Section: Moadim   Category: Chanukah
Yehudis Saves Yerushalayim
One of the cruel decrees during the Syrian-Greek rule was that every Jewish kallah was required to submit herself to a Syrian-Greek officer before her marriage.  Special officers in each town were appointed for this purpose.  The Jewish people refused to submit to this outrageous decree, and married secretly or delayed marriage in the hope of better times.   

Mattisyahu’s daughter was engaged, and shortly before the wedding, the officer appeared to enforce the decree.  Mattisyahu and his sons battled the officer and his soldiers, and miraculously defeated them.  The king was informed and sent his general to besiege Yerushalayim with a huge army.  In due time, the Jews inside the city began suffering from hunger and thirst; surrender seemed imminent.  A beautiful and righteous almanah, Yehudis (some sources say that Yehudis was actually the daughter of Mattisyahu) took the initiative to intervene to save her people from surrendering to the notoriously cruel general.

Yehudis dressed herself in her finest clothes, adorned herself, and left the city together with her maidservant, who carried a basket with food and aged wine.  They reached the enemy camp, and informed the guards that they had a vital and secret message to convey to the general.  The guards allowed them to enter the general’s tent, where the general eyed the beautiful Yehudis with interest.  Yehudis told the general that she had come to him because the conditions in the city were extremely difficult, and the Jews were becoming desperate.  She wished to save her people from the general’s anger at their stubbornness, and she was willing to tell him the best way to defeat the city quickly.  She told the general that she had heard of his valiant and brave war career, and she wished to get to know him better.  

The general was entranced by Yehudis, and accepted her offer to share a meal of bread and cheese.  Yehudis then offered him strong wine to quench his thirst.  The general drank liberally and quickly became completely intoxicated.

When the general was in a deep drunken slumber, Yehudis quickly uttered a tefillah for success, and withdrew the general’s sword from his sheath, and bore down on his neck.  She cut off his head, wrapped it in cloths, and concealed it in the basket.  Yehudis and the maidservant then quickly returned to the city where they immediately went to the Jewish commander.  Yehudis showed him the evidence of what she had done and advised him to prepare his army to attack the enemy early in the morning.  The enemy, who was not expecting the attack, turned to their general for direction, and panicked when they found him dead.  In this confused and frightened state, they fled from the Jewish army.  It was a miraculous victory wrought by a brave and righteous woman.