14 August 2012

Judith is blessed above all women (for cutting off a sleeping man's head)

If you were to ask Paul Ryan (or any other Catholic) who is the most blessed of all woman in the Bible, he'd say, without the slightest hesitation, Ayn Rand.

OK, just kidding. Ayn Rand isn't in the Bible (not even Paul Ryan's Bible). Every Catholic (even Paul Ryan) would say that Mary the mother of Jesus is the most blessed of all woman.

And there's some evidence for that. Here, after all, is how the angel Gabriel addressed Mary in gospel of Luke:
Hail [Mary], full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women. Luke 1:28
It's the first part of the "Hail Mary" that Catholics say 53 times when saying the Rosary.

But there are two other women in the Bible that could qualify for the Most Blessed of All Women award.

Remember Jael? You know, the one that drove a tent stake through a sleeping man's skull?

Here's what the Bible said about her:
Blessed above women shall Jael ... be, blessed shall she be above women ... She put her hand to the nail ... and with the hammer she smote Sisera, she smote off his head, when she had pierced and stricken through his temples. Judges 5:24
So Jael is blessed above all women -- including Mary, I guess.

But there's one more competitor -- Judith.

Her story is found in the Book of Judith, which is in the Catholic Bible, but is considered apocryphal by Protestants. Here's her story.

Judith was a beautiful widow who fasted all the time (except on the sabbath) and wore haircloth on her loins.
And she wore haircloth upon her loins, and fasted all the days of her life, except the sabbaths, and new moons, and the feasts of the house of Israel.  And she was exceedingly beautiful.  Judith 8:6-7
She asked God to help her kill her enemies the way he helped Simeon slaughter the newly circumcised Hivites in the Dinah/Shechem love story massacre.
O Lord God of my father Simeon, who gavest him a sword to execute vengeance against strangers, who had defiled by their uncleanness, and uncovered the virgin unto confusion: And who gavest their wives to be made a prey, and their daughters into captivity ... who were zealous with thy zeal: assist ... me. Judith 9:2-3
And the prayer worked. God, the great beautician, made Judith even more beautiful, so she could seduce and murder the Assyrian general, Holofernes. 
The Lord also gave her more beauty ... so that she appeared to all men's eyes incomparably lovely. Judith 10:4
The heart of Holofernes was smitten, for he was burning with the desire of her. Judith 12:16
She lied to him about her intentions, partied with him in his tent; then, after he fell asleep in a drunken stupor, she cut off his head. 
Holofernes was made merry on her occasion, and drank exceeding much wine, so much as he had never drunk in his life. Judith 12:20
Holofernes lay on his bed, fast asleep, being exceedingly drunk.  Judith 13: 4
Judith stood before the bed praying ... Saying: Strengthen me, O Lord ... that it might be done by thee. And when she had said this, she ... loosed his sword ... And ... she took him by the hair of his head ... And she struck twice upon his neck, and cut off his head. Judith 13: 6-10
And for that act, Judith is declared to be blessed above all women upon the earth.
Blessed art thou, O daughter, by the Lord the most high God, above all women upon the earth ... God ... hath cut off the head of all the unbelievers this night by my hand. Judith 13:23-27
So now you see my problem, don't you? Who is the most blessed woman to ever live? Mary, Jael, or Judith?

I think it has to be Judith. Mary and Jael are "blessed among women," but Judith is "blessed above all women." So I think Judith wins the gold.

But maybe someone should ask Paul Ryan just to make sure.

Guess I have to add another killing to God's list!

God's next killing: The Judith massacre


Boot said...

How can the book of Judith be accepted by some christians and not by others?

Steve Wells said...

Good question, Jonathan.

There's always been debate among believers about which books should be included in the Bible. The Catholics and Orthodox went with the Septagint (a 3rd century BCE greek translation of the Jewish scriptures) for the Old Testament canon, while the Protestants didn't. So there are seven more books in the Catholic/Orthodox Bible than there are in the Protestant Bible.

Stephen said...

Well, he wasn't really *asleep*, he was drunk, but what the heck. The thing that piqued my interest was this:

13:11 And after a while she went out, and delivered the head of Holofernes to her maid, and bade her put it into her wallet.

What the heck kind of wallets did they have in those biblical times?!?!?
Steve Weeks

Steve Wells said...

Well, it 13:4 says he was "fast asleep" and "exceedingly drunk." So I guess he was both.

And yeah, that wallet thing is kind of cute. My wife has some purses that'd be big enough to stuff a head in. She might even have one or two in there. I should check.

Steve Wells said...

In my comment to Jonathan, I misspelled Septuagint. Sorry about that -- and thanks to Stephen Weeks for the correction.

skanksta said...

You haven't done the apocrypha/REAL books yet for god's killings ?
So excited..., does that means we get to look forward to some more bible stats on which is more evil per line of holy book - Catholic or Protestant ?
And more blogging !

Get to work Steve - no rest for the wicked !

Boot said...

Thanks for the reply Steve - by the way, I love this site! I always wanted to believe in the bible but the more I read it, the more confused and doubtful I became! Any information on why a book would be cut vs included and who had the authority to do such a thing? It seems like they could have cut quite a few more out of the old testament for sure.

Stephen said...

Jonathan Booth said...
"Any information on why a book would be cut vs included and who had the authority to do such a thing?"

If you haven't read any of Bart Ehrman's works, I recommend starting with "Misquoting Jesus- the story behind who changed the bible and why".
(http://www.amazon.com/dp/0060738170/?tag=mh0b-20&hvadid=50469747&ref=pd_sl_61wa3ybwz6_e )
Steve Weeks

Steve Wells said...


About the Apocrypha/Deuterocanonical books - there's a good introduction in the New Oxford Annotated Bible that includes a discussion of the debate over whether or not these books should be included in the Bible.

Anonymous said...

Interesting post I never read the book of judith but this is a good topic

www Bible said...

There is a difference between the blessing on Mary which was a divine blessing by God and the blessing on Jael which was the elevate her as heroic above the other tent dwellers. "Blessed above women shall Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite be, blessed shall she be above women in the tent (Judges 5:24)." The translations of the Hebrew words tell the difference.

Stephen said...

WayWhoppingWacky.Bible said:

There is a difference between the blessing on Mary which was a divine blessing by God and the blessing on Jael which was the elevate (sic) her as heroic above the other tent dwellers.

This is just more made-up bullshit, cherry-picked and interpreted to suit your delusion. Sorry.
Steve Weeks

Komadori said...

"What the heck kind of wallets did they have in those biblical times?!?!?" Steve Weeks

Reminds me of the credit card commercials. All we need now is Judith looking to the camera as she dangles a human head ala Game of Thrones or Clash of the Titans, "What's in Your Wallet?"


I just came across your blog. It's great! I'll be following, from here on. :)

Unknown said...

Powerful black woman Judith ....