By Philip Mogul <email@example.com>
Submitted November, 2004
Summary: This L&C Elseworld tale of love and friendship combines the story of a Stonehenge engineer and his soulmate with the tale of the ancient legendary heroine, Judith.
Standard Fanfic Disclaimer's apply
Again, many, many thanks to my GE, Jeanne Pare, for her invaluable assistance in assembling this Superman story into a more readable and interesting tale.
For the past several years I have been researching things that could link the winter solstice tales — Christmas and Chanukah — into a single narrative.
With this information, I was able to generate a tale based on information I encountered concerning Adam (the first biblical human) and his festival of lights.
This current story, I hope, will link the Judeo-Christian winter solstice tales through Yuhudit (Judith). Her story also corresponds to a period when the construction of Stonehenge, on the Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, England, was probably still in an active site. I found sources that indicate there was activity at this site until about nine hundred B.C.E.
Although the physical evidence of Stonehenge on the Salisbury Plain secures its place in history, it is not known whether or when the story of Judith actually occurred.
The tale of Hebraic heroines, like Yael and Deborah, appeared first in very ancient texts. These manuscripts indicate that Judith may have lived during the time of the Judges sometime between twelve hundred and one thousand B.C.E. The Book of Judith was originally written in Hebrew but might have disappeared before such writings could be secured. Only a Greek translation was discovered by archeologists, and biblical scholars have found many inaccuracies in the translated text. One item that stems from the Book of Judith is that its time frame, unlike the Salisbury Plain construction period, is not precise. Only approximate broad time periods can be associated with the events surrounding this heroine.
While the construction of the Barrows can be placed between four thousand B.C.E and nine hundred B.C.E, the Book of Judith cannot be definitely fixed in the twelve hundred B.C.E time frame.
The uncertainty in the time lines of the ancient Hebraic and English events allows me the latitude to choose a time period and to mesh both events in this winter solstice tale.
While the huge monument of the Salisbury Plain has captured people's imaginations for centuries, speculation on who built it—Druids, Greeks, Phoenicians, or Atlanteans—has been argued by scholars for centuries. Even today, there is still a clash of minds as to the reasons Stonehenge was built — human sacrifice and astronomical uses have been suggested.
While historians are fairly certain that Judith existed sometime between twelve hundred and two hundred B.C.E, the city that she helped to defend, Bethulia, still remains a mystery.
Bethulia was besieged by the army of Holofernes, an Assyrian commander. It was this town that Judith is said to have delivered from destruction by decapitating the Assyrian commander with his own weapon.
Although many pious individuals believe that Bethulia was a symbolic name for Jerusalem or maybe just a fictitious town, these ideas have galled many individuals engrossed in the scholarly realm as poor notions.
Because of the uncertainties and controversy that surrounds the book of Judith, this text does not exist in the Hebrew Bible and is consequently excluded from the Protestant canon of the Holy Scriptures. However, the Church of Rome has always maintained its canonicity. Catholics, with very few exceptions, accept the Judith tale as a narrative, not as allegory. St. Jerome, who excluded Judith from Canon, nonetheless had accepted her as a valiant historical individual.
It has been noted over the centuries that the topology described in the Book of Judith suggested that Bethulia probably existed in the southern area on the Plain of Esdrelon. However, there are about a dozen towns that fit the description of Bethulia and its surrounding springs as to make any definitive statements pertaining to the final location of Bethulia.
Another historical or academic fact that you may find interesting is that the Book of Judith is an apocryphal text. It is not within the canon of the Hebrew or Protestant Bibles; it does appear in the Roman Catholic version of the Old Testament.
You now have smatterings of the research I carried out before I attempted to compose the following Lois and Clark tale.
If any Folcs wish to do any further library research in this area, type Bethulia, Judith or Holofernes into the Google search engine to begin your study.
For the reader's edification, a clark, from the old English, specifies a clergyman or a learned man. In this story, just a learned individual will be associated with the Clark appellation and excludes any individual who may profess a religious bent.
Ancient Soulmates — The Ties That Bind
On a bright and sunny day, a clark from the Kent locality of Briton was en-route to the Salisbury Plain — this journey occurred about twelve hundred B.C.E. A clark, by modern day standards, was generally a highly educated individual. This clark was a specialist in what could be, by modern terminology, an architectural engineer. Also, as all men of this period, he was a highly skilled warrior. His fighting expertise, a necessary adjunct to his scholarly abilities, enabled the clark to defend himself from brigands who roamed the land. It also enabled him to join with others of his clan to defend his homeland. This particular engineer had also earned the military rank of a core commander, which enabled him to lead a thousand fighting men or more during large military engagements.
Because of his abilities, the man from Kent had been summoned by the high council of his community to determine ways to finish erecting the megalithic known today as Stonehenge — the present day ruin is about three kilometers west of Amesbury, Wiltshire, which is located in the Southern part of England.
After reaching the council, the clark from Kent who most called CK was informed of the urgency surrounding the council's urgent building plans.
