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Judith

Judith [Heb., = Jewess], early Jewish book included in the Septuagint, but not included in the Hebrew Bible, and placed in the Apocrypha of Protestant Bibles. It recounts an attack on the Jews by an army led by Holofernes, Nebuchadnezzar's general. Bethulia, a besieged Jewish city, is about to surrender when Judith, a Jewish widow of great beauty and piety, takes it upon herself to enter the enemy camp. She gains the favor of Holofernes, who seeks an opportunity to seduce her. Judith beheads him while he is drunk. Judith returns to the city with his head, and the Jews rout the enemy. The story depicts Judith as an example for godly Jews when God's commitment to saving his people is mocked. Texts of Judith exist in several ancient languages. The book might be based on a folk-tale and was probably composed in Palestine during the Hasmonean period (c.160–37 B.C.). The identification of Nebuchadnezzar as king of Assyria (he was king of Babylon) may indicate that the book is not intended as literal history. However, there are historical analogies for the invasion, especially that of Antiochus IV. Another Judith, a wife of Esau, is named in the Book of Genesis.

See C. A. Moore, Judith (1985). See also bibliography under Apocrypha.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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