The VIXEN


THE VIXEN Recently, my husband and I watched the old movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark. It first came out in 1981, almost forty years ago, and it is still one of my favorites. The only female star in the movie, Marion, was portrayed by actress Karen Allen. Marion was a colorful character and able to beat any competitor to a drinking contest. However, Marion could not hold a candle to one of the most colorful women found in extra Biblical literature. Because it is the seventh night of Hanukkah, the feast of Dedication (John 10:22) and it is Rosh Chodesh, the first day of the new month, Tevet, we remember this beautiful woman whose name is Judith, or Yudit, in Hebrew. When one thinks of a strong woman from the Bible, one might think of Deborah , Esther , Ruth or the Proverbs 31 woman. However , Judith emulates all of these women and more. She lived during the time of the Maccabees. The book of Maccabees is extra Biblical. This book gives us much historical content of the Inter-testamental period, the silent years between the closing of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament. We are told in the 8th chapter of the book of Judith that she became a widow and was a devout, pious woman who fasted on all of the correct biblical Holidays . She was beautiful. “Her husband had left her gold and silver, male and female servants, livestock and fields, which she was maintaining. No one had a bad word to say about her, for she feared God greatly.”(Judith 8:8) When she learned that some of the townspeople were badmouthing the elders within the community because water was scarce, she said “ Who are you to put God to the test today, setting yourselves in the place of God in human affairs? And now it is the Lord Almighty you are putting to the test, but you will never understand anything! You cannot plumb the depths of the human heart or grasp the workings of the human mind; how then can you fathom God, who has made all these things, or discern his mind, or understand his plan.” (Judith 8:12-14) Her words echoed Job’s words. She posited “Listen to me! I will perform a deed that will go down from generation to generation among our descendants. Stand at the city gate tonight to let me pass through with my maid; and within the days you have specified before you will surrender the city to our enemies, the Lord will deliver Israel by my hand. You must not inquire into the affair, for I will not tell you what I am doing until it has been accomplished.” (Judith 8:32-34) Judith got to praying. She fasted, put on sackcloth and ashes, and beseeched the LORD for help. She called on His name. She turned to the Only One who could help her. She turned to El Elyon, God most high. She got dressed to the nine’s. She got decked out in her finery, leaving her widow’s garments behind. As she turned the bend from her town, she came upon the Syrians. The men took her into custody and asked her, “To what people do you belong? Where do you come from, and where are you going?” She replied: “I am a daughter of the Hebrews, and I am fleeing from them, because they are about to be delivered up to you as prey. I have come to see Holofernes, the ranking general of your forces, to give him a trustworthy report; in his presence I will show him the way by which he can ascend and take possession of the whole hill country without a single one of his men suffering injury or loss of life.” (Judith 10) She asked to be introduced to the Syrian general, Holofernes. His soldiers noted that by doing this action, she saved her life. All the men were astounded at her beauty and ushered her into the presence of Holofernes. She was quite crafty! She pledged allegiance to Nebuchadnezzar and to him. Yet she still had strong faith in the LORD. For three days, she stayed in the Syrian encampment. Holofernes arranged that she would dine with him privately. Holofernes then addressed his eunuch, Bagoas, to “Go and persuade the Hebrew woman in your care to come and to eat and drink with us. It would bring shame on us to be with such a woman without enjoying her. If we do not seduce her, she will laugh at us.” ( Judith 11:11-12) Holofernes burned with desire for her. As Judith entered his chamber, he sent everyone away. Judith fed him some salty tasty items that she had, which made him so thirsty, that he drank much and passed out. Then, Judith stood by Holofernes’ bed and prayed, “O Lord, God of all might, in this hour look graciously on the work of my hands for the exaltation of Jerusalem. Now is the time for aiding your heritage and for carrying out my design to shatter the enemies who have risen against us.” (Judith 13:5) Then she prayed “Strengthen me this day, Lord, God of Israel!” 8 Then she beheaded him with his own sword! She was so amazing that she even put his head in her food bag! Such chutzpah! She goes running back to the Maccabees’ compound, begging them to open the gates for her. Upon entering, she pulls Holofernes’ head out of the bag. Then the Maccabees put his head on a pole and ran towards the Syrians to attack. When the Syrians saw them with Holofernes’ head on the pole, they got scared and fled. Judith was a woman of courage. She faced danger head-on. Judith’s final hymn echoed Miriam’s song of deliverance. Here are just a couple of verses. “I will sing a new song to my God. O Lord, great are you and glorious, marvelous in power and unsurpassable. Let your every creature serve you; for you spoke, and they were made. You sent forth your spirit, and it created them; no one can resist your voice. Judith 16:13-14 May we always remember that it is God who fights all of our adversaries! It is He who will tread down our enemies! Though the sweet fragrance of every sacrifice is a trifle, and the fat of all burnt offerings but little in your sight, one who fears the Lord is forever great. Judith 16:16

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