Preparing for military action: Judith’s purificatory washing in Judith 12:7

Joseph Scales

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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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)687-703
Number of pages17
JournalVetus Testamentum
Issue number4-5
Early online date26 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021


  • Judith
  • Purity
  • Bathing
  • Prayer
  • Warfare
  • Literature and Literary Theory
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Religious studies
  • History
  • Language and Linguistics


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