Reading 138/341, Judith 1-5

Judith...

In the twelfth year of the reign of Nabuchodonosor, who reigned in Nineve, the great city; in the days of Arphaxad, which reigned over the Medes in Ecbatane, And built in Ecbatane walls round about of stones hewn three cubits broad and six cubits long, and made the height of the wall seventy cubits, and the width thereof fifty cubits, And set the towers thereof upon the gates of it an hundred cubits high, and the width thereof in the foundation threescore cubits, And he made the gates thereof, gates that were raised to the height of seventy cubits, and the width of them was forty cubits, for the going forth of his mighty armies, and for the setting in array of his footmen, in those days king Nabuchodonosor made war with king Arphaxad in the great plain, which is the plain in the borders of Ragau. And there came unto him all they that dwelt in the hill country, and all that dwelt by Euphrates, and Tigris and Hydaspes, and the plain of Arioch the king of the Elymeans, and very many nations of the sons of Chelod, assembled themselves to the battle. Then Nabuchodonosor king of the Assyrians sent unto all that dwelt in Persia, and to all that dwelt westward, and to those that dwelt in Cilicia, and Damascus, and Libanus, and Antilibanus, and to all that dwelt upon the sea coast, And to those among the nations that were of Carmel, and Galaad, and the higher Galilee, and the great plain of Esdrelom, And to all that were in Samaria and the cities thereof, and beyond Jordan unto Jerusalem, and Betane, and Chelus, and Kades, and the river of Egypt, and Taphnes, and Ramesse, and all the land of Gesem, Until you come beyond Tanis and Memphis, and to all the inhabitants of Egypt, until you come to the borders of Ethiopia. But all the inhabitants of the land made light of the commandment of Nabuchodonosor king of the Assyrians, nor went they with him to the battle; for they were not afraid of him, yea, he was before them as one man, and they sent away his ambassadors from them without effect, and with disgrace. Therefore Nabuchodonosor was very angry with all this country, and sware by his throne and kingdom, that he would surely be avenged upon all those coasts of Cilicia, and Damascus, and Syria, and that he would slay with the sword all the inhabitants of the land of Moab, and the children of Ammon, and all Judea, and all that were in Egypt, till you come to the borders of the two seas. Then he marched in battle array with his power against king Arphaxad in the seventeenth year, and he prevailed in his battle, for he overthrew all the power of Arphaxad, and all his horsemen, and all his chariots, And became lord of his cities, and came unto Ecbatane, and took the towers, and spoiled the streets thereof, and turned the beauty thereof into shame. He took also Arphaxad in the mountains of Ragau, and smote him through with his darts, and destroyed him utterly that day. So he returned afterward to Nineve, both he and all his company of sundry nations being a very great multitude of men of war, and there he took his ease, and banqueted, both he and his army, an hundred and twenty days. And in the eighteenth year, the two and twentieth day of the first month, there was talk in the house of Nabuchodonosor king of the Assyrians that he should, as he said, avenge himself on all the earth. So he called unto him all his officers, and all his nobles, and communicated with them his secret counsel, and concluded the afflicting of the whole earth out of his own mouth. Then they decreed to destroy all flesh, that did not obey the commandment of his mouth. And when he had ended his counsel, Nabuchodonosor king of the Assyrians called Holofernes the chief captain of his army, which was next unto him, and said unto him. Thus saith the great king, the lord of the whole earth, Behold, thou shalt go forth from my presence, and take with thee men that trust in their own strength, of footmen an hundred and twenty thousand, and the number of horses with their riders twelve thousand. And thou shalt go against all the west country, because they disobeyed my commandment. And thou shalt declare unto that they prepare for me earth and water, for I will go forth in my wrath against them and will cover the whole face of the earth with the feet of mine army, and I will give them for a spoil unto them, So that their slain shall fill their valleys and brooks and the river shall be filled with their dead, till it overflow, And I will lead them captives to the utmost parts of all the earth. Thou therefore shalt go forth, and take beforehand for me all their coasts, and if they will yield themselves unto thee, thou shalt reserve them for me till the day of their punishment. But concerning them that rebel, let not your eye spare them; but put them to the slaughter, and spoil them wheresoever thou goest. For as I live, and by the power of my kingdom, whatsoever I have spoken, that will I do by mine hand. And take thou heed that thou transgress none of the commandments of your lord, but accomplish them fully, as I have commanded thee, and defer