The megalithic now under construction, the clark was informed, would soon reach a critical stage. Knowledge of transporting massive stone slabs a considerable distance and able to lift them from three to twenty spans of a man's body length had not been fully understood by the people of the plain.
However, the council had learned from people living along the coasts of Ireland and Briton that a seafaring people, the Phoenicians, knew of people who possessed knowledge of moving sizable objects and construction methods associated with large- scale stone structures. They also knew how to dress the stone once it had been positioned. The Phoenicians referred to these peoples as Egyptians and the Hebrews.
After some negotiations, the Phoenicians were willing to take a building engineer to a small Israelite fishing village called Yafo on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. This port would place the clark within easy reach of building craftsmen in a city called Bethulia or with some Egyptian construction personnel near Israel's Eastern border.
The council then told the young clark the reasons why the council had selected him for this mission. "Your engineering knowledge and fighting abilities make you the obvious," the chief council stated. "Your capabilities may help you successfully fulfill this mission," he also added.
After a moment of silence, a member of the high council said, "In four moons, a Phoenician vessel will arrive at Blackpool, a small fishing village on the Irish sea. You, as our representative, are expected to make contact with this trading vessel when it arrives at that specific anchorage. Passage to your destination has been already been paid for." Another member of the council then handed the engineer from Kent a packet containing official documents and sufficient coinage for what could easily be a multiyear journey and wished him good fortune.
Receiving the council's blessing and a survival kit, CK nodded, left the place of meeting, and began preparing for his trek across Briton to the point of rendezvous with the Phoenician trading vessel. The engineer from Kent had four moons to contact the Phoenician ship and begin his exotic trip. Just how enthralling his voyage would be, CK would be aghast if he but knew.
As CK was readying himself for his arduous journey, Lois of the Lane clan was practicing the healing arts in a fishing village known as Wexford Harbor also situated along the coast of the Irish Sea.
Ever since her sixth birthday, an apparition, calling himself Tempus, had been instructing her in the medical sciences by mental means as she slept. She was taught internal medicine and surgical techniques that would not exist for thousands of years. With this knowledge Tempus added a mind block so the futuristic information she received could not be transmitted to Lois' brethren or colleagues of her space-time age.
Because of her superior medical knowledge, Lois' fame as a healer rapidly spread throughout Ireland, as she matured. With that type of notoriety, of course, came envy and hate, especially by her male counterparts who believed a woman's place was limited to caring for a home and raising children.
So, as CK embarked from anchorage at Blackpool, Tempus, the apparition from Lois' mindscapes, now in human form, arrived at the village of Wexford Harbor, and within a few days was subtly denouncing the young female healer as a sorceress.
Soon after arriving at the fishing community, Tempus, using electronic gadgetry to muddle the villagers' senses, caused the community of Wexford Harbor to rise against Lois and incarcerate her in her dwelling.
The inhabitants of Wexford Harbor, after many debates, under the compulsion of Tempus' electronic control, found Lois guilty of necromancy. Tempus compelled the villagers to formulate a plan that would remove Lois from the village Wexford Harbor by using a Phoenician trading vessel as the removal agent. So, after Lois' trail, the people of Wexford Harbor waited patiently for a Phoenician vessel to arrive at the harborage adjacent to their fishing village. Until then, Lois would be kept in isolation, and covertly placed aboard the trading vessel just before it sailed for its homeport of Yafo.
When the trading ship finally arrived and anchored off Wexford Harbor, the villagers went about their usual business, even as they prepared to rid themselves of the accused sorceress, Lois of the Lane clan. While the loading and unloading of the Phoenician vessel was in progress, Lois was compelled to swallow a sleeping potion and then placed under guard. When the elixir had rendered the condemned supernatural medicine woman unconscious, she was placed aboard the Phoenician vessel just prior to its sailing and locked in a harmless looking cargo container.
In her comatose state, Lois could still perceive the voice of the time traveler. As she listened, she could now hear the unstable lilt in his voice. For years, that voice had coursed through her head teaching her those strange healing methods, which she had used to save many lives. Then the healer of Wexford heard, "Good- bye Lois," as the mental linkage with her former mind-teacher vanished for all time. Tempus' mind games with his pupil, the Lois of yesteryear, had now been concluded. As the man from the future entered the time stream, he smiled, as he realized that his mental games with the ancient Lois Lane had been a most satisfying diversion from his usually more mundane machinations.
As the people of Wexford Harbor watched at moonset, the Phoenician merchant ship sailed for the middleeast and home. That evening, the captain of the Phoenician trading barque invited CK to join him for the last meal of the day. After a pleasant meal, both men retired, sleep heavy on their eyelids after a rather arduous day.
By the end of the second day at sea, CK and the ship's captain's fondness for one another were becoming a trusting friendship that would last the rest of their lives.
As CK and the ship's captain were about to partake of their noon meal on their third day at sea, a loud banging noise was heard emanating from the vessel's cargo hold.
