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Hebrew Tales

The Story of Judith

Chapter 2 (Abridged Text)

With the Medes conquered, Nebuchadnezzar sends Holofernes to work vengeance on those who declined to assist him. He lays waste to many lands.

[1] And in the eighteenth year, on the twenty-second day of the first month, there was talk in the house of Nebuchadnezzar king of the Assyrians that he should, as he had said, avenge himself upon all the earth. [2] So he called all his officers to him, and all his nobles, and discussed with them his secret plan, and, with his own mouth, he ensured the scourging of the whole earth. [3] Then they decreed the destruction of all flesh, of all who didn’t obey the commandment of his mouth.

[4] And when he had ended his counsel, Nebuchadnezzar king of the Assyrians called Holofernes the chief captain of his army, who was next to him, and said to him:

[5] “Thus says the great king, the lord of the whole earth, ‘Behold, you will go forth from my presence and take with you men who trust in their own strength, one hundred twenty thousand foot soldiers; and the number of horses with their riders, twelve thousand. [6] And you will go against all the west country, because they disobeyed my commandment. [9] And I will lead them as captives to the utmost parts of all the earth. [10] You therefore will go forth and capture for me beforehand all their coasts; and if they will yield themselves to you, you will reserve them for me until the day of their punishment. [11] But concerning those who rebel, do not allow your eyes to pity them, but slaughter them and plunder them wherever you go. [13] And take heed that you transgress none of the commandments of your lord, but accomplish them fully, as I have commanded you, and do not defer to them.’“

[14] Then Holofernes went forth from the presence of his lord, and called all the governors and captains, and the officers of the army of Assur. [15] And he mustered the chosen men for the battle, as his lord had commanded him, to a force of one hundred twenty thousand, plus twelve thousand archers on horseback; [16] and he arrayed them just as a great army is ordered for war. [17] And he took camels and asses for their carriages, a very great number; and sheep and oxen and goats without number for their provision, [18] and plenty of rations for every man of the army, and very much gold and silver from the king’s house.

[19] Then he went forth with all his power to precede king Nebuchadnezzar on the journey, and to cover all the face of the earth westward with their chariots and horsemen, and their chosen foot soldiers. [20] Also a great number of diverse countries came with them, like locusts and like the sand of the earth, for their multitude was without number.

[22] Then he took all his army, his foot soldiers, and horsemen and chariots, and went from there into the hill country; [23] and he destroyed Phud and Lud, and pillaged all the children of Rasses, and the children of Israel who were toward the wilderness at the south of the land of the Chellians. [24] Then he went over the Euphrates, and went through Mesopotamia, and destroyed all the high cities along the river Arbonai, all the way to the sea. [25] And he captured the borders of Cilicia, and killed all who resisted him, and came to the borders of Japheth, toward the south, opposite Arabia. [26] He also encircled all the children of Madian, and burned up their tabernacles, and plundered their sheep pens.

[27] Then he went down into the plain of Damascus, at the time of the wheat harvest, and burnt up all their fields, and destroyed their flocks and herds; he also pillaged their cities, and utterly laid waste to their countries, and struck down all their young men with the edge of the sword.

[28] Therefore the fear and dread of him fell upon all the inhabitants of the sea coasts, who were in Sidon and Tyrus, and those who lived in Sur and Ocina, and all who lived in Jemnaan. And those who lived in Azotus and Ascalon feared him greatly.

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This text has been reproduced from:

The World English Bible, a copyright-free modern English rendering of a 1901 translation that has now passed into the public domain.