Published: January 11, 2015

Judith - art and paiting

Judith - art and paiting


Judith (Hebrew: יהודית - Yehudit, the female version of the name Judah, "Praise Jehovah") - the character of the Old Testament deuterocanonical "Book of Judith", a Jewish widow who saved her native city from invasion of the Assyrians.

Jewish heroine, a patriot and a symbol of the struggle of the Jews against their oppressors in the ancient Middle East, "She was also of a goodly countenance, and very beautiful to behold" (Judith. 8:7). After the Assyrian army laid siege to her hometown, she dressed up and went to the enemy camp, where attracted the attention of the commander. When he got drunk and fell asleep, she cut off his head, and brought it to his hometown, which it was saved. Biblical encyclopedia of Archimandrite Nikifor regards this feat about 589 BC.

Beginning with the Renaissance, the character was extremely popular in the art, and had both heroic and erotic connotations.



Judith Beheading Holofernes [detail- 1] :: Caravaggio
Judith Beheading Holofernes [detail- 1] :: Caravaggio
Judith Beheading Holofernes :: Caravaggio
Judith Beheading Holofernes :: Caravaggio
Judith :: Leon Francois Comerre
 Judith :: Leon Francois Comerre
Judith and Her Maidservant with the Head of Holofernes :: Orazio Gentleschi
Judith and Her Maidservant with the Head of Holofernes :: Orazio Gentleschi
Judith :: Benjamin Jean Joseph Constant
Judith :: Benjamin Jean Joseph Constant
Judith by TIZIANO Vecellio
Judith by TIZIANO Vecellio


The Assyrian king Nebuchadnezzar, who reigned in Nineveh, after he triumphed over the median king Arphaxad, sent commander Holofernes to conquer the countries from Persia in the east to Sidon and Tyre in the west, and people who lived westward of the Assyria to punish for disobedience; among them were Israelites. Holofernes ruined Mesopotamia, Cilicia and other lands, and began approaching to "seaside country" (Phoenicia) and Judea. After Israelites discovered that Assyrians were near, they began to erect the building, it excited anger of Holofernes. When Holofernes reached Ezdrelonskoj (Jezreel) Valley, it turned out that the Jerusalem high priest directed Jews the nearby fortified cities Bethulia and Betomestaim blocked narrow pass, which tended to Judah and to Jerusalem. The leader of ammonites Achior persuaded him from a punitive campaign in Judea, promised him a defeat if the Israelites continue to be faithful to the one God - while Jews hold loyalty to God, they are invincible. Holofernes, who believed that only God is Nebuchadnezzar, ordered to tie Achior and "give into the sons of Israel's hands"; he was taken to the mountain town of Bethulia, where he was liberated from the shackles by locals and spoke about his meeting with the Assyrians. Holofernes, on the advice of the Edomites and Moabites, besieged the city and cut off access to water the inhabitants of Bethulia, condemning them to a slow death. People of the mountain fortress required transfer it to the Assyrians of the elders, if within five days no help comes from God. Judith accused the elders that they want to be subject to the test of God, and said, "Then said Judith unto them, Hear me, and I will do a thing, which shall go throughout all generations to the children of our nation" (Judith. 8:32).

Meanwhile, a young widow Judith, trying to save hometown, put on beautiful clothes and went along with the maid (who was carrying a large bag of kosher food) into the camp of the Assyrians. She prayed to God, and asked Him to help carry out her plan, washed, anoint with perfume, put on a festive dress, adorned themselves, "to allure the eyes of all men that should see her" (Judith. 10:4).

Judith declared oneself a prophetess to the soldiers who leaved her in the enemy's camp, and said, that's going to indicate their commander easy way to capture Bethulia. When Judith came to the tent of Holofernes, she told him that the Israelites violated the commandments of God, and so deprived himself of protection and are doomed to defeat. Emphasizing own piety, she promised to Holofernes help to punish apostates, and hold his army to Jerusalem. For this Holofernes, admiring her beauty and wisdom, allowed Judith to live in his camp. There she spent 3 days, at night went with the maid to the valley of Bethulia, bathed in the source, and net returned to camp.

