About the Author(s)

Risimati S. Hobyane Email symbol
Department of Ancient Languages, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa


Hobyane, R.S., 2023, ‘The performative function of turmoil, trauma and tenacity in Judith 9–16: A speech act analysis’, HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies 79(2), a8523. https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v79i2.8523

Original Research

The performative function of turmoil, trauma and tenacity in Judith 9–16: A speech act analysis

Risimati S. Hobyane

Received: 08 Feb. 2023; Accepted: 06 Apr. 2023; Published: 24 May 2023

Copyright: © 2023. The Author(s). Licensee: AOSIS.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This article forms part of a larger project on the apocryphal Book of Judith. It explores the performative nature of turmoil, trauma and tenacity as found in the second half of the book (9–16). The impetus for this investigation is the work done by same author on chapters 1–8 of Judith while focusing on a similar theme. The present article suggests that the exploration of the turmoil, trauma and tenacity to be found in chapters 1–8 does not comprehensively represent all aspects that this topic has to offer to the reader of Judith. The contention here is that the theme of turmoil, trauma and the resultant tenacity in the second half of Judith needs further scholarly exploration as it reveals contrasting developments regarding two rivalling camps, that is, the Israelites and the Assyrians. From a speech act interpretive angle, the article asserts that turmoil, trauma and tenacity are intentionally utilised as a literary tool for indicating honour (Israelites) and shame (Assyrians). This has the potential to persuade the reader to make choices and/or decisions as they read the story.

Contribution: The article is a continuation of my work on the first part of Judith (chapters 1–8), as indicated. Its main contribution rests on its unique approach to investigating the performative nature of trauma, turmoil and tenacity in the second part of the book, namely, chapters 9–16. The study of the theme of trauma, turmoil and tenacity in Judith is insightful and thought-provoking and does advance research around this fascinating book.

Keywords: Judith; Assyrian camp; Israelites; performative function; trauma; turmoil; tenacity; speech act theory.

Introduction and problem statement

The present article studies the performative function of turmoil, trauma and tenacity in the second part of Judith.1 The term ‘performative’, as applied to the reading of Judith, is understood to mean that the text is presented in such a way that it persuades (or forces) the reader to make choices or decisions as they read the story (Briggs 2001:3; Hobyane 2022:145; Van der Watt 2010:145). The article addresses the following question: How does the use of the concepts of turmoil, trauma and tenacity possibly persuade or force the reader of Judith to act on what they read in the narrative? Essentially, the task here is to explore the effects of utterances that relate to trauma, turmoil and tenacity to the reader.

Hobyane (2022) suggests that:

The investigation of the function of turmoil, trauma, and tenacity as found in the first part of the book affirms that these indubitably are prominent themes in the story of Judith. (p. 161)

It was concluded that the themes, particularly of trauma and turmoil, are presented in such a way as to induce tenacity (or determination) to defend Judaism against threats of destruction by other religious groups that existed during the Second Temple period. Read through the lens of the presentation of these themes, the story calls on the reader to emulate the response displayed by the Israelites, particularly Judith, in times of crisis.

As stated, Judith focuses on the manner in which Judaism and/or the people of Israel survive impending threats of destruction, indeed extinction, posed by the Assyrian army (see Esler 2002:107; Hobyane 2016:191–205; Moore 1992:61–71; White 1992:5–16). The survival of Israel depends on Judith’s bravery, her knowledge of the Law and her fear of God. These attributes and others (including beauty, affluence and so on) propel her to face the danger head-on and defend her people (see DeSilva 2006:59; Efthimiadis-Keith 2004:214; Hobyane 2012:36–43; Steyn 2008:166). However, it must be indicated that victory does not occur without turmoil and trauma for Israel. Judith has to display tenacity in her approach to defeating the opposition to her people and defending them and their sacred city (see Hobyane 2012:45).

The portion of the present project that focused on the first part of Judith further established that Judith is narrated in a manner that the reader cannot avoid the themes of trauma, turmoil and tenacity (Hobyane 2022:146). As indicated, while Hobyane (2022) solely focused on chapters 1–8 of the book, the present article continues to argue that the occurrence of turmoil, trauma and tenacity in the second part of Judith has a performative function to the reader also. The article utilises some facets or basic aspects of speech act theory to study the performative nature of the text.

