sacked Thebes in 663 BC. The view that the book of Judith was written during the reigns of Manasseh and Ashurbanipal was held by a great number of Catholic scholars, including Calmet, George Leo Haydock, Thomas Worthington, Richard Challoner, Giovanni Stefano Menochio, Sixtus of Siena, Robert Bellarmine, Charles François Houbigant, Nicolaus Serarius, Pierre Daniel Huet and Bernard de Montfaucon. Many of these theologians are cited and quoted by Calmet in his own commentary on Judith, the "Commentaire littéral sur tous les livres de l'ancien et du nouveau testament". Calmet listed all of "the main objections that can be made against the truth of Judith's Story" and spent the rest of his commentary on the book addressing them, stating: "But all this did not bother Catholic writers. There were a large number of them who answered it expertly, and who undertook to show that there is nothing incompatible in this history, neither with Scripture, nor even with profane history". There were other Catholic writers who held this view as well, such as Fulcran Vigouroux, who went even farther, identifying the battle between "Nebuchadnezzar, king of the Assyrians" and "Arphaxad, the king of the Medes" as the battle that occurred between Ashurbanipal and Phraortes. This battle occurred during the seventeenth year of Ashurbanipal's reign, and the book of Judith states that this battle occurred in the seventeenth year of "Nebuchadnezzar's" reign. Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet expressed a similar view regarding this. The scholars used specific examples from the text that line up with Manasseh's reign. 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 Ulai River (652 BC) in the eighteenth year of his reign.
The identification of "Nebuchadnezzar" with Ashurbanipal was so widespread that it was the only identification in English Catholic Bibles for several hundred years. The 1738 Challoner revision of the Douay Rheims Bible and the Haydock Biblical Commentary specifically declare that "Nabuchodonosor" was "known as 'Saosduchin' to profane historians and succeeded 'Asarhaddan' in the kingdom of the Assyrians". This could only have been Ashurbanipal, as he was the successor of Esarhaddon, his father. It is unclear where the name "Saosduchin" came from, although it is possible that it was derived from the Canon of Kings by the astronomer Claudius Ptolemy, who wrote in Greek that "Saosdouchinos" followed "Asaradinos" as the king of Assyria. While influential, Ptolemy's record is not perfect, and Ptolemy likely got Ashurbanipal confused with his brother, Šamaš-šuma-ukin, who ruled over Babylon, not Assyria. This would be a plausible explanation for the origin of the Greek name “Saosduchin”. However, while Nebuchadnezzar and Ashurbanipal's campaigns show clear and direct parallels, the main incident of Judith's intervention has not been found in any record aside from this book. An additional difficulty with this theory is that the reasons for the name changes are difficult to understand, unless the text was transmitted without character names before they were by a later copyist or translator, who lived centuries later. Catholic apologist Jimmy Akin argues the possibility that the book of Judith is a roman à clef, a historical record with different names for people and places. Ashurbanipal is never referenced by name in the Bible, except perhaps for the corrupt form "Asenappar" in 2 Chronicles and Ezra 4:10 or the anonymous title "The King of Assyria" in 2 Chronicles (33:11), which means his name might have never been recorded by Jewish historians, which could explain the lack of his name in the book of Judith.
Identification of Nebuchadnezzar with Artaxerxes III Ochus edit
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. However, due to discrepancies between Artaxerxes's reign and the events in the book of Judith, this theory has largely been abandoned.
Identification of Nebuchadnezzar with Tigranes the Great edit
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, 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 (140–56 BC), a powerful King of Armenia who, according to Josephus and 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, 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 territory of Judean occupation includes the territory of Samaria, something which was possible in Maccabean times only after John Hyrcanus reconquered those territories. Thus, the presumed Sadducee author of Judith would desire to honor the great (Pharisee) Queen who tried to keep both Sadducees and Pharisees united against the common menace.
Location of Bethulia edit
Although there is no historically recorded "Bethulia", the book of Judith gives an extremely precise location for where the city is located, and there are several possible candidates of ancient towns in that area that are now ruins. It has widely been speculated that, based on location descriptions in the book, that the most plausible historical site for Bethulia is Shechem. Shechem is a large city in the hill-country of Samaria, on the direct road from Jezreel to Jerusalem, lying in the path of the enemy, at the head of an important pass and is a few hours south of Geba. The Jewish Encyclopedia subscribes to the theory, suggesting that it was called by a pseudonym because of the historical animosity between the Jews and Samaritans. The Jewish Encyclopedia claims that Shechem is the only location that meets all the requirements for Bethulia's location, further stating: "The identity of Bethulia with Shechem is thus beyond all question".
