The Holy Father made a good point in his Angelus Address today.
Elizabeth, welcoming Mary, recognizes that the promise of God to humanity is being fulfilled and she exclaims, “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”. The expression “Blessed art thou among women” refers in the Old Testament to Jael (or Yael or Jahel – Judges 5,24) and to Judith (Judith 13,1), two warrior women who strive to save Israel. Now, on the other hand, it refers to Mary, a peaceful young girl who is about to bear the Savior of the world. So too the leap of joy of John (cf Luke 1,44) recalls the dance that King David did when he accompanied the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem (cf 1 Chronicles 15.29). The Ark, which contained the tablets of the Law, manna and the rod of Aaron (cf Hebrews 9,4), was a sign of the presence of God in the midst of His People. John, about to be born, leaps in joy before Mary, the Ark of the New Covenant, who bears in her womb Jesus, the Son of God made man.
Here is Artemesia’s Jael and Sisera:
As in her painting of Judith, you can see the cool, peaceful way in which she hammers the spike through the enemy’s head as he sleeps. It is always interesting to see Artemesia’s portrayal of scenes more commonly painted by men.
A detail from her Judith. Workman-like, getting the job done: