Book of Judith

Book of Judith

The "Book of Judith" is a deuterocanonical book, included in the Septuagint and in the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christian Old Testament of the Bible, but excluded by Jews and Protestants. It has been said that the book contains numerous historical , which is why many scholars now accept it as unreliable history; it has been considered a parable or perhaps the first historical novel. [See, for example, the 1913 "Catholic Encyclopedia", which though committed to the historicity of the book, admits and lists "very serious difficulties": [] ]

The name Judith (Hebrew Name|יְהוּדִית|Yehudit|Yəhûḏîṯ|"Praised" or "Jewess", _ar. يهوديت "Yahūdīt") is the feminine form of Judah.

The "Book of Judith" has a tragic setting that appealed to Jewish patriots and it warned of the urgency of adhering to Mosaic Law, generally speaking, but what accounted for its enduring appeal was the drama of its narrative.

The story revolves around Judith, a daring and beautiful widow, who is upset with her Jewish countrymen for being unwilling to engage their foreign conquerors. She goes with her loyal maid to the camp of the enemy general, Holofernes, to 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, she remains unmarried for the rest of her life.

As a historical tale, its scenes are enlivened and given immediacy by their setting in a definitely characterized (though anachronistic) setting and time, and connected, as all historical novels are, with important personages of history — here "Nebuchadnezzar" as a "King of Assyria" who reigns in Nineveh — features it shares with the "Book of Esther," the "Book of Daniel" and its continuations, and the "Book of Tobit". Nowhere are the "historical" details introduced in more profusion than in "Judith".

With the very first words of the tale, "In the twelfth year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, who reigned over the Assyrians in Nineveh," it is argued by the compilers of the "Jewish Encyclopedia" that the narrator sets his story in "Once upon a time".

The city called "Bethulia," (properly "Betylua") and the narrow and strategic pass into Judea that it occupies (Judith IV:7ff VIII:21-24) are believed by many to be fictional settings, but some suggest that a city called Meselieh is Bethulia.

The editors of the "Jewish Encyclopedia" identified Holofernes' encampment with Shechem. The Assyrians, instead of attempting to force the pass, lay siege to the city and cut off its water supply. Although Nebuchadnezzar conquered Judah in reality, he is foiled in the narrative of the "Book of Judith".

The "Book of Judith" was originally written in Hebrew. Though its oldest versions have been translated into Greek and have not been preserved in the original language, its Hebrew origin is revealed in details of vocabulary and phrasing. The extant Hebrew language versions, whether identical to the Greek, or in the shorter Hebrew version which contradicts the longer version in many specific details of the story, are medieval.

Even though the Book of Judith is not part of the official Jewish religious canon, many within Orthodox Judaism place it in the Hellenistic period when Judea battled the Seleucid monarchs. It is regarded as a story related to the events surrounding the military struggle of that time and is believed to be a true reference to the background events leading up to the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. (See also 1 Maccabees and 2 Maccabees).

Judith in later artistic renditions

In literature

The Anglo-Saxon abbot Aelfric wrote a homily about Judith. A poem "Judith" in Old English also treats the beheading of Holofernes, as do lines 663 to 686 of Geoffrey Chaucer's "The Monk's Tale" (from "The Canterbury Tales").

In Renaissance literature, painting and sculpture, the story of Judith became an "exemplum" of the courage of local people against tyrannical rule from afar. The Dalmatian Humanist Marko Marulić (1450-1524) reworked the Judith story in his Renaissance literary work, "Judita". His inspiration came from the contemporary heroic struggle of the Croats against the Ottomans in Europe.

In painting and sculpture

The account of Judith's beheading Holofernes has been treated by several painters and sculptors, most notably Donatello and Caravaggio, as well as Sandro Botticelli, Andrea Mantegna, Giorgione, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Titian, Horace Vernet, Gustav Klimt, Artemisia Gentileschi, Jan Sanders van Hemessen, and Hermann-Paul. Also, Michelangelo depicts the scene in multiple aspects in one of the Pendentives, or four spandrels on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

Oratorio, theatre and opera

The story also inspired a play by Abraham Goldfaden, oratorios by Antonio Vivaldi, and W. A. Mozart, and an operetta by Jacob Pavlovitch Adler.