The Catholic Encyclopedia writes: "The city was situated on a mountain overlooking the plain of Jezrael, or Esdrelon, and commanding narrow passes to the south (Judith 4:6–7; 6:11–13); at the foot of the mountain there was an important spring, and other springs were in the neighborhood (Judith 6:11; 7:3, 7, 12). Moreover it lay within investing lines which ran through Dothain, or Dothan, now Tell Dothân, to Belthem, or Belma, no doubt the same as the Belamon of Judith 8:3, and thence to Kyamon, or Chelmon, "which lies over against Esdrelon" (Judith 7:3). These data point to a site on the heights west of Jenin (Engannim), between the plains of Esdrelon and Dothan, where Haraiq el-Mallah, Khirbet Sheikh Shibel and el-Bârid lie close together. Such a site best fulfills all requirements for the location of Bethulia.
The Madaba Map mosaic from the 6th century AD, shows a settlement named "Betylion" (Greek Β[ΗΤ]ΥΛΙΟΝ). Many believe this to be Bethulia, but this is unlikely because it is located much farther south. This Betylion is located on the Egyptian border with Gaza, in modern-day Sheikh Zuweid. It is more likely that the name "Betylion" refers to the Arab Bedouin tribe.
Place names specific to the Book of Judith edit
Whilst a number of the places referred to are familiar biblical or modern place names, there are others which are considered fictional or whose location is not otherwise known. These include:
- 1:5 – the territory of Ragae, possible Rages or Rhages, cf. Tobit 1:16
- 1:6 – the rivers Euphrates and Tigris are mentioned, as well as the Hydaspes (Jadason in the Vulgate). Hydaspes is also the Greek name for the Jhelum River in modern India and Pakistan
- 2:21 – the plain of Bectileth, three days' march from Nineveh
- 4:4 – Kona
- 4:4 – Belmain
- 4:4 – Choba
- 4:4 – Aesora. The Septuagint calls it Aisora, Arasousia, Aisoraa, or Assaron, depending on the manuscript.
- 4:4 – The valley of Salem
- 4:6 and several later references – Bethulia, a gated city (Judith 10:6). From the gates of the city, the valley below can be observed (Judith 10:10)
- 4:6 – Betomesthaim or Betomasthem. Some translations refer to "the people of Bethulia and Betomesthaim" as a unit, which "faces (singular) Esdraelon opposite the plain near Dothan. The Encyclopaedia Britannica refers to the "Plain of Esdraelon" as the plain between the Galilee hills and Samaria.
- 4:6 – A plain near Dothan (Dothian in the Vulgate)
- 7:3 – Cyalon or Cynamon, also facing Esdraelon. The Encyclopedia of the Bible notes that "some scholars have felt that this name is a corruption for Jokneam", but its editors argue that there is "little evidence to support this conjecture".
- 7:18 – Egrebeh, which is near Chubi, beside the Wadi Mochmur.
- 8:4 – Balamon. Some versions state that Manasseh, Judith's husband, had been buried in a field between Dothan and Balamon (Jerusalem Bible, New Revised Standard Version); others state that he was buried in Bethulia where he had died (Vulgate, Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition).
- 15:4 – Along with Betomesthaim, some authorities also mention Bebai.
Later artistic renditions edit
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 edit
The first extant commentary on The Book of Judith is by Hrabanus Maurus (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 (their epics appear both in the Nowell Codex). "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."
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 invasions of the period. Within the next three centuries Judith would be treated by such major figures as Heinrich Frauenlob, Dante, and 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 in Paris (1240s).
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 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 poet Lucrezia Tornabuoni 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. Italian poet and scholar Bartolomeo Tortoletti wrote a Latin epic on the Biblical character of Judith (Bartholomaei Tortoletti Iuditha uindex e uindicata, 1628). The Catholic tract A Treatise of Schisme, written in 1578 at Douai by the English Roman Catholic 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 who had printed Martin's tract and who was executed in 1584.
In painting and sculpture edit
The subject is one of the most commonly shown in the Power of Women topos. The account of Judith's beheading of Holofernes has been treated by several painters and sculptors, most notably 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 edit
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, 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). 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; Mozart composed in 1771 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, by Austrian composer Emil von Reznicek, Holofernes, and 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.
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. 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.
- The admission of Achior the Ammonite to the House of Israel, "with all the succession of his kindred until this present day", occasions some discussion by Thomas Aquinas in his Summa Theologica, where he notes that Deuteronomy 23:3 prescribes that "An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter the assembly of the Lord; even to the tenth generation none of his descendants shall enter the assembly of the Lord forever", but in this case "a dispensation" would have been applied.
