Classics and Religious Studies


Date of this Version

January 2002


Published in Bible Review 18 (2002), pp. 22–31, 45. Copyright © 2002 Biblical Archaeology Society. Online home page:
Used by permission.


Brave, wise, and stunningly beautiful, Esther and Judith have much in common. Both Jewish heroines live under foreign domination. Both risk their lives to save their people from oppression. One of the few differences between the two women is that Judith is openly pious and Esther is not. Indeed, God is not even mentioned in the Hebrew version of the Book of Esther. So why was the story of Esther included in the Hebrew Bible while the Book of Judith was left out? Because Esther never threatened the status quo, but Judith was a dangerous woman who had the power to subvert Jewish society.

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