Bible Points of Interest:' JUDITH' (The Biblical Beauty and the Beast)by Milton Bowser on 12/11/07
From: Sitare, Ltd. Publishers since 1961 DLV MAGAZINE; BIBLE POINTS OF INTEREST BLOG: JUDITH (The Biblical version of beauty and the beast) From the Old Testament of the Holy Bible, Douay-Challoner Text
Arphaxad, King of the Medes was defeated by Nabuchadonosor, King of the Assyrians.After the defeat of his rival the new king sent messengers to all surrounding kingdoms to report the defeat of Arphaxad by the mighty and powerful army of Nabuchadonosor.
The new conquer was dismayed and disgusted by the rejection of his neighboring kingdoms. A high level meeting was called and it was agreed that these countries that did not pay homage to the new king should be conquered.
A massive army was formed under the leadership of Holofernes, the general of the Assyrians. It consisted of:120,000 fighting men on foot.12,00 archers, horsemen, Provisions to feed the army in abundance Herds of oxen and sheep without number, and Gold and Silver from the king's house in abundance.
And Holofernes went forth with his army which covered the earth like locusts. He conquered kingdom after kingdom. Soon leaders from many countries came to him and pleaded for mercy offering him all their riches, women and children They greeted him with flowers, music,dancing, and feasts. He ravaged their cities after accepting their hospitality and killed many of them who had tried to surrender. Then the General pressed all young fighting men from the countries defeated into his army. Finally he approached the children of Israel in the land of Juda.
The Hebrews having heard all of the horrible things that Holofernes had done were frightened that their land and temple would be destroyed by his massive army. They prayed and began mourning. The Chief priest of the land, Eliachim, sent to all people to pray and prepare for war, to occupy all mountain tops leading to Jerusalem and do everything to slow the invaders advance.
As Holofernes approached the land of the Israelites, rocks were thrown down on the troops as they passed between mountains and slingers killed enough soldiers causing the army to retreat.
The General called in the remaining princes of Moab and Ammon, and asked who these Hebrews were and what was their history. Achoir,the Captain of all the children of Ammon, told of the history of the Hebrews and their defeat of the Egyptians and others when they reached the promised land. Also that if their God was angry they could be defeated, but if they were true to their God they could not be defeated.
The leaders of the army were furious and demanded that Achoir be killed stating that the army of Nebuchadonosor could be defeated by those with no knowledge of war and no superior army. Holofernes was also livid but he held his peace and said to Achoir: Since you think the Hebrews could possibly defeat the army of Holofernes, I am going to send you to the Hebrews and when we conquer them you will also be killed with them. Achoir's face paled and he was sent to the children of Israel.
As the soldiers approached the mountains with Achoir, the slingers terrible accuracy caused the soldiers to tie Achoir hands and feet to a tree and retreat to their camp.
The Hebrews, after seeing the soldiers leave descended and untied Achoir and brought him to their elders where he related the events leading to his arrival. The Hebrews were downcast and afraid. They welcomed Achoir and he dined with them. They all prayed for salvation for themselves and Achoir, whom they now considered one of them.
When the siege against the Hebrews began, Holofernes learned that there were wells near the city. They had observed the Hebrews secretly obtaining water at night. After shutting off the aqueduct he also placed soldiers around other wells distant from their fortified city of Bethulia.
In time there was no water in the fortified city. A meeting was held and they agreed that if no salvation came within five days they would surrender to Holofernes rather than die of thirst as there was no water at all left for them to drink. Those sent to the wells at night to bring back water were killed by hidden soldiers.
Judith, a direct descendant of Ruben, a beautiful widow whose husband had died and left her riches and servants. She lived a life of abstention and prayer. When she found out what the elders proposed, she sent for them. And complained about them giving God five days to give them aid. They realized their mistake. Judith further asked them to pray and not ask what she was doing, but to wait for her the next night by the gate.
That night, Judith who had worn the clothes of a mourner came to them. She was dressed in her finest costume and jewelry and was exceptionally beautiful. The elders looked at her but said nothing except: The God of our fathers give thee grace. . . Judith and her maid carrying wine and provisions descended to the area of their enemies. When challenged by sentries, Judith said she had escaped from the Hebrews because she knew they would be captured, and she wanted to tell Holofernes how to take the fortified city with no loss to his army. She was taken to the General of the Assyrians.
Holofernes heard her story and was captivated by her beauty. He praised her for coming to help him attain a victory and made her his guest with honor. Judith asked permission to leave the camp at night to pray to her God and to receive the information necessary to assure victory for Holofernes. He granted her permission to leave the camp with hermaid at night to pray in solitude.
A banquet was held and Judith invited. She declined the food and wine of her host and drank and ate the provisions she had brought with her. Holofernes drank heavily and was delighted to have Judith as his dining companion. He drank heavily. Later he arose to leave the gathering and invited Judith to accompany him, which she did. When they reached the tent of Holofernes he fell on the bed in a drunken stupor.
Judith said a prayer and withdrew his sword and cut off his head and placed it in a bag. She and her maid left the camp as they had done each night her maid carrying a large purse containing the head of Holofernes. Instead of going to pray, Judith and her maid returned to her city of Bethulia.
When the guards sounded the alarm that someone was coming, the elders ran to the gate, Surrounded by her people Judith praised God and dumped the severed head on the ground and said: Behold the head of Holofernes General of the Assyrians. . . The people sent for Achior since they had never seen the General. When he came and they showed him the head lying on the ground he fainted.
Judith told the people to arm themselves and attack the Assyrian camp at dawn, which they did.When the leaders saw the Hebrews coming down from the mountains to attack the ran to awaken Holofernes whom they thought was sleeping with Judith. Instead they found him headless. When the word spread throughout the camp the soldiers fled, most through fear but many who had been pressed into service found a way to escape. They were followed and killed by the Hebrews in a great victory over the beast, Holofernes and his army.
Story adaptation by:
Milton Bowser dlvmagazine.com Sitare, Ltd.