Judith
Judith
Judith

Judith

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This is the widow Judith, who (the story goes) was living in the town of Bethulia when Israel was attacked by the Assyrian King Nebuchadnezzar. His commander-in-chief, Holofernes, surrounded the town of Bethulia and cut off its water supply. As the town’s thirst became acute, the leaders lost heart and declared that if God didn’t deliver them in five days, they would surrender. Judith invited the leaders (aka men) to her house to convince them to take action, berating them for losing heart and faith. They were unconvinced, so she decided to take matters into her own hands. She dolled herself up and went to the enemy camp, asking to see Holofernes, claiming that she had information for him. He was besotted (of course) and she had dinner with him, plied him with drink until he passed out, cut off his head with his own sword, and carried it back into Bethulia in a sack. Holofernes' troops dispersed in fear and confusion and the Bethulians were roused to finish off what enemies remained. Thus it was that Judith saved the Israelites from the Assyrians. One of my favorite details to this story is the postscript, which claims that Judith received numerous proposals after this and she rejected them all. 
 
This illustration of “Judith with the Head of Holofernes” is from the Nuremberg Chronicle, published in 1493. Her story can be found in the Catholic Apocrypha and is well worth reading because there are some delicious details I've left out.
 
Single strand embroidery on cream cotton, in a 6-inch, hand-painted hoop.

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