not to do them. Then Holofernes went forth from the presence of his lord, and called ail the governors and captains, and the officers of the army of Assur; And he mustered the chosen men for the battle, as his lord had commanded him, unto an hundred and twenty thousand, and twelve thousand archers on horseback; And he ranged them, as a great army is ordered for the war. And he took camels and asses for their carriages, a very great number, and sheep and oxen and goats without number for their provision, And plenty of victual for every man of the army, and very much gold and silver out of the king's house. Then he went forth and all his power to go before king Nabuchodonosor in the voyage, and to cover all the face of the earth westward with their chariots, and horsemen, and their chosen footmen. A great number also sundry countries came with them like locusts, and like the sand of the earth, for the multitude was without number. And they went forth of Nineve three days' journey toward the plain of Bectileth, and pitched from Bectileth near the mountain which is at the left hand of the upper Cilicia. Then he took all his army, his footmen, and horsemen and chariots, and went from thence into the hill country; And destroyed Phud and Lud, and spoiled all the children of Rasses, and the children of Israel, which were toward the desert at the south of the land of the Chellians. Then he went over Euphrates, and went through Mesopotamia, and destroyed all the high cities that were upon the river Arbonai, till you come to the sea. And he took the borders of Cilicia, and killed all that resisted him, and came to the borders of Japheth, which were toward the south, over against Arabia. He compassed also all the children of Madian, and burned up their tabernacles, and spoiled their sheepcotes. Then he went down into the plain of Damascus in the time of wheat harvest, and burnt up all their fields, and destroyed their flocks and herds, also he spoiled their cities, and utterly wasted their countries, and smote all their young men with the edge of the sword. Therefore the fear and dread of him fell upon all the inhabitants of the sea coasts, which were in Sidon and Tyrus, and them that dwelt in Sur and Ocina, and all that dwelt in Jemnaan, and they that dwelt in Azotus and Ascalon feared him greatly. So they sent ambassadors unto him to treat of peace, saying, Behold, we the servants of Nabuchodonosor the great king lie before thee; use us as shall be good in your sight. Behold, our houses, and all our places, and all our fields of wheat, and flocks, and herds, and all the lodges of our tents lie before your face; use them as it pleaseth thee. Behold, our cities and the inhabitants thereof are your servants; come and deal with them as seemeth good unto thee. So the men came to Holofernes, and declared unto him after this manner. Then came he down toward the sea coast, both he and his army, and set garrisons in the high cities, and took out of them chosen men for aid. So they and all the country round about received them with garlands, with dances, and with timbrels. Yet he did cast down their frontiers, and cut down their groves, for he had decreed to destroy all the gods of the land, that all nations should worship Nabuchodonosor only, and that all tongues and tribes should call upon him as god. Also he came over against Esdraelon near unto Judea, over against the great strait of Judea. And he pitched between Geba and Scythopolis, and there he tarried a whole month, that he might gather together all the carriages of his army. Now the children of Israel, that dwelt in Judea, heard all that Holofernes the chief captain of Nabuchodonosor king of the Assyrians had done to the nations, and after what manner he had spoiled all their temples, and brought them to nought. Therefore they were exceedingly afraid of him, and were troubled for Jerusalem, and for the temple of the Lord their God, For they were newly returned from the captivity, and all the people of Judea were lately gathered together, and the vessels, and the altar, and the house, were sanctified after the profanation. Therefore they sent into all the coasts of Samaria, and the villages and to Bethoron, and Belmen, and Jericho, and to Choba, and Esora, and to the valley of Salem, And possessed themselves beforehand of all the tops of the high mountains, and fortified the villages that were in them, and laid up victuals for the provision of war, for their fields were of late reaped. Also Joacim the high priest, which was in those days in Jerusalem, wrote to them that dwelt in Bethulia, and Betomestham, which is over against Esdraelon toward the open country, near to Dothaim, Charging them to keep the passages of the hill country, for by them there was an entrance into Judea, and it was easy to stop them that would come up, because the passage was straight, for two men at the most. And the children of Israel did as Joacim the high priest had commanded them, with the ancients of all the people of Israel, which dwelt at Jerusalem. Then every man of Israel cried to God with great fervency, and