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The Sword of Judith

 | 
Kevin R. Brine
, 
Elena Ciletti
, 
Henrike Lähnemann

Jewish Textual Traditions

6. Food, Sex, and Redemption in Megillat Yehudit (the ”Scroll of Judith”)

Susan Weingarten

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  • 1 I am grateful to Tova Cohen, Yuval Shahar, Elisheva Baumgarten, and Harvey Hames for discussions of (...)
  • 2 Rashbam (eleventh century), in commentary on Babylonian Talmud Megillah 4a.
  • 3 Citing the Ran (fourteenth century) and Sefer ha-Kol Bo (thirteenth to fourteenth centuries, possib (...)

1You also, son of man, take a written scroll, feed your stomach and fill your belly with what I give you, and it will be as sweet as honey in your mouth. Thus begins the medieval Hebrew manuscript Megillat Yehudit, with words taken from Ezekiel (2:8–3:3). Beneath the title, in smaller letters, is the instruction: to be said on Hanukkah.1 The story of Judith has been connected by Jews with the festival of Hanukkah since the Middle Ages at least. Rashbam writes that just as the miracle of Purim came about through Esther, so the miracle of Hanukkah came about through Judith,2 and the authoritative Shulhan Arukh (OH 570,2) says There are those who say we should eat cheese on Hanukkah, because of the miracle over the milk which Judith fed the enemy.3

  • 4 See Geras contribution in this volume (Chap. 2).

2Commenting on Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 10a, the Ran writes that the daughter of Yohanan gave the chief enemy cheese to eat to make him drunk and they cut off his head and everyone fled. Because of this there is a custom to eat cheese [on Hanukkah].4

  • 5 Two liturgical poems written around the eleventh century and read on Hanukkah contain some elements (...)
  • 6 N. Fried, A New Hebrew version of Megillat Antiochus, Sinai 64 (1969), pp. 97–140 (Hebrew); S. Pe (...)

3The apocryphal Book of Judith was not accepted into the Jewish biblical canon, and is not mentioned in the Talmudic literature.5 Indeed, Hanukkah itself is hardly mentioned, and has no synagogue reading, although a work called Megillat Antiochus, based on material about the Hasmoneans, was read in some communities.6

  • 7 See papers by Gera (Chap. 5) and Von Bernuth and Terry (Chap. 7).

4However, by the Middle Ages we find not only rabbinical mentions of Judith, but also a number of Jewish versions of the story, in both Hebrew and Yiddish.7 It is uncertain whether these reflect a Jewish tradition or whether they are Jewish versions of Christian traditions based on the Vulgate. It is clear, however, that the medieval rabbis cited connected the story of Judith to women and to food in particular. In this paper I shall analyze these two connections in one medieval version of the story, Megillat Yehudit.

  • 8 askoputinen oinou kai kampsaken elaiou kai peran … alphiton kai palathes kai arton katharon. For th (...)

5In the apocryphal Book of Judith, Judith takes her own supply of food when she goes to Holofernes: a jar of wine, a cruse of oil, barley groats, figcakes, white bread, and, in some versions, cheese.8 This food is not present in Megillat Yehudit, apart from the wine. However, there is other food instead. I shall analyze both its material reality and its literary functions.

6Some of the foods in Megillat Yehudit are real foods, described in tangible form: pancakes are fried, dough is kneaded and rises, made ”glorious” with honey. Celebration of the festival of Hanukkah is real and earthly. However, food in Judaism is also a marker of boundaries between Jews and non-Jews. Megillat Yehudit also stresses social boundaries, using food, as we shall see later.

  • 9 Cf. Est 9:19.
  • 10 E.g., Ps 19:11.

7Megillat Yehudit begins, as noted, by quoting the prophet Ezekiel on eating a scroll, a megillah. This scroll contains the words of God, which will be sweet as honey in the mouth. The author is giving divine authority to Megillat Yehudit and making its foods very important. Megillat Yehudit also ends with honey, in a list of Hanukkah foods which Judith commands should be sent as gifts from one Jew to another.9 Honey in the Bible is a metaphor for the sweetness of Gods Torah (law).10

  • 11 Jewish boys received formal Hebrew education; education of girls lagged far behind: Ephraim Karna (...)
  • 12 Ivan Marcus, Rituals of Childhood: Jewish Acculturation in the Middle Ages (New Haven, CT, and Lond (...)
  • 13 See the illustration from the Leipzig Mahzor reproduced by Marcus.

8In medieval times, when a Jewish child began to learn Torah, he11 would be given a cake made with honey, and the first letters taught would be written on his slate with honey, which he would lick off.12 He would thus literally eat Gods words, and find them sweet as honey in his mouth.13 Rabbinical works from twelfth- and thirteenth-century Provence and France tell us that the honey cake would have the verse from Ezekiel 3:3 written on it. This verse was also recited by teacher and child. Sometimes this ceremony would take place on Shavuot, the festival of the Giving of the Torah. Marcus has noted the powerful symbolism of the Torah, honey from heaven, paralleled by the God-given manna, sweet as wafers with honey (Ex 16:31). God himself calls manna bread (Ex 16:32), and it becomes a test to see whether the Jews will follow his Torah or not (Ex 16:4). This verse is quoted in the introduction to Megillat Yehudit: God is also testing his people through food. Megillat Yehudit also ends with honey: the circular structure underlines the message.

9So far the framing foods of Megillat Yehudit. We shall follow the action now with its significant foods. The author has compiled a text thick with biblical allusions. Tracing these allusions to their sources will show that they form a coherent subtext, commenting on the action of the Megillah.

  • 14 Rashi on Sg 4:9; Phyllis Trible, Texts of Terror: Literary-Feminist Readings of Biblical Narratives(...)

10After speaking to Holofernes and arranging to come to him in the evening, Judith asks her maid to prepare pancakes, using the vocabulary of the biblical story of the rape of Tamar (2 Sm 13:6), where Amnon asked Tamar to make him pancakes: telabev levivot. Both traditional Jewish commentators and modern feminists have picked up this phrase, noting its connection to lev, heart – Tamars levivot are not merely pancakes, but food for the heart.14 In the Song of Songs this word is used even more explicitly: lebavtini ahoti kallah, thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse (Sg 4:9). Holofernes earlier used Amnons words to Judith, Come lie with me, my sister. But unlike Tamar, who prepared her pancakes in Amnons sight and thus increased his desire for her, Judith gets her maid to do the work, outside Holoferness chamber.

  • 15 The targum on 1 Sm 17:18 translates haritzei halav as govnin de-halva, milk cheese.
  • 16 H. Simons, Eating Cheese and Levivot on Hanukkah, Sinai, vol. 115 (1995), pp. 57–68. Simonss con (...)

11The maid makes two pancakes, salts them, and adds pieces of cheese, with the unusual name of haritzei halav.15 This is the only version of the story of Judith I know which specifies that Judith fed Holofernes with cheese, the Hanukkah food theme noted by the rabbis.16 The references to halav, milk, remind us of Judges 4:19 and 5:25, where Jael, wife of Heber the Kenite, tempted the enemy general, Sisera, made him drowsy with milk, and hammered a tent-peg into his head to kill him. Holofernes is sited within his tent, also referring to the story of Jael and Sisera, which takes place in a tent; Jael is later called most blessed of women in tents (Jgs 5:24). Like Sisera, Holofernes fell asleep (Jgs 4:21) before he died.

  • 17 Mira Friedman, The Metamorphoses of Judith, Jewish Art, 12/13 (1986-87), pp. 225-46 (230-31), dis (...)

12The reference to haritzei halav also alludes to the young David, who took haritzei halav to his brothers captain, just before his encounter with Goliath. Judith is further linked to Davids victory over Goliath: when she cuts off Holoferness head, the words used are the same as when David cuts off Goliaths head (1 Sm 17:51). Similarly she wraps Holoferness head in her clothes, just as David wraps Goliaths sword (1 Sm 21:10). Thus at the moment of her victory there is a role reversal, when she uses Holoferness own weapon against him, symbolically castrating the threatened rapist.17

13The salt in the pancakes is clearly intended to make Holofernes thirsty, so he will drink more wine. Judith pours them into a pot and brings them to Holofernes, who has made a great banquet, the ”Feast of Judith.” This is a reference to Megillat Esther, the biblical Book of Esther. In her conversation with Holofernes, we saw that Judith appeared to accept his demands, but put him off till evening, as Esther put off Ahasuerus. Thus, as in Megillat Esther, the dénouement of Megillat Yehudit takes place at a banquet. Megillat Esther does not say what was eaten at the banquet, but here the food is meaningful. At Esther’s banquet, the participants recline on couches, for Haman falls on Esther’s couch in supplication. Ahasuerus willfully misunderstands this as an attempt at raping Esther: ”Does he mean to rape the queen in my own palace?” he cries, and Haman is taken away to be hanged (Est 7:8). At the Feast of Judith the ever-present danger of rape is underlined by this biblical connection.

14Holofernes eats the food Judith’s maid has prepared, and gradually gets more and more drunk. At first, quite simply, ”his heart is merry,” like Boaz when he lies down before Ruth comes (Ru 3:7). More ominously, this expression also alludes to Ahasuerus, whose ”heart was merry with wine” when he summoned Vashti to his feast to show off her beauty (Est 1:10). Vashti refused, and was deposed, and even, according to the midrash, beheaded (Est 1:10; and see Midrash Esther Rabbah 3:9; 5:2). Here things are reversed: the beheading is reserved for Holofernes, not the queen. Thus, with God’s help, the rape does not take place.

  • 18 Eric Gruen, Novella, in J. W. Rogerson and Judith M. Lieu (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Biblical Stu (...)

15We turn now to look at sexual allusions in Megillat Yehudit. Unlike Judith in the apocrypha, this Judith is not a widow but a wife. She is painted as a sexual being, to whom sexual approaches are made. We saw how Holofernes says to her, ”Come lie with me, my sister,” as does Amnon before he rapes Tamar (2 Sm 13:6). Judith’s sexuality is further underlined by many references to the book of Esther, where the heroine uses her body to achieve her ends. Megillat Yehudit also includes many other intertextual allusions to biblical women, particularly women in situations of dubious sexuality. We could almost claim that it contains a reference to every seduction scene in the Bible. Like the apocryphal book,18 Megillat Yehudit is written on two levels: the story is comprehensible to a reader without knowledge of the biblical texts mentioned, but allusion to these adds extra, tantalizing depth. Some of the allusions come from the Torah, or parts of the Bible read aloud in the synagogue (e.g., the Song of Deborah or Megillat Ruth), but others come from parts of the Hebrew Bible never read in synagogue, such as the stories of Delilah and Samson, or Tamar and Amnon. There are many general biblical allusions in Megillat Yehudit, but the references to women – particularly seductive women – appear mostly after the appearance of Judith. We shall look at them one by one.

