Judith’s story is fascinating and widely read because she plays a decisive role in eliminating Holofernes, the Assyrian army general for herself and ending her village Bethulia’s crisis. With this Judith is highly praised as heroine, model or alternative leader for rescuing her community successfully.
However, it is considered that Judith’s sexual violence is the main theme in the Book. It is difficult to obtain or fully understand Judith’s story without looking into the problem of her sexual violence. This comes first in her invocation of Yahweh as “O Lord God of my father Simeon”(9:2) who took the lead of revenge for Dinah’s rape (Gen. 34) and who eliminated Shechem and his tribe. Judith identifies herself with Dinah and takes revenge on her enemy. It is of significance that she plans at the risk of run into sexual violence, but she has committed connivance with male political and religious leaders in the village.
She uses her beauty as a weapon against Holofernes. Taking the place of sexual violence, she suffers from verbal and sexual harassment, molestation and perhaps rape. We hear that “it was my face that tricked him to his destruction, and yet he committed no act of sin with me, to defile and shame me”(13:16, RSV), We can imagine, however, that there must have been no small amount of her anxiety and fear about Holofernes and other men’s verbal and sexual violence.
Even though she rescued the community, she could not forget the displeasure, shame and disgust she had experienced at the place of the sexual violence. Probably the social system and atmosphere at the time would let her go into her own private house and live alone without remarrying. The author of Judith’s story would expect the effect of highlighting Judith’s characteristic, further strengthening the patriarchal society and promoting the sacrifice of women.
But it doesn't end with a pious and beautiful woman’s heroic story that happened a long time ago. Isn't the history of various kinds of sexual violence continuing even now? We have a sad history of comfort women forced by Japanese military into sexual slavery, young women pushed into sex industry and women still suffering from sexual assault on the battlefield around the world, and men and women in the Me too movement now. They live as anonymous people living with deep wounds physically and emotionally. Although their situations and causes are different, I finish this article by remembering their sorrow, just like what Judith endured alone until her death.