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Purpose of The Book of Judith:
Judith in this book is iconic of all of Israel's struggles against surrounding nations. By the time of its writing, Israel had been dominated by the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians and the Greeks. The name "Judith" means "Jewess." The character of Judith is therefore representative of the whole nation of Israel. In an almost constant battle against the surrounding nations, the Israelites depended on the Lord for their survival and sustenance. Judith represents the best hopes and intentions of the Israelites-the vanquishing of the oppressors and the freedom of the land of Israel.
Summary of The Book of Judith:
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.
Author and Dates of The Book of Judith:
The author of the Book of Judith is unknown. In Commentariorum in Aggeum . chapter I, verse 6, Saint Jerome seems to believe that Judith wrote it herself but he provides no convincing proof of his assertion. Others hold that the high priest Joachim or Eliakim, who are both discussed in the Book of Judith, was the author. These claims, however, are nothing more than simple conjectures. Others attribute the Book of Judith to Joshua, son of Josedek. The author, whoever he may have been, does not seem to have been a contemporary of Judith. In ch. XIV, v.6, the author says that the Achior family still remained in Israel during his/her time and also states that one still celebrated Judith’s victory in Israel in ch. XVI, v. 31. These two statements imply that the events recounted in the Book of Judith had taken place long before it was written.
It is not clear whether the Book of Judith was originally written in Hebrew or in Greek. The oldest existing version is in the Septuagint, and might either be a translation from Hebrew or composed in Greek. Details of vocabulary and phrasing point to a Greek text written in a language modeled on the Greek developed through translating the other books in the Septuagint.
Outline of The Book of Judith:
Themes of The Book of Judith:
The Book of Judith includes many positive aspects regarding biblical principles. The theme of trusting God in times of hopelessness is a noble one repeated in many biblical accounts, ranging from Moses and the Exodus to Joshua at the Battle of Jericho, Gideon's army, David and Goliath, and Esther and Haman's plot.