16Samson and Delilah (Jgs 15:13). In Megillat Yehudit, Holofernes punishes the counsellor who took the Jews’ part by having him strung up before the gates of Jerusalem, ”with new ropes.” This phrase alludes to the new ropes with which the temptress Delilah bound Samson. The scene is being set for sexual temptations (with a hint of outlandish sexual practices). Samson escaped from his new ropes, and the counsellor too will eventually be released.

17The concubine on the hill (Jgs 19:2). When Judith wants to leave the besieged city of Jerusalem, the gatekeeper is convinced she has an ulterior motive. His words are taken from one of the most terrible passages of the Bible, the story of the concubine on the hill (Jgs 19). The biblical concubine was gangraped and then carved into pieces: the gatekeeper seems to be warning Judith of the fate awaiting her if she betrays her people. The text of Judges writes that the concubine left her man: vatizneh alav pilagsho. The verb vatizneh, translated here as ”left,” is clearly related to the root zonah, a prostitute, and it is this meaning which appears to be uppermost in Megillat Yehudit: the accusation seems to be that Judith wants to prostitute herself to Holofernes. However, she convinces the gatekeeper of her good faith and he lets her pass with a blessing.

18Sarah and Pharaoh (Gn 12:14–15). Judith dresses royally, like Esther, (Est 5:1; 2:17), and her beauty is such that when she arrives in Holofernes’s camp and his men see her, they praise her to Holofernes, just as Pharaoh’s courtiers saw Sarah, Abraham’s wife and praised her to Pharaoh. In the biblical story, Sarah was taken to Pharaoh for him to have sex with her. She was eventually rescued by God sending a plague on Pharaoh: the author is alluding to a background of sex and fear, with eventual redemption through divine aid.

19Abigail and David (1 Sm 25:32, 25:39, 25:42). The gatekeeper, who at first accuses Judith of wanting to prostitute herself to the enemy, is persuaded by her ”good sense,” just as David was persuaded by Abigail’s. Later, Judith comes to Holofernes’s camp with two maids following her, just as Abigail went to agree to David’s proposal of marriage, followed by her maids. The author seems to be playing with the reader here, introducing uncertainty about Judith’s real intentions: will Judith accede to Holofernes’s request?

20Rahab and Joshua (Jo 2:13). When Judith comes to Holofernes, she falsely prophesies to him that he will prevail over Israel. To deceive him still further, she uses the words of Rahab the harlot to Joshua in Jericho. Rahab knew that Joshua would destroy her city since he had God’s help, and asked him to spare her father, her mother and her brothers and sisters. Judith also asks Holofernes to spare her father, her mother and her brothers. By giving her the words of Rahab, the author is alluding to her sexuality, but also to her virtue in saving Joshua. The reader is left uncertain as to the eventual outcome.

21Lot and his daughters (Gn 19:20, 19:30–31). We noted that Judith ”finds favor” in Holofernes’s eyes, as Esther did in Ahasuerus’s eyes (Est 5:2). This expression appears in several places in the Bible, including the story of Lot, who escaped from Sodom with his daughters, while Sodom was destroyed with hail and brimstone. Seeing the destruction, Lot’s daughters are convinced it affects the whole world and that there are no men left. Thus they make their father drunk and lie with him, to get themselves pregnant. Other phrases used in Megillat Yehudit here also allude to this story. Both Judith and Lot say ”Oh let me escape.” Judith’s father ”left the town and sat on one of the mountains” just as Lot left Zoar and ”sat on the mountain.” Judith also speaks of her ”old father,” just as Lot’s daughters speak of their ”old father” when they intend to make him drunk. Megillat Yehudit is referring here to another story of seduction preceded by making the male victim drunk.

22Joseph and Potiphars wife (Gn 39:4–5, 39:11, 41:40). There are also three allusions to Joseph, the victim of a seduction attempt by the wife of Potiphar. Megillat Yehudit writes that Holofernes promises Judith, ”You shall be in charge of my household and rule over all you desire.” Pharaoh also told Joseph, ”You shall be in charge of my household.” Earlier in the story of Joseph, Potiphar had made Joseph ”in charge of his household and all his property.” Megillat Yehudit has conflated these two references. Pharaoh’s act immediately precedes Potiphar’s wife’s attempt to seduce Joseph, when the biblical text notes that there was no one in the house. When Judith comes to kill Holofernes, Megillat Yehudit notes that ”there was no one with him in the house.”

  • 19 Cf. Bailey, Chap. 15.

23Joseph was seen as a type of sexual virtue by both Jews and Christians. Bailey notes that in the thirteenth-century Somme le roi, Judith and Holofernes are depicted as Chastity and Luxury, with Joseph and Potiphar’s wife as their counterparts.19 But there is also an ambiguity inherent in this reference to Joseph, which introduces an atmosphere of uncertainty: Potiphar’s wife was unsuccessful: will Judith’s seduction attempt succeed?

24Ruth and Boaz (Ru 3:9). Judith asks for Holofernes’s protection in the words of Ruth: ”spread your skirt over your handmaid.” Ruth, who is a figure of virtue in the biblical text, had gone to Boaz to entice him to become her husband by lying down at his feet at night. Virtue and seduction once again go hand in hand.

25The Song of Songs (Sg 7:7). In response to Judith’s request for protection, Holofernes declares he loves her, using the words of the Song of Songs, ”a love with all its rapture.” The Song of Songs is the most erotic of all the books of the Bible, with explicitly sexual language and imagery.

26Amnon and Tamar (2 Sm 13:11, 13:9). But Holofernes’s declaration of ”love” is preceded by words which warn of the reality of his lust and intended cruelty: ”Come lie with me, my sister,” he says, using the words of Amnon to Tamar. When Tamar refused, Amnon raped her. There is also a further reference to the story of Amnon and Tamar in Megillat Yehudit: in response to Holofernes’s desire to lie with her, Judith asks him to clear all the soldiers away from them, just as Amnon clears everyone away from himself and Tamar. Thus the author introduces further tension into the story – if Amnon succeeded in raping Tamar, having cleared away all witnesses, how will Judith escape?

27David and Bathsheba (1 Kgs 2:20). The expression Judith uses here, ”Do not refuse me,” uses the words of Bathsheba to Solomon, her son. The story of Bathsheba and King David (the parents of Solomon) is once again a story of sexual temptation and ambiguous virtue (2 Sm 11).

  • 20 In the apocryphal Judith this allusion is made explicit: Judith prays to God as the God of my fath (...)

28Dinah and Shechem (Gn 34:19, 34:22). Holofernes agrees to Judiths request because he desired the daughter of the Jews. This is an allusion to Shechem, who agreed to be circumcised because he desired the daughter of Jacob.20 The first part of Megillat Yehudit had quoted with horror the suggestion by Shechem after raping Dinah, Jacobs daughter, that his people and the Jews should become one people (Gn 36:16): these words were given to the Greek tyrant who was Holoferness brother. Here the original version of the phrase because he desired the daughter of Jacob was used. The agenda of the author is clear: intermarriage with the surrounding majority is not to be tolerated. Jews must keep to their own truths within their own boundaries.

29After the rape, Shechem fell in love with Dinah and wanted to make her his wife, but he was killed by Dinah’s brothers, Simeon and Levi. Our author is keeping the readers guessing, tantalizing them with sexually loaded allusions. Will Holofernes succeed in raping or seducing Judith? And if he does, will his fate be like that of Shechem, or like the fate of his own brother who was beheaded by Judah?

30Amnon and Tamar (2) (2 Sm 13:11). As we saw, Judith asks her maid to make her food, ”so she may eat at her hand.” In the story of the rape of Tamar, Amnon had succeeded in being alone with Tamar by pretending to be sick, and asking for Tamar to come and make food for him, so he could eat from her hands. The food Judith’s maid makes is the same food as Tamar made, two pancakes, levivot. Judith takes the pancakes and brings them to Holofernes in his room, just as Tamar brought her pancakes to the room where Amnon lay. At this point the biblical allusions to the story of Amnon and Tamar cease. Judith is not raped by Holofernes, but outwits him.

31Jael and Sisera (Jgs 4:21, 5:27). This outcome is also foreshadowed by references to the story of Jael and Sisera. We noted above that the pieces of cheese, haritzei halav, allude to Judges 4:19, where Jael made Sisera sleepy with halav, milk, before she killed him. Like Sisera, Holofernes ”lay sound asleep” before being killed. The Babylonian Talmud (Horayot 10b) says that Sisera had sex with Jael seven times before he fell asleep, based on the text of Judges 5:27 with the repeated ”at her feet he sank down, he fell, he lay; at her feet he sank down and fell; where he sank down, there he fell, done to death.” It is unclear to me how far the author of Megillat Yehudit was acquainted with the Talmud, but note he uses only the verb ”fell” out of all the biblical selection: Holofernes, unlike Sisera, did not succeed in having sex with the woman who killed him.

32The Judgment of Solomon (1 Kgs 3:18, 3:28). ”No one was in the house with them,” says Megillat Yehudit. We saw above the original reference to the story of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife. But there is also a later intratextual allusion within the Bible itself: the words from Genesis are picked up in Kings, alluding to the two prostitutes in the story of the Judgment of Solomon, who also reported ”there was no one else with us in the house.” In this story too there is sex, death and a sword – and true judgment at the end: Solomon is said to possess ”the wisdom of God … to do judgment.” Judith, too, the allusion implies, is endowed with divine wisdom in the execution of justice.

33Tamar and Judah (Gn 38:14, 38:26). Judith and her maid return to Jerusalem ”al petah haenayim. This phrase, (translated by Dubarle: ”jusqu’à l’entrée des sources”) is an allusion to the biblical story of the other Tamar, daughter-in-law of Judah, son of Jacob, whom he refused to allow to remarry (Gn 38). So Tamar dressed as a prostitute and sat be-phetah haenayim (variously translated as the ”entrance to Enaim”; ”at the crossroads” or ”in an open place”) to seduce him. When she became pregnant, Judah threatened to burn her, but once he understood her motives, he said: ”She is more in the right than I am.” Judith too appeared to be behaving like a prostitute (and was thus accused by the gatekeeper), but in fact acted only from the right motives.

