Hanukkah, Fragrance and the Story of Judith of Bethulia

Judith of Bethalia Hanukkah Heroine

 Judith of Bethulia August Riedel portray

Worldwide, virtually each religion has a vacation within the winter season honoring the return of sunshine after the lengthy, gloomy months of winter. The Jewish Hanukkah is without doubt one of the oldest celebrations dedicated to bringing mild into the darkness right now of 12 months. Lasting eight days, Hanukkah commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, the place the Jews had risen up towards their Greek-Syrian oppressors within the Maccabean Revolt. Additionally referred to as the Competition of Lights, the vacation is well known by the lightning of the menorah, conventional meals, video games, and presents. The customized of consuming dairy meals on Hanukkah, with dishes like kugel, cheesecake, or rugelach, that each one share one ingredient: cheese, is a customized rooted within the story of Judith of Bethulia.

I’ve all the time been fascinated by the story of Judith of Bethulia, as have many artists, by the years, who paid tribute to her magnificence and braveness.  On this primary evening of Hanukkah, we are going to revisit her story collectively, and paint the main points, and the imaginary scents she surrounded herself with.

Judith of Bethalia and Hanukkah

Judith of Bethulia, by Carlo Francesco Nuvolone, second half of seventeenth century.

The Greco-Assyrian military, led by Holofernes, had surrounded the village of Bethulia, as part of his marketing campaign to overcome Judea. After days of intense fights, the siege was inexorably drawing to a detailed, and the state of affairs turned determined as soon as the water provide was reduce off. There have been no extra phrases, no prayers left unsaid. No unshed tears. It was the final hour. Uzziah, captain of the troops, broke the silence and in a quiet, solemn, and certain voice, mentioned: “5 days. Simply give me 5 days. 5 extra days. If on the finish of those 5 days, no rescue will come, then we are going to capitulate.” Ladies clung to his seriousness, and males had been conquered, towards their will, by his obvious self-control. However inside, Uzziah was determined. He didn’t know what he was going to do in these 5 days. He had no plan.


All of the sudden, he heard a voice behind him: ”Why are you testing G-d by giving him five-day ultimatums? Should you actually trusted Him, you shouldn’t be speaking like that, Uzziah. And in addition to, don’t you understand {that a} destiny crueler than dying awaits us if we fall into the fingers of Holofernes?” Uzziah slowly turned to the nice and cozy voice that lightly scolded him within the darkness of the evening. The lady approached him, smiling at him. The moon’s rays slid on her lovely face, framed by a black, mourning scar, and he or she acknowledged Judith of Bethulia, the excessive priest’s daughter. Everybody knew Judith. She was solely 23 years outdated when her husband, Menashe, died, and since then she had devoted her life to prayers and serving to these in want, regardless of the numerous marriage proposals she had obtained, for Judith was a girl of uncommon magnificence. “Uzziah, belief me. I’ve a plan and nothing will occur to me. God brings, every so often, salvation by girls. Don’t neglect Yael, Heber’s spouse. She was a easy girl like me and he or she succeeded the place all males have failed.” Judith shortly returned residence. There was no extra time to waste. She referred to as the maid as quickly as she rushed into the home: “Carry me the chest with the very best garments! Carry the jewellery field! Please make some candy and fluffy loaves of bread! Will we nonetheless have these muffins with raisins and dried dates? The maid was shifting with problem, she was older, however, inspired by the dynamism of her mistress, she started to crawl underneath the beds and arise pulling on some bins, whereas Judith watched herself rigorously within the mirror. She didn’t like what he noticed. She was nonetheless younger, not even 30 years outdated, however mourning had darkened her face with a struggling and unhappy air. It had been 3 years and 4 months since her husband had died and since then she had refused to enter the home. He had arrange a tent on the roof of the home and spent his hours there, in prayer and fasting. He got here down solely on Shabbat and holidays. She was pale, malnourished, and dehydrated and her as soon as vivid pores and skin was now shriveled dry, and colorless. “We work with what we have now at hand, that’s it”, she mentioned to herself with a sigh and took off her tough hemp coat, which she had been carrying since she turned a widow. With the little water that was left in a pitcher, she hurriedly washed herself. Then she started to anoint his pores and skin with a thick, scented oil. Heavy, candy, and peppery aromas tipped with coriander and anise  wafted into the evening air. Slowly, heat waves of myrrh and incense rose, musk, cinnamon and costly resins, enriched with woods and amber. The sunshine therapeutic massage and the velvety oil introduced again the rosy glow of youth to Judith’s cheeks.