- Haydock also notes that Ovid's poem Amores refers to a character called Bagoas, who was entrusted with the task of guarding his mistress.
- Khan, Geoffrey (2020). The Tiberian Pronunciation Tradition of Biblical Hebrew, Volume 1. Open Book Publishers. ISBN 978-1783746767.
- See, for example, the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia article, which though committed to the historicity of the book, admits and lists "very serious difficulties."
- "THE ARGVMENT OF THE BOOKE OF IVDITH - 1610 Douay Rheims Bible".
- "Jewish Encyclopedia - Book of Judith".
- "Prologue to Judith by Jerome".
- Moore, Carey A. (1985). The Anchor Bible - Judith: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary by Carey A. Moore. ISBN 9780300139952.
- "CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Book of Judith".
- Septuagint: Judith. 19 April 2021. ISBN 9781990289064.
- Schmitz, Barbara (2010). "Holofernes's Canopy in the Septuagint". In Kevin R. Brine, Elena Ciletti and Henrike Lähnemann (ed.). The Sword of Judith. Judith Studies across the Disciplines. Open Book Publishers. ISBN 978-1-906924-15-7.
- Greenspoon, Leonard (2010). "Studies in the Greek Bible: Essays in Honor of Francis T. Gignac (Review)". Hebrew Studies. 51 (1): 392–394.
- Senior, Donald & Collins, John J., The Catholic Study Bible: The New American Bible, Oxford University Press, 2011, p. 222, 
- Deborah Levine Gera (2010). Kevin R. Brine; et al. (eds.). The Sword of Judith: Judith Studies Across the Disciplines. Open Book Publishers. pp. 29–36. ISBN 978-1906924157.
- 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), 
- Sidnie White Crawford, The Book of Esther in Modern Research, pp. 73–74 (T&T Clark Int'l 2003); ISBN 082646663X.
- Joel Lurie Grishaver (2001). Hanukkah: The Family Guide to Spiritual Celebration. Jewish Lights Publishing.[ISBN missing].
- Noam Zion & Barbara Spectre (eds.). A Different Light: The Hanukkah Book of Celebration. Devora Publishing. p. 241. ISBN 1-930143-31-1
- Kevin R. Brine, et al., The Sword of Judith: Judith Studies Across the Disciplines, p. 30 (Open Book Publishers 2010).
- Zion & Spectre, at p. 241.
- R. Nosson Scherman, The Torah: With Ramban's Commentary Translated, Annotated, and Elucidated, Vol. VII, p. 524 (Mesorah Pubs. 2008)[ISBN missing]
- "Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 55: Examples of Such Love - Pope St. Clement of Rome".
- "On Monogamy - Tertullian".
- "The Stromata Book II, chapter 7: The Utility of Fear. Objections Answered - Clement of Alexandria".
- Gallagher, Edmon Louis, Hebrew Scripture in Patristic Biblical Theory: Canon, Language, Text, Brill, 2012, pp. 25–26, 
- Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus (Jerome), Preface to the Books of Samuel and Kings, translated by Philip Schaff
- Hartmann, Wilfried, The History of Byzantine and Eastern Canon Law to 1500, Catholic University of America Press, 2012, p. 95 
- Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, iv. 33–37, c. 350 AD, translated by Edward H. Gifford
- Epiphanius of Salamis, Panarion viii. 6, c. 385 AD, Translated by Frank Williams
- "The Argvment of the Booke of Ivdith - 1610 Douay Rheims Bible".
- "The Book of Saint Basil on the Spirit - Chapter VIII".
- Pope Innocent I, Letter to Exsuperius, bishop of Toulouse, 405 AD
- "Philip Schaff: NPNF2-06. Jerome: The Principal Works of St. Jerome - Christian Classics Ethereal Library". www.ccel.org.
- Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.: Canonicity: "..."the Synod of Nicaea is said to have accounted it as Sacred Scripture" (Praef. in Lib.). It is true that no documents about the canon survive in the Canons of Nicaea, and it is uncertain whether St. Jerome is referring to the use made of the book in the discussions of the council, or whether he was misled by some spurious canons attributed to that council" .
- "The First Ecumenical Council on the Book of Judith?".
