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  • Judith 5

    Israel’s resistance reported

    Holofernes the general of the Assyrian army was told that the Israelites, in preparation for war, had closed off the mountain passes, fortified all the high hilltops, and set up roadblocks in the plains. Filled with anger, he called together all the rulers of Moab, the commanders of Ammon, and all the governors of the coastlands. He said to them, “Tell me, you Canaanites: Who are these people living in the highlands? In what cities do they dwell? How big is their army? Where does their strength and power lie? Who is set up as their king, leading their army? And why—unlike all those living in the west—have they refused to come and meet me?”

    Achior relates the history of Israel

    Then Achior the leader of all the Ammonites said to Holofernes, “Please listen to the word of your servant, my master, and I will tell you the truth about this people who live in the highlands near you. I’m your servant and won’t lie to you. These people are descended from the Chaldeans. In the past they lived as strangers in Mesopotamia because they weren’t willing to follow the gods of their ancestors in the land of Chaldea. They broke with the customs of their parents and worshipped the God of heaven, the God whom they knew. So their ancestors sent them away from the presence of their gods, and they fled to Mesopotamia, where they lived as strangers for a long time. Then their God commanded them to leave there and go to the land of Canaan. They settled there and became very rich in gold, silver, and cattle. 10 But when a famine spread through the land of Canaan, they went down to live as strangers in Egypt, where there was food. While they were there, their numbers increased so that they couldn’t be counted. 11 Then the king of Egypt turned against them and took advantage of them, enslaving them and forcing them to make bricks. 12 They cried out to their God, and he sent incurable plagues upon the entire land of Egypt, so that the Egyptians drove them out of their sight. 13 God dried up the Red Sea before the Israelites, 14 and led them by way of Sinai and Kadesh-barnea. They drove out all of the inhabitants of the desert. 15 They lived in the land of the Amorites and destroyed all the Heshbonites with their strength. Once they had crossed the Jordan, they took possession of all the highlands. 16 They drove out the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Shechemites, and all the Gergesites, and they lived there for a long time.

    17 “As long as they didn’t sin against their God, they prospered, because the God who hates wrongdoing was with them. 18 But when they neglected the way God had laid out for them, they were greatly defeated in many battles and taken as prisoners to a foreign land. The temple of their God was burned to the ground, and their enemies took possession of their cities. 19 But now they have turned back to their God, having returned from the place where they were scattered. They have occupied Jerusalem, where their sanctuary is, and settled in the highlands, because it was desolate. 20 Now, my lord and master, if this people should slip up and sin against their God, and if we find out about their offense, then we can go up and defeat them. 21 But if they as a nation aren’t guilty, it is better that my master just pass them by, for their Lord and God will protect them, and we will become a joke throughout all the land.”

    22 As Achior finished relating these things, all the people standing around in the tent began to grumble. Holofernes’ officers and everyone from the seacoast and Moab said that Achior should be executed. 23 They said, “We aren’t afraid of the Israelites. Indeed, these people don’t have the power or strength for making war. 24 Therefore, Lord Holofernes, let’s go up and devour them with your entire army.”