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

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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
JournalVetus Testamentum
Early online date26 Apr 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Apr 2021


  • Judith, Purity, Bathing, Prayer, Warfare