34Thus the author of Megillat Yehudit has successfully woven into the text allusions to almost all biblical women associated with seduction, rape or ambiguously virtuous sexuality: Esther, Sarah, Ruth, both Tamars, Dinah, Bathsheba, Jael, Abigail, Delilah, Rahab, two anonymous prostitutes, Lot’s daughters and Potiphar’s wife. Judith here is not like the Judith of the apocryphal book, of whom it is written ”no one thought ill of her.” The gatekeeper did think ill of her, and has to be persuaded of her right motives. Almost all the references to her ambivalent sexuality are contained in biblical references – the author is playing games with his audience.

35In the apocryphal book, after killing Holofernes, Judith reverts to her earlier status as secluded widow. Not so in Megillat Yehudit. Here she rises to become redeemer, queen, and judge of Israel.

36The allusion to the biblical story of the Judgment of Solomon (1 Kgs 3:18) was noted above. Judith, too, this implies, is endowed with divine wisdom in the execution of justice. Having killed Holofernes, she is transformed by her action: the text tells us that the people ”shrank from coming near [Judith and her maids].” This is a reference to Moses coming down from Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments, having spoken with God: all the Israelites ”shrank from coming near him” (Ex 34:30). Judith is now endowed with knowledge of God’s law. And we leave her putting her wisdom into execution: Judith, we are told, ”judged Israel,” like Deborah the prophetess (Jgs 4:5).

  • 21 Judith returns to Jerusalem with her maids beating timbrels, just as Miriam had led the women with (...)

37We have seen Judith associated with King Davids family on a number of occasions. The royal House of David has the highest importance in Jewish tradition, for from this house will come the future Messiah. The links with David are repeatedly stressed: when Judith asks God for help, she asks him to remember the loyalty of David (2 Chr 6:42). Later she says falsely that Holofernes will sit on the throne of David. Instead he becomes her victim, and is beheaded like Goliath. Thus, like David, Judith redeems her people from the enemy, with Gods help. There are also allusions to women saviors: Esther, Deborah, Miriam,21 Rahab. Ruth is referred to more than once, ancestor of the House of David and the future Messiah.

38Apart from these redeeming women, the redemption of Zion and Jerusalem also figure in Megillat Yehudit. Bethulia of the apocryphal Judith becomes Jerusalem, besieged, threatened, but finally redeemed. Holofernes’s counsellor quotes Micah 4:8: ”Hill of Zion’s daughter, the promises to you shall be fulfilled; your former sovereignty shall come again to the daughter of Jerusalem.”

39Our author takes this prophecy literally. Judith herself is the ”daughter of Jerusalem,” who eventually rules over the land. Megillat Yehudit ends with a prayer from Isaiah: ”See the Lord has proclaimed to [the daughter of Zion] your deliverer is coming, see his reward is with him; and they shall be called the Holy People, the redeemed of the Lord” (Is 62:11–12).

40Note too that Hanukkah is the feast which celebrates the redemption and rededication of the Jerusalem Temple.

  • 22 Gruen, Novella, p. 420.
  • 23 [H]Rabanus Maurus, Expositio in librum Iudith (Patrologia Latina, 109, 539–592).

41Modern scholars have noted the subversive tendencies of the apocryphal Judith.22 In the ninth century, Rabanus Maurus, bishop of Mainz, wrote a commentary, where he allegorizes away many of the ambiguities in the apocryphal story.23 Thus his Judith is Israel, i.e., the Church, and when she abandons her mourning clothes and dresses in her best, he denies the seductive aspects by allegorizing her as clothing herself with Faith, Hope, and Charity. Judiths rejection of Holoferness food becomes an allegory of the Churchs rejection of heathen cult.

42Our medieval Megillat Yehudit can be read as a Jewish inversion of this Christian Judith, in contrast to this allegorizing Christian tendency. There is no allegory in Megillat Yehudit, but a ”realistic” account of Jewish victory. Food and victory are real. The seduction and dangers are real – but with God’s help, the rape does not take place. Celebration of Hanukkah was real and earthly, as opposed to the Christian symbolic. This Jewish medieval version of Judith’s story is used to stress boundaries between Jews and Christians, also in the matter of food.

43By beginning Megillat Yehudit with Ezekiel’s instruction to eat the written scroll, ”like honey in the mouth,” the author sets up a Jewish-Christian polemic centered on food, especially the honey of the Torah: in Christian terms, the ”Old Law,” but in Jewish terms the true word of God. Megillat Yehudit also ends with food, dough baked with honey. This is reminiscent of manna, heavenly honey-bread, given to the Jews in the wilderness, and used by God as the means by which he tests their faithfulness. Manna is remembered when eating honey cake in the medieval rite of passage conducted when a Jewish child was first taken to learn Torah. From New Testament times, manna was a subject of Christian polemic against Jews. John’s Gospel quotes Jesus speaking to the Jews: ”I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness and they died … I am the living bread” (Jn 6:48–9). Jesus as bread was a polemical response to manna. And Jesus as bread was eaten by Christians as the Eucharist. John’s Gospel begins with the statement that Jesus is the Word made flesh (Jn 1:1f). In beginning and ending his account with the honey of the words of God in the eaten scroll, the author of Megillat Yehudit was setting up a polemic with Christian interpretations.

  • 24 Cf. Bailey, Chap. 15.

44As noted, Rabanus Maurus and other medieval Christian writers and artists24 were concerned to desex Judith, who becomes a neutral figure of humility or chastity, even a prototype of the Virgin Mary. In the apocryphal book, she had been a chaste widow, living in seclusion, and returning to it at the end of the book, never remarrying. This scenario was very acceptable to the many Christians who opposed a widows remarrying. Thus Jerome writes in his Preface to his translation of Judith in the Vulgate: Accipite Iudith viduam, castitatis exemplum: take Judith the widow, an example of chastity. Maurus makes Judiths husband Manasseh, who died, an allegorization of Jesus: his Judith becomes Ecclesia, the bride of Christ.

  • 25 Holofernes, when he first sees her, asks, Whose is this young girl?, an allusion to Boazs words (...)
  • 26 Note that the action of Megillat Yehudit takes place not in Bethulia (or Virgin-ville, in the hap (...)

45In contrast, Megillat Yehudits Jewish Judith is a woman with definite sexuality. She is not a widow but a wife.25 I read this as deliberate anti-Christian polemic.26 Our author is not writing like Jerome and his successors – including the Speculum Virginum and Aelfric – for an audience of nuns, or for a Christian empress, like Rabanus Maurus. His Jewish audience were allowed, indeed encouraged, to enjoy food and sex in the right contexts.

  • 27 Cf. Bailey, Chap. 15.
  • 28 Marina Warner, Alone of All Her Sex: The Myth and the Cult of the Virgin Mary (New York: Random Hou (...)

46Judiths chastity is taken a stage further in Christian writing: Bailey shows Judith representing Israel, i.e., the Church, in the twelfth-century Speculum Virginum, and becoming a prototype of the Virgin Mary.27 In the Speculum humanae salvationis, Mary is illustrated fighting the devil, while Judith and Jael are presented as Humility conquering Pride.28 These presentations support a reading of Megillat Yehudit as including a Jewish polemic against Mary.

  • 29 See Jaroslav Pelikan, Mary through the Centuries: Her Place in the History of Culture (New Haven, C (...)

47The cult of the Virgin Mary was strongly developed in medieval Europe.29 Christians believed that Eve brought about the Fall, whereas Mary brought redemption. Mary was seen as an expansion of Eve, for she was able to go to battle and defeat the devil. Jews, on the other hand, did not see Eves sin as sexual. Thus Eve is conspicuous by her absence from the long list of sexually ambiguous women alluded to in Megillat Yehudit, whereas Judith, the virtuous wife, not virgin or widow, becomes queen and judges Israel. She is an active ruler in her own right, endowed with divine wisdom, set against the Christian Mary, who may have been queen of heaven, but is never, to my knowledge, presented as judge.

48The royal House of David was very early a subject of Jewish-Christian polemic: Jesus’s genealogy at the beginning of Matthew’s Gospel includes his descent from the House of David, and he is born in Bethlehem, David’s birthplace. Thus the identification of Judith, the victorious Jewish savior, with David, can be seen as part of the Jewish polemic of Megillat Yehudit, which presents the true Davidic redeemer against Christian claims.

  • 30 I wrote this paper before reading Leslie Abend Callaghan, Ambiguity and Appropriation: the Story o (...)

49Megillat Yehudit is no masterpiece. Whether through the fault of author or copyist, it is poorly written with ungrammatical Hebrew and confused phraseology made up of strings of biblical quotations. But it is precisely this sort of work which can perhaps help to shed light on the thoughts and feelings of medieval Jews, a beleaguered minority in triumphantly Christian Europe, striving to preserve their own customs and way of life, and doing it here by reclaiming Judith, the Jewess, as their own.30

Appendix to Chapter 6. Megillat Yehudit (the Scroll of Judith) To be said on Hanukkah

Manuscript and editions

  • 31 André Marie Dubarle, Judith: Formes et sens des diverses traditions, i: Études (Rome: Institut Bibl (...)

50The single manuscript of Megillat Yehudit is at present in the Bodleian Library in Oxford: A. Neubauer Catalogue no. 2746 = Heb. e. 10, fol. 66v–72v. Neubauers catalogue notes that this document is bound together with Megillat Antiochus and other documents, one of which includes four sentences in Provençal. Below the title, Megillat Yehudit, is the instruction, written in smaller letters: to be said on Hanukkah. The manuscript is dated by its colophon to [5]162, i.e. 1402 c.e., and written in Hebrew in a fine regular hand, which Neubauer describes as Provençal rabbinic. Dubarle, who has edited many of the different versions of the story of Judith, calls it Megillath Judith de style anthologique (his no. 8).31 As he points out, 1402, when the manuscript was copied by Moses Shmeil Dascola, is not necessarily the date of redaction.

51The Hebrew text has been published twice in full by A.M. Habermann as ”Megillat yehudit le-omrah be-hanukkah,” Mahanayim 52 (1961), pp. 42–47 and in his Hadashim gam yeshanim: hiburim shonim mitokh kitvei yad betziruf mevoot ve-hearot (Jerusalem, 1975), pp. 40–46. The second part of the manuscript only, with the story of Judith, was published by A.M. Dubarle: Judith: formes et sens des diverses traditions II: textes (Rome, 1966), pp. 140–53, with a French translation. There is a microfiche of the whole manuscript in the National Library in Jerusalem.