Judith of Bethulia Gabriel Joseph Marie Augustin Ferrier

Because the contemporary odor of bread started to envelop the home, Judith dressed shortly and rummaged by the outdated chest for the bottle of essences. Wild jasmine smothered in scorching incense, candy fruit shackled in cinnamon oil, heat vanilla, and rose drowned in white honey enveloped her robes in a scented vapor that rose seductively with each step she took.  She clasped her heavy bracelets with a twisted sample on her wrists, and the glittering necklaces encircled her delicate neck in a number of rows, glowing on her chest. Many wealthy rings adorned her fingers with lengthy and skinny fingers. The heavy earrings rattled along with her each motion, catching the sunshine of their play and throwing it on her face, reflecting it in her black eyes. The hair gave off an intoxicating, heat, tingly, vigorous aroma of an orchard of fruit and flowers after a summer season rain.

Lastly, she seemed within the mirror, triumphant. She seemed majestic like a queen, as if she was the one from her wedding ceremony day, as if no years had handed. The maid had put the whole lot she had requested for in a big wicker basket: the cheese she made, for which she was well-known all through town, the fluffy loaves of bread that unfold an intoxicating odor, the cake with dried fruits, a jug of olive oil and a bottle of darkish wine, which she saved even from the marriage banquet.  They walked shortly, with mild and smooth steps, like cats on the prowl into the evening. Once they got here near the Assyrian sentinels, she lined her face with a skinny clear veil, “I come from town. I’ve an essential message on your chief” she ventured. In a short while, the 2 girls had been led into a big, luxuriously embellished tent. Holofernes was sleeping on some smooth carpets, propped up on pillows, and muttering one thing offended. He threw an offended take a look at the surprising go to and continued dozing. Surprised, he revealed his face and waited silently, standing. A second take a look at the lady piqued his curiosity. He stood up amazed, a little bit embarrassed by his perspective. He organized his garments as he requested harshly, to masks his uncertainty.

Judith of Bethulia by Cristofano Allori

Her black eyes glistened with tears, an irresistible redness lined her cheeks, as her voice modulated, heat, and penetrating like a tune. With every nervous gesture of her delicate fingers, the fragrance impregnated in her clothes unfold all through the tent, filling the house with its candy and darkish seduction, awakening all of Holofernes’s instincts. He seemed in amazement on the girl in entrance of him and felt rising in him an awesome want to guard it. He had by no means skilled both heat or magnificence, and the wealth of sensations that this girl aroused in him had been fully unknown to him. A breeze of tenderness had swept over him and he didn’t know what that meant both. He stood confused in entrance of her, not understanding how one can react. To own it right here and now? He was nonetheless a Greek normal. To kill her? The best way to destroy such magnificence? To have it. Let it’s his. That’s what he wished and he didn’t know the way. All of the sudden, a thought got here to his thoughts. A thought that reconciled each the person and the soldier in him. “Should you inform me how one can conquer the fortress and it seems to be true, then I promise you something you need and I’ll make you my spouse. You may be my spouse, mine!” He repeated, enraptured by his crafty.

