Bible Review 18:1, February 2002

Esther Not Judith

Why one made it and the other didn’t

By Sidnie White Crawford

Brave, wise and stunningly beautiful, Esther and Judith have much in common. Both Jewish heroines live under foreign domination. Both risk their lives to save their people from oppression. One of the few differences between the two women is that Judith is openly pious and Esther is not. Indeed, God is not even mentioned in the Hebrew version of the Book of Esther. So why was the story of Esther included in the Hebrew Bible while the Book of Judith was left out?

The Book of Esther appears among those books of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) known as the Writings (Ketubim). It is considered canonical by Jews and Christians alike, although the Orthodox Church follows the version found in the Septuagint (a Greek translation of the Old Testament produced in Alexandria in the third to the first century B.C.E.) rather than the Hebrew text. The Roman Catholic Church includes the Hebrew version but appends to it additions to the story found only in the Greek Septuagint.

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