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Literature / Book of Judith

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One of the apocryphal books that is not included in the Jewish and Protestant canons of the Old Testament. In the story, the people of Judea are held up in the mountain city of Bethulia by the Assyrian army led by Holofernes and are being starved to death or possible surrender unless God intervenes. Judith, a widow, becomes the hero by just walking into the Assyrian camp and alluring Holofernes with her charms long enough to behead him and weaken the Assyrian forces so that the Judeans could defeat them.

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This book provides examples of:

  • Anachronism Stew: King Nebuchadnezzar is mentioned here as being the king of Assyria, whereas he was actually the king of Babylon, whose kingdom defeated that of Assyria by Nebuchadnezzar's father. A Catholic Bible commentary suggests that this is actually an Assyrian king that went by this name who was a contemporary of King Manasseh of Judah, and thus should not be confused with the Babylonian king. Another possible explanation is that the whole story is a Roman à Clef about a situation happening at the time the story was written, using a mashing of characters and locations from the Jews' past to tell it.
  • Circumcision Angst: Interestingly averted by Achior the Ammonite, who after hearing what Judith did with Holofernes ended up circumcising himself and became a believer.
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  • Exact Words: When Holofernes asks Judith if she could give a "trustworthy report" about the Judeans in Bethulia, Judith responds, "I will say nothing false to my lord," with Holofernes not realizing that she meant she will say nothing false to her true Lord, who is God.
  • Fake Defector: Judith, so she could get close to Holofernes and kill him.
  • A God Am I: Nebuchadnezzar has his army destroy all gods of the countries they have conquered, to the end that no god may be worshiped except the king himself.
  • Go Out with a Smile: According to The Message Catholic Edition interpretation, Holofernes died with a drunken smile on his face.
  • Heroic Seductress: Judith, as she uses her charms against Holofernes without sinning against the Lord.
  • Maid and Maiden: Judith was accompanied by her waiting-woman when she went into the Assyrian camp and seduced Holofernes so she could behead him.
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  • Off with His Head!: Judith cuts off Holofernes' head with his own sword and then brings it to Bethulia to be displayed at the gate.
  • The Siege: The Assyrian army keeps the Judeans holed up in Bethulia by cutting off their water supply, forcing them to come down and surrender themselves.
  • Widow Woman: Judith, who despite attracting attention for her heroic deed, and having many men wanting to marry her, remains a widow to the day of her death.
  • World's Most Beautiful Woman: Judith, according to the text.
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