In Judith chapters 10-11, the honest prophetess Judith temporarily becomes a liar to defend Israel by spreading false information about Israel in [Judith 10:12] and [Judith 11:12-19] to deceptively gain the trust of Holofernes (worshipper of the god-man Nebuchadnezzar, see Judith 3:8).

When Judith accomplished her mission, Bagoas the eunuch of Holofernes reiterates Judith had lied :

[Judith 14:18] “The slaves have duped us! One Hebrew woman has brought shame on the house of King Nebuchadnezzar. Look! Holofernes on the ground—without a head!”

Then the high priest Joakim and the senate of the Israelites who lived in Jerusalem came to see for themselves the good things that the Lord had done for Israel, and to meet and congratulate Judith. - saying : [Judith 15:10] "By your own hand you have done all this. You have done good things for Israel,and God is pleased with them. May the Almighty Lord bless you forever!” And all the people said, “Amen!”

  • This verse seems to demonstrate Israel's High Priest Joakim accepts that lies are justified if the liar brings YHVH glory over idols (Nebuchadnezzar)?


In [Judith 10-11], How can God be pleased to allow Judith to speak lies in order to maintain Exodus 20:5, if Proverbs 12:22 is true?

[Proverbs 12:22] "False lips are an abomination of YHVH, but those who work faithfully are His delight." (תּוֹעֲבַ֣ת יְ֖הוָה שִׂפְתֵי־שָׁ֑קֶר וְעֹשֵֹ֖י אֱמוּנָ֣ה רְצוֹנֽוֹ)
  • Does Judith 15:10 contradict Proverbs 12:22?
  • Judith's behavior is similar to that of Rahab (Joshua 2).
    – Lucian
    Commented Oct 6, 2021 at 3:29
  • 1 Kings 22:22 “’By what means?’ the LORD asked. “’I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,’ he said. “’You will succeed in enticing him,’ said the LORD. ‘Go and do it.’ Commented Apr 25, 2022 at 5:00

4 Answers 4



Many early church fathers accepted Judith as sacred including Clement of Rome (who may have been mentioned in Phil 4:3), Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and Tertullian. It was accepted in the earliest Christian canons such as the Bryennios List and Melito’s canon. Jerome translated it into Latin, vacillated, and ended up quoting it as Scripture. It was accepted in the early councils at Rome, Hippo, and Carthage. Even Paul seems to quote from it or at least borrows from the same source.

24 But they that did not receive the trials with the fear of the Lord, but uttered their impatience and the reproach of their murmuring against the Lord, 25 Were destroyed by the destroyer, and perished by serpents [a serpéntibus periérunt]. Judith 8 24-25 DRB

9 Neither let us tempt Christ: as some of them tempted, and perished by the serpents [a serpéntibus periérunt]. 10 Neither do you murmur: as some of them murmured, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 1 Cor 10:9-10 DRB

It is in the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox canons but not in the Jewish or Protestant ones. Regardless of your view, I think there is something valuable to be gained from reading the book so I will answer the question.

How can God be pleased to allow Judith to speak lies?

The Bible also says do not kill, yet God often sanctioned the killing of the enemy in time of war, for example. Judith was not a warrior but she employed her feminine charms to deceive and seduce the Assyrian general in order to get him drunk and then kill him. If she had not acted, many of her countrymen would have been slaughtered and enslaved. As you noted, they would have been forced to worship foreign gods. Which would be the greater sin? She said this in her rallying speech to her countrymen.

For the slaughter of our kindred, for the taking of exiles from the land, and for the devastation of our inheritance, he will hold us responsible among the nations. Wherever we are enslaved, we will be a scandal and a reproach in the eyes of our masters. Our servitude will not work to our advantage, but the Lord our God will turn it to disgrace. Judith 8 22-23

It is interesting that there seems to be a prophecy embedded in Judith’s prayer for God’s deliverance.

