Protecting the Holy Race and Holy Space: Judith’s Reenactment of the Slaughter of Shechem

In: Journal for the Study of Judaism
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  • 1 McMaster University, Department of Religious Studies, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

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Abstract

The book of Judith employs the narrative of Genesis 34 in order to depict Judith’s actions as an imitation of the violent slaughter of the Shechemites. Through his skillful retelling of the story in her prayer (Judith 9) and then his repeated allusions to this story throughout the narrative, the author portrays Judith’s trust in God to protect both her body and her nation’s temple from the impurity, profanation, and disgrace of foreign aggression. Her deceitful words and actions are based on her belief that God would strengthen her hand, just as he had previously strengthened the hand of Simeon, to bring down vengeance upon Israel’s adversaries.

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