So we start out in the apocryphal book of Judith to explore the nature of this next female hero. She is Judith. She’s not showing any one any sign of backing down. It is an interesting story. If you don’t know much about the apocrypha or the book of Judith, you can actually get caught up by reading it online. biblegateway.com and biblestudytools.com both have RSV’s and NRSV’s with the apocrypha. You can also search for the NJB or NAB online as well. It was in reading my NJB that I found this great story.
This is practically the David and Goliath of femininity. It starts off with the earliest Babylonian occupation of Israel. The Israelites are under attack from the Babylonians. What is left of them any way. The king Holofernes is this bad guy who is leading the Babylonians to force the Israelites into suppression. Little does he know that he has to face a woman before he can make his claim. This story is great. Judith is the only woman that appears on her family line in Jud. 8:1.
A little background of Judith though. Judith is a widow. Hence, she is of very lowly status as would be considered in ancient Israel. Her husband died during a barley harvest and is now in year three of her widowhood when we are introduced to her. But never fear, she has it all under control. While all the men in Israel at this time are too afraid to face Holofernes, she dresses up as a prostitute and goes into the enemy camp. What does she do next? She gets Holofernes drunk. After he gets drunk, he is virtually incapacitated. It sucks to be drunk. She takes his sword and chops off his head! I told you it was a female version of David and Goliath. Why didn’t you believe me?
After chopping off his head, she puts it into a bag. I know what you’re thinking at this point. I was thinking exactly the same time. Someone is going to get turned into stone here, right? Wrong. But close. She comes back to the Israelite camp and shows everyone the head. Uzziah praises her and the rest of the Israelites cheer her on. She then shows the head to Achior the Ammonite. Achior faints when he sees this. He doubted her the whole time. Such a shame. Finally, the Assyrian outpost is driven out.
What a great ending! It is probably deutero-canonical because some of the patriarchal males who wrote the Bible were embarrassed by the story. Who knows. It’s anyone’s guess.