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Hebrew Tales

The Story of Judith

Chapter 5 (Full Text)

Anchior tells Holofernes the special history of the Israelites, and that God has promised to support them in war if they do not sin.

[1] Then was it declared to Holofernes, the chief captain of the army of Assur, that the children of Israel had prepared for war and had shut up the passages of the hill country and had fortified all the tops of the high hills and had laid impediments in the open plains. [2] Because of this, he was very angry, and he called all the princes of Moab and the captains of Ammon and all the governors of the sea coast, [3] and he said to them,

“Tell me now, you sons of Canaan, who is this people, who dwell in the hill country, and which cities do they inhabit, and what is the multitude of their army, and wherein is their power and strength, and what king or captain of their army is set over them, [4] and why are they resolved not to come and meet me, more so than all the inhabitants of the west?”

[5] Then Achior, the captain of all the sons of Ammon, said,

“Let my lord now hear a word from the mouth of your servant and I will declare to you the truth concerning this people, who dwell near you and inhabit the hill countries, and no lie will come out of the mouth of your servant. [6] This people is descended from the Chaldeans, [7] and they resided temporarily and until recently in Mesopotamia, because they would not follow the gods of their fathers, who were in the land of Chaldea. [8] For they left the way of their ancestors and worshipped the God of heaven, the God they knew; so they cast them out from the face of their gods, and they fled into Mesopotamia and lodged there for many days.

[9] “Then their God commanded them to depart from the place where they lived and to go into the land of Canaan; there they lived and were increased with gold and silver and with very much cattle. [10] But when a famine covered all the land of Canaan, they went down into Egypt and lodged there; meanwhile they were nourished and became a great multitude there, so that one could not number their nation. [11] Therefore the king of Egypt rose up against them, and he dealt subtly with them and brought them low with labor in brick and made them slaves. [12] Then they cried to their God and he smote all the land of Egypt with incurable plagues, so the Egyptians cast them out of their sight. [13] And God dried the Red Sea before them [14] and brought them to mount Sinai and Kadesh-Barnea, and cast out all who lived in the wilderness.

[15] “So they lived in the land of the Amorites, and by their strength they destroyed all those who were of Esebon, and passing over the Jordan they possessed all the hill country. [16] And they cast out before them the Canaanite, the Pherezite, the Jebusite, and the Sychemite, and all the Gergesites, and they lived in that country for many days.

[17] “While they did not sin before their God, they prospered, because the God who hates iniquity was with them. [18] But when they departed from the way which he appointed for them, they were destroyed in many battles very badly and were led captive into a land which was not their own, and the temple of their God was cast to the ground, and their cities were taken by the enemies. [19] But now are they returned to their God and have returned from the places where they were scattered and have possessed Jerusalem, where their sanctuary is, and are seated in the hill country, for it had been desolate.

[20] “Now therefore, my lord and governor, if there is any ignorance in this people and they sin against their God, let us consider that this will be their ruin, and let us go up and we will overcome them. [21] But if there is no iniquity in their nation, let my lord now pass by, lest their Lord defend them and their God be for them, and we become a reproach before all the world.”

[22] And when Achior had finished these sayings, all the people standing around the tent murmured; and the chief men of Holofernes, and all who lived by the seaside and in Moab, were saying that he should kill him. [23] For they said, “We will not be afraid of the faces of the children of Israel, for we see that they are a people who have no strength or power for a strong battle. [24] Now therefore, lord Holofernes, we will go up and they will be a prey to be devoured by all your army.”

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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.