Methodological orientation

A summary of speech act theory

As indicated, speech act theory serves as the methodology in the present study of the performative function invoked around turmoil, trauma and tenacity in Judith 9–16. It is a well-advanced and much-discussed theory of language use and its effects on the reader. This methodology is widely utilised for exegetical purposes and literary analysis so as to explore, particularly, the performative nature of utterances in texts (Botha 2009:486; Briggs 2001:4; Hobyane 2022:147–150; Tovey 1997:68; Van der Watt 2010:144). The author discussed this methodology in detail in the analysis of Judith 1–8 (see Hobyane 2022:147–150). This study does not intend to apply the whole theory of speech-act,2 but to use some basic aspects of it, particularly the study of utterances and their effects to the reader.

For the sake of convenience, it is worth reiterating here that the analysis of utterances will be done on two levels: the illocutionary one (including informatives, directives, expressives, assertives and so forth) and the level of perlocutionary acts, that is the possible effects of illocutionary acts on the reader (Botha 2009:487–488; Pratt 1977:80–81; Thiselton 1992:298; Tovey 1997:72). For practical purposes, the investigation of the performative function of turmoil, trauma and tenacity will be demonstrated in terms of Judith 9:7–10, 10:4, 10:13, 11:20–23, 12:6–9, 12:16, 13:6–10, 13:17, 14:1–10, 14:14–19, 15:1–7, 15:12–14 and 16:25.

Analysis of Judith 9:7–10

It is widely accepted that the Judith narrative is centred on a crisis that Israel faces in terms of their enemies (Harrington 1999:27; Nickelsburg 2005:97). The second part is a narration of how Israel begins to show their tenacity as they respond to the Assyrian threats (7:19–32). After she has been introduced in chapter 8, Judith begins to invoke God’s help and intervention through prayer, as found in 9:1–14. Imperative for her prayer is the utterance of 9:7–10, where she reflects on the arrogance and determination of the Assyrian army. Firstly, in 9:7 the text records her words as follows:

ἰδοὺ γὰρ Ἀσσύριοι ἐπληθύνθησαν ἐν δυνάμει αὐτῶν, ὑψώθησαν ἐφ̓ ἵππῳ καὶ ἀναβάτῃ, ἐγαυρίασαν ἐν βραχίονι πεζῶν, ἤλπισαν ἐν ἀσπίδι καὶ ἐν γαίσῳ καὶ τόξῳ καὶ σφενδόνῃ καὶ οὐκ ἔγνωσαν ὅτι σὺ εἶ κύριος συντρίβων πολέμους – [Here now are the Assyrians, a greatly increased force, priding themselves in their horses and riders, boasting in the strength of their foot soldiers, and trusting in shield and spear, in bow and sling. They do not know that you are the Lord who crushes wars; the Lord is your name]. (Ralphs 1996)

This, Judith utters as she prays to God for help (see also Schmitz 2009:85). The utterance is an expressive speech act. Judith expresses herself before God as she reflects on how the Assyrians boast in the strength of their army. Importantly, she mentions that the Assyrians do not know that Israel believes in a God who crushes wars (see Wohrle 2011:153). The expression demonstrates that Judith has confidence in what God can do amid all the turmoil and trauma that Israel is undergoing. This utterance should evoke courage and confidence on the side of the reader.

Secondly, in verse 8b, Judith intensifies her prayer by mentioning the reason why God should assist Israel in this regard. It must be indicated that chapter 9:8 reveals the impetus behind Israel’s tenacity in this war, that is, the Sanctuary and the Tabernacle.

Judith’s request intensifies yet further in verses 9–10 when she reveals that Israel’s victory should come through her hand. Twice in these two verses, she indicates her involvement. Firstly, she requests from God: δὸς ἐν χειρί μου τῆς χήρας ὃ διενοήθην κράτος – [give into mine hand, which am a widow, the power that I have conceived]. Secondly, she says: θραῦσον αὐτῶν τὸ ἀνάστεμα ἐν χειρὶ θηλείας – [break down their stateliness by the hand of a woman]. The speech act is a ‘directive’ in the context of a prayer, which is basically a request. The text makes it clear to the reader that victory will come through Judith, the widow. The prayer does not only bring a glimmer of hope to the reader but is also encouraging. However, the utterance causes suspense and is somehow surprising. Although the detailed plan is not yet known, the reader is indirectly informed that Judith plans to trick the enemy: ἐκ χειλέων ἀπάτης μου [by the deceit of my lips]. This makes the reader wonder about the plan that Judith has to rescue Israel from the turmoil and trauma they were undergoing.