- Vanhoozer, Kevin J., Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible, Baker Academic, 2005, p. 98 
- Nigosian, S.A., From Ancient Writings to Sacred Texts: The Old Testament and Apocrypha, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004, p. 29, 
- Enslin, Morton Scott (1972). The Book of Judith: Greek Text with an English Translation (Volume 7 of Jewish Apocryphal Literature). Brill Archive. p. 49. ISBN 978-9004035959.
- "Torah of Yeshuah: Book of Meqabyan I–III".
- Christiansen, Ellen Juhl (2009). Xeravits, Géza (ed.). "Judith: Defender of Israel Preserver of the Temple" In A Pious Seductress: Studies in the Book of Judith. Walter de Gruyter. p. 75. ISBN 978-3110279948.
- Michael D. Coogan, ed. (2010). The New Oxford Annotated Apocrypha: New Revised Standard Version (4th ed.). Oxford Univ. Press. pp. 31–36. ISBN 978-0-19-528961-9.
- Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Footnote a at Judith 13:12, accessed 2 November 2022
- Gianfranco Ravasi (2009-02-05). "Giuditta" [Judith]. Famiglia Cristiana (in Italian) – via Santi Beati.
- The New Oxford Annotated Bible, 3rd edition (NY: Oxford University Press, 2007), p. 32 AP.[ISBN missing]
- Ida Frolich, Time and Times and Half a Time: Historical Consciousness in the Jewish Literature of the Persian and Hellenistic Eras, pp. 125–126 (Sheffield Academic Press 1996), ISBN 1-85075-566-3.
- Judith 9:2; in most versions, her genealogy in Judith 8:1 omits her tribal ancestry, although some manuscripts, the Vulgate and the New American Bible Revised Edition include it.
- Judith 8:10 in Brenton's Septuagint Translation
- Judith 16:23 (Judith 16:28 in the Vulgate)
- "Judith Cutting Off the Head of Holofernes". The Walters Art Museum.
- See footnote a at Judith 3:8 in the New American Bible Revised Edition and footnote b at the same verse in the Jerusalem Bible,
- Judith 5:8 (Judith 5:9 in the Vulgate)
- Judith 14:10
- Judith 14:6: Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition, based on the Vulgate
- Aquinas, T., Summa Theologiae by St. Thomas Aquinas, FS: Treatise on Law, Q: Of the Reason for the Judicial Precepts, Article 3, accessed 3 November 2022
- Judith 12:10
- Haydock, G. L., Judith 12: Notes & Commentary, accessed 31 October 2022
- Haydock, G. L., Judith 8: Notes & Commentary, accessed 16 October 2022
- Levine, A., 41. Judith, in Barton, J. and Muddiman, J. (2001), The Oxford Bible Commentary Archived 2017-11-22 at the Wayback Machine, p. 638
- Judith 9:1–19: Vulgate
- "Judith and Esther - Catholic Answers".
- "Babylon, Ishtar Gate - Livius.org".
- "Strabo, Geography - H.C. Hamilton, Esq., W. Falconer, M.A., Ed".
- "Babylon - McClintock and Strong Biblical Cyclopedia".
- "Babylon - Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities".
- "Book of Judith - McClintock and Strong Biblical Cyclopedia".
- The Holy Bible: Translated from the Latin Vulgate ... : the Old Testament, First Published by the English College, at Douay, A.D. 1609, and the New Testament, First Published by the English College, at Rheims, A.D. 1582. With Annotations, References, Historical and Chronological Index, &c., the Whole Revised and Diligently Compared with the Latin Vulgate ... J. Duffy. 1865.
- Bright, John (10 August 2017). A History of Israel. Westminster John Knox Press. ISBN 9780664220686 – via Google Books.
- "THE BOOKE OF IVDITH Chap. IIII - 1610 Douay Rheims Bible".
- Roy Gane, The Role of Assyria in the Ancient Near East During the Reign of Manasseh, in Andrews University Seminary Studies, (Spring 1997, Vol. 35, No. 1), pp. 21–32.
- Study note on 2 Chronicles 33:11, in ESV Archaeology Study Bible, ed. John Currid and David Chapman (Wheaton: Crossway, 2018), 643.
- "Ashurbanipal". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2014. Retrieved 8 November 2014.
- "Ashurbanipal, Encyclopedia Britannica".
- "Cambridge Ancient History Vol.3 (assyrian Empire) - Internet Archive".
- "Commentaire littéral sur tous les livres de l'ancien et du nouveau testament by Antoine Augustin Calmet, page 338".
- Les Livres Saints et La Critique Rationaliste, iv, 4th ed.
- "Discours sur l'histoire universelle: Dessein général de l'ouvrage by Jacques Bénigne Bossuet, 1627 - 1704". 1840.
