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I remember as a child at school being taught the story of "Zaratha" (spelling?). I've always presumed it was a Jewish story, but I don't actually remember encountering it while reading the Bible (noting that in Britain, comprehensive schools are/were not famed for exploring anything but the Christian tradition, so I'll be amazed if it extra-Biblical).

The story is essentially this: a people are under seige by an army, and they are almost out of food. They are running out of options. Then a woman by the name of Zaratha tells the people to take the last of their food, and feed it to one of their cows, and then send this cow out of the gates. The people are finally persuaded and do as she states.

Upon seeing the fatted cow wander out from the gates, the beseiging army is crestfallen - it has already been a very long seige, and they presume that the fat cow is just one of many, and that the people within are living well regardless of the seige. Despondently the army raises the seige and moves on.

Zaratha is lauded as a hero by the people.

Question: what is the source of this story?

Huh, I've seriously never heard that story. I went googling and couldn't find anything. This is going to drive me crazy now. I know its not in the bible or surely I'd recognize it.