Judith: A Remarkable Heroine
Indeed her beheading of Holofernes, the invading Assyrian general–in his own tent, with his own sword, and surrounded by his own heretofore-victorious army, no less!–marks her as a political savior in Israel on par with David.
In a two-part character study, Biblical studies professor Robin Gallaher Branch examines eleven characteristics of the beautiful, eloquent and dangerous Biblical figure.
Branch’s first study examines Judith as a verbose commander, planner, leader and strategizer who knows her command over men to act for the common good. Part two highlights Judith’s extraordinary courage, heritage and theology while examining her roles as a prophetess, countrywoman and companion to her maid.
In one of the 11 characterizations, Branch writes, “Judith commands, plans, leads: She enters the book bearing her name when the Assyrians have cut off the water supply of Bethulia, the town at the entrance of the narrow corridor leading to Jerusalem (Judith 7:7, 4:7). The siege, which has lasted 34 days, has made the people fractious, thirsty, and bitter (Judith 7:20, 29). Uzziah and the town’s other magistrates succumb the townspeople’s demands and say they will surrender to the Assyrians in five days–unless the Lord takes pity (Judith 7:29-30). Upon hearing this, Judith, instead of going to Bethulia’s leaders, summons them to her home (Judith 8:10). Chiding them for testing God (Judith 8:11-12), she declares she has a plan to save Bethulia, Jerusalem, the Temple, and the people. Declining to reveal it, she nonetheless proclaims her deed will ‘go down through all generations of our descendants’ (Judith 8:32). Not only do the leaders listen without interruption, they also acclaim her for her wisdom and–like all men in this tale!–do her bidding (Judith 8:28-29). She demands that the gates be opened and that she and her maid be let out of the city (Judith 8:33, 10:9).”