In Chapter 13, Judith manages to get into Holofernes bedchamber and says a silent prayer to God.
O Lord God of all power, look at this present upon the works of mine hands for the exaltation of Jerusalem. For now is the time to help your inheritance, and to execute your enterprizes to the destruction of the enemies which are risen against us.
Afterwards, she swings her sword twice in order to behead Holofernes. Securing this head inside of her meat sack, Judith returns to Jerusalem where they all gather around a fire and Judith makes her speech.
Praise, praise God, praise God, I say, for he has not taken away his mercy from the house of Israel, but has destroyed our enemies by mine hands this night.
So she took the head out of the bag, and shewed it, and said unto them, behold the head of Holofernes, the chief captain of the army of Assur, and behold the canopy, wherein he did lie in his drunkenness; and the Lord has smitten him by the hand of a woman.
As the Lord lives, who has kept me in my way that I went, my countenance has deceived him to his destruction, and yet has he not committed sin with me, to defile and shame me.
The people rejoice, and Ozias tells her that she is “above all women upon the earth”. This description is used in Judges to describe Jael, who killed Sisera in a similar fashion (though, she took a nail to his temple). It invokes a sense of history repeating itself, and God using the same tactics in order to create a kind of “signature” that it is, in fact, His work.
But a couple of things could be the truth behind this tale. Judith may simply be drawing upon stories of Jewish heroism and manifesting them in the current situation. Or it could be that she was guided by God as she believes. Of course, it could just be a fable intended to help facilitate a revival in Jewish pride following Israel’s return from exile.
In Chapter 14, we see Judith calling for Holofernes head to be hung out somewhere where it will be apparent that their leader was taken out. A method of deterring the enemy from advancing- or at the very least killing morale. She goes on further to tell her fellow tribesman to arm up, but not to attack until the Assyrians run. The next morning, Judith’s predictions about the Assyrians proves accurate, and the whole lot of them grow fearful when they realize that it was Judith who had taken Holofernes out. With no one to lead them, they rent their cloaks and cry out.
Scattering to the four winds in Chapter 15, the Israelites hunt down the fleeing Assyrians and utterly destroy them. After all of these things, Judith is visited by the High Priest Joacim and praised for her actions. Chapter 16 concludes this book with a song about Judith.
Hmmm…so should it be axed from Canon? Or should it be kept? Guess we’ll explore that question next week.