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
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