The noise immediately caused CK, the captain, and some of the ship's crew to rush into the vessel's freight compartment and search for the source of the loud disturbance.
Within a few minutes, a cargo container was ripped opened revealing a young woman with an expression of terror, masking her otherwise, exquisite facial features.
Without hesitation, CK lifted the young woman from the freight receptacle and carried her to the captain's quarters.
Allowing a few minutes for Lois to regain her composure, the healer informed them of the circumstances leading first to her incarceration and then to her exile from the village of Wexford Harbor — information, which would always remain privileged from all but CK and his friend, the barque's captain.
Several minutes after learning of Lois' plight, the captain of the Phoenician trading ship asked Lois whether she was a married woman.
Learning that Lois was unattached — a single person — CK's friend began to pace to and fro about his cabin.
After several minutes, CK's new friend faced his guests. Taking a deep breath, he said, "As you know, my people serve a panoply of gods. The deity who controls our destiny upon the sea does not tolerate maidens sailing aboard our ships. Married women do not pose a threat, because it is believed that the aura emanating from her spouse protects them and the ship's crew."
"When my crew discovers that Lois is unmarried, they will insist that she be cast into the sea to protect this vessel and its crew from the wrath of their gods."
"Is there nothing that can be done to protect her?" the man from Stonehenge asked.
"CK," the captain replied, "we are out-numbered nearly a hundred to one. Fear of the unknown will eventually force the crew to act. If we attempt to interfere, we will be killed and Lois will be thrown from the ship anyway."
"The people of Bethulia, who chartered this vessel, could never be informed of Lois' execution to placate a Phoenician sea god. If her death were ever linked to such an entity, the entire crew would be garroted or stoned to death according to the laws governing the twelve tribes of Israel. Our backers have written into their contract with us that all our crew must follow the Hebraic laws and edicts handed down to the Hebrews at Sinai by their one invisible G-D."
With a look of dismay upon his face, CK asked, "Is there nothing to be done?"
Pulling CK aside, the captain replied quietly, "There is a possible solution to our dilemma."
After a pause in their conversation, the Phoenician commanding officer, CK's friend, said in a subdued tone, "I noticed a particular expression on your face when you rescued Lois from the cargo container and rushed her to my cabin. My friend," the captain asked CK, "do you posses any sentiment for the girl?"
After a pause, CK replied, "I believe that I've been smitten by the young lady. My attraction was almost instantaneous. It knocked me for a loop."
CK then murmured, "My friend, it appears that my feelings for Lois are indicative of love at first sight. She will think I'm a lunatic."
The captain then told CK, "Take a walk on deck. I'll call you after I have a chat with Lois."
After CK had left the cabin, the ship's captain sat down next to the ex-healer of Wexford Harbor and explained the situation.
To his surprise, Lois, after learning of the complex situation, agreed to wed CK, not to preserve her life, but to maintain stability on the trading vessel.
Therefore, within an hour, Lois and CK, who Lois had begun to call Clark, were husband and wife according to the codex established by the twelve tribes of Israel.
Shortly after the marriage ceremony, which was witnessed by the ship's company, the documents were signed to legalize the union. The newly married couple was escorted to an unoccupied room where they remained for a relatively short time— fifteen to thirty minutes.
At the celebration that evening, Clark informed Lois that he did not intend to consummate their nuptials. In that way, he informed his bride, an annulment of union could be easily obtained when they reached Bethulia, if she so desired. All that Lois need state to the court was that Clark had not performed his husbandly duties. Clark would accede without an argument to her accusations, and their marriage could then be swiftly annulled.
Hearing Clark's intended plan, the captain of the Phoenician barque was then obliged to inform Lois and Clark that their union had been consummated.
"Being alone in a room for a time after your nuptial ceremony," he told them, "is considered a consummation of your marriage according to the laws of Israel. So my friends," the ship's captain said to the newly married couple, "your scheme has no practical value."
Shaking his head, Clark took Lois by the hand and slowly walked to their quarters. Once Lois and her husband were alone, she asked Clark, "How far would you go for someone you really love?"
Clark answered, "I'd do all in my power to help that person. I would even give up my life, if necessary, for such an individual." Looking her straight in her eyes, Clark added with no hesitation, "I'd lay down my life for you, Lois. My love for you is that strong."
After Clark's admission of his love for his new wife, Lois gave him a radiant smile and said, "I felt our love merging as you rescued me from the cargo box. As you took me in your arms, I experienced a tingling sensation that seemed to flow from me to you and back again."
Clark replied, "I, too, felt the same sensation, my love."
Then, Lois placed her arms about Clark as he picked her up and carried her to their bed.
As night moved toward morning, the rhythm of love conjoined two souls and created new life.
After several months at sea, the voyage of the Phoenician trading barque finally ended when it at last arrived at its homeport of Yafo.
On the day after the ship's arrival in ancient Israel, the crew unloaded the vessel and began transporting the goods to the warehouses in Bethulia. The merchandise from these storage buildings was soon being distributed to the proper merchants within the town.
