Then he commanded to bring her in where his plate was set; and bade that they should prepare for her of his own meats, and that she should drink of his own wine. And Judith said, I will not eat thereof, lest there be an offence: but provision shall be made for me of the things that I have brought. Then Holofernes said unto her, If your provision should fail, how should we give you the like? for there be none with us of your nation. Then said Judith unto him As your soul lives, my lord, your handmaid shall not spend those things that I have, before the Lord work by mine hand the things that he has determined.
Then the servants of Holofernes brought her into the tent, and she slept till midnight, and she arose when it was toward the morning watch,
Judith shows her devotion to God, while using this same tactic to deceive Holofernes. This Jewish Tradition was passed down to the Gentiles in Acts.
that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled…
Daniel and his friends, forced into a situation where they didn’t have much of a choice, did what they could to adhere to this law by asking for a Vegan diet.
Two things come to mind when I think of Judith’s situation here. First, a good reason to not accept food from Holofernes is because she couldn’t be sure that the food wasn’t sacrificed for other gods before it was brought before her. Second is that the Jewish people lived by a very strict set of rules for how food could be prepared.
Today, we might not consider the sacrifice in the same light. When we pray over food, we are asking God to bless it. The spirit of the law to abstain from “things offered to idols” is in effect- even if they were prayed over and a different deity was asked to bless the food on the table.
With regards to preparation. Acts liberates us from the health laws (minus the part where the animal cannot be strangled), but there are many who still adhere to these Health Laws. More strict Orthodox Jews go as far as to have two sets of cooking utensils so that milk and meat never meet. While I was staying at a Hostel in Hakuba, Japan, our hosts told a story of how a touring Jewish family had brought their own cooking materials so they could have their meals in a Kosher manner. That’s dedication, and I can’t help but feel this may be similar to what Judith was trying to uphold while she was in the camp.
Even by the end of this chapter, after Judith has spent 3 days in the camp- each night washing herself and praying to God for guidance- Judith is invited to dinner where she eventually comes into the company of Holofernes to drink and eat- but she only eats what her maid had prepared for her.
Then she took and ate and drank before him what her maid had prepared. And Holofernes took great delight in her, and drank more wine than he had drunk at any time in one day since he was born.