- "Douay-Rheims Bible, Book of Judith - Chapter 1".
- "Haydock Biblical Commentary, Book of Judith - Chapter 1".
- "Ptolemy's Canon - Livius".
- "Saving Judith and Tobit by Jimmy Akin - Catholic Answers".
- Noah Calvin Hirschy, Artaxerxes III Ochus and His Reign, p. 81 (Univ. of Chicago Press 1909).
- A Pious Seductress: Studies in the Book of Judith (Deuterocanonical and Cognate Literature Studies 14), Berlin/New York: De Gruyter, 2012.[ISBN missing][page needed]
- Flavius Josephus, The New Complete Works of Josephus, William Whiston trans., p. 452 (Kregel Pubs. 1999); ISBN 0-8254-2924-2
- Dan W. Clanton, The Good, the Bold, and the Beautiful: The Story of Susanna and Its Renaissance Interpretations, p. 41 (T&T Clark Int'l 2006), ISBN 0-567-02991-3. Clanton discusses the theory that the Books of Susanna, Greek Esther, and Judith all may be linked in that they may have been "used, if not composed, to serve as propaganda for the reign of Salome Alexandra."
- See Clanton, p. 41.
- "Jewish Encyclopedia - Book of Judith".
- One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Bechtel, Florentine Stanislaus (1907). "Bethulia". In Herbermann, Charles (ed.). Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 2. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
- "Catholic Encyclopedia - Book of Judith".
- Latin text of Theodosius at "Theodosius de situ Terrae sanctae im ächten Text und der Breviarius de Hierosolyma vervollständigt", J. Gildemeister (editor), published by Adolph Marcus, Bonn (1882), p.17. Accessed 28 June 2019.
- Haydock, G. L., Haydock Commentary Online: Judith 1, accessed 8 October 2022
- Judith 2:21: King James Version
- "Esora", in Cheyne & Black 1901
- Judith 4:6: New Revised Standard Version
- Encyclopaedia Britannica, Plain of Esdraelon, updated 24 June 2004, accessed 12 October 2022
- Judith 7:3 in the World English Bible
- ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE BIBLE – CYAMON (JOKNEAM), accessed 13 October 2022
- Judith 15:4: NRSV
- Eric. R. Kandel. (2012). The Age of Insight.
- Greenblatt, Stephen (2012). The Norton Anthology of English Literature - The Middle Ages. New York: W.W. Norton and Company. p. 109. ISBN 978-0-393-91247-0.
- Robin, Larsen and Levin (2007). Encyclopedia of women in the Renaissance: Italy, France, and England. p. 368. ISBN 978-1851097777.
- Stocker, Margarita. (1998). Judith : sexual warrior, women and power in Western culture. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-07365-8. OCLC 37836745.
- Place Settings. Brooklyn Museum. Retrieved on 2015-08-06.
- "Die Judith der Bibel kann ich nicht brauchen. Dort ist Judith eine Wittwe, die den Holofernes durch List und Schlauheit in's Netz lockt; sie freut sich, als sie seinen Kopf im Sack hat und singt und jubelt vor und mit ganz Israel drei Monde lang. Das ist gemein; eine solche Natur ist ihres Erfolgs gar nicht würdig [...]. Meine Judith wird durch ihre That paralysirt; sie erstarrt vor der Möglichkeit, einen Sohn des Holofernes zu gebären; es wird ihr klar, daß sie über die Gränzen hinaus gegangen ist, daß sie mindestens das Rechte aus unrechten Gründen gethan hat" (Tagebücher 2:1872)
- Arnold Bennett: "Judith", Gutenberg Ed.
Further reading edit
- Cheyne, Thomas Kelly; Black, John Sutherland, eds. (1901). "Esora". Encyclopaedia Biblica. Vol. II E to K. New York: Macmillan.
- Friedrich Justus Knecht (1910). . A Practical Commentary on Holy Scripture. B. Herder.
- Pope, Hugh (1910). . In Herbermann, Charles (ed.). Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 8. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
- The Book of Judith Full text (also available in Arabic)
- Craven, Toni Judith: Apocrypha, The Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women 31 December 1999 at Jewish Women's Archive
- Toy, Crawford Howell; Torrey, Charles C.JUDITH, BOOK OF at The Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906
- O'Loughlin, Tom; Malcom, Matthew; Talbert, Andrew; Watts, Peter (2010). "Judith". Bibledex - A video about every book in the Bible. Brady Haran for the University of Nottingham.
- Book of Judith public domain audiobook at LibriVox