Analysis of Judith 10:4 and 13

Chapter 10 can be divided into two sub-sections. In 1–10, Judith and her maid prepare to go to the Assyrian camp; in 10:11–22, they are captured by the Assyrian patrol and led to Holofernes. It is in this chapter that the whole narrative begins to reveal Israel’s tenacity. In preparation to go and meet Holofernes, the narrator reports in 10:4 that:

[S]he puts sandals on her feet and puts on her anklets, bracelets, rings, earrings and all her other jewellery. Thus, she made herself very beautiful, to entice the eyes of all the men who might see her. (Ralphs 1996)

The report is an ‘informative’ speech act. The narrator’s intention is to inform the reader about the details of Judith’s preparations, particularly her attire. Very critical in this report is the reason as to why she beautified herself in this manner, namely to entice (εἰς ἀπάτησιν) the eyes of all men who might see her. The report of Judith’s attire and the reason behind it are not rhetorically neutral to the reader. This information has the potential to invite the reader to marvel at the plan by which Judith intends to destroy the enemy. This demonstration of tenacity and the build-up to Israel’s victory is too dramatic and surprising to be ignored by the reader.

The ‘informative’ speech act continues in 10:13 when the narrator reports on Judith’s arrival in the Assyrian camp and informs the reader about the Assyrian patrol’s reaction upon seeing Judith. The report includes two critical aspects: her speech and her beauty. This ‘informative’ speech act has the potential to resolve the tension in the mind of the reader, as he or she begins to witness the success of Judith’s plan in the opposition camp – the narrator reports that they marvel at her beauty and wisdom of speech. The reader is also invited to marvel at the way she addresses them without fear (see also Craven 2003:203–204; Steyn 2008:167).

Analysis of Judith 11:20–23

This chapter narrates Judith’s introduction of herself to Holofernes and the reason why she comes to him: to give him advice on how he can defeat the Israelites. The chapter is a display of tenacity on the side of Judith and Israel and the beginning of Holofernes’ downfall. After Judith has addressed Holofernes (11:5–20), the narrator reports the sequence of events as follows:

καὶ ἤρεσαν οἱ λόγοι αὐτῆς ἐναντίον Ολοφέρνου καὶ ἐναντίον πάντων τῶν θεραπόντων αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἐθαύμασαν ἐπὶ τῇ σοφίᾳ αὐτῆς καὶ εἶπαν – [Her words pleased Holofernes and all his servants. They marvelled at her wisdom and said]

This utterance is, again, an ‘informative’. The narrator informs the reader about the way Holofernes and his people reacted to the speech of Judith. The text confirms that Holofernes was pleased (ἐναντίον) with her words. This confirmation serves to ensure the reader of Judith’s success against the enemy of Israel. Furthermore, the report signals the dawn of trauma and turmoil on the side of Holofernes and his army. The effect of this utterance is that of encouragement and relief to the reader.

In 11:21–23, the text records a direct speech uttered by Holofernes and his people. The utterance can be categorised as both a ‘responsive’ and ‘expressive’ speech act. Although there was no question asked by Judith that needed them to respond, it can be argued that their utterance is a response to her speech and a reaction to her beauty, on the one hand. On the other hand, the utterance is also an expression of how they appreciate her words and appearance. The expression is amusing to the reader as he or she has a clue of what Judith is planning to do to the Assyrian army general. The reader relishes in the ignorance of Holofernes and the display of Judith’s plan to defeat the Assyrians.

Analysis of Judith 12:6–9, 12:16

The section narrates the scene of Judith as a guest of Holofernes, and how she was granted the freedom to leave the Assyrian camp for prayer and bathing at the valley of Bethulia (12:6–9). The rest of the section relates the story of Judith’s attendance of Holofernes’ banquet (10–20). It must be acknowledged that this section of Judith is full of tension and anticipation of drama. The text is organised in such a way that the reader cannot miss the anticipation of the climax that is fast approaching. For example, in 12:6–9, particularly 8, the narrator reports that, when she came out, she ‘besought the Lord God of Israel to direct her way to the raising up of the children of her people’.

The report takes the form of information that the narrator gives the reader, that is, an ‘informative’ speech act. The intention is primarily to inform and empower him or her with this information regarding Judith’s activities while in the Assyrian camp, as this information is of critical importance to the reader. Without it, the reader will not be able to understand how Judith carefully and cunningly carried out her plan to defeat the Assyrians. The reader is, therefore, able to experience the drama and tension that is involved as Judith’s plan unfolds towards its implementation. Furthermore, the realisation of how Judith remained close to God in executing her plan is imperative. In the process of reading the story, the reader is also persuaded to remain trusting in God for victory.

