Judith, the heroine of the book. She is the daughter of Merari, a Simeonite, and widow of a certain Manasses. She uses her charm to become an intimate friend of Holofernes, but finally beheads him allowing Israel to counter-attack the Assyrians.
Painting by Trophime Bigot (c. 1579–1650, also known as Master of the Candlelight), depicting Judith and Holofernes. The Walters Art Museum.
Holofernes, the villain of the book. He is a devout soldier of his king, whom he wants to see exalted in all lands. He is given the task of destroying the rebels who didn’t support the king of Nineveh in his resistance against Cheleud and the king of Media, until Israel also becomes a target of his military campaign. Judith’s charm occasions his death.
Nebuchadnezzar, claimed here to be the king of Nineveh and Assyria. He is so proud that he wants to affirm his strength as a sort of divine power. Holofernes, his Turtan (commanding general), is ordered to take revenge on those who refused to ally themselves with him.
Bagoas, a Persian name denoting an official of Holofernes. He is the first one who discovers Holofernes’ beheading.
Achior, an Ammonite king at Nebuchadnezzar’s court; he warns the king of Assyria of the power of the God of Israel but is mocked. He is the first one to recognize Holofernes’ head brought by Judith in the city, and also the first one to praise Hashem.
Oziah, governor of Bethulia; together with Cabri and Carmi, he rules over Judith’s city.
Historicity of Judith
It is generally accepted that the Book of Judith is not historical. The fictional nature “is evident from its blending of history and fiction, beginning in the very first verse, and is too prevalent thereafter to be considered as the result of mere historical mistakes.” Thus, the great villain is “Nebuchadnezzar, who ruled over the Assyrians” (1:1), yet the historical Nebuchadnezzar II was the king of Babylonia. Other details, such as fictional place names, the immense size of armies and fortifications, and the dating of events, cannot be reconciled with the historical record. Judith’s village, Bethulia (literally “virginity”) is unknown and otherwise unattested to in any ancient writing.