In her first trimester, Lois was feeling a bit under-the-weather as the ship's unloading process proceeded. So, when the crew left to deliver their goods, Lois and Clark decided to remain aboard the trading barque until she could comfortably travel along the rough roads of this strange country.
Several days later Lois felt fit-as-a-fiddle, so at sunrise the newlyweds left the port area and proceeded towards their destination, the village of Bethulia.
As Lois and Clark rounded a bend in the road in the hilly country that surrounded the port area, they came upon a carriage being escorted by a troop of men with military bearing — about ten individuals mounted on swift steeds.
As Clark surveyed the encampment, he realized that they were not unexpected. The scouts from this small caravan had observed their movement some distance off.
The commander of the armed escort, seeing that Lois and Clark were of no threat, invited them to join the caravan for its noon meal. The newlywed couple graciously accepted the commander's offer. The amount of food which Lois and Clark carried was meager at best and this meal would help them stretch the relatively small amount of foodstuffs in their possession.
When relishing their noon meal with the camp's military commander, a woman in her forties joined Lois and Clark and introduced herself — her name was Judith.
During the remainder of the noon meal, Judith made it known that she had been widowed some years back and it was her caravan that the newlyweds had stumbled across. In their conversation, Judith told Lois and Clark that she had borne her husband two daughters, and when he was killed by marauding bandits, she found that he had protected his family with sufficient property and money to make them monetarily secure. The military men, whom Lois and Clark first saw as they entered her camp, were in her employ. They were needed to protect her and other merchants from the brigands who often wandered the nearby desert region and preyed upon individuals unable to defend themselves.
After Judith concluded her tale, Clark told her about his journey to seek knowledge of how to build large structures for his people. When it came to his wife, Lois, Clark just said that when they saw one another love between them occurred almost instantaneously. Their marriage followed quickly after their declaration of mutual affection. Of Lois' issues engendered by the citizens of Wexford Harbor, nothing was said or needed to be said.
Seeing that the foreign woman was with child and coupled apparently posed no problems. Judith invited Lois and Clark to journey with her caravan to the village of Bethulia.
As they trekked across the barren wastes, Judith learned that Lois was a healer.
Judith then informed Lois, who was happy to hear, that there were two other female healers living in Bethulia.
Unlike her homeland, Lois discovered that both male and female healers in Judith's community cooperated with one another, even covering for each other when a colleague became ill or was called away from the village, generally for family or other personal matters.
As Judith's caravan began moving through potentially hostile territory, Lois and Clark noticed that the caravan's pace toward Bethulia increased markedly.
While Lois and Clark were deeply interested in the unfolding panorama, the widow, Judith of Bethulia, made up her mind to ask Clark and his soulmate Lois to share her relatively large home.
Although wealthy by the region's standards, Judith was lonely. She somehow felt that this scholarly couple would bring a measure of life again into her home. At present, her dwelling felt like a mausoleum.
When, later that day, Judith made her offer to the newly married couple, Lois, with tears flowing from her eyes, accepted the widow's offer with all the gratitude she could muster.
With Lois and Clark's acceptance of the young widow's extremely generous invitation, Judith felt a wave of joy sweep through her being. Without realizing it, she unconsciously had fulfilled the sacred pledge between Abraham and her people, the patriarch's descendants, to treat a stranger as yourself and make them welcome in your house.
As the sun was setting in Bethulia that evening, Lois and her husband moved into the home of Judith and her children.
During the evening meal, Lois became aware that Judith's young daughter was disabled — she ambulated with a severe limp.
Asking Judith what caused the young girl's impairment, Judith replied, "A drunken brother-in-law who slashed her with his blade. For what he did, he was exiled from the Bethulia community. My brother-in-law felt that my late husband's monetary holdings should be his. However, my husband, realizing his brother's intent early on had a document composed that left his estate to me and our descendents."
"A wise man," Lois responded. Judith nodded.
Then Clark said, "I want to see your solicitor and provide a similar document for Lois and our heirs." Judith smiled at the engineer and again nodded her approval.
Later, when the two women were alone, Judith said to Lois, "Not only do you possess a very loving spouse, but one that is a deep thinking and highly intelligent man."
Over the coming months, Lois established a medical clinic while her husband, Clark, studied with building scholars in the village of Bethulia.
Working in concert with her colleagues, Lois required a normal fee from those who could afford to pay but took little or nothing from the poor or the destitute among the population of the town.
There was something liberating about giving charity to those in need. Lois felt emancipated, and the act seemed to cleanse her soul.
Some months after her children were born, fraternal twins — a girl Lois and Clark named Kayle meaning in Hebrew a crown, and a boy they called Jonathan, signifying in the language of the town G-D has given, the healer from Wexfor Harbor approached her friend Judith.
After a quiet, but intense discussion, both parties decided that Lois should attempt surgery to repair the infirmity caused by Judith's crazed relative.