Alessandro Scarlatti wrote an oratorio in 1693, "La Giuditta"; "Juditha triumphans" was written in 1716 by Antonio Vivaldi; Mozart composed in 1771 "La Betulia Liberata" (KV 118), to a libretto by Pietro Metastasio. "Judith" is by Russian composer Alexander Serov.

In 1841 Friedrich Hebbel published his closet drama "Judith", but in the English language, blanket censorship of all biblical subjects on the stage set the theme off-limits until the twentieth century,Fact|date=January 2008 when the British playwright Howard Barker examined the Judith story and its aftermath, first in the scene "The Unforeseen Consequences of a Patriotic Act," as part of his collection of vignettes, "The Possibilities". Barker later expanded the scene into a short play "Judith".

In 2007 Philippe Fénelon (French, born in 1952) composed "Judith", an opera with one act and five pictures (monodrama), based on a booklet adaptated from the Friedrich Hebbel's drama, in German (creation on 28/11/07 at the Pleyel Room, Paris, ordered by the Opera National de Paris).

ee also

*List of women warriors in folklore, literature, and popular culture


External links

* [ The Book of Judith] Full text (also available in [ Arabic] )
* [ Another text] , this one including a link to download as a single document
* [ "Jewish Encyclopedia":] Judith
* [ Catholic Encyclopedia: Book of Judith]
* [ World Wide Study Bible: Judith]
* [ A Historical Commentary on the Book of Judith]

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  • Book of Judith —     Book of Judith     † Catholic Encyclopedia ► Book of Judith     HISTORY     Nabuchodonosor, King of Nineveh, sends his general Holofernes to subdue the Jews. The latter besieges them in Bethulia, a city on the southern verge of the Plain of… …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Book of Judith — noun an Apocryphal book telling how Judith saved her people • Syn: ↑Judith • Instance Hypernyms: ↑book • Part Holonyms: ↑Apocrypha …   Useful english dictionary

  • Judith (disambiguation) — Judith may refer to:In names: * Judith (name), female given nameIn people: * Judith (Genesis), a character in the Book of Genesis * Judith, daughter of Welf, a Frankish queen * Judith of Friuli, daughter of Evrard of Friuli * Judith of Flanders,… …   Wikipedia

  • Judith (poem) — Judith is an Old English poetic Biblical paraphrase retelling the story of the beheading of Holofernes, an Assyrian military leader, by the eponymous heroine, as recorded in the deuterocanonical Book of Judith.History/IncompletenessThe manuscript …   Wikipedia

  • Judith (homily) — Judith is a homily written by abbot Aelfric of Eynsham around the year 1000. It is extant in two manuscripts, a fairly complete version being found in Corpus Christi College Cambridge MS 303, and fragments in British Library MS Cotton Otho… …   Wikipedia

  • Judith — f Biblical name, meaning ‘Jewess’ or ‘woman from Judea’, borne by a Jewish heroine whose story is recorded in the Book of Judith in the Apocrypha. Judith is portrayed as a beautiful widow who delivers her people from the invading Assyrians by… …   First names dictionary

  • Judith — (ca. 950)    Judith is an OLD ENGLISH poem retelling the story of the apocryphal Old Testament book of Judith as written in the Vulgate Bible. The anonymous poet applies the heroic style and attitudes of Anglo Saxon heroic poetry to the story of… …   Encyclopedia of medieval literature

  • Judith and Holofernes — This article discusses the development of the iconography of this scene in Western sculpture and painting. For details of the account in the Book of Judith, see Holofernes and Book of Judith, and for its depiction in other media see Judith in… …   Wikipedia

  • Judith — /jooh dith/, n. 1. a devoutly religious woman of the ancient Jews who saved her town from conquest by entering the camp of the besieging Assyrian army and cutting off the head of its commander, Holofernes, while he slept. 2. a book of the… …   Universalium

  • Judith (name) — Infobox Given Name Revised name = Judith imagesize=200px caption=Judith with the head of Holofernes from the Book of Judith, depicted in this painting by Gustav Klimpt. pronunciation= gender = Female meaning = He will be praised or Woman of Judea …   Wikipedia

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