Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish

Hag Sameah

In Uncategorized on December 25, 2011 at 12:37 am

The story goes like this:  when the powerful Assyrian army invaded the Near East, the town of Bethulia was besieged by Nabuchodonosor’s top general, Holofernes, who was notorious for his cruelty in suppressing rebellions.

If Bethulia fell, the whole country would come under Assyrian control. Discouraged, the city’s elders agreed to surrender if they were not rescued within a few days. All seems lost until the city’s desperate leaders were approached by Judith, a particularly pious young widow, who says she has a secret plan to defeat the enemy and save the city. They dismissed her offer as foolish and prepared to surrender to Holofernes. Judith tries once more to convince the elders that she can save them, and this time they reluctantly agree to allow her to leave the camp for one day.

So, Judith prepared herself for her bold scheme. She dressed with her finest clothes and prepared a sack containing food and wine. She approached the enemy camp where she was immediately captured and brought to Holofernes. He wsa directly impressed with her beauty and her prediction that he will capture Bethulia. “There is not such a woman from one end of the earth to the other, either for beauty of face or wisdom of speech!” he exclaims (Judith 11:21). Holofernes on the fourth day invited Judith to his tent, so they can celebrate together. He “was ravished with her and he was moved with great desire to possess her” (Judith 12:16).

Once in Holofernes’ tent, Judith feeds him the salty cheese she has brought with her.Holofernes becomes quite thirsty and drinks large quantities of wine until he passes out, drunk. Then Judith cuts off his head with his sword, covers the body with a blanket, puts the head in a sack, and carries the head back to the camp of Bethulia where she tells her adventure.

The elders who could not believe that Judith has returned safely, placed Holofernes’ head on the walls of the city. Meanwhile, the enemy soldiers awake and discover the decapitated body of their leader. In the distance, they see Holofernes’ head hanging from the walls of Bethulia. With the Assyrian army thrown into confusion, she urged the Israelites to launch a surprise attack from which they emerged victorious.

It’s worth noting that Judith achieved her goal by taking advantage of her feminine allure and playing on a man’s weakness. Judith’s faith and courage changed the course of history and I believe young Jewish women should carry on her legacy and dare to act, to speak, to teach, and to write themselves into the record of Jewish history.


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