Nazarene Space

Judith: Maccabean Heroine
By James Trimm

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 fi ve 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 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. In reality
the book takes place during the rule of Antiochus
Epiphanies over the Selucid Empire of Syria and
of Ptolemy VI over Egypt and the general Judith
kills was Nicanor.

Scholars generally agree that the Book of Judith
was originally written in Hebrew. Most (if not all)
English translations today have been made from
the Greek LXX version. There are three basic
Greek versions: 1) The version appearing in the
oldest Greek manuscripts; 2) A version appearing
in codices 19 and 108 which appears to be a
revision of the older Greek text; 3) A version
which loosely resembles this version, is preserved
in codex 58 and has close agreements with the
Peshitta and Old Latin. Jerome’s Latin Vulgate
version was made from a now lost Aramaic version.
Two Hebrew versions, a long version and a short
version, have come down to us from the Middle
Ages. More research will have to be conducted by
the INJS to determine if both, or either of them
descend from the original Hebrew of Judith.
More research must be done on the relationships
between the three Greek versions, the Old Latin,
the Latin Vulgate (and the lost Aramaic version behind
it) the Peshitta and the long and short Hebrew
versions. Research similar to that which we are
already conducting on the Book of Tobit.
Like the books of the Maccabees, the Book of
Judith has much to teach us about last days events.
Nebuchadnezzar and Holofernes prefigure the two
beasts of Revelation 13.

Like the second beast, the false prophet of Revelation
13, Holofernes destroys all other places of
worship, and forces all to worship Nebuchadnezzar
(really Antiochus Epiphanies) (Judith 3:8; 4:1;
6:2). Nebuchadnezzar (Antiochus Epiphanies) is
declared to be “the lord of the whole earth.” (Judith
6:4), symbolizing the fi rst beast or Revelation 13,
the Anti-Messiah. 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.

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