Bildarchiv Foto Marburg

“Today is the greatest day in my whole life” Judith tells Holofernes as she tenderly feeds him on the night she will slay him (Judith 12:18). Ever observant of Jewish dietary laws, Judith refuses to eat any of the food Holofernes serves and brings her own supplies in a bag. She will later use that bag to carry home the Assyrian warrior’s head.

In Lucas Cranach the Elder’s 1531 painting (from the Schlossmuseum, in Gotha, Germany), Holofernes looks warily across the table, as if he expects a threat from the outside, but not from the elegant lady who sits beside him.