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holofernes head city maidservant

The story of Judith is told in the Old Testament apocryphal Book of Judith. She was a pious and attractive widow who became a great heroine by her murder of the Assyrian general Holofernes, thus ending the Assyrians’ seige of the Jewish city of Bethulia. The inhabitants of the city were on the verge of surrendering, as advised by their chief priest, Ozias, whom Judith admonished. Pretending to have abandoned her people, Judith entered the enemy camp, attracted Holofernes and tricked him into believing that she would help him conquer the *Jews. He invited her to a banquet and when they were alone in his tent and he fell into a drunken sleep, she cut off his head, put it in a sack and escaped with her maidservant. Later, she stood on the walls of the city of Bethulia, displayed the head of Holofernes to the Assyrian army, and they fled under Israelite attack. The tale of Judith can be seen as a symbol of Jewish patriotism under enemy oppression and, in Christian interpretation, as the triumph of *virtue over *vice, and the Virgin *Mary as victorious over the *Devil. Judith is typically depicted in art with a sword and the severed head of Holofernes, in the act of cutting off his head, or fleeing with her maidservant. She frequently appears in medieval illustrated Bibles and sculpture.
Judson, Margaret Atwood (1899–1991) - U.S. History [next] [back] Judgment of Solomon

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