There is ample reason to group these four biblical stories together. For centuries they were popular stories used in education and moral instruction. In the fifteenth century Lucrezia Tornabuoni, Florentine noblewoman and mother of Lorenzo il Magnifico, used them to educate her children. In Amsterdam, in 1743, Gijsbert de Groot Keur published Historie van den ouden en den jongen Tobias. Apart from the story of Tobias (education), the book also contained the stories of Susanna (chastity), Esther (cleverness), and Judith (bravery).
Susanna, the beautiful, pious, and chaste wife of Joachim, is falsely accused of adultery by two elders who desired to sleep with her. Often depicted is the scene of the two elders, hidden in Susanna's garden, spying on her when she takes a bath. God rescues the desperate Susanna by way of Daniel who cleverly interrogates the two lying elders.
This curious story of wonder and adventure tells about God's love and providence. Tobit and Sara, both righteous and godfearing people, are nevertheless struck with misfortune. God sends his angel Raphael who, travelling with Tobit's son Tobias, brings the story to a happy ending.
More about the story of Tobit and Tobias on the Mnemosyne website.
The Jewish woman Esther became queen by marrying Ahasverus. Through her cunning she saved her people from the plotting Haman.
When the Assyrian general Holofernes besieges the city of Bethulia, the brave and clever widow Judith rescues the city by entering the camp of the Assyrians, and beheading Holofernes.