Lord is your name. Shatter their strength in your might, and crush their force in your wrath. For they have resolved to profane your sanctuary, to defile the tent where your glorious name resides, and to break off the horns of your altar with the sword. See their pride, and send forth your fury upon their heads. Give me, a widow, a strong hand to execute my plan. By the deceit of my lips, strike down slave together with ruler, and ruler together with attendant. Crush their arrogance by the hand of a female. Your strength is not in numbers, nor does your might depend upon the powerful. You are God of the lowly, helper of those of little account, supporter of the weak, protector of those in despair, savior of those without hope. Jdt 9 8-11

After she gained the general’s trust with an elaborate deception about how God was using her to help the Assyrians punish Israel for it’s sins, she encouraged him to drink too much wine and then prayed to God for strength to execute the plan.

she drew close to the bed, grasped the hair of his head, and said, “Strengthen me this day, Lord, God of Israel!” Then with all her might she struck his neck twice and cut off his head. Jdt 13 7-8

That bold action led to the complete rout of the Assyrian army. Her hymn of deliverance is reminiscent to that of two other great heroines of Israel, Deborah and Jael. Should we be concerned that she broke the law?

He threatened to burn my territory, put my youths to the sword, Dash my infants to the ground, seize my children as plunder. And carry off my virgins as spoil. “But the Lord Almighty thwarted them, by the hand of a female! Jdt 15 4-5

In desperate circumstances she told a lie and did so while maintaining her righteousness!

Though the sweet fragrance of every sacrifice is a trifle, and the fat of all burnt offerings but little in your sight, one who fears the Lord is forever great. Jdt 16 16

It’s a beautiful and captivating story and I must say that I greatly admire the heroine.

“I will sing a new song to my God. O Lord, great are you and glorious, marvelous in power and unsurpassable. Let your every creature serve you; for you spoke, and they were made. You sent forth your spirit, and it created them; no one can resist your voice. For the mountains to their bases are tossed with the waters; the rocks, like wax, melt before your glance. “But to those who fear you, you will show mercy. Jdt 16 14-15


The Holy Spirit did not authorize the book of Judith. It contradicts scripture, and has many historical anachronisms. It was never recognized by the Jews as part of the Hebrew canon.

Excerpt from Apocrypha Article 4... by Dr. C. Matthew McMahon:

"The book of Judith: Jerome says this books is not canonical (Opt. T. X. p. 22) He shows this by stating that the Jews saw it as apocryphal (Opt. T. X. p. 22), and because it was written in Chaldean and copies of it grossly corrupted and depraved. Neither did Josephus, in his history of the Jews, say anything concerning this book which would be extremely strange if it were a part of their history. Problems with it: The book of Judith celebrates the seed of Simeon (Jud. 9:2), which Jacob cursed (Gen. 49:5-7); praises the deceits and lies of Judith (Jud. 11), which are not very consistent with true piety. Worse still, she even seeks the blessing of God upon them (Jud. 9:13). No mention is made of the city Bethulia in the Scriptures; nor does any trace of the deliverance mentioned there occur in Josephus or Philo, who wrote on Jewish subjects. Nabuchodosor is called a Persian emperor, where no Persian emperor ever existed by that name. And problem with chronological and geographical history occur with him and Holofernes. The history of Kings, in which the acts of Manasseh are written, read nothing about Holofernes. We also see Judith living 105 years and more, and that while she lived there was peace. This peace, therefore lasted many years, at least 100. But Amon succeeded Manasseh, and reigned 2 years, Josiah succeeded Amon and reigned 31 years and after his death a great amount of war came to the people. This is contradictory. The multiple problems of this kind show the books to be apocryphal and uninspired." Source: here

Even though the Roman Catholics read it, and include it in their Bibles, it is not inspired by God, and not the word of God. It is fiction. Nebuchadnezzar was the ruler of the Babylonians, not the Assyrians; and he ruled from Babylon not Nineveh.

Other sources that point out the errors in the books of the Catholic Apocrypha:

  1. Why Were the Books of the Old Testament Apocrypha Rejected... by Dan Stewart here

  2. Is Judith Historically Inaccurate...here

  3. Errors in the Apocrypha...here

The Holy Spirit is not the author of the book of Judith.

