13 October 2017

Judith: Black Widow

"Bring to pass, O Lord, that his pride may be cut off with his own sword." (Judith 9:12)

You see me - you see flesh,
a thing to devour,
to use for your pleasure.
You are used to power,
getting all you desire.
Am I but a fly
caught in your web?

Is this how low
a woman must fall,
giving her all
to a ravenous brute,
submitting to your desire,
letting myself be used
by the oppressor of my people,
flirting with abuse?

Am I but a fly
caught in your web?

You wish.

Fall down, o predator,
for you are now prey.
Fall down, o power,
for you have been conquered
by the one you thought the weaker sex.
Fall down, o mighty one,
and face your death
at the hands of Woman,
at the hands of your prey.

I have turned your lust
into my own weapon,
I have used your desire
to ensnare you in my trap.
You are a fly
caught in your own web.
Fall down, o power
and face the Lord
who chooses the weak
to dominate the strong.


[13. October 2017]

I wrote this really quickly... I'm a very lazy poet.

The story of Judith is part of the Apocrypha, i.e. late Old Testament texts which the Catholic Bible has, but Protestants generally leave out due to the Reformers thinking they had less value than the others due to being written in Greek and not Hebrew (bad reason, seriously...). Martin Luther did say, though, that the Apocrypha were an excellent supplement to the rest of the Bible and worth reading, so any Protestants wanting to go "but..": follow his advice and read them first, they are quite okay! (And were part of the early church's Bible anyway.)

So, Judith: I mostly knew Judith from the gory paintings of her chopping off Holofernes' head, until finally reading her story last year. The story takes place in the time of the Exile (under Nebuchadnezzar). Basically Judith stands up for the Jewish people against Holofernes, one of Nebuchadnezzars generals, by tricking him into thinking she wants to spend the night with him. She gets him all tired with food and drink and conversation, then - off with his head!

Anyway I read the story ages ago and today just suddenly got a few lines and sentences popping up in my head, also related to the abuse scandals going around at the moment I suppose. The story of Judith has a strong aspect of "weak winning over strong", God standing with the underdog (shown strongly by the victory of a woman - in that culture deemed weak and inferior - over a man). I especially like the twist of Judith using what was Holofernes' instrument of power (coerced sex) against him.

When you read with an eye to the women's stories in the Bible, you realise (in my opinion / my experience) that the Bible is all about the "weak" overcoming the powerful, God taking the side of those who are expected to submit, and God using them to teach a lesson to the powerful ones (Tamar and Jael come to mind). :-)

Oh, and "Black Widow" is because a black widow spider kills her mates - and Judith was a widow.

Picture by Artemisia Gentileschi

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