Translator’s note

52It is interesting that the act of translating attracts metaphors of the female body. My male Greek teacher used to say of translations that they are like women: if they are beautiful they are unlikely to be faithful, and if they are faithful they are unlikely to be beautiful. I fear this translation is neither: it is certainly not scientific. My excuse is that this is a preliminary translation, aimed at giving readers who are not familiar with the original Hebrew some idea of Megillat Yehudit. As the writer Shai Agnon said, reading a Hebrew work in translation is like kissing a bride through her veil. Hebrew words carry with them a biblical load, all the more so when the work is written, as here, almost entirely as a string of biblical quotations and allusions. I have noted over three hundred scriptural citations, shown in italics, and I am sure there are more. It would be interesting to analyze them all and their intertextual effect. I have made a start on the group of references to women and food in my paper above.

53I have used all three published texts of Megillat Yehudit as well as the microfiche for this translation. For the biblical quotations I have made use of three translations of the Hebrew Bible: the Revised Standard Version; the New English Bible and the Jewish Publication Society’s Tanakh. None of them is wholly satisfactory in the new context of Megillat Yehudit. Note that changes of person and number of the verb, and other grammatical infelicities are typical of this document. Many of these are due to the use of quotations, which the author does not always adapt to the new context. I am grateful to Deborah Gera for her critical reading of this translation and her helpful suggestions.

* * * *

  • 32 Ez 4:1.
  • 33 Ez 2:9.
  • 34 Ez 3:3.
  • 35 Ez 3:3.
  • 36 Ez 3:3 (slightly changed).
  • 37 Jl 2:26.
  • 38 Ps 47:4 [3].
  • 39 Jer 30:16.
  • 40 Ps 18:49.
  • 41 Is 12:4.
  • 42 Ex 16:4 (and cf. Dt 13:4).
  • 43 Lam 5:5.

54You also, son of man, take32 a written scroll,33 feed your stomach and fill your belly with34 what I give you,35 and it will be as sweet as honey in your mouth.36 And bless the Lord your God who has dealt wondrously with you.37 He has laid the nations prostrate beneath us38 and those who spoiled us will be our spoil.39 He has rescued us from our foes and has raised us clear of our enemies.40 Is it not known in all the world,41 that God has put us to the test, to see whether we follow his law, or not?42 And we have not ceased our service, but we are weary and have been allowed to rest.43

  • 44 Ez 4:2 and cf. 2 Kgs 25:1; Jer 52:4.
  • 45 Dt 20:19.
  • 46 Jer 52:6–7.
  • 47 Est 5:1.
  • 48 1 Sm 14:48.
  • 49 Cf. Jer 49:1–2.
  • 50 2 Kgs 24:13 etc.
  • 51 2 Kgs 24:33.
  • 52 Neh 11:4.
  • 53 Jgs 8:28.

55It came to pass, at the beginning of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, that a certain duke burned with desire for Jerusalem and its people, and he went up to Jerusalem, and all his court with him. Then he besieged it, and built a siege-ramp,44 and he did not allow any man to go out or come in. Thus they were besieged for many days.45 And the famine grew more severe for them and the city was broken up.46 Then the duke entered Jerusalem and he prevailed over it and captured it, together with all the fortified cities in Judah. Thus they put their hand under his hand and surrendered. Then he placed his throne above47 the throne of the kings who had been in Jerusalem and he was triumphant and smote48 Israel and possessed their land.49 He took the treasures of the House of God and the treasures of the king,50 and imposed a punishment on the land:51 the people of Judah and Benjamin52 could no longer raise up their heads and they were subdued.53

  • 54 2 Chr 32:3.
  • 55 Dn 12:10.
  • 56 Is 14:26.
  • 57 Ez 11:16.
  • 58 Gn 34:16 (slightly changed).
  • 59 Jer 21:9 etc.
  • 60 Gn 34:15 (slightly changed).
  • 61 Gn 34:16 (slightly changed).
  • 62 Gn 34:18 (slightly changed).
  • 63 Gn 34:19.
  • 64 Gn 34:19 [RV: had delight in].

56Then he consulted his officers and his54 nobles and they behaved wickedly,55 saying: ”This is the counsel we counsel:56 the land has been made over to us as our property,57 now let us take their daughters for ourselves58 and they shall take home their lives and nothing more.59 On this condition they will consent60 and we shall become one people.”61 Their words pleased62 him, and he deferred not,63 for he desired the daughter of Jacob.64

  • 65 2 Kgs 23:1–2.
  • 66 Is 46:12.
  • 67 Is 46:13.
  • 68 Ez 28:2.
  • 69 Cf. Is 45:21 and 46:9.
  • 70 Is 46:10.
  • 71 Is 46:13.
  • 72 1 Sm 18:25.
  • 73 Jgs 5:30.
  • 74 Jgs 5:30.
  • 75 Is 47:8.
  • 76 Is 47:8.
  • 77 Ps 50:2.
  • 78 Gn 26:7; 2 Sm 11:2; Est 1:11 etc.
  • 79 The editor notes that the text is unclear here, but this is the meaning he proposes, i.e., that the (...)
  • 80 1 Kgs 9:12.
  • 81 Lv 21:14.
  • 82 Is 48:1.
  • 83 Is 48:10.
  • 84 Is 48:8.
  • 85 1 Kgs 20:22.
  • 86 2 Kgs 8:12; Am 4:9.
  • 87 Is 1:25.
  • 88 2 Kgs 8:12.
  • 89 Is 48:17.
  • 90 Is 8:10.

57So he sent and called all the people of Judah and Jerusalem,65 and they all came to the king. [And the king said to them]: ”Listen to me, you stubborn of heart, who are far from66 salvation.67 I am a god and I sit throned like a god.68 There is none like me, and there is none able to save you except for me.69 I reveal the end from the beginning, what is to be. I say that my purpose shall take effect, I will accomplish all that I please.70 I will give counsel in Zion and my glory to Israel.71 All the king desires as bride-price is72 spoil of dyed cloths, spoil of embroidered cloths,73 a damsel or two for each man.74 Listen to this,75 O daughter of Israel, who loves luxury, and sits76 in her house perfect in beauty,77 and fair to look upon:78 if you are destined to marry a man, his friends must bring you [first] to me and I will know you …..79 These two will not please me:80 a widow, or a divorced woman: these he shall not take, but a virgin of his people.81 Hear this, O House of Jacob,82 behold I have refined you but not with silver, I have tested you,83 and if your ear is not opened,84 know what I shall do to you:85 I shall slay your young men with the sword,86 and I will cause your officers and judges to be trodden down. I will turn my hand upon you,87 and I shall burn all your fortresses.88 Behold, I teach you for your own advantage, in the way you should go.89 Take counsel together and speak.90

  • 91 Gn 31:24.
  • 92 1 Kgs 20:43.
  • 93 Ex 5:19.
  • 94 Jo 8:20.
  • 95 Jb 32:4.
  • 96 2 Sm 20:5.

58He gave them three days’ time, but they did not speak to him either good or evil,91 and went away from him heavy and displeased.92 Then the children of Israel saw they were in trouble:93 they had no power to flee this way or that way,94 and they found no answer.95 Thus they took longer than the time he set them.96

  • 97 2 Chr 16:10.
  • 98 Ps 142:8.
  • 99 Is 48:3.
  • 100 Is 48:4.
  • 101 Jl 2:12.
  • 102 Dt 26:19.

59So he sent and called them, and he bound them and put them in the prison-house.97 When he brought them out of prison,98 he said to them: I declared the former things from the beginning and they went forth from my mouth,99 because I knew that you are obstinate and your brow brass.100 But for the sake of my name I will control my wrath, I will not destroy you. Turn back to me,101 and I will make you high in praise and in name and in honour.102

  • 103 Is 28:11.
  • 104 Jo 9:25; Jer 26:14.
  • 105 Is 46:2.
  • 106 Am 8:13.
  • 107 Is 42:24.
  • 108 Jgs 21:2 etc.

60They all answered at once with stammering lip and in a different tongue,103 saying: ”As you say, O lord king, we are in your hands, to do as you please.104 They stooped, they bowed down together, they could not deliver the burden.105 The beautiful virgins fainted106 and said tearfully: ”God has found out our sins and given us as spoil,107 and they wept sore.108

  • 109 2 Sm 24:4.
  • 110 Zec 14:2.
  • 111 Is 32:11.
  • 112 Ex 10:7.
  • 113 Gen 42:20 etc.
  • 114 Jer 7:34.
  • 115 Jer 7:34.

61But the kings command remained firm,109 and he took them out to his house, and he defiled them by lying with the women.110 Then the women who had been at ease111 said: ”How long will this one be a snare for us?112 Would it not be better for us to cease to marry so we should not have to lie with him?” And they did so.113 Then there ceased in the city114 the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride.115

  • 116 Gn 39:19 etc.
  • 117 Jer 2:27; 32:33.
  • 118 2 Sm 26:16.
  • 119 2 Kgs 21:14.

62This was so for many days: they did not come as in the earlier days, and he was very surprised and his wrath was kindled.116 So he sent and called to the men of the city: ”Was this not what I said at first, that you were stubborn and you turned and did not face me?117 By my head! You are destined for death, for you did not observe118 my commandments. It would be better for you if someone else were to rule you, rather than my men should rule you! You should know therefore, that [the women] will be their prey.119

  • 120 Gn 44:7.
  • 121 Ru 1:13.
  • 122 Ru 1:13.

63They replied: ”Far be it from your servants120 to cease to do your pleasure. We ceased to give our daughters in marriage121 for we no longer have money to give away our daughters, and because of that they are debarred from marrying.122

  • 123 Jgs 19:22 etc.
  • 124 Gn 42:12; 33.
  • 125 Est 4:11.

64Then the worthless man [son of Belial]123 answered: ”I will try you this time and see if you are honest.124 So go back to your tents and I will command you saying: ’A proclamation shall go forth in Judah and the land of Jerusalem: Every man and woman who do not marry, each of them brings blood on his house, there is one law for him – he shall be put to death.125

  • 126 Mal 2:13.
  • 127 Gn 42:28.
  • 128 Is 8:10.
  • 129 Ex 38:8. The meaning of the scriptural word tzovaot is uncertain: crowds is the interpretation o (...)
  • 130 1 Sm 5:9.
  • 131 2 Sm 20:3.

