The Bible in education: Susanna, Tobias, Esther, Judith

Biblical examples

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

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.

Tobias

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.

Esther

The Jewish woman Esther became queen by marrying Ahasverus. Through her cunning she saved her people from the plotting Haman.

Judith

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.

The elders spy upon Susanna about to take a bath -More images

The elders spy upon Susanna about to take a bath -More images

The two elders accuse Susanna of adultery -More images

The two elders accuse Susanna of adultery -More images

Daniel interrogates the two elders -More images

Daniel interrogates the two elders -More images

Daniel proves Susannas innocence  -More images

Daniel proves Susanna's innocence -More images

Tobit is blinded by a swallows dropping -More images

Tobit is blinded by a swallow's dropping -More images

Tobias leaves Tobit; Tobias travels with the angel Raphael  -More images

Tobias leaves Tobit; Tobias travels with the angel Raphael -More images

Tobias heals Tobit from blindness by putting the gall of the fish on his fathers eyes -More images

Tobias heals Tobit from blindness by putting the gall of the fish on his father's eyes -More images

The feast of Ahasuerus: Queen Vashti gives a banquet for the women -More images

The feast of Ahasuerus: Queen Vashti gives a banquet for the women -More images

Haman causes Ahasuerus to issue a decree that all the Jews are to be put to death  -More images

Haman causes Ahasuerus to issue a decree that all the Jews are to be put to death -More images

Esther before Ahasverus  -More images

Esther before Ahasverus -More images

Esther asks Ahasuerus to revoke the decree against the Jews; the death of Haman -More images

Esther asks Ahasuerus to revoke the decree against the Jews; the death of Haman -More images

Achior is tied to a tree near the city of Bethuliah -More images

Achior is tied to a tree near the city of Bethuliah -More images

Holofernes beheaded by Judith with his own sword -More images

Holofernes beheaded by Judith with his own sword -More images

Judith puts the head of Holofernes into a sack  -More images

Judith puts the head of Holofernes into a sack -More images

Judith shows the head of Holofernes to the people of Bethuliah -More images

Judith shows the head of Holofernes to the people of Bethuliah -More images