with great vehemency did they humble their souls, Both they, and their wives and their children, and their cattle, and every stranger and hireling, and their servants bought with money, put sackcloth upon their loins. Thus every man and women, and the little children, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, fell before the temple, and cast ashes upon their heads, and spread out their sackcloth before the face of the Lord, also they put sackcloth about the altar, And cried to the God of Israel all with one consent earnestly, that he would not give their children for a prey, and their wives for a spoil, and the cities of their inheritance to destruction, and the sanctuary to profanation and reproach, and for the nations to rejoice at. So God heard their prayers, and looked upon their afflictions, for the people fasted many days in all Judea and Jerusalem before the sanctuary of the Lord Almighty. And Joacim the high priest, and all the priests that stood before the Lord, and they which ministered unto the Lord, had their loins girt with sackcloth, and offered the daily burnt offerings, with the vows and free gifts of the people, And had ashes on their mitres, and cried unto the Lord with all their power, that he would look upon all the house of Israel graciously. 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 champaign countries, Wherewith he was very angry, and called all the princes of Moab, and the captains of Ammon, and all the governors of the sea coast, And he said unto them, Tell me now, you sons of Chanaan, who this people is, that dwelleth in the hill country, and what are the cities that they inhabit, and what is the multitude of their army, and wherein is their power and strength, and what king is set over them, or captain of their army; And why have they determined not to come and meet me, more than all the inhabitants of the west. Then said Achior, the captain of all the sons of Ammon, Let my lord now hear a word from the mouth of your servant, and I will declare unto thee the truth concerning this people, which dwelleth near thee, and inhabiteth the hill countries, and there shall no lie come out of the mouth of your servant. This people are descended of the Chaldeans, And they sojourned heretofore in Mesopotamia, because they would not follow the gods of their fathers, which were in the land of Chaldea. For they left the way of their ancestors, and worshipped the God of heaven, the God whom they knew, so they cast them out from the face of their gods, and they fled into Mesopotamia, and sojourned there many days. Then their God commanded them to depart from the place where they sojourned, and to go into the land of Chanaan, where they dwelt, and were increased with gold and silver, and with very much cattle. But when a famine covered all the land of Chanaan, they went down into Egypt, and sojourned there, while they were nourished, and became there a great multitude, so that one could not number their nation. Therefore the king of Egypt rose up against them, and dealt subtilly with them, and brought them low with labouring in brick, and made them slaves. Then they cried unto their God, and he smote all the land of Egypt with incurable diseases, so the Egyptians cast them out of their sight. And God dried the Red sea before them, And brought them to mount Sina, and Cades-Barne, and cast forth all that dwelt in the desert. So they dwelt in the land of the Amorites, and they destroyed by their strength all them of Esebon, and passing over Jordan they possessed all the hill country. And they cast forth before them the Chanaanite, the Pherezite, the Jebusite, and the Sychemite, and all the Gergesites, and they dwelt in that country many days. And whilst they sinned not before their God, they prospered, because the God that hateth iniquity was with them. But when they departed from the way which he appointed them, they were destroyed in many battles very sore, and were led captives into a land that was not their's, and the temple of their God was cast to the ground, and their cities were taken by the enemies. But now are they returned to their God, and are come up from the places where they were scattered, and have possessed Jerusalem, where their sanctuary is, and are seated in the hill country; for it was desolate. Now therefore, my lord and governor, if there be any error against this people, and they sin against their God, let us consider that this shall be their ruin, and let us go up, and we shall overcome them. But if there be 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. And when Achior had finished these sayings, all the people standing round about the tent murmured, and the chief men of Holofernes, and all that dwelt by the sea side, and in Moab, spake that he should kill him. For, say they, we will not be afraid of the face of the children of Israel, for, lo, it is a people that have no strength nor power for a strong battle Now therefore, lord Holofernes, we will go up, and they shall be a prey to be devoured of all your army.

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