Several weeks later, Lois performed the necessary medical treatment, which lasted slightly more than six hours, to repair the injury to Sarah's leg.
As Lois was cleaning her operating theater, Judith placed her hand on the healer's shoulder and just said, "Thanks," words that meant more than all the wealth in the Kingdom of Egypt. She said, "I know that we do not know whether you were successful, but that is unimportant in the end. All that Hashem requires is that we try. There is an old saying 'G-D helps those who attempt to help themselves.' Sleep well, my friend," as she left the room.
Stepping out on her patio, Lois saw her husband standing on a hill a little way from the house. When he saw his beloved starring at him, he hurried to where Lois was standing and placed his arm around her shoulders and inquired, "Why such a serious look on your beautiful face, my love?" He then smiled at her wife, kissed her on the forehead, and then asked whether the surgery on Sarah went well.
She nodded and said to him, "Only time will tell. I pray that my skill was adequate to this task, and she will completely heal."
Then Lois, out of curiosity, inquired about his doings on the hill. After a pause, Clark told her he was praying for her surgical success.
"To what deity were you praying?"
Clark answered, "To the Hebrew's desert G-D."
Lois did not reply. She simply took him by the arm, and together they returned home.
Some months later, Lois and Clark celebrated the first birthday of their twins. It was an open house affair, and many of Bethulia's residents came to enjoy the festivities.
Every time Judith saw her daughter Sarah running through the house carrying food to the people who came to celebrate Kayle's and Jonathan's first birthday, she praised the G-D of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. When Judith and Lois' eyes met, the widow simply nodded and an understanding and warmth flowed through the souls of both women.
When Lois was in another gravid period, Clark said to his wife, "I've completed my study of large structures and now must return the information I gathered to the high council as promised.
Pausing for a moment, he said to his soulmate, "You can remain here while I fulfill by obligation. Judith has readily agreed to my request. Here, you are appreciated for your medical talents and are needed to help maintain the health of this community. In our homeland, you will be despised for your abilities because of your gender and will be hated for your abilities."
Lois hugged her husband and quietly said, "Your people are my people and your G-D is my G-D. Where you go I will go."
A glow appeared on Clark's face as he placed his head on his wife's shoulder and wept. In the midst of his tears he said, "I swear to you before the desert G-D of the Hebrews that as soon as my obligation to the high council has been completed, we will return to our home here in Bethulia."
It was in the spring of the year that the Phoenician Barque, with Lois and Clark and their children aboard, set sail for the anchorage off Blackpool in the British Isles.
As the trading craft was easing its way out of Yafo harbour, the captain of the vessel addressed Clark and said, "You've always referred to me as captain. We are good friends, are we not?" Clark shook his head. "Then call me by my birth appellation like good friends should — Baltizar. I will become angry if you don't."
Then the two men hugged one another as Clark said, "Baltizar, my friend and my spiritual brother."
Several months later, after a relatively calm ocean voyage, Clark and his family embarked from the trading vessel and began to journey toward the Stonehenge monument.
Several days later, Clark presented his building plans to the high council in the presence of the Clan chiefs of the region. Present in the chamber of elders was a relative from the Northern tribal area.
The next evening Clark's family members gathered for a festive celebration commemorating Clark successful venture. During this get together, his relative approached the scholarly engineer and said, "Cousin, I would like to purchase your woman."
Taken aback for a moment, Clark replied, "I hope you're jesting, cousin."
"No," was his relative's sarcastic reply.
As the fury mounted in Clark's soul, one could see on the countenance of a generally mild mannered engineer that CK's limit of tolerance toward his cousin had been exceeded. In response, CK told his cousin, Badnash, that he was no longer welcome in his home or tent of celebration that was currently full of happy revelers.
"You wouldn't dare throw me out," Badnash said, to his scholarly relative.
Suddenly, hands like iron seized Badnash by the scruff of the neck and hurled him from the tent of celebration.
As Clark's cousin's body struck the ground, CK shouted in a steely voice, "The woman you covet is not just my mate but my wife, bound in marriage before a multitude of honorable witnesses. Our marriage fused our souls. When we were single, Lois and I behaved as two separate people. Now we are bound to one another in a powerful holy union. My beloved and I have become two halves of a divine entity as do all couples who truly love one another. We have found something that is beyond human reason, and we innately know that it is good and will stand for all time. You should realize, Badnash, that I feel that my wife is the better part of our union, and I will perish in her defense before any harm can befall her or our children."
Taking a deep breath, Clark said to his cousin, "Leave this place in peace and take your sycophants with you." Pausing for a moment, Clark added, "I don't believe that you fully comprehend what a true union of loving souls implies — two who praise G-D and are thankful for his ordinances. All that you perceive when you look at Lois, Badnash, is lust; lust for a female that stimulates your uncontrollable desire. There would never be any loving feeling or commitment between you and my wife, only the physical pleasure that would satisfy your body, but would wane in time."
