In the twelfth chapter of the Book of Judith, the eponymous heroine departs from the Assyrian camp in order to bathe and pray over three successive nights. Judith’s bath has been interpreted as a ritual bath which achieves purification. Scholars have offered various reasons for Judith’s purificatory wash, but none fully account for all the details of this episode. This paper discusses the proposed solutions and offers a new suggestion to account for Judith’s bath; Judith bathes to prepare herself for the assassination of Holofernes.
Athaliah and Alexandra were the only two women to rule as queens of Judah/Judaea in their own right and both women’s reigns are reported in Josephus’ writings. Despite their uniqueness, however, Athaliah and Alexandra are rarely compared in scholarship; the former is usually dismissed, and focus centred on the latter. This article contends that there are historical similarities between the two, but literary differences. Josephus could have referred to Athaliah or used elements of her portrayal in his presentation of Alexandra but does not, creating the impression that Alexandra was completely different to her predecessor. It may be instructive, therefore, to consider why Josephus literarily isolates the queens and what this means for his interpretation of Alexandra.
Athaliah in Josephus is rarely studied. This paper thus seeks to build on Christopher Begg’s text-critical work by discussing the literary effect of Josephus’ embellishments to the Athaliah narratives. Athaliah in Josephus is shown to be more explicitly foreign and illegitimate than in the biblical texts, but also a more dynamic, rounded character.