65Then there was a second time a veil of tears.126 Trembling, they turned to one another,127 and the counsel of the women came to nought.128 Thus when the women were married, they would take them to the house of the king and he lay with crowds of women.129 And it came to pass in those days there was in the city a great upheaval,130 and the daughters of Israel were shut up unto the day of their death, living in widowhood.131

  • 132 Hos 5:15.
  • 133 Dt 6:5.
  • 134 ‘their voice is found in the manuscript, but was missed out by Habermann in his edition.
  • 135 2 Kgs 13:5.
  • 136 1 Sm 16:18.
  • 137 2 Sm 13:1.
  • 138 Prv 3:4 etc.
  • 139 Ru 1:19.
  • 140 Est 8:3.
  • 141 2 Sm 13:13.
  • 142 Nm 21:27.
  • 143 Mal 2:11.
  • 144 2 Sm 13:13; cf. 2 Sm 13:22.

66And it came to pass out of their affliction132 they were humbled and returned to God, with all their heart and with all their soul.133 Then God heard their voice134 from his abode, and he gave them a saviour,135 Judah. This man was greater than all men of old, a mighty hero and man of war.136 He had a beautiful sister,137 of good understanding.138 Now her brother decided to give her to a man [in marriage], and he betrothed her, and all the city was amazed.139 When she heard, she wept and pleaded with him,140 not to be given to a man: ”lest you should take me and I should fall into the hands of this uncircumcised one, and I, how shall I suffer my shame? And you will be like one of the scoundrels of Israel.141 Of you the tale-tellers will say:142 Judah has broken faith, and a shameful deed has been done,143 they took his sister and violated her.144

  • 145 Jgs 16:16.
  • 146 Gn 39:19 etc.
  • 147 2 Sm 20:8.
  • 148 2 Sm 20:8.
  • 149 1 Sm 10:27.
  • 150 Cf. 2 Sm 20:9: Is it well with you, my brother?
  • 151 Cf. Gn 19:5.
  • 152 2 Kgs 9:18.
  • 153 Gn 34.31.
  • 154 1 Sm 17:51; 2 Sm 20:22

67When he heard the words of his sister, they weighed on him,145 and his wrath was kindled.146 He put on his sword-belt147 and went to the king’s house. He was sitting on his throne and his officers were on his right and on his left. When he saw him belted with his sword close to him,148 he derided him,149 saying: Is it well with you, Judah?150 Bring your sister so we can know her.151 But he replied: What concern of yours is it whether it is well? Turn behind me.152 Should my sister be treated like a whore?153 Then he drew his sword and he cut off his head154 with all the officers, and he put all the servants of the king to the sword.

  • 155 Jgs 3:27; 2 Sm 20:1, etc.
  • 156 Jgs 3:28.
  • 157 1 Sm 17:52.
  • 158 Jgs 7:21.
  • 159 Jgs 8:11.
  • 160 Nm 26:65.
  • 161 2 Chr 20:27.
  • 162 2 Kgs 13:5.

68Then he went out from there, and blew the shofar [rams horn],155 and the children of Israel assembled as one man. And he said: ”Follow me, for God has given all our enemies into our hands.156 So they went out, and they smote man against man, and they shouted.157 Then they [the enemy] fled158 and the camp was secure,159 and not a man of them remained.160 And there was joy in Israel, for the Lord had made them to rejoice over their enemies,161 and they dwelt in their tents as before times.162

  • 163 Nm 21:1.
  • 164 Gn 39:19, etc.
  • 165 Gn 27:34.
  • 166 1 Kgs 3:8.
  • 167 1 Kgs 4:20.

69When the great king Aliphorni [Holophernes] heard that his brother was dead because the children of Israel had smitten him, and taken some of them prisoners,163 his wrath was kindled164 and he burst into wild and bitter sobbing.165 He assembled his camp, a multitude of people,166 as numerous as the sands of the sea.167

  • 168 1 Chr 19:6.
  • 169 Jon 3:5.

70Then the children of Israel realized they had incurred the wrath of168 the king Aliforni, and they feared greatly for their lives. So they built fortresses in all Judah and Jerusalem, and they prepared missiles and many shields and they strengthened the lookouts of their walls and they made towers to put large stones in them. They put a garrison and men of war in each and every town and in Jerusalem, proclaimed a fast169 and prayed to God.

  • 170 1 Kgs 9:22.
  • 171 Jo 6:5.
  • 172 2 Chr 32:18.

71Then Aliforni went up to Jerusalem, he and all his army with him and Israel saw that his camp was very numerous and they feared greatly. Every day he went around the wall with his officers and his horsemen, his generals and his chariot.170 They sounded great trumpet blasts171 to frighten them into panic.172 Thus they did for many days.

  • 173 2 Kgs 6:26.
  • 174 1 Kgs 10:21.
  • 175 Ps 99:4.

72Then a man of Israel who was on the wall spoke out, and cried: ”Help, my lord, O king!173 Make a treaty with us and we will make you our king. Silver and gold will not be accounted,174 but you should be our support and come to the city and reign over us. And we together will bow down to your footstool.175

  • 176 2 Chr 32:18. The Hebrew for ‘in the language of Judah is yehudit. Cf. also 2 Kgs 18:28.
  • 177 Page 62 of the MS ends here. Habermann thought there was clearly a lacuna in the text, which begins (...)
  • 178 Gn 4:10.
  • 179 Sg 8:7.
  • 180 2 Chr 32:17.
  • 181 Mi 5:10.
  • 182 Jer 21:5.
  • 183 Nm 14:18.
  • 184 Mi 6:16.
  • 185 Jer 11:25.
  • 186 Dt 32:43.

73Then [Aliforni] called loudly to them in the language of Judah:176 ”O house of Israel, have you not killed my people? 177 I seek the blood of my brother178 from you. If a man were to give all the substance of his house179 it would not save him from me.180 I shall destroy the cities of your land and demolish all your fortresses181 and I shall do it with anger and rage182 and by no means clearing the guilty.183 I shall make you a desolation and the inhabitants an object of hissing and you shall bear the reproach of my people.184 I will not return to the house of my kingdom until I have executed my vile designs.185 I shall carry out what I have sworn. I will not stay my sword from blood and I will wreak vengeance on my foe.”186

  • 187 1 Kgs 20:11.
  • 188 Mi 7:7.

74The man replied saying: Let not him who girds on his sword boast like him who puts it off it.187 For I will look to the Lord, I will wait for the God of my salvation.188

  • 189 Jer 32:19.
  • 190 Is 3:3.
  • 191 Jer 37:20.
  • 192 2 Kgs 5:3.
  • 193 1 Sm 9:9.
  • 194 Is 20:6.
  • 195 Is 40:28.
  • 196 Cf. Dt 31:4.
  • 197 Jo 12:1.
  • 198 Dt 1:7.
  • 199 Prv 22:23. A version of the expression yariv rivam [(God) will take up their cause ] is also found (...)
  • 200 Jl 4:7 (3:8).
  • 201 Dt 10:17.
  • 202 Ps 24:1.
  • 203 Eccl 6:10.
  • 204 Mi 4:8.
  • 205 2 Kgs 10:6.
  • 206 Cf. Is 13:14; Jer 15:16.

75On that day Aliforni returned to his tent which he had pitched to sit in. For many days he sat in his tent with his officers and the nobles of the country. Then there came before him, wondrous in purpose and mighty in deed,189 an honourable man and a counsellor, a cunning artificer and an eloquent orator.190 He spoke to the king: Let my supplication be accepted before you:191 I would, my lord,192 that we should arise and go193 to our home and our land, so we shall not perish sitting in tents and fighting with the inhabitants of this coastland.194 Do you not know? Have you not heard195 what he did to Sihon and Og and the inhabitants of their countries,196 all the thirty-one kings? They defeated them and took possession of their territories:197 the Negeb, the Shephelah, the Arabah and all the seacoast.198 Every people who will make them tremble will fall by the sword. For behold! God will take up their cause and rob him who robs them of their livelihood.199 My father, see, O see, the shame of your brother, his shameful acts. God has made them recoil on his own head.200 For the Lord their God is the God of gods and Lord of lords,201 and the earth is the Lords and all that is in it.202 Who can contend with what is mightier than he?203 God will fight for them. The prophets prophesied to them, saying: Hill of Zions daughter, the promises to you shall be fulfilled; your former sovereignty shall come again to the daughter of Jerusalem.204 If you be mine and will hearken to my voice205 each man will go back to his own land.206

  • 207 Gn 39:19 etc.
  • 208 2 Sm 16:7.
  • 209 Cf. Jer 40:16; 43:2.
  • 210 Jer 37:13.
  • 211 Jer 38:4.
  • 212 Is 36:20.
  • 213 1 Sm 20:31; 2 Sm 12:5.
  • 214 Ex 21:31.
  • 215 1 Kgs 20:40.
  • 216 Jer 22:19.
  • 217 2 Sm 3:34.
  • 218 Dt 28:48.
  • 219 Jer 36:30.
  • 220 Is 65:13–14.
  • 221 1 Sm 26:8.
  • 222 1 Sm 4:3.
  • 223 Cf. Is 36:20.

76When Aliforni heard the words of this man he was very wrathful,207 and he said: ”You man of blood208 you are telling me a lie.209 You have gone over to210 the Jews.” The officers were angry with him also, saying: ”You have come to discourage the soldiers.211 Among all the gods of the nations is there one who saved his land from me? And how will he save Jerusalem?212 So they seized him, and swore: ”By the life of our lord the king, he deserves to die!213 The king added: ”Because he spoke well of the Jews, according to this judgement I shall do to him,214 I have decided it.215 Go and hang him up beyond the gates of Jerusalem216 his hands bound and his feet thrust in fetters.217 You shall not put him to death, but leave him to hunger and thirst,218 to heat by day and to frost by night.219 And on that day the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem will see my revenge: my servants shall eat and he will starve, my servants shall drink and he will cry out from sorrow,220 and I will strike him once: I shall not have to strike twice.221 Let him come and deliver him!222 Who will save him from my hands?223

  • 224 Jgs 15:13.

77Then he commanded his servants saying: Bind him with new ropes,224 and they strung him up and left him.

  • 225 Gn 46:30.
  • 226 1 Chr 21:16.
  • 227 1 Sm 30:12.

78He lifted up his eyes to heaven and said: Now I am ready to die after I have seen225 the revenge of Aliforni and his people. He stood between heaven and earth226 for three days and three nights and had no bread to eat, nor water to drink.227

  • 228 2 Kgs 4:1.
  • 229 Ex 20:6; Jer 32:18.
  • 230 This is a combination of 2 Chr 6:42 and Is 55:3.
  • 231 Jgs 14:6.

79On the third day a woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets, whose name was Judith, cried out228 to God, and prayed, and fasted, and beseeched him: Please, Lord, who performs kindness to thousands!229 Remember Davids loyal service in faithfulness!230 After she had prayed, the spirit of God suddenly seized her231 and she took it to her heart.