Several weeks later the engineer from Kent and his family were packing for their return trip to Bethulia, a Mideastern city in the desert of Israel, which had spiritually transformed Lois and Clark and created a couple with a lifetime of love and a commitment to people, especially people in need.
As Clark was saying his farewells to the high council, his family members, and friends, Badnash and several of his attendants were stealthfully approaching Lois and Clark's quarters.
After eliminating the security detail placed near Lois and Clark's tent, Badnash's military attendants rushed into the engineer's living quarters, seized his wife, and carried her from the high council's compound and hurried toward their leader, Badnash.
While the northern chieftain's sycophants moved quickly toward their lustful and adulterous master, the heavens, which only a few minutes before appeared calm and filled with blazing stars, now had an ominous appearance. As the abductors continued toward their destination, they became keenly aware that the sky was continuing to change into a forbidding spectacle. Thick clouds and lightening bolts were dancing through the agitated sky sweeping about the vault of heaven with near gale force winds.
As they approached Badnash's location, one of his servants said, "Lord, I believe that the gods are angry with what we do."
Flinging the man aside, the northern chieftain replied, "You are a worthless superstitious fool. The gods favor me and support my act of taking this woman for my pleasure. It's my right."
Then Badnash started across the field to physically take control of his prize.
Just as the Northern leader was about to lay his hands upon Lois, a violet colored bolt of lightening struck him in the chest, dispatching the warrior chieftain and sending him to his ancestors.
Later, the oracle attached to the high council interpreted the act as a sign that all construction at the Stonehenge site should halt. As he recommended, so it was done.
Several days later, Lois and Clark and their children, escorted by some of the high council's guards, made their way to the anchorage at Blackpool. There they would wait for a Phoenician vessel bound for the port of Yafo.
To their surprise, when they entered the Blackpool anchorage, they discovered that the same barque that had carried them from the Middle East was waiting for them.
Boarding the trading ship, Clark and his family were soon on their way home. Baltizar was the ships commanding officer.
Baltizar later told them that he was instructed, in a vivid dream, to wait for the engineer and return him and his family to Yafo.
A further surprise awaited Clark and his family as they embarked at the port of Yafo — Judith was on the dock. She told her housemates that she had learned of their arrival in a dream just a few days ago. Reacting to her fantasy, she hastily prepared a caravan and journeyed to Yafo where she was overjoyed to welcome her family and friends and escort them to Bethulia and home.
Soon after their return to Bethulia, the house of Judith resounded with the wailing of a newborn. Lois had given birth to another child — a son, one of whose descendants would produce works that would resound through the ages.
In the years that followed, Lois, Clark, and Judith raised their five children within Judith's home, now a joyous household. Lois and Clark also became totally immersed in the Bethulia community and helped the town prosper.
As is now well known throughout the world, life is generally not a tranquil journey. However, with hard work, the village of Bethulia became known as a prosperous town, which followed G-d's laws.
Since wealth becomes a desirous commodity, it should not be surprising that about fifteen years after Lois and Clark settled in Bethulia, a huge Assyrian military force under the command of Holofernes, a mighty Syrian general, surrounded the walls of Bethulia. He needed the city's wealth to pay his troops to further his conquests. Therefore, the fortified village of Bethulia had to be subdued or reduced for the other Hebrew tribes to lose spirit and be crushed by Holofernes' forces.
Holofernes was notorious for his cruelty in crushing his military opponents. It was well known that when an enemy stronghold was finally captured, he showed no mercy to the men, women, and children who had been sheltered in the conquered citadel.
The fortified village of Bethulia came under attack because of the town's wealth and had been built at a strategic crossroad that could prevent an invading army from attacking other Hebraic cities in the land.
The men and women of the beleaguered town fought bravely, and at times desperately. Because of their valor, they continued to repulse the repeated assaults of Holofernes' forces. Unable to capture Bethulia by direct assault, Holofernes' army lay siege to the fortified town.
By cutting off the village's food and water, the town soon was on the verge of capitulation to the enemy.
Hungry and thirsty and in utter despair, the townspeople gathered in the marketplace and demanded that, rather than perish from hunger and thirst, the village should capitulate to the Assyrian forces under Holofernes.
Uzzia, commander of the Bethulia defense forces, and the elders of the town attempted to calm the populace without total success.
Under the pressure from the villagers, it was agreed that if in five days salvation did not come, Bethulia would yield to the forces of Holofernes. "Just five more days," Uzzia murmured — "G- d Help us."
As the people of the village left the area, one person, a woman, with her family, Lois and Clark and their kids, remained in the market square. After the meeting area had been cleared, Judith spoke rather forcefully to Uzzia and the elders.
Her voice was clear and firm. The widow's question was a stinging condemnation of the five-day period that the community had set for deliverance before Bethulia would surrender. She said, "If you truly have faith in G-d, you must never give up your trust in the Lord of Hosts. Besides, aren't you aware that surrender to Holofernes is worse than suffering death?"
