“When she saw Peter
Were with Jesus,
The man from Nazareth.’”
καὶ ἰδοῦσα τὸν Πέτρον θερμαινόμενον ἐμβλέψασα αὐτῷ λέγει Καὶ σὺ μετὰ τοῦ Ναζαρηνοῦ ἦσθα τοῦ Ἰησοῦ.
This is similar to Matthew, chapter 26:69, and Luke, chapter 22:56. John, chapter 18:17, has just a woman without any further description. Mark said that Peter was warming himself in the high priest’s courtyard (καὶ ἰδοῦσα τὸν Πέτρον θερμαινόμενον). This young servant girl or maid of the high priest was looking or staring at Peter (ἐμβλέψασα αὐτῷ). She said to Peter (λέγει) that he had been with Jesus, the man from Nazareth (Καὶ σὺ μετὰ τοῦ Ναζαρηνοῦ ἦσθα τοῦ Ἰησοῦ), and not a Galilean as in Matthew. She had spotted Peter with Jesus. She knew that Jesus was from Nazareth. Now she recognized Peter. She may have seen Jesus and his followers somewhere beforehand. People judge you by your company. Would you deny your friends?
“When he went out
To the porch,
Another servant girl
To the bystanders.
‘This man was
With Jesus of Nazareth.’
He denied it
With an oath.
‘I do not know
ἐξελθόντα δὲ εἰς τὸν πυλῶνα εἶδεν αὐτὸν ἄλλη καὶ λέγει τοῖς ἐκεῖ Οὗτος ἦν μετὰ Ἰησοῦ τοῦ Ναζωραίου.
καὶ πάλιν ἠρνήσατο μετὰ ὅρκου ὅτι Οὐκ οἶδα τὸν ἄνθρωπον.
This is similar to Mark, chapter 14:69-70, Luke, chapter 22:58, and John, chapter 18:25, with some minor changes, as all 4 gospels have this 2nd denial of Peter. In Mark, it is the same servant-girl rather than a different one. In John, it was a group of people rather than one individual who addressed Peter. Matthew said that Peter went out to the porch area of the courtyard (ἐξελθόντα δὲ εἰς τὸν πυλῶνα). Another young servant girl or maid saw him (εἶδεν αὐτὸν ἄλλη). She then said to the bystanders there (καὶ λέγει τοῖς ἐκεῖ) that this man was with Jesus of Nazareth (Οὗτος ἦν μετὰ Ἰησοῦ τοῦ Ναζωραίου). Again, Peter denied it with an oath (καὶ πάλιν ἠρνήσατο μετὰ ὅρκου). He said that he did not know this man (ὅτι Οὐκ οἶδα τὸν ἄνθρωπον). Peter, the great defender of Jesus, again denied him in public with a solemn oath for a 2nd time, something he said that he would never do. Jesus had warned them about swearing oaths in chapter 5:33-37.
“The king was seated on his royal throne. He was clothed in the full array of his majesty. He was all covered with gold and precious stones. He was most terrifying. Lifting his face, flushed with splendor, he looked at her in fierce anger. The queen faltered. She turned pale and faint. She collapsed on the head of the maid who went in front of her. Then God changed the spirit of the king to gentleness. In alarm he sprang from his throne. He took her in his arms until she came to herself. He comforted her with soothing words. He said to her.
‘What is it, Esther?
I am your husband.
You shall not die.
Our law applies only to our subjects.
This Greek text shows the king seated on his royal throne with all his majesty and splendor, covered with gold and precious stones. He had a fierce terrifying look on his face. Queen Esther faltered, turned pale, and fainted. She fell on the maid in front of her. With that, God changed the spirit of the king to gentleness. He took her in his arms and told to take courage. She was not going to die since the law about interrupting the king unannounced applied only to the subjects of the king and not to her as his wife.
“Judith proceeded to dress herself in all her woman’s finery. Her maid went ahead of her to spread for her, on the ground before General Holofernes, the lambskins that she had received from Bagoas for her daily use in reclining. Then Judith came in and lay down. General Holofernes’ heart was ravished with her. His passion was aroused. He had been waiting for an opportunity to seduce her from the day he first saw her. He said to her.
‘Have a drink!
Be merry with us!’
‘I will gladly drink, my lord,
Because today is the greatest day in my whole life.’
Then she took what her maid had prepared. She ate and drank before him. He was greatly pleased with her. He drank a great quantity of wine, much more than he had ever drunk in any one day since he was born.”
Judith prepared to go to meet General Holofernes. She put on her best female clothes, at least for that day. Her maid preceded her with lambskins that Bagoas the eunuch had prepared so that that she could sit on the ground to eat and drink. She then went in and reclined or lay down in front of the good general. His heart was going pitter-patter as he was aroused at the sight of her. He had been waiting for an opportunity to seduce her since he first met her. He offered her a drink of wine, which she did not refuse. He wanted her to be merry. She replied that it was greatest day of her life. She had never mentioned her dead husband or if she had children. There was never any mention of them, so maybe she had no children. Then she ate the meal that her maid had provided. Although he was pleased with her, he drank more wine than he had ever drunk in his whole life. This could be a problem.
“When Judith had stopped crying out to the God of Israel, as she had ended all these words, she rose from where she lay prostrate. She called her maid. She went down into the house where she lived on the Sabbath and on her festal days. She removed the sackcloth that she had been wearing. She took off her widow’s garments. She bathed her body with water. She anointed herself with precious ointment. She combed her hair and put on a tiara. She dressed herself in the festive attire that she used to wear while her husband Manasseh was living. She put sandals on her feet. She put on her anklets, bracelets, rings, earrings and all her other jewelry. Thus she made herself very beautiful, to entice the eyes of all the men who might see her. She gave her maid a skin of wine and a flask of oil. She filled a bag with roasted grain, dried fruit cakes, and fine bread. Then she wrapped up all her dishes. She then gave them to her maid to carry.”
This is a glimpse into what a beautiful woman of the 3rd to 1st century BCE did to look beautiful as the details are very specific. Judith got up from her prayer tent and went into her house. She took off her sackcloth and widow garments. It is interesting to note that there was special clothing just for widows, thus the custom of women in mourning wearing black. In Genesis, chapter 38, there is the story of Judah’s daughter-in-law Tamar who took off her widow garments and enticed her father-in-law as a prostitute to have sex with her that produced the lineage for Judah through the twin boys of Perez and Zerah. Judith bathed and anointed her body. It is interesting to note that despite the shortage of water, she was able to take a water bath. She combed her hair and put on a tiara, as if a princess or queen. She put on festive attire, with anklets, bracelets, rings, earrings, and other fine jewelry. She wanted to look enticing. Then she had her maid servant carry her food and dishes.
“Judith heard the harsh words spoken by the people against the ruler, because they were faint for lack of water. She heard all that Uzziah said to them. He had promised them under oath to surrender the city to the Assyrians after five days. Then she sent her maid, who was in charge of all she possessed, to summon Chabris and Charmis, the elders of her town.”
Judith was aware of all that was going on. She may have more water than some of the others. She did not like the harsh words that the people had spoken to their leaders. She, also, did not care for the response of Uzziah that he was going to surrender in 5 days. Thus, she sent her maid to the other leaders, Chabris and Charmis, and not Uzziah, as she wanted to summon all the elders of the town.