  • 232 1 Sm 4:3.
  • 233 Gn 27:20.
  • 234 Jer 37:13.
  • 235 Ez 23:5; Jgs 19:2.
  • 236 Ps 35:13.
  • 237 Ps 142:2.
  • 238 Jgs 16:26.
  • 239 Ps 119:126. It is common in rabbinical literature for a quotation of one half of a scriptural verse (...)
  • 240 1 Sm 25:32.
  • 241 Gn 19:6.

80Then she said to the gatekeeper of the city: ”Open the gates of the city. Perhaps God will be with me and will deliver us from the hand of our enemies.”232 But the gatekeeper said: ”Why are you going so quickly?233 Have you gone over234 to the camp of Aliforni? Will you play the whore with him? Will you betray [us] with your lover?235 Judith replied saying: ”I have mortified myself with fasting236 and poured out my complaint before the Lord.237 Let me go,238 for it is time to act for the Lord.”239 The gatekeeper saw her good sense240 and said: ”Go, and the God of your fathers be with you.” And he opened the gate secretly and she went out, herself and her two maids and he closed the door behind them.241

  • 242 1 Sm 25:42.
  • 243 Est 5:1.
  • 244 Est 2:17.
  • 245 2 Kgs 9:30.
  • 246 Est 2:15.
  • 247 Gn 12:15.
  • 248 2 Chr 24:24.

81When the lady went out, herself and her two maids in attendance,242 she put on royal apparel243 and set a royal diadem on her head244 and dressed her hair.245 Her glory increased and her beauty grew, and Judith won the admiration of all who saw her.246 She left and came to the camp of Aliforni, where they saw her and praised her to247 the king. Then she asked, saying: ”Where is the king’s house?” So they went with her, a very large army.248

  • 249 Est 2:17.
  • 250 Ru 2:5.

82And it came to pass, when she came to the king, she bowed down before him to the ground. When he saw her, she found favour in his eyes249 and he was amazed and asked: ”Whose girl is this?250

  • 251 1 Sm 1:18.
  • 252 Ru 3:9.

83She answered, saying: ”I am one of the daughters of Israel. I am come to you today to go over to you and implore you, if your handmaid has found favour in your eyes,251 spread your robe over your handmaid.”252

  • 253 Est 5:6; 7:2.

84The king said: ”Ask me, sister, what is your wish and what is your request? Even to half my kingdom it shall be fulfilled.”253

  • 254 2 Kgs 4:1.
  • 255 1 Kgs 14:7; Jgs 9:7 and cf. Gn 19:30.
  • 256 Zec 14:4.
  • 257 Jgs 9:7.
  • 258 Is 36:5.
  • 259 Jer 38:2. cf. n. 29.
  • 260 1 Kgs 2:12.
  • 261 Dn 11:3.
  • 262 2 Kgs 8:12, in the reverse order.
  • 263 Jon 4:5.
  • 264 Gn 19:20.
  • 265 Jer 37:20.
  • 266 Jo 2:13.
  • 267 Ru 2:13.

85[She replied] ”My lord the king, your handmaid has an old father, he is a man of God of the sons of the prophets.254 He arose from within the people and stood on the top of the Mount255 of Olives256 and said: ’Hear now257 my words, which my God sends to you: ”Now on whom do you trust, that you rebel against258 the great king Aliforni, my servant? If you surrender to him you shall escape with your life and live.259 And if you do not listen to my words, at this time tomorrow, my servant Aliforni will come and sit on the throne of David260 and rule with great dominion.261 You will not be saved from his hand and he will rip up your women with child and dash your children,’262 says the Lord.” When they heard him they were afraid because of what he said, and they pursued him. So he went and sat on one of the hills to see what would become of the city,263 and he commanded me: ’Go, flee for your life, and go to the great king. Take him all this message and speak for me well before the king, so I too will escape264 because of you.” Now I have come. Hear my supplication!265 When you come to the city, save alive my father and my mother and my brethren,266 and I will be as one of your handmaids.”267

  • 268 1 Kgs 5:21 [5:7].
  • 269 Jo 2:13.
  • 270 Gn 41:40.
  • 271 1 Kgs 12:37.
  • 272 1 Sm 28:2.
  • 273 2 Sm 13:11.
  • 274 Sg 7:6 [7].

86When Aliforni heard the words of the girl, he rejoiced greatly,268 and said: ”Do not fear for I will do what you desire and I will deliver your lives from death.269 You will be in charge of my household270 and reign over all your soul desires271 and your father – I shall make him my body guard for ever.272 Come now, lie with me my sister,273 for it is a great love I have for you, a love with all its rapture.”274

  • 275 Ez 28:17.
  • 276 The meaning is somewhat unclear here. The reference to blood seems to be an indirect hint of menstr (...)
  • 277 Lv 15:28. The word from my issue, mizovi, is omitted by Habermann, but present in Dubarle and the (...)
  • 278 Ps 26:6.
  • 279 Cf. Eccl 11:6.

87Judith answered, saying: ”By your leave, by your great splendour,275 lest you pour out [your] fury in blood,276 but tonight I shall cleanse myself from my issue277 and I shall wash my hands in innocence.278 Until evening withhold your hand.”279

  • 280 Gn 25:56.
  • 281 Is 1:16.

88Then he said: ”As you say, my sister. But do not hinder me280 tonight, wash and make yourself clean.”281

  • 282 Prv 30:7.
  • 283 1 Kgs 2:20.
  • 284 Ex 23:15.
  • 285 Nm 16:26.
  • 286 Gn 21:16.
  • 287 The text is unclear here. I have followed the slight reordering proposed by Dubarle.
  • 288 Here presumably Judith means herself and her maid, not herself and Holophernes.

89Two things I ask of you,282 my lord, I pray you, do not refuse me,283 or let me go away empty-handed.284 Remove your mens tents,285 so that they distance themselves from us a bowshots length away,286 lest the soldiers should see us embracing,287 and say what they have seen and we should be demeaned in their eyes. Even if the soldiers see us288 in the springs and streams, let them not touch us or talk.”

  • 289 Gn 34:19.
  • 290 bat yehudit.
  • 291 2 Sm 19.5 and many other places.
  • 292 Jo 9:24 and cf. Jo 9:22.

90And he said: Good, for he desired the daughter of289 the Jews.290 So he made a proclamation aloud291 in all the camp and they kept a long distance from them, for they feared for their lives.292

  • 293 Ps 35:13.
  • 294 2 Sm 13:8.
  • 295 2 Sm 13:6.
  • 296 1 Sm 17:18.
  • 297 Cf. 2 Sm 13:10.

91Then Judith said: ”I am thirsty and have been humbling my soul with fasting.”293 So she said to her maid: ”Cook294 me two pancakes so I can eat at your hands.”295 She made her the pancakes and salted them heavily and poured them into the pot with pieces of cheese.296 She took them and brought them to the room297 where Holophernes was.

  • 298 2 Kgs 6:23.
  • 299 Judith is here substituted for Esther in Est 2:18.
  • 300 Ru 3:7.
  • 301 1 Sm 17:18.
  • 302 Ru 3:7.
  • 303 Gn 9:21.
  • 304 Jon 1:5.

92And Holophernes made a great banquet,298 the feast of Judith,299 and he ate300 the pancakes and the pieces of cheese.301 He drank too, and his heart was merry.302 He got drunk and he uncovered himself in his tent,303 and he lay down and slept.304

  • 305 1 Kgs 16:9.
  • 306 Jgs 3:25.
  • 307 Gn 39:11; 1 Kgs 3:18.
  • 308 2 Kgs 13:21.
  • 309 1 Kgs 8:22.
  • 310 Neh 1:11.
  • 311 Jgs 7:2.
  • 312 Jgs 3:21.
  • 313 Jgs 4:21.
  • 314 Dn 12:7.
  • 315 Jon 7:8.
  • 316 1 Sm 17:49.
  • 317 1 Sm 17:51.
  • 318 1 Sm 21:10.
  • 319 metofefot. Cf. Ex 15:20.
  • 320 petah ha-einayim. Gn 38:14 (RV: in an open place).
  • 321 Ex 34:30.

93When Judith saw that he had been drinking himself drunk305 and that he had fallen to the ground306 and there was no-one with him in the house,307 she rose to her feet.308 She spread forth her hands toward heaven and said:309 O Lord, I beseech, you prosper your handmaid this day.310 Let my own hand save me!311 Then she took the sword312 and went softly to him, for he was fast asleep.313 Then she held up her right hand and her left hand314 and she smote his head315, she smote him and killed him316 and she cut off his head317 and she put it wrapped up318 in her clothes. Then she went with her maids beating timbrels319 and rejoicing to the crossroads.320 The people of the camp saw her and they were afraid to come nigh to her.321 And they came to the gates of Jerusalem.

  • 322 Hos 3:1.

94They cried to the gatekeeper: Open for the woman beloved of her friend322 and he opened for her and she showed him the head. So he gathered together all the people of the city, and they did not believe it. They said: ”Perhaps she found a head thrown onto the road and brought it to us.”

  • 323 2 Kgs 10:6 (this verse is part of the story of cutting off the heads of the seventy sons of the wic (...)
  • 324 Is 8:2.
  • 325 Jer 22:19.
  • 326 1 Sam 16:18; Ru 2:1 etc.
  • 327 2 Chr 25:16.
  • 328 1 Sm 10:23.
  • 329 1 Sm 30:11–12.
  • 330 Ps 113:2.
  • 331 2 Kgs 10:10.
  • 332 1 Kgs 21:15.

95Then she said: ”If you will not listen to me and my voice,323 I will take faithful witnesses.324 Here, drawn and cast forth beyond the gates of Jerusalem,325 is a mighty valiant man,326 a counsellor of the king327 who ordered him to be hung up by his hands because he spoke well of the Jews to the king. So they ran and fetched him328 and gave him food and drink, and his spirit came to him again.329 Then they showed him the head, and he said: Blessed be the name of the Lord,330 for he has taken my vengeance on Aliforni. Know now331 that Aliforni is not alive but dead.’”332

  • 333 Gn 24:26 etc.
  • 334 Jgs 5:31.
  • 335 2 Sm 20:8.
  • 336 Jo 11:7.
  • 337 Jgs 3:25.
  • 338 1 Kgs 18:28–29.
  • 339 Jgs 3:25.

