Date Written: c. 150 BC
Judith is often characterized as an early historical novel. Yet ironically, its content is unhistorical. The book begins by telling us that Nebuchadnezzer was the king of
The book of Judith is not trying to narrate an historical event nor is it presenting a regular historical novel with fictional characters in a "real" setting. Rather, Judith is iconic of all of
The general Holofernes, whom Judith assassinates, represents the worst of the oppressors. He is bringing 182,000 troops against a small city in a corner of
It is crucial to see the irony of the story and of Judith's words. For example, the Ammonite Achior who Holofernes rejected was supposed to share the cruel fate of the Israelites at the hand of the Assyrians, but he is saved with the Israelites instead (6:5-9). Judith uses the phrase "my lord" (Adonai in Heb.) several times, but it is unclear whether she is referring to Holofernes or to God. The great nation is defeated by a humble woman. The story is similar to the famous David and Goliath episode. The reader should look for ironic moments where a character's intentions or statements are fulfilled, but in the way that he or she would least expect.
The book of Judith is divided into basically two sections, ch. 1-7 and 8-16. The first seven chapters lay out the "historical" background and describe the political situation which led to Holofernes attack on
Judith is a book of the Bible that is meant to be enjoyed. By enjoying the story and the Lord's victory over the great nations through Judith, we can appreciate the paradoxical way God chooses to work on earth, using the weak to conquer the strong, the poor to outdo the rich.
By Mark Giszczak