I have heard many varying and conflicting stories about Yehudit and her effect on the war with the Greeks at Chanukkah time and was wondering if anyone has sources for her story and what it truly is.

As well, and on a side note, is there any relationship between Yael (of shoftim and Devorah fame) and Yehudit, as their stories seem to be similar?

  • 1
    What are you asking about exactly? What stories are conflicting?
    – avi
    Commented Dec 19, 2011 at 20:29
  • 3
    Can you include what you've heard, please? Or at the very least some indication of which Y'hudis you're referring to? There have been many over the years. (Which Yael, too.)
    – msh210
    Commented Dec 19, 2011 at 20:29
  • Also, the title could stand to be sharpened.
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Dec 19, 2011 at 20:38
  • Eisav's wife? And Yael?
    – jake
    Commented Dec 19, 2011 at 20:58
  • 1
    @msh210 I edited the question and title as requested, I hope that helps. Commented Dec 19, 2011 at 22:13

2 Answers 2


This primary source for this story is actually it's own book, The Book of Judith (English Translation, Chabad Summary).

Chapter 13: So Judith was left alone in the tent , with Holofernes stretched out on his bed, for he was overcome with wine... She went up to the post at the end of the bed, above Holofernes' head, and took down his sword that hung there. She came close to his bed and took hold of the hair of his head, and said, "Give me strength this day, O Lord God of Israel!" And she struck his neck twice with all her might, and severed it from his body.

The text of the book does not mention Ya'el, despite the obvious similarities. According to the Bar Ilan Responsa Database, there are only 3 places where Yael and Yehudit appear in the same article. R. Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev mentions the actions of these two heroic women, and comments that they are similar. Rabbi Jacob Ettlinger (Aruch LaNer) mentions them together in passing, as does the Encyclopedia Talmudit.

This story is was translated into Hebrew and published in 1915 in the "Otzar haMidrashim" collection. It does not mention Ya'el either. I don't know what the Chabad article's source is for claiming that Yehudit explicitly named Ya'el.

  • this link has expired: shorttext.com/pRxKRM
    – Menachem
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 19:13
  • @Menachem Indeed it has. The link was just to some search results in Bar Ilan Responsa, which are described in the following sentences. You can look up the specific sources by searching Responsa yourself.
    – Shmuel
    Commented Aug 13, 2014 at 3:19

This article gives a pretty traditional rendering of the story, but it also gives a little bit of insight as to why the story is neither widely known, nor, or more accurately, widely known in some accurate and standard form. The latter point, in a nutshell, or so they claim, is because the only remaining text of the Book of Yehudith is an inaccurate Greek translation of the original Hebrew.

To answer your second question about the relationship to Ya'el, according to this version of the story, Yehudith invoked the story of Ya'el as inspiration for herself and others.

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