famous paintings of Judith of Bethulia

Judith of Bethulia Beheading Holofernes by Caravaggio

Within the following days, Judith of Bethulia and her maid turned a recognized presence within the Assyrian camp. Frightened by the overall’s orders, nobody dared to disturb their every day walks. However time was drawing shut. Judith organized herself that night with extra care than ever. She outlined her black eyes with a thick line of kohl and glazed her lips with beeswax ointment and honey. The fragrance of jasmine flowers and roses raised within the air, in rhythm with the dance of her wealthy locks, which fell darkish and heavy, free of the grip of the silver pins. Contrasting with the jet-black cascade of hair, the silver tiara glittered majestically round her. The jewels glittered hypnotically, and the silk belt woven with shimmering gold thread accentuated her slender waist. Nervousness introduced a breath of contemporary air to her rosy cheeks, which made her look even youthful and extra delicate. As he entered the tent, Holofornes let loose a sigh of admiration. He acquired up shortly and took her hand to guide her to her place. The desk was stuffed with essentially the most great goodies positioned on costly silver dishes and the glasses shone invitingly within the candlelight. Throughout, colourful carpets, cushions lined with essentially the most delicate silks, smooth hand-embroidered blankets, flowers introduced from afar, fruits, vases, and all types of gold and silver chalices and candlesticks wherein giant candles of pure wax shone. He had requested for essentially the most treasured issues to impress her. Certainly, contained in the tent, there was a luxurious the likes of which he had by no means seen earlier than.” Because the time approaches when I’ll turn into your spouse. Then I would love you to know me higher. Look, for instance, I introduced this night my very own meals, cheese made in my home, which is legendary all through Bethulia, an outdated and good wine that my father himself constituted of the winery behind the home, and bread. Please, style. Tasting my meals, you’ll know me.” That’s all Holoforn was ready for! Judith shortly unfold in entrance of him the cheese specialty of which she was so proud, the bread, and acquired as much as serve him. It was a salty, barely spicy, crumbly goat’s cheese that wanted to be soaked in quite a lot of wine. She approached him from behind and, bending a little bit, poured wine into his glass. The fragrance emanating from her locks, which had been now touching his shoulder, drove him loopy. He had by no means smelled like this earlier than, he wished to place his head in her black hair and go to sleep there, inhaling the aroma of her physique. Holofernes downed the primary glass.  He left himself to her, consuming from her hand, ingesting from the glass wherein she had first moistened his lips, inhaling her fragrant breath. He would have achieved something she wished, a little bit extra cheese. One other mouthful of wine. ”Heaven, I’m in heaven, he thought”, because the vapors of her fragrance and the power of the wine clouded his thoughts increasingly. He lays his head again closely, the place it meets the pillow. He sighed and fell asleep immediately, falling into her arms.  With out losing time, Judith shortly took a pillow and positioned it underneath his head. She unsheathed the sword that Holofernes held excessive above the bedding and raised it above the overall’s head, closed her eyes and whispered a prayer, then slammed the sword down on his neck with all her would possibly. The top rolled with a thud and got here to relaxation on a chair leg. Stunned, she breathed quickly and checked out him in horror. She thought she might nonetheless hear him loud night breathing. She stood up shortly and wearing her cape and wrapped his head, which was dripping blood, in a scarf. She walked calmly out of the overall’s tent and headed in direction of the gates. Behind her, the maddening and dense fragrance endured, which had blended with the sweetness of blood dispersed in dozens of drops of a violent crimson, in a wierd seduction of dying.

 Italian Menorah depicting Judith from 18th century source

That evening, the Jews attacked the Greek camp, managing to avoid wasting the Bethulia fortress and all its inhabitants. Frightened and confused, the enemies fled, forsaking their riches and long-awaited provides of water and meals. The subsequent day the ladies of town gathered to see Judith of Bethulia, for the information of the salvation introduced by G-d by her delicate hand had unfold far and vast, and so they blessed her, chaining themselves in dances in her honor. Judith took branches and flowers in her fingers and gave them to the ladies who had been along with her, dancing with them, all topped with olive wreaths. Thus adorned, they went out to have a good time within the metropolis, Judith going earlier than the ladies in dancing, whereas all the lads of Israel adopted behind them, with garlands of their fingers and songs on their lips.

In reminiscence of the courageous Maccabean fighters, the braveness of a girl, and the miracle of the oil that burned with out ending, Hanukkah is well known for eight days, the celebration of sunshine, of miracles, of overcoming obstacles when the whole lot appears misplaced.

Nicoleta Tomsa, Senior Editor

Menorah in Milan in Corso Vittorio Emanuelle II

Menorah in downtown Milan Corso Vittorio Emanuele II by Ermano Picco, picture December seventeenth for this put up

Hanukkah begins after sunset on Sunday, Dec. 18 in 2022 starting on the Hebrew calendar date of 25 Kislev. and ends after sunset on Monday, Dec. 26th, Since our inception in 2010, CaFleureBon has had a convention of celebrating Hanukkah and perfume. I wrote our first Hanukkah Fragrances put up on December 1, 2010, then in 2011, Tama Blough (RIP) in 2012, subsequent was Former Contributor Nancy Lichtenstein in 2013,  adopted by Former Contributor Drew Chafee  in 2014, Former Contributor Aaron Potterman 2015, Robert Herrmann (RIP in 2016 in addition to 2017) and Deputy. Editor Ida Meister in 2018, Alexander Helwani in 2019,  Former Contributor Dalya Azria 2020 and I wrote one other article  in 2021. We now have come from all spiritual backgrounds.-Michelyn Camen, Editor-in-Chief

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Nicoleta Tomsa, Senior Editor

Comply with us on Instagram @cafleurebonofficial @nicoleta.tomsa

That is our Privateness and Draw Guidelines Coverage

Like our Fb web page: Çafleurebon and use our weblog feed for brand new updates and articles