So spoke the widow Judith, the noble daughter of the high priest Yochanan.
As she aged, Judith seemed to be blessed with extraordinary charm, grace, and a beauty that did not fade. Of all her attributes, however, she was particularly respected and admired for her charitable works, her modesty, and the loving kindnesses she graciously bestowed on her friends and neighbors.
Like her deeds, Judith's words had again made a deep impression upon Uzzia and the Elders.
"You are right, daughter," Uzzia and the elders admitted, "but what can we do? Only a continuous downpour of rain would fill our near empty cisterns and save our people from the growing agony of thirst, but it's not the rainy season. The people also suffer from their increasing pangs of hunger. Pray for us, Judith, and perhaps the Lord of Hosts will accept and answer your prayers on behalf of our village."
"We all must continue to pray and never despair," Judith reminded them.
After a pause, Judith continued saying, "My brethren Lois and Clark and I have also devised a plan that may succeed — remind the towns folk that G-d helps those who help themselves."
To bring her plan to fruition, Judith requested permission to leave Bethulia and be joined by Clark and Baltizar after dark. After some discussion, her request was granted.
As Clark and Baltizar watched from hidden positions, Judith left Bethulia dressed in her best clothes, garments she hadn't worn since her husband's passing. A delicate veil all but hid her beautiful face. She also carried a basket filled with rolls, cheeses, and carried several bottles of old wine on her head, as was the custom of the region when a visit was intended.
The sun had begun to set behind the mountains to the west when she approached the enemy encampment whispering a prayer to G-d.
Presently, she was stopped by sentries, who demanded to know who she was and who had sent her.
"I have an important message for your commander, the brave Holofernes," Judith replied. "Take me to him at once."
Escorted to Holofernes' tent, the Assyrian general immediately asked, "Who are you and why are you here?" as his eyes feasted on his unexpected, charming visitor.
"I am but a simple widow from Bethulia. Judith is my name. I've come to inform you how to capture my village, in hope you will deal mercifully with its inhabitants."
Judith then told Holofernes that living in the beleaguered town had become unbearable for her, and she had bribed the watchman to allow her to leave the village. Judith then added that she had heard of Holofernes' bravery and mighty deeds in battle and wished to make his acquaintance. She then informed Holofernes what the general already knew that the situation in the besieged town was desperate, and that the inhabitants had very little food and water left. Yet, she informed him, the Hebraic faith in their desert G-d remained strong, and so long as they possessed that belief, the village would not capitulate. "On the other hand," Judith added, "before long, every scrap of the proper dietary foods — kosher edibles — would be gone, and in desperation the villagers will begin to eat the flesh of unclean animals, and G-d will turn against them, and Bethulia will fall…"
Eager for more information, Holofernes asked, "How will I know when the defenders of the citadel begin to eat unclean food, as you say, so I can storm the walls of Bethulia and capture the town?"
"I have thought of that scenario," Judith answered with confidence. Pausing for a moment the widow from Bethulia continued, "I'll arrange with the watchman at the city gates to allow me to leave every day and return if I wish in the evening. With me will be the critical information you require." Giving him one of her electric smiles Judith pleaded, "Please spare the watchman." He nodded agreeing to her request.
As they conversed, Holofernes found that he was completely captivated by the charming Hebrew widow who had so unexpectedly entered his life and now was offering him the key to capturing her village.
"If you are telling me the truth and help me capture Bethulia, you will become my wife," Holofernes promised Judith.
Then the commander of the Assyrian forces gave orders that Judith was to have complete freedom to ambulate through the camp, and anyone attempting to molest her, in any way, would immediately be put to death.
Holofernes then ordered a comfortable tent to be prepared for the widow of Bethulia so she could rest if she wished and placed it next to his billet.
As the days passed, Judith, veiled and wrapped in her shawl, could now be seen walking leisurely through the armed camp at any time during the day, and in the evening she was often seen returning to Bethulia. Fearful of the commander's strict orders, everyone gave Judith a wide berth. Soon, the widow of Bethulia attracted little, if any, attention. It was when her presence became almost invisible that she could briefly meet with Clark who gave Judith vital military information, which he had procured for Uzzia.
Every night, when Judith return to her besieged village, she would seek out a quiet place in her home and thank G-d for his protection and then seek Uzzia, give him Clark's information, and tell him how her strategy was shaping up. Then she would bolster the hearts of brethren by telling them that with G-D's help the village would prevail, and their enemy would soon be overcome.
As Judith labored for her people's survival, Holofernes, having nothing special to do, spent most of his time drinking, with and without his aides. When he was not completely inebriated, he would send for Judith. She always came to Holofernes' tent with a woman who was purchased to service the Assyrian warriors. In the presence of the camp woman, Judith was safe from the indignity of the Assyrian's hands.
On the third day of Judith's sojourn, the Assyrian general was becoming impatient for results.
