Thursday, September 3, 2009

Judith.



I'm reading through David deSilva's Introducing the Apocrypha and I just finished the chapter on Judith. I'm not ashamed to be an evangelical Christian, but I admit, the fact that important writings found in the Apocrypha have been largely ignored in our churches is hugely disappointing. While reading Judith, for some reason I thought of Nietzsche when he said, "In revenge and in love woman is more barbarous than man."

Judith's triumph over Holofernes was very descriptive:
Judith 13:6-10
She went up to the bedpost near Holofernes' head, and took down his sword that hung there. She came close to his bed, took hold (ἐδράξατο) of the hair of his head, and said, "Give me strength today, O Lord God of Israel!" Then she struck (ἐπάταξεν) his neck twice with all her might, and cut off (ἀφεῖλεν) his head. Next she rolled[!] (ἀπεκύλισε) his body off the bed and pulled down the canopy from the posts. Soon afterward she went out and gave Holofernes' head to her maid, who placed it in her food bag.

For a strongly male dominated society, this story of a heroine (i.e. Judith) was very interesting, and as DeSilva mentioned in a section titled, 'Judith and the Place of Women in the Intertestamental Period':

The Book of Judith has deservedly attracted the attention of scholars interested in the roles, limitations, and ideology of women in the Second Temple Period...She is not the stereotypical widow, weak and in need of protection. Rather, she stands as the head of her household in the absence of Manasseh, her departed husband, and is introduced with her own genealogy (8:1)"

I guess even the Jews of the Second Temple period knew not to mess with the ladies?

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