96When they heard the words of the herald they bowed down to God.333 Then all the men of war gathered together and went forth as the sun334 girded with swords,335 and they fell upon them suddenly336 and fought them. Then the mighty men of Aliforni saw how it was and went to the tent of Aliforni, but they found the opening closed. Then they waited until they were ashamed to delay any longer,337 and they cried aloud and there was no answer.338 So they opened up and saw their lord fallen down dead on the earth.339

  • 340 1 Sm 7:10.
  • 341 Jgs 9:40.
  • 342 Ex 14:28.
  • 343 Jgs 5:31.
  • 344 1 Kgs 8:66.

97Then God discomfited them with a great noise340 and they fell back and many were overthrown:341 there remained not so much as one of them.342 So let all our enemies perish, O Lord!343 They returned that day joyful and glad of heart for all the goodness that the Lord did 344 for us.

  • 345 2 Kgs 11:3.
  • 346 Jgs 4:4.
  • 347 2 Kgs 6:23.
  • 348 2 Chr 35:13.
  • 349 1 Sm 17:18.
  • 350 Est 9:22.
  • 351 Lv 6:14 [6:21].
  • 352 Hos 7:4.
  • 353 Gn 40:17.
  • 354 Prv 26:27. The reference here is presumably to Aliforni taking up his brothers quarrel with the Je (...)
  • 355 Est 1:8.
  • 356 Est 1:8.
  • 357 Est 9:27.
  • 358 Est 9:29.
  • 359 Est 9:22.

98Then Judith became queen over the land345 and judged Israel.346 Because of this the children of Israel shall make a very great feast347 in their pots and cauldrons,348 with pieces of cheese,349 gladness and feasting, a good day, of sending portions to one another,350 baked pieces,351 food from the frying pan and dough kneaded until it is leavened352 so its glory will grow with honey, all manner of baked goods,353 a wafer, for a memorial to the man who meddled in a quarrel which was not his354 and the drinking was according to the law: none did compel, for thus the355 Queen Judith had appointed to all the officers of [his] house, that they should do according to every mans pleasure.356 The Jews ordained and took it upon themselves357 to confirm this letter358 to make a day of feasting and joy and a good day.359

  • 360 Ps 142:8 [7].
  • 361 Mic 7:7.
  • 362 Is 62:11.
  • 363 Is 62:12.

99And now O Lord, as you were with our fathers, so be you with us, and bring our souls out of prison.360 Therefore we will look to the Lord, and wait for the God who saves us.361 Behold the Lord will announce to Zion: Behold your Saviour is coming! Behold his reward is with him!362 And they shall be called: The holy people, The redeemed of the Lord.363 Amen, Amen, Selah.

  • 364 Habermann has Shtzeil here in the text in Hadashim gam Yeshanim, but writes Shmeil in his comment i (...)
  • 365 162 = 5162 a.m., i.e. 1402 c.e.

100The writing of this book was finished by Moses Shmeil364 Dascola on the 30th day of the month of Sivan, [5]162.365

101Blessed be the Lord who teaches my hand to bring near from on high all blessing and praise. Amen, Amen, Selah.

Notes

1 I am grateful to Tova Cohen, Yuval Shahar, Elisheva Baumgarten, and Harvey Hames for discussions of Megillat Yehudit. Bibliographic details can be found in the appendix to this chapter on p. 110 below.

2 Rashbam (eleventh century), in commentary on Babylonian Talmud Megillah 4a.

3 Citing the Ran (fourteenth century) and Sefer ha-Kol Bo (thirteenth to fourteenth centuries, possibly Provençal).

4 See Geras contribution in this volume (Chap. 2).

5 Two liturgical poems written around the eleventh century and read on Hanukkah contain some elements of the Judith story. See also Gera (Chap. 2) on the Hanukkah responsum of R.Ahai Gaon: if this is original, we can push the Jewish Judith back to the eighth century.

6 N. Fried, A New Hebrew version of Megillat Antiochus, Sinai 64 (1969), pp. 97–140 (Hebrew); S. Pershall, Reading Megillat Antiochus on Hanukkah, HaDoar, 53 (1974), p. 101 (Hebrew).

7 See papers by Gera (Chap. 5) and Von Bernuth and Terry (Chap. 7).

8 askoputinen oinou kai kampsaken elaiou kai peran … alphiton kai palathes kai arton katharon. For the MS variants, see Robert Hanhart (ed.), Septuaginta, vol. 8.4: Iudith (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1979), p. 110. The Syriac has gavta, cheese.

9 Cf. Est 9:19.

10 E.g., Ps 19:11.

11 Jewish boys received formal Hebrew education; education of girls lagged far behind: Ephraim Karnafogel, Jewish Education and Society in the High Middle Ages (Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press, 1992), pp. 10–11.

12 Ivan Marcus, Rituals of Childhood: Jewish Acculturation in the Middle Ages (New Haven, CT, and London: Yale University Press, 1996).

13 See the illustration from the Leipzig Mahzor reproduced by Marcus.

14 Rashi on Sg 4:9; Phyllis Trible, Texts of Terror: Literary-Feminist Readings of Biblical Narratives (Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press, 1984).

15 The targum on 1 Sm 17:18 translates haritzei halav as govnin de-halva, milk cheese.

16 H. Simons, Eating Cheese and Levivot on Hanukkah, Sinai, vol. 115 (1995), pp. 57–68. Simonss conclusions about levivot, however, are based on a mistranslation of the Greek, which refers to barley groats, not wheat flour.

17 Mira Friedman, The Metamorphoses of Judith, Jewish Art, 12/13 (1986-87), pp. 225-46 (230-31), discusses parallels of Judith and David in art.

18 Eric Gruen, Novella, in J. W. Rogerson and Judith M. Lieu (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Biblical Studies (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), p. 420.

19 Cf. Bailey, Chap. 15.

20 In the apocryphal Judith this allusion is made explicit: Judith prays to God as the God of my father Simeon, who helped avenge the rape of Dinah.

21 Judith returns to Jerusalem with her maids beating timbrels, just as Miriam had led the women with timbrels in the triumph at the Red Sea (Ex 15:20).

22 Gruen, Novella, p. 420.

23 [H]Rabanus Maurus, Expositio in librum Iudith (Patrologia Latina, 109, 539–592).

24 Cf. Bailey, Chap. 15.

25 Holofernes, when he first sees her, asks, Whose is this young girl?, an allusion to Boazs words in Ruth 2:5, pointing out her status as sexually available.

26 Note that the action of Megillat Yehudit takes place not in Bethulia (or Virgin-ville, in the happy phrase of Mark Mastrangelo) as in the apocryphal story, but in Jerusalem, at the center of Jewish consciousness.

27 Cf. Bailey, Chap. 15.

28 Marina Warner, Alone of All Her Sex: The Myth and the Cult of the Virgin Mary (New York: Random House, 1983), p. 55, describes the Speculum humanae salvationis showing Judiths triumph over Holofernes side by side with an all-conquering Virgin Mary who transfixes Satan with the vexillum thrust deep into his gullet.

29 See Jaroslav Pelikan, Mary through the Centuries: Her Place in the History of Culture (New Haven, CT, and London: Yale University Press, 1996).

30 I wrote this paper before reading Leslie Abend Callaghan, Ambiguity and Appropriation: the Story of Judith in Medieval Narrative and Iconographic Traditions, in Francesca Canadé Sautman, Diana Conchado, and Giuseppe di Scipio (eds.), Telling Tales: Medieval Narratives and the Folk Tradition (New York: St. Martins Press, 1998). Callaghan reads some of the medieval Judith midrashim as expressing a Jewish reappropriation of Judith, although she does not go so far as reading it as anti-Christian polemic.

31 André Marie Dubarle, Judith: Formes et sens des diverses traditions, i: Études (Rome: Institut Biblique Pontifical, 1966), pp. 92–94. Biblical books are referenced with the short titles following the Chicago style (cf. index under Bible).

32 Ez 4:1.

33 Ez 2:9.

34 Ez 3:3.

35 Ez 3:3.

36 Ez 3:3 (slightly changed).

37 Jl 2:26.

38 Ps 47:4 [3].

39 Jer 30:16.

40 Ps 18:49.

41 Is 12:4.

42 Ex 16:4 (and cf. Dt 13:4).

43 Lam 5:5.

44 Ez 4:2 and cf. 2 Kgs 25:1; Jer 52:4.

45 Dt 20:19.

46 Jer 52:6–7.

47 Est 5:1.

48 1 Sm 14:48.

49 Cf. Jer 49:1–2.

50 2 Kgs 24:13 etc.

51 2 Kgs 24:33.

52 Neh 11:4.

53 Jgs 8:28.

54 2 Chr 32:3.

55 Dn 12:10.

56 Is 14:26.

57 Ez 11:16.

58 Gn 34:16 (slightly changed).

59 Jer 21:9 etc.

60 Gn 34:15 (slightly changed).

61 Gn 34:16 (slightly changed).

62 Gn 34:18 (slightly changed).

63 Gn 34:19.

64 Gn 34:19 [RV: had delight in].

65 2 Kgs 23:1–2.

66 Is 46:12.

67 Is 46:13.

68 Ez 28:2.

69 Cf. Is 45:21 and 46:9.

70 Is 46:10.

71 Is 46:13.

72 1 Sm 18:25.

73 Jgs 5:30.

74 Jgs 5:30.

75 Is 47:8.

76 Is 47:8.

77 Ps 50:2.

78 Gn 26:7; 2 Sm 11:2; Est 1:11 etc.

79 The editor notes that the text is unclear here, but this is the meaning he proposes, i.e., that the king should spend the first night with a virgin bride.

80 1 Kgs 9:12.

81 Lv 21:14.

82 Is 48:1.

83 Is 48:10.

84 Is 48:8.

85 1 Kgs 20:22.

86 2 Kgs 8:12; Am 4:9.

87 Is 1:25.

88 2 Kgs 8:12.

89 Is 48:17.

90 Is 8:10.

91 Gn 31:24.

92 1 Kgs 20:43.

93 Ex 5:19.

94 Jo 8:20.

95 Jb 32:4.

96 2 Sm 20:5.

97 2 Chr 16:10.

98 Ps 142:8.

99 Is 48:3.

100 Is 48:4.

101 Jl 2:12.

102 Dt 26:19.

103 Is 28:11.

104 Jo 9:25; Jer 26:14.

105 Is 46:2.

106 Am 8:13.

107 Is 42:24.

108 Jgs 21:2 etc.

109 2 Sm 24:4.