Another critical utterance is found in 12:16. The narrator reports that Holofernes’ heart was ravished with her, and his mind was moved, and he desired her company greatly (literally, to be with her).

The speech act involved is, again, ‘informative’. The narrator intends to keep the reader informed about Judith’s tenacity. Her plan to seduce Holofernes progresses well and possesses the potential to bring excitement to the reader as Judith’s tenacity is succeeding.

Analysis of Judith 13:6–10, 13:17

Chapter 13 has, arguably, received the most commentary of all the chapters in the narrative. It constitutes a ‘transformative’ act that can be viewed as a climax of the drama involved in this story (Jordaan & Coetzer 2008:27). The section can be divided into two sub-sections, namely 13:1–10 (Judith beheads Holofernes) and 13:11–20 (Judith returns to Bethulia with Holofernes’ head).

With reference to the themes of turmoil and trauma, it can be argued that this chapter constitutes the beginning of the reversal of roles in the story. The report of the beheading of Holofernes in 13:6–10, particularly verse 8, is an ‘informative’ speech act. The narrator informs the reader about Judith’s act of beheading Holofernes. This report is not neutral in that it is performative in nature – it invites the reader to anticipate notable shifts of roles in the story. The reader is sensitised to await the consequential reaction of the Assyrian army after the beheading of Holofernes.

Section 13:11–20, as mentioned, narrates Judith’s return to Bethulia after having killed Holofernes. This is good news to the reader, who might have feared for Judith’s life after her act of killing Holofernes.

She returns to Bethulia safely, and the Bethulians’ reaction towards her return is recorded in 13:17:

καὶ ἐξέστη πᾶς ὁ λαὸς σφόδρα καὶ κύψαντες προσεκύνησαν τῷ θεῷ – [All the people were greatly astonished. They bowed down and worshipped God].

The narrator informs the reader that the Bethulians were greatly astonished at Judith’s return and her report of the death of Holofernes at her hand. The utterance is primarily ‘informative’ as it is uttered with the intention to inform the reader about Judith’s reception among her people. Very critical in this report is the acknowledgement of God’s help with the killing of Holofernes (13:14 and 16). The utterances of these two verses are illocutionary acts, resorting under the rubrics of both ‘expressive’ and ‘assertive’ speech acts. Firstly, Judith expresses words of praise unto God for his help in the process. Secondly, she asserts that her adornment or beauty played a role in deceiving Holofernes, while she did not commit any sin with him. Pitt-Rivers (1966:42) says, ‘Judith herself never lost her own honor; female honor being inextricably bound up with sexual exclusivity’. Both the ‘expressive’ and ‘assertive’ speech acts established here do not only empower the reader with information but have the potential to persuade him or her to begin to see Judith as the heroine in the story. Her tenacity has paid off, and this has the potential to bring excitement to the reader. While applauding Judith’s tenacity, credit must be given also to the maid by her side (see Branch & Jordaan 2009:406; Levine 1992:17–30). However, it must be noted that even though the reader is excited to see Judith’s success, the story keeps him or her in suspense, as the drama back in the Assyrian camp has not been concluded. The text is, in this sense, ‘performative’ – in that the reader is encouraged to continue reading with great anticipation of the Assyrian army’s reaction.

Analysis of Judith 14:1–10, 14:14–19

This section opens with Judith addressing the Bethulians (13:1–5) on how they should attack the Assyrians’ camp. Her role in this is vividly portrayed. She assumes de facto command of the army of Israel (Dahbany-Miraglia 2009:3) when she commands the people to take up their weapons and let every able-bodied man go out of the town. The utterance here is an illocutionary act belonging to the ‘directives’ – that is, the speaker intends to make the hearers (Israelites) do something (Botha 2009:488). The speaker is requesting or directing the Israelites as to the way they should proceed to attack the Assyrians. One notes that, at this stage, turmoil and trauma are about to shift to the Assyrian camp, as the Israelites seem to have the courage to defend themselves. The death of Holofernes has caused this shift. The people of Israel are textually experienced by the reader to be in a joyful frame of mind, determined and praising God and no longer suffering from turmoil and trauma (13:6–10). This encourages the reader to look at Judith as a heroine for her people. Her tenacity and resilience continue to pay off.