"Well, gracious Judith, what intelligence do you bring me today? My men grow impatient and demoralized doing nothing. They cannot wait to capture Bethulia and have their fun…"
"I have very good news, my general," Judith responded. "There is not a scrap of Kosher food left in the village. In a day or two, famine will drive the people of Bethulia to slaughter and eat their cats, dogs and mules. Then G-d will deliver them into your hands."
"Wonderful, wonderful! This surely calls for a celebration," Holofernes responded.
Then the widow of Bethulia said, "Tonight, brave general, we'll have a party, just you and I in my tent. Holofernes, you shall be my honored guest."
That evening as Holofernes entered Judith's magnificently decorated tent, the Assyrian supreme commander saw a table laden with all kinds of delicacies. He was delighted to be welcomed in such a manner and partake of the feast that was before him. As Holofernes continued to look at the delicious looking edibles, Judith said, "These are special foods that I prepared for this occasion, and the wine you see was made from an old family recipe.
"My goat cheese," Judith added, "is also famous throughout Bethulia. I'm sure you'll love it, my lord."
Holofernes, after tasting her food enjoyed the cheeses immensely, but he particularly relished Judith's homemade wine.
Soon, after tasting Judith's food, she was dispensing her cheese, chunk after chunk to the Assyrian commander, and as the cheese increased his thirst, he washed it down with the widow's wonderful homemade wine. Soon, Holofernes was sprawled on the floor of Judith's tent, dead drunk.
Judith then placed a pillow under Holofernes' head and rolled him over on his face. As she was uttering a silent prayer, Clark slipped into Judith's tent.
As Clark readied himself to protect Judith, he heard her say, "Answer me, O Lord, as you answered Yael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, when you delivered the wicked general Sissera into her hands. Strengthen me this once that I may bring your deliverance to my people whom this cruel man has vowed to destroy, and let the nations know that you have forsaken us not…"
Taking a breath, Judith unsheathed Holofernes' heavy sword, and taking aim at his neck, the widow of Bethulia brought the sword down on it with all her might.
After her act, Judith sat down to compose herself.
Clark moved to the corpse and began wrapping the Assyrian general's head in rags.
Recovered, Judith took Holofernes' wrapped head and concealed it under her shawl. Then she and Clark calmly walked towards the gates of Bethulia.
Passing through the gates of the town, sentries quickly escorted Judith to Uzzia while Clark went to join his wife, Lois.
Uzzia could not believe his eyes as he stared at the gruesome prize Judith had brought to him.
"There is no time to lose." Judith, then told Bethulia's military commander, "Prepare our men for a surprise attack at dawn, using the plan which you, Clark, and Baltizar prepared."
Baltizar then came forward and drew a map of the newest fortified positions held by the Assyrian army, stressing the weak sites in their defensive perimeter.
Uzzia then commented, "It is our hope that when we attack they will run to their commander's tent for instruction and find a headless Holofernes. Seeing their commander's lifeless body, the Assyrians should flee for their lives, since they are now leaderless."
This was precisely what happened.
The enemy fled in confusion and in terror, leaving much booty behind. It was a magnificent victory, and it was a G-d fearing and brave daughter of the Hebrew people who saved the city of Bethulia and its inhabitants.
After the Assyrian threat had passed, the village of Bethulia enjoyed many years of peace and prosperity.
Twenty-two years later, Judith and Baltizar the Phoenician, stood under the wedding canopy, as Lois and Clark's youngest son, Boas, married a woman named Ruth who had returned from the land of Moab with her mother-in-law Naomi.
In the course of time Ruth gave birth to a son who they called Ovid. As one generation passed into another, Ovid begot Jesse who was the father of David, the second King of Israel.
Epilogue: Chanukah and Christmas
Approximately eight hundred to a thousand years later, Israel again fought a twenty-seven-year war with a similar enemy, the Assyrians-Greeks. After the long conflict the enemy was driven from the land by the Hebraic inhabitants lead by the Hasmonean house, a priestly family. The Kingdom of Israel was again established. The Temple at Jerusalem was cleansed, and as the story goes, only a single cruse of pure olive oil could be found which should have only been sufficient to light the Temple lamps for a single day. For eight days, the Temple Lamps burned until the people of Jerusalem could press new olives and produce enough pure oil to maintain the Temple lights.
To celebrate this miracle a festival called Chanukah, lasting eight days, was established. It was decreed by the Sages of that generation of Hebrews that for all time candles would be kindled for eight days during the time of the Chanukah festival. To add to the joy of this joyous holiday it was suggested that the foods that Judith used to dispatch the Assyrian general, Holofernes, be consumed during its celebration.
When, some two hundred years later, the Christian sect, a messianic group within the Judaic fold broke from the parent stem, many ancient Hebraic customs were infused in this new religious persuasion. So it is not surprising that at the winter solstice both Christianity and Judaism celebrate a festival of lights. Both holidays signify miraculous events and represent the hope for all humankind.
If you have comments pertaining to this story, please contact me privately at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Season's Greetings to one and all!