110 Zec 14:2.

111 Is 32:11.

112 Ex 10:7.

113 Gen 42:20 etc.

114 Jer 7:34.

115 Jer 7:34.

116 Gn 39:19 etc.

117 Jer 2:27; 32:33.

118 2 Sm 26:16.

119 2 Kgs 21:14.

120 Gn 44:7.

121 Ru 1:13.

122 Ru 1:13.

123 Jgs 19:22 etc.

124 Gn 42:12; 33.

125 Est 4:11.

126 Mal 2:13.

127 Gn 42:28.

128 Is 8:10.

129 Ex 38:8. The meaning of the scriptural word tzovaot is uncertain: crowds is the interpretation of the Jewish medieval commentator Rashi.

130 1 Sm 5:9.

131 2 Sm 20:3.

132 Hos 5:15.

133 Dt 6:5.

134 ‘their voice is found in the manuscript, but was missed out by Habermann in his edition.

135 2 Kgs 13:5.

136 1 Sm 16:18.

137 2 Sm 13:1.

138 Prv 3:4 etc.

139 Ru 1:19.

140 Est 8:3.

141 2 Sm 13:13.

142 Nm 21:27.

143 Mal 2:11.

144 2 Sm 13:13; cf. 2 Sm 13:22.

145 Jgs 16:16.

146 Gn 39:19 etc.

147 2 Sm 20:8.

148 2 Sm 20:8.

149 1 Sm 10:27.

150 Cf. 2 Sm 20:9: Is it well with you, my brother?

151 Cf. Gn 19:5.

152 2 Kgs 9:18.

153 Gn 34.31.

154 1 Sm 17:51; 2 Sm 20:22

155 Jgs 3:27; 2 Sm 20:1, etc.

156 Jgs 3:28.

157 1 Sm 17:52.

158 Jgs 7:21.

159 Jgs 8:11.

160 Nm 26:65.

161 2 Chr 20:27.

162 2 Kgs 13:5.

163 Nm 21:1.

164 Gn 39:19, etc.

165 Gn 27:34.

166 1 Kgs 3:8.

167 1 Kgs 4:20.

168 1 Chr 19:6.

169 Jon 3:5.

170 1 Kgs 9:22.

171 Jo 6:5.

172 2 Chr 32:18.

173 2 Kgs 6:26.

174 1 Kgs 10:21.

175 Ps 99:4.

176 2 Chr 32:18. The Hebrew for ‘in the language of Judah is yehudit. Cf. also 2 Kgs 18:28.

177 Page 62 of the MS ends here. Habermann thought there was clearly a lacuna in the text, which begins again with Holopherness speech. However, he read he-atem ami Are you not my people?, perhaps thinking the previous verse referred to a speech by Judith because of the mention of yehudit. Dubarle reads ha-mitem ami Have you not killed my people?, which is a slightly adapted quotation from Numbers 17:6 [RV 16:41]. This has the advantage of making the whole speech belong to Holophernes, without any lacuna.

178 Gn 4:10.

179 Sg 8:7.

180 2 Chr 32:17.

181 Mi 5:10.

182 Jer 21:5.

183 Nm 14:18.

184 Mi 6:16.

185 Jer 11:25.

186 Dt 32:43.

187 1 Kgs 20:11.

188 Mi 7:7.

189 Jer 32:19.

190 Is 3:3.

191 Jer 37:20.

192 2 Kgs 5:3.

193 1 Sm 9:9.

194 Is 20:6.

195 Is 40:28.

196 Cf. Dt 31:4.

197 Jo 12:1.

198 Dt 1:7.

199 Prv 22:23. A version of the expression yariv rivam [(God) will take up their cause ] is also found in the past tense ravta et rivam in the Babylonian Talmud Megillah 21b as part of the blessing to be said before the reading of Megillat Esther on Purim. At some stage it was transferred to Hanukkah, where it has been said as part of the blessing Al haNissim at least since the Mahzor Vitri (ed. A. Goldschmidt, Jerusalem, 2004) in the eleventh century.

200 Jl 4:7 (3:8).

201 Dt 10:17.

202 Ps 24:1.

203 Eccl 6:10.

204 Mi 4:8.

205 2 Kgs 10:6.

206 Cf. Is 13:14; Jer 15:16.

207 Gn 39:19 etc.

208 2 Sm 16:7.

209 Cf. Jer 40:16; 43:2.

210 Jer 37:13.

211 Jer 38:4.

212 Is 36:20.

213 1 Sm 20:31; 2 Sm 12:5.

214 Ex 21:31.

215 1 Kgs 20:40.

216 Jer 22:19.

217 2 Sm 3:34.

218 Dt 28:48.

219 Jer 36:30.

220 Is 65:13–14.

221 1 Sm 26:8.

222 1 Sm 4:3.

223 Cf. Is 36:20.

224 Jgs 15:13.

225 Gn 46:30.

226 1 Chr 21:16.

227 1 Sm 30:12.

228 2 Kgs 4:1.

229 Ex 20:6; Jer 32:18.

230 This is a combination of 2 Chr 6:42 and Is 55:3.

231 Jgs 14:6.

232 1 Sm 4:3.

233 Gn 27:20.

234 Jer 37:13.

235 Ez 23:5; Jgs 19:2.

236 Ps 35:13.

237 Ps 142:2.

238 Jgs 16:26.

239 Ps 119:126. It is common in rabbinical literature for a quotation of one half of a scriptural verse to refer also to the other, unquoted part.

240 1 Sm 25:32.

241 Gn 19:6.

242 1 Sm 25:42.

243 Est 5:1.

244 Est 2:17.

245 2 Kgs 9:30.

246 Est 2:15.

247 Gn 12:15.

248 2 Chr 24:24.

249 Est 2:17.

250 Ru 2:5.

251 1 Sm 1:18.

252 Ru 3:9.

253 Est 5:6; 7:2.

254 2 Kgs 4:1.

255 1 Kgs 14:7; Jgs 9:7 and cf. Gn 19:30.

256 Zec 14:4.

257 Jgs 9:7.

258 Is 36:5.

259 Jer 38:2. cf. n. 29.

260 1 Kgs 2:12.

261 Dn 11:3.

262 2 Kgs 8:12, in the reverse order.

263 Jon 4:5.

264 Gn 19:20.

265 Jer 37:20.

266 Jo 2:13.

267 Ru 2:13.

268 1 Kgs 5:21 [5:7].

269 Jo 2:13.

270 Gn 41:40.

271 1 Kgs 12:37.

272 1 Sm 28:2.

273 2 Sm 13:11.

274 Sg 7:6 [7].

275 Ez 28:17.

276 The meaning is somewhat unclear here. The reference to blood seems to be an indirect hint of menstruation, and was taken as such by Habermann. Cf. Ez 14:19.

277 Lv 15:28. The word from my issue, mizovi, is omitted by Habermann, but present in Dubarle and the microfiche of the MS.

278 Ps 26:6.

279 Cf. Eccl 11:6.

280 Gn 25:56.

281 Is 1:16.

282 Prv 30:7.

283 1 Kgs 2:20.

284 Ex 23:15.

285 Nm 16:26.

286 Gn 21:16.

287 The text is unclear here. I have followed the slight reordering proposed by Dubarle.

288 Here presumably Judith means herself and her maid, not herself and Holophernes.

289 Gn 34:19.

290 bat yehudit.

291 2 Sm 19.5 and many other places.

292 Jo 9:24 and cf. Jo 9:22.

293 Ps 35:13.

294 2 Sm 13:8.

295 2 Sm 13:6.

296 1 Sm 17:18.

297 Cf. 2 Sm 13:10.

298 2 Kgs 6:23.

299 Judith is here substituted for Esther in Est 2:18.

300 Ru 3:7.

301 1 Sm 17:18.

302 Ru 3:7.

303 Gn 9:21.

304 Jon 1:5.

305 1 Kgs 16:9.

306 Jgs 3:25.

307 Gn 39:11; 1 Kgs 3:18.

308 2 Kgs 13:21.

309 1 Kgs 8:22.

310 Neh 1:11.

311 Jgs 7:2.

312 Jgs 3:21.

313 Jgs 4:21.

314 Dn 12:7.

315 Jon 7:8.

316 1 Sm 17:49.

317 1 Sm 17:51.

318 1 Sm 21:10.

319 metofefot. Cf. Ex 15:20.

320 petah ha-einayim. Gn 38:14 (RV: in an open place).

321 Ex 34:30.

322 Hos 3:1.

323 2 Kgs 10:6 (this verse is part of the story of cutting off the heads of the seventy sons of the wicked king Ahab).

324 Is 8:2.

325 Jer 22:19.

326 1 Sam 16:18; Ru 2:1 etc.

327 2 Chr 25:16.

328 1 Sm 10:23.

329 1 Sm 30:11–12.

330 Ps 113:2.

331 2 Kgs 10:10.

332 1 Kgs 21:15.

333 Gn 24:26 etc.

334 Jgs 5:31.

335 2 Sm 20:8.

336 Jo 11:7.

337 Jgs 3:25.

338 1 Kgs 18:28–29.

339 Jgs 3:25.

340 1 Sm 7:10.

341 Jgs 9:40.

342 Ex 14:28.

343 Jgs 5:31.

344 1 Kgs 8:66.

345 2 Kgs 11:3.

346 Jgs 4:4.

347 2 Kgs 6:23.

348 2 Chr 35:13.

349 1 Sm 17:18.

350 Est 9:22.

351 Lv 6:14 [6:21].

352 Hos 7:4.

353 Gn 40:17.

354 Prv 26:27. The reference here is presumably to Aliforni taking up his brothers quarrel with the Jews.

355 Est 1:8.

356 Est 1:8.

357 Est 9:27.

358 Est 9:29.

359 Est 9:22.

360 Ps 142:8 [7].

361 Mic 7:7.

362 Is 62:11.

363 Is 62:12.

364 Habermann has Shtzeil here in the text in Hadashim gam Yeshanim, but writes Shmeil in his comment in his article in Mahanayim (p. 43). Examination of the micro-fiche copy of the MS shows either reading is possible, but Shmeil seems preferable as a variant of the name Shmuel [Samuel].

365 162 = 5162 a.m., i.e. 1402 c.e.

Author

Susan Weingarten is an archaeologist and historian in the research team of the Sir Isaac Wolfson Chair for Jewish Studies, Tel Aviv University, Israel. After publishing The Saints Saints: Hagiography and Geography in Jerome (2005), she decided to move from ascetic Christianity to Jewish food. She has just finished a book on haroset, the Jewish Passover food and is working on her major project, ”Food in the Talmud.” The Judith project has led her to a new interest in medieval European Hanukkah food.