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(16:7). (10:19). contemporaries-only beauty-the judgment ofIsrael. (8:5-6, 28-29, 9:1-14; 10:2,

Judith's piety also supports her metaphoric identification with Israel even as it severs her connection to the Bethulian population (8:5-6, 28-29, 31; 9:1-14; 10:2, 8; etc.). No fanatical ascetic, the truly observant widow demonstrates her faith both by fasting and by eating at appropriate occasions (a trait that will serve her well in Holofernes's camp). This religiosity is distinguished from the bad theology and related practices of the Bethulian leaders. The men return to their posts (8:36), but Judith engages in devotional activities "at the very time when that evening's incense was being offered in the house of God in Jerusalem" (9:1). As a woman, she is technically marginal to the operation of the official cult. But on her roof, she can participate in devotions vvithout endangering the status quo. Close to the deity in spirit and in physical location, she is removed from the people both religiously and spatially. The summary verse of her introduction (8:7-8) confirms her various unique attributes and retains the emphasis on her piety. While her beauty plus the "gold and silver, and men and women slaves, and cattle, and fields" left to her by her husband would be sufficient to distinguish her from other Bethulains: "no one spoke ill ofher because (hoti) she feared God exceedingly" (8:8).