Judith, Channukah and the Last Days
The Apocryphal book of Judith is about a beautiful and devout Jewish widow who saves her city from an invading army. The Elders of her city decide to surrender unless help arrives within five days. Judith leaves and enters the camp of the opposing general. She beguiles him by her beauty but ultimately returns to her city with his head in a bag. This inspires her city to route the invading army. In the end the High Priest comes to her city an honors Judith for her valor.
Many modern critics have accused the Book of Judith of anachronisms and historical inaccuracies. On the surface the book claims to be set “In the twelfth year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, who ruled over the Assyrians in the great city of Nineveh, in the days of Arphaxad who ruled over the Medes in Ecbatana”. In fact Nebuchadnezzar was actually the King of Babylon, not the King of Assyria. In actuality these are all Euphemisms and the book is actually set in the Maccabean era. For example the book of Judith uses Nebuchadnezzar as a euphemism for Antiochus Epiphanies, because both names have a gematria (numerical value) of 423.
There are other reasons to associate Antiochus Epiphanies with Nebuchadnezzar the King of Babylon. The call to “come out of Babylon” is phrased in Zechariah as coming out of “The Land of the North” and Antiochus Epiphanies was the “King of the North” in Daniel 11. Also as we discovered in the last chapter, Antiochus Epiphanies parallels the first “Beast” of Revelation 13. This “Beast” of Revelation 13 is described as follows:
1 And I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast coming
up from the sea that had ten horns and seven heads: and upon
his horns, ten diadems, and upon his head, the name of
2 And the beast that I saw was like a leopard, and his feet like
those of a bear, and his mouth [was] like that of lions. And the
dragon gave to him his power, and his throne, and great
This is a composite of the four beasts Daniel sees in his vision in Daniel 7. Students of Biblical Prophecy will be well aware that Daniel’s prophecy in Chapter 7 parallels the dream of the image made up of various substances in Daniel 2 and that the “image” of Daniel 2 is a composite of the kingdoms laid out as “Beast” in Daniel 7. In other words, the “image” of Daniel 2 parallels the “Beast” of Revelation 13. This is significant because in Daniel 2, Nebuchadnezzar is told that the “head” of this image represents him as the King of Babylon. This is because Nebuchadnezzar was symbolizing Antiochus Epiphanies who was to come. This is further substantiated by the parallel between the abomination of desolation and the arrogant proclamation attributed to the last days “King of Babylon” in Isaiah 14 and the fact that the account of Antiochus Epiphanies death in 2nd Maccabees recalls language from this portion of Isaiah 14.
In reality the book takes place during the rule of Antiochus Epiphanies over the Selucid Empire of Syria and of Ptolemy VI over Egypt. The story appears in several Midrashim in Jewish literature in which it is set in the Maccabean era.
2Maccabees recounts the death of Antiochus Epiphanies (9:1-29) just before it recounts the purification of the Temple (10:1-9). This appears to contradict 1Maccabees which places his death (6:1-17) after the cleaning of the Temple (4:36-61) in agreement with the account of Josephus. Having examined it, I believe that the historical chronology is to be found in 1Maccabees and Josephus.
The account in 2Maccabees is not intended to relay the chronology (which was already well known) but to cover one subject at a time. 2Maccabees 9:1 begins with “About that time came Antiochus out of the country of Persia.” Which is the event that took place shortly before the cleaning of the Temple in chapter 10. But in the next verse the book backtracks to an event which had occurred while he was in Persia, and in recounting that event, he follows through to the death of Antiochus before returning to the “present” in 2Maccabees 10:1 with “Now Maccabee and his company, YHWH guiding them, recovered the Temple and the city…”. 2Maccabees 9:2-29 is a parenthetical which is not intended to be placed in chronological order.
This helps us to place Judith in context. Judith takes place shortly after the purification of the Temple (Judith 4:3) and before the death of Antiochus Epiphanies (i.e. “Nebuchadeznar”) during the gap between 1Macc. 4:36-61 and 1Macc. 6:1-17.
It is commonly recognized in Judaism as a Channukah story. And like the books of the Maccabees, the Book of Judith has much to teach us about last days events. The Book of Judith features two primary villains Nebuchadnezzar who is called “King of Assyria” and one of his generals named Holofernes. As discussed above, Nebuchadnezzar is used as a euphemism for Antiochus Epiphanies and Holoferenes represents one of his generals. Just as Antiochus Epiphanies is a type and shadow of the first “Beast” of Revelation 13, Holofernes is a type and shadow of the second “Beast” of Revelation 13.
Holofernes enacts an edict from “Nebuchadnezzar” (Antiochus Epiphanies) to abolish all other forms of worship in favor of the worship of “Nebuchadnezzar” (Antiochus Epiphanies):
…he [Holofernes] did cast down their frontiers, and cut down
their groves: for he had decreed to destroy all the gods of the
land, that all nations should worship Nabuchodonosor only,
and that all tongues and tribes should call upon him as god.
3: He will send his power, and will destroy them from the face
of the earth, and their God shall not deliver them: but we his
servants will destroy them as one man; for they are not able to
sustain the power of our horses.
4: For with them we will tread them under foot, and their
mountains shall be drunken with their blood, and their fields
shall be filled with their dead bodies, and their footsteps shall
not be able to stand before us, for they shall utterly perish, saith
king Nabuchodonosor, lord of all the earth: for he said, None
of my words shall be in vain.
Holofernes prefigures the second beast of Revelation 13, which causes people to worship the first beast:
11 And I saw another beast coming up from the earth, and he
had two horns, even like a lamb, and he was speaking as a
12 And he will exercise all the authority of the first beast
before him, and he will cause the earth and those who dwell in
it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.
13 And he will do great signs in such a manner, that he will
make fire to descend from heaven upon the earth, before the
sons of men.
14 And he will seduce, those who are dwelling on the earth: by
the signs that are given to him to work in the presence of the
beast; saying to those who are dwelling on the earth [that they
should] make an image for the beast, who had the wound of the
sword and lived.
15 And it was given to him to give breath to the image of the
beast: and he will cause all who will not worship the image of
the beast, to be killed.
(Rev. 13:11-15 HRV)
Judith 2:20 speaks of the army of Holofernes as “like a swarm of locusts” recalling the army of locusts in Joel and Revelation 9. The main character Y’hudit (Judith) represents the remnant of House of Judah which overcomes the false prophet. Her name means simply “Jewess” (this may also be a euphemism and not her actual name). She parallels the “woman” in Revelation 12 who dwells in the wilderness for forty-two months. In parallel Judith had been a widow for three years and four months (about 1,200 days) (Judith 8:4). Her husband had dies at the time of the barely harvest (around Passover) and had been named “Manasseh” (Judith 8:1-3). Her bridegroom parallels Messiah, the bridegroom of Judah, Messiah was impaled at Passover (at the barley harvest) when he died in the role of Messiah “ben Yosef”.
Channukah is not just a Jewish holiday, it is a key to prophetic events of the last days. Embedded within the Channukah story are elements foreshadowing the apostasy, the abomination of desolation, the Great Tribulation the Anti-Messiah, the martyrs of the tribulation, the false prophet, the remnant, the return of Messiah and the Messianic Kingdom to come.
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