On the fourth day Holofernes made a feast to which commanded to invite Judith, because "wanted badly to get together with her and sought an opportunity to seduce her from the day I saw her". However, admiring the beautiful woman, Holofernes drank to excess wine and fell asleep. When the servants withdrew from the tent, Judith beheaded sleeping Holofernes with his own sword and gave the severed head to the maid, who hid it in a bag with victuals. Then Israeli woman returned to the city, they showed the head to citizens with words: "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 hath smitten him by the hand of a woman. As the Lord liveth, who hath kept me in my way that I went, my countenance hath deceived him to his destruction, and yet hath he not committed sin with me, to defile and shame me".

The head hung on the wall of the fortress. Judith commanded to the soldiers of Bethulia to attack Assyrian army; subordinates Holofernes went for his commander, and, finding him killed, were horrified. The Assyrians put to flight, and in parts broken armies of Israel, departing for Damascus.

Judith returned to Bethulia, where she settled in his estate. Many want to see her as wife, but she refused to enter into a second marriage. She lived 105 years, using the universal respect. Judith buried into a cave in Bethulia, there was a burial place of her husband Manassii.


"And the house of Israel lamented her seven days... And there was none that made the children of Israel any more afraid in the days of Judith, nor a long time after her death.




Orthodox Church honors Judith among the righteous Old Testament wives as foremother. Her commemoration is a week forefather (next-to-last Saturday before Christmas).

In Jewish tradition, the history was reflected in singing in the first and second Hanukkah Saturday piyyut is a custom that survived to this day in some communities. It was an abridgement of content the Book of Judith.

In the Catholic liturgy, "Canticle of Jidith ("Himnus Cantemus Domino", Judith. 16:15-21) performs during night church service on Wednesday.



In the Middle Ages history was interpreted as symbolizing the triumph of the Virgin over a devil and as a victory of purity and humility over lust and pride. As many others Biblical wifes, Judith became the typological predecessor of the Virgin Mary.

Typology was drawn up, which it combined general theme. On second and third stories, the principal characters are women, through whom God helped to Israel, in other stories she is also a tool of victory:

1. Virgin Mary wins the devil

2. Judith beheading Holofernes

3. Jael killing Sisera

4. Tomiris beheading King Cyrus (The Histories of Herodotus)

She is one of the Mulier sancta - holy wives, who personifies the Church and many virtues: humility, justice, courage, chastity. Holofernes in turn symbolizes the vices - pride, lewdness, tyranny. Womanhood made her an example of typical biblical paradox "strength in weakness" because of this she comports with David, who won Goliath and saved his native city from the enemy army.

Nebuchadnezzar is regarded not as a historical character, a person of history, but only as the man who threw out a challenge to God, and the military commander Holofernes is his tool.

Judith became a symbol of resistance, particularly Jewish, and later - even patriotic. In the Renaissance, the story of the widow became an example of local residents' courage in the face of foreign intervention.

Judaism. Although the "Book" is not part of the official Jewish religious canon, it became part of the concept of Orthodox Judaism, which members refers his action period to the time when Judea battled with Seleucids in the Hellenistic period. The story of Judith is regarded as the event associated with the war event facts at that time, and it is believed that she has a bearing on the secondary circumstances Jewish holiday Hanukkah.


Modern explanations

It is suggested that, under the guise of a servant Judith accompanied the exiled warlord Achior; and it was he who easy beheaded the military commander's head with two hacks.


By JenKiriakos,  3356 Views


Hide Comments (1)

Hansu    December 21, 2015

Hey Emil, how about one for our other Assyrian Queen?, Attiya Gamri. I'm sure you've heard of her and know about her.Not to take anything away from Rosie, but Attiya has been an Assyrian acsiivtt for most of her professional life, and she's out there in Occupied Assyria in all of it's towns and villages, Urmi, Ninweh, Mardin, Midyat, Hasaka I think Attiya is also very deserving of a beautiful poem, and she's Definately an Ashurian Lioness that's out there in danger, fighting the Hyenas in the [Expand]


Login / Register - Join now!

Your name: (or login via social. network below)
Enter the code you see in the image above (case sensitive). Click on the image to refresh it.

Similar articles:

« Bacchus (Dionysus) in art and painting

Nymph - art and paiting »
« Bacchus (Dionysus) in art and painting Nymph - art and paiting »



nu in mythology and poetry

nu in mythology and poetry

men's portraits 18th century
myfology painting

Romantic scenes

Romantic scenes

Oriental women

oriental women in art of paintings