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Judith in the Old Testament

            The character of Judith (name meaning "Jewish woman", "Jewess", "woman from Judea") in the book bearing the same name is a complex person with many contradictions. We meet Judith as an extremely religious woman, but also lies, deceives, seduces before murdering the leader of the enemy. It raises the question of whether God is complicit in these actions. This essay examines this individual in the story, how she becomes the heroine to the people of Israel and associated implications.
             This is a dramatic and fast moving story once we meet the main character in Judith, half way through the book. The first half of the story sets up the scene for the arrival of Judith to rescue her people from distress. Like many books, Judith starts by setting the location and time of the events that will unfold. While the book may be considered historical, at best it is fictional since many of the historical details in this story are incorrect. For example, Nebuchadnezzar is ruler over the Assyrians, but elsewhere in the bible was ruler over Babylon1. The city, Bethulia, meaning "house of God", referred to in the book is only mentioned in this book at nowhere else. Historical accuracy though is not as important as the message itself.
             The key features of Judith are religiosity and courageousness. When we meet Judith, the book lists her genealogy back to Simeon (from the tribe of Jacob) to demonstrate the authenticity of Judith, it echoes back to earlier events in the Old Testament with Simeon on Shechem after Dinah in raped (Gen 34) – this is mentioned in her first prayer, and like Simeon, sees herself as the avenger for her people, and believes that God is in control of everything, and will act through her to save her people. We are told she remained a widow for 3 years after the death of her husband, follows the laws and customs, relating to fasting, festivals and prayer (8:6).

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