The Book of Judith presents a rollicking good tale of danger, intrigue, suspense and high-stakes consequences. Its strong female protagonist takes on a challenge that her contemporary male counterparts shrink from.
It’s too bad that the elders of Protestantism decided that the Book of Judith should be excluded from the canon. Girls and boys alike would like Judith for who she is and what she does. Judith could well take her place alongside David, Joseph, and Joshua.
But this is a different story than those of the boys, and the differences are important.
Nebuchadnezzar, king of the Assyrians, makes war on his western neighbors, and in doing so asks his eastern neighbors — including the Jews of Palestine — to join him in his fight. Most of those eastern nations refuse to get involved in the king’s war. When Nebuchadnezzar (in the Book of Judith his name is Nabuchodonosor) conquers his foes, he comes back to Nineveh, the capital city, and has a three-month banquet for his army.
His mind, however, is on the western nations that refused to support him in his eastern conquests. He gathers together a huge army and charges one of his captains, Holofernes, with subduing and destroying those nations. Most of those nations surrender without a fight in order to save themselves, and they readily acknowledge Nebuchadnezzar as not only a king but a god. The people of Judah do not sue for peace, however, knowing that recognizing Nebuchadnezzar as a god would violate their beliefs and tradition. Holofernes turns the wrath and might of the Assyrian army onto Judah, and things don’t look good.
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