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Book: Leadership, Social Memory and Judean Discourse in the Fifth - Second Centuries BCE

Chapter: Judith Maccabee? On Leadership, Resistance, and the Great Deeds of Little People

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.26818


‘Judith Maccabee’ compares the book of Judith and 1 Maccabees in terms of the ideals of leadership and resistance brought forward in each book. Playfully linking the protagonists of both texts to characters from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, it argues that Judith and Judas Maccabee not only pursue different tactics and different political aims, but also handle different definitions of the enemy against whom their resistance is staged. Both figures are described as acting with 'zeal'; however, their very different appropriation of zealous figures from Israel's past socialises the readers of both works are into contrary models of action: consent and compliance with the establishment of dynastic kingship and priesthood in 1 Maccabees versus grassroots resistance in the book of Judith. More importantly, 1 Maccabees teaches its readers a porous concept of Israel: enemies can be found both within and without - as can friends. Reversely, Judith treats everyone outside Israel as enemies - 'orcs', so to speak - shunning the idea of any form of contact that is not aimed at eliminating the latter.

Chapter Contributors

  • Anne-Mareike Schol-Wetter ( - amswetter) 'University of Utrecht'