  • Based on the resources you provided : Would you say the historical inaccuracies of [Judith] cause it to be considered uninspired by the Holy Spirit? Commented Oct 6, 2021 at 13:30
  • Great question. @Gina yes the apostles were inspired - therefore there should be no contradictions - however, there are a large number of contradictions in all the Gospels, even arguments as to when they were written and by who. Arguably more contradictions than Judith. Even the book of Thomas, probably the best preserved but not accepted. so should the same argument be made about the others? Commented Oct 6, 2021 at 13:33
  • 1
    Yes, the historical errors are part of the reason. Many ppl say these books offer insight into the daily lives and feasts of the Jews, but any work of fiction may offer the same when set in some historical context. But a historical setting does not make it inspired, inerrant scripture.
    – Gina
    Commented Oct 6, 2021 at 13:34
  • @anothertheory - Ppl are fond of saying that there are contradictions throughout the Bible without knowledge. All the charges of contradictions have been refuted, & are due to uniformed fault finders. See Bible Contradictions - Are They Real? here: apologeticspress.org/bible-contradictionsare-they-real-5249
    – Gina
    Commented Oct 6, 2021 at 13:39

According to the Our Father, said daily, we all sin, from the worst to the best of us. God approves of us without approving our sins and that is why we pray so that as children who are trying though still not perfect can tend to being perfect.

You set up a false choice : a not-lying Judith versus a perfect Judith

I would also think that any unholiness you detect in the action is not in the mind 17 “If you will not,” said Naaman, “please let me, your servant, be given as much earth as a pair of mules can carry, for your servant will never again make burnt offerings and sacrifices to any other god but the Lord. 18 But may the Lord forgive your servant for this one thing: When my master enters the temple of Rimmon to bow down and he is leaning on my arm and I have to bow there also—when I bow down in the temple of Rimmon, may the Lord forgive your servant for this.”

19 “Go in peace,” Elisha said.


Judith may be a historical fiction, since it takes place in a fairy tale world where Nebuchadnezzer rules from Ninveh (not Babylon) and yet the Temple has already been restored (which takes place centuries after Nebuchadnezzer). However, there is good reason to believe that the character Joakim would accept that her lies are justified. The story of her deception of Holofernes in order to assassinate him has several precedents in those books of the Bible which both Catholics and Protestants accept. Two of these are direct parallels to Judith's act:

  • Echud kills Eglon. (Judges 3) The Israelites served Eglon, king of Moab, for eighteen years. 15 But when the Israelites cried out to the Lord, he raised up for them a savior, Ehud, son of Gera, a Benjaminite who was left-handed... Ehud made himself a two-edged dagger a foot long, and strapped it under his clothes on his right thigh. 17 He presented the tribute to Eglon... and said, “I have a secret message for you, O king.” And the king said, “Silence!” Then when all his attendants had left his presence, 20 Ehud went in to him where he sat alone in his cool upper room. Ehud said, “I have a word from God for you.” So the king rose from his throne. 21 Then Ehud with his left hand drew the dagger from his right thigh, and thrust it into Eglon’s belly.

  • Jael kills Sisera. (Judges 3) 17 Sisera {the Philistine general} fled on foot to the tent of Jael, wife of Heber the Kenite, for there was peace between Jabin, king of Hazor, and the family of Heber the Kenite. 18 Jael went out to meet Sisera and said to him, “Turn aside, my lord, turn aside with me; do not be afraid.” So he went into her tent, and she covered him with a rug. 19 He said to her, “Please give me a little water to drink. I am thirsty.” So she opened a skin of milk, gave him a drink, and then covered him... 21 Jael, wife of Heber, got a tent peg and took a mallet in her hand. When Sisera was in a deep sleep from exhaustion, she approached him stealthily and drove the peg through his temple and down into the ground, and he died.

Conclusion: Echud is praised as a "savior" (Judges 3:15) and Jael is called "most blessed among women." (Judges 5:24) The examples of Ehud and Jael show that deception and assassination were occasionally used to providential effect in the Old Testament. Whether one considers Judith as inspired scripture or not, there is ample reason to think that a high priest would approve of her actions.

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