Catholic Biblical School: The Book of Judith

Recorded February 20th 2014

Judith and HolofernesThe Book of Judith has an unusual character. It is written in Greek, so it is not regarded as canonical by Protestants, but is part of the Deutero-Canonical literature. It was written in the early 2nd or late 1st century BC, though set centuries earlier during the period of the Assyrian Empire.

The Assyrian general Holofernes sets out to punish the Jewish people for not assisting the Assyrians in their war against the Medes. He besieges Jerusalem, and just after the people are ready to surrender the pious widow Judith offers to save the nation, under God’s direction. She dresses in her finest clothes, goes to meet Holofernes for three successive nights, and on the third night kills. him, at which point his army flees.

The story has echoes of the Exodus story, and is a popular tale to tell during Passover. However, many Jewish and Christian commentators have had problems with the story because of its scandalous elements.

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