Back in the Assyrian camp, Holofernes’ death is discovered by Bagoas, who has gone to his tent to alert Holofernes about the army of Israel who is coming to attack them. Upon discovering that he is dead, the text reports his reaction:

καὶ ἐβόησεν φωνῇ μεγάλῃ μετὰ κλαυθμοῦ καὶ στεναγμοῦ καὶ βοῆς ἰσχυρᾶς καὶ διέρρηξεν τὰ ἱμάτια αὐτοῦ – [Therefore he cried with a loud voice, with weeping, and sighing, and a mighty cry, and rent his garments].

The report of Bagoas’ reaction is an ‘informative’ speech act. The narrator intends to describe to the reader how Bagoas perceived Holofernes’ death. The narrator further informs the reader that when the captains of the Assyrians’ army heard about the death of Holofernes, they also tear their coats, while their minds were gratifyingly troubled, and there was a cry and a very great noise throughout the camp. This report has more than the mere intention of furnishing the reader with information. It invites him and/or her to take note of the reversal of roles in the story. Those who cause others to cry are now crying themselves, and those who cause turmoil are now thrown into turmoil themselves. Those who traumatise others are traumatised themselves. The masters are becoming slaves and vice versa (14:13). This reversal of roles is the result of Judith’s tenacity, and it does have the potential to encourage the reader to emulate her.

Analysis of Judith 15:1–7, 15:12–14

As noted, a compelling reversal of roles occurs in the story. Section 15:1–7 narrates in detail how turmoil and trauma engulf the Assyrians’ camp. In 14:2, the narrator says:

καὶ ἐπέπεσεν ἐπ̓ αὐτοὺς τρόμος καὶ φόβος…ἔφευγον ἐπὶ πᾶσαν ὁδὸν τοῦ πεδίου καὶ τῆς ὀρεινῆς – [Overcome with fear and trembling…they fled by every path across the plain and through the hill country].

The utterance is ‘informative’, done with the intent to inform the reader about the subsequent reaction and situation in the Assyrians’ camp. The fact that the entire camp is engulfed with fear and trembling is notable. As has been hinted at in the preceding section of the present article, turmoil and trauma have now taken over the Assyrian camp, and they do not seem to have the necessary tenacity to stand against the Israelites. The reader should take note of this development and glean great encouragement and acknowledgement of the role that Judith played in the narrative.

The report on the turmoil and trauma of the Assyrian camp in 15:1–7 is juxtaposed with a report of the celebrations in Jerusalem in 15:8–14. The reader gets to experience the textual actuality of the reversal of roles in the story. The report is presented by the narrator in an ‘informative’ speech act in 15:8–9a. It is interrupted by an ‘expressive’ speech act (15:9b–10) in terms of the people of Israel, who praise Judith for her tenacity and saving the nation. Two matters stand out in this section: (1) what the people see about the Lord, and (2) what they see in terms of Judith. The text reports that the people of Israel came to see the good things that the Lord had done for Israel and to see Judith.

Both speech acts (the ‘expressive’ and ‘informative’ speech acts established above) are not rhetorically neutral to the reader. While the ‘informative’ one empowers the reader with the information about the celebration and God’s help in the process of acquiring victory, the ‘expressive’ one, as directed to Judith’s tenacity and subsequent victory, continues to encourage the reader to emulate her. The reader is subsequently persuaded to believe (or keep believing) in the God of Israel, who rescues his people from turmoil and traumatic situations. A good example of this is Achior (14:10), who ἐπίστευσεν τῷ θεῷ σφόδρα – [believed in God greatly] (Roitman 1992:38; see also Caponigro 1992:48).

Analysis of Judith 16:25

With reference to the theme of turmoil and trauma, the story ends in favour of Judith and her people, who are now free from turmoil and trauma. It is emphasised that Judith’s tenacity brings about this joy and praise-singing to the people of Jerusalem. In 16:1–17, through the song of Judith, the reader is given an opportunity to recall the arrogance of the Assyrians and how they were determined to destroy Israel. The narration also reminds the reader of all that the Lord has done ἐν χειρὶ θηλείας – [by the hand of a woman] (16:5). Therefore, the utterance in 16:1–17 is an ‘expressive’ speech act, done with the intention of expressing the thoughts and feelings of the people of Israel about the victory that they have gained. The reader is duly invited to share in this joy, textually.

When the people arrive in Jerusalem, they continue to feast for 3 months before the Sanctuary, and Judith remains with them during this time. The narrator reports Judith’s death only after she and all the people have returned to their respective homes in 16:21–24. The report may sound sad for the reader, who has been journeying with this outstanding heroine of Israel in the narrative. However, in 16:25, the narrator presents what could be read as the ultimate happy ending for the people of Israel. Through an ‘informative’ speech act, the narrator reports that no one ever again spread terror among the Israelites during the lifetime of Judith or for a long time after her death.

The narrator intends to inform the reader about the situation in Israel then and afterwards. Regarding the theme of turmoil and trauma, the reader will be encouraged to hear that, since the acts of the heroine Judith, no one has – neither in her lifetime nor for a long time after her death – ever dared to threaten the Israelites. As pointed out, this report cognitively empowers the reader and persuades him or her to believe in the God of Israel and emulate Judith’s tenacity amid turmoil and trauma. Judith, in this case, embodies the God of Israel (Allen 2016:29).

Summary of findings

The goal of this article was to investigate the performative function of turmoil, trauma and tenacity in the second part of Judith in terms of speech acts. The primary pursuit here was to study the performative function of these themes to the reader, that is, how these themes may persuade one to participate in the story.

The article analysed selected passages from each chapter of Judith 9–16 in which a connotation with turmoil, trauma and tenacity occurs.

The analysis done in 9:7–10 revealed that the prayer of Judith has the potential to evoke courage and confidence on the side of the reader. He or she is persuaded to share in the confident expression about the power of God with Judith.

The analysis of 10:4 and 13 showed that Judith is not tenuous but brave. This invites the reader to marvel at Judith’s plan to conquer the enemy. The demonstration of tenacity by Judith induces the same attitude to the reader as they read the story.

The analysis of 11:21–23 revealed that the narrator’s ‘informatives’ continue to assure the reader of Judith’s tenacity and her success when she addresses Holofernes. Her success is judged as the first signal of transition of turmoil and trauma to the side of Holofernes and his army. The success of her speech and her beauty is both encouraging and amusing to the reader, as he or she knows in advance what Judith is planning to do to the Assyrian army’s general, while he does not (see also Adler 1998:12–13).

Analysis of 12:6–9, 12:16 suggested that Judith’s prayer life, as located in the valley of Bethulia, persuades the reader to emulate her by remaining close to God and seeking his guidance through prayer.

In 13:6–10, 13:17, the ‘performative’ nature of Judith’s act of beheading Holofernes was found to be imperative. The death of Holofernes has the power to invite the reader to anticipate the notable reversal of roles in terms of turmoil and trauma in the story. In this way, the text (13:7) persuades the reader to begin to see Judith as the heroine in the story. Her tenacity has paid off and it is an exciting development for the reader.

Analysis of 14:1–10 and 14:14–19 determined that the text invites readers to take note of the fact that turmoil and trauma are about to shift to the Assyrian camp as the Israelites seem to have developed the courage to defend themselves.

The analysis of 15:1–7 suggested that the reader is invited to note that the entire Assyrian camp is engulfed with fear and trembling. Turmoil and trauma are now inflicted on the Assyrian camp, and they do not have any tenacity to fight back. This has the potential to encourage the reader to applaud and emulate Judith’s tenacity in the narrative. In 15:8–14, contrary to the traumatic situation in the Assyrian camp, the reader is invited to experience the joyful Israel celebrating Judith’s tenacity that saved the nation.

With reference to the theme of turmoil and trauma, the analysis of Judith 16, particularly verse 25, concluded that the story ends in favour of Judith and her people, and the reader is duly invited to share in this joy. The reader is further assured that Israel never experienced threats from other nations in the lifetime of Judith and for a long time after her death. This report cognitively empowers the reader and persuades him or her to believe in the God of Israel and to emulate Judith’s tenacity amid turmoil and trauma.


This article was finalised on having been presented at an international conference of the Hungaro-South African Study Group on the theme of turmoil, trauma and tenacity in the Septuagint, in Papa, Hungary on 18–20 September 2019.

Competing interests

The author declares that no financial or personal relationships inappropriately influenced the writing of this article.

Author’s contributions

R.S.H., is the sole author of this research article.

Ethical considerations

This article followed all ethical standards for research without direct contact with human or animal subjects.

Funding information

This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

Data availability

Data sharing is not applicable to this article as no new data were created or analysed in this study.


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any affiliated agency of the author.


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1. To avoid confusion, this article will refer to the book of Judith in italics and the protagonist without these.

2. For example, see the work of Ito (2015) ‘the Speech act reading of John 9’.

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