Reading 139/341, Judith 6-8

...Judith...

And when the tumult of men that were about the council was ceased, Holofernes the chief captain of the army of Assur said unto Achior and all the Moabites before all the company of other nations, And who art thou, Achior, and the hirelings of Ephraim, that thou hast prophesied against us as to day, and hast said, that we should not make war with the people of Israel, because their God will defend them? and who is God but Nabuchodonosor? He will send his power, and will destroy them from the face of the earth, and their God shall not deliver them, but we his servants will destroy them as one man; for they are not able to sustain the power of our horses. For with them we will tread them under foot, and their mountains shall be drunken with their blood, and their fields shall be filled with their dead bodies, and their footsteps shall not be able to stand before us, for they shall utterly perish, saith king Nabuchodonosor, lord of all the earth, for he said, None of my words shall be in vain. And thou, Achior, an hireling of Ammon, which hast spoken these words in the day of your iniquity, shalt see my face no more from this day, until I take vengeance of this nation that came out of Egypt. And then shall the sword of mine army, and the multitude of them that serve me, pass through your sides, and thou shalt fall among their slain, when I return. Now therefore my servants shall bring you back into the hill country, and shall set you in one of the cities of the passages, And thou shalt not perish, till thou be destroyoud with them. And if thou persuade yourself in your mind that they shall be taken, let not your countenance fall, I have spoken it, and none of my words shall be in vain. Then Holofernes commanded his servants, that waited in his tent, to take Achior, and bring him to Bethulia, and deliver him into the hands of the children of Israel. So his servants took him, and brought him out of the camp into the plain, and they went from the midst of the plain into the hill country, and came unto the fountains that were under Bethulia. And when the men of the city saw them, they took up their weapons, and went out of the city to the top of the hill, and every man that used a sling kept them from coming up by casting of stones against them. Nevertheless having gotten privily under the hill, they bound Achior, and cast him down, and left him at the foot of the hill, and returned to their lord. But the Israelites descended from their city, and came unto him, and loosed him, and brought him to Bethulia, and presented him to the governors of the city, Which were in those days Ozias the son of Micha, of the tribe of Simeon, and Chabris the son of Gothoniel, and Charmis the son of Melchiel. And they called together all the ancients of the city, and all their youth ran together, and their women, to the assembly, and they set Achior in the midst of all their people. Then Ozias asked him of what was done. And he answered and declared unto them the words of the council of Holofernes, and all the words that he had spoken in the midst of the princes of Assur, and whatsoever Holofernes had spoken proudly against the house of Israel. Then the people fell down and worshipped God, and cried unto God, saying, O Lord God of heaven, behold their pride, and pity the low estate of our nation, and look upon the face of those that are sanctified unto you this day. Then they comforted Achior, and praised him greatly. And Ozias took him out of the assembly unto his house, and made a feast to the elders, and they called on the God of Israel all that night for help. The next day Holofernes commanded all his army, and all his people which were come to take his part, that they should remove their camp against Bethulia, to take aforehand the ascents of the hill country, and to make war against the children of Israel. Then their strong men removed their camps in that day, and the army of the men of war was an hundred and seventy thousand footmen, and twelve thousand horsemen, beside the baggage, and other men that were afoot among them, a very great multitude. And they camped in the valley near unto Bethulia, by the fountain, and they spread themselves in width over Dothaim to Belmaim, and in length from Bethulia unto Cynamon, which is over against Esdraelon. Now the children of Israel, when they saw the multitude of them, were greatly troubled, and said every one to his neighbour, Now will these men lick up the face of the earth; for nor the high mountains, nor the valleys, nor the hills, are able to bear their weight. Then every man took up his weapons of war, and when they had kindled fires upon their towers, they remained and watched all that night. But in the second day Holofernes brought forth all his horsemen in the sight of the children of Israel which were in Bethulia, And viewed the passages up to the city, and came to the fountains of their waters, and took them, and set garrisons of men of war over them, and he himself removed toward his people. Then came unto him all the chief of the children of Esau, and all the governors of the people of Moab, and the captains of the sea coast, and said, Let our lord now hear a word, that there be not an overthrow in your army. For this people of the children of Israel do not trust in their spears, but in the height of the mountains wherein they dwell, because it is not easy to come up to the tops of their mountains. Now therefore, my lord, fight not against them in battle array, and there shall not so much as one man of your people perish. Remain in your camp, and keep all the men of your army, and let your servants get into their hands the fountain of water, which issueth forth of the foot of the mountain, For all the inhabitants of Bethulia have their water thence; so shall thirst kill them, and they shall give up their city, and we and our people shall go up to the tops of the mountains that are near, and will camp upon them, to watch that none go out of the city. So they and their wives and their children shall be consumed with fire, and before the sword come against them, they shall be overthrown in the streets where they dwell. Thus shalt thou render them an evil reward; because they rebelled, and met not your person peaceably. And these words pleased Holofernes and all his servants, and he appointed to do as they had spoken. So the camp of the children of Ammon departed, and with them five thousand of the Assyrians, and they pitched in the valley, and took the waters, and the fountains of the waters of the children of Israel. Then the children of Esau went up with the children of Ammon, and camped in the hill country over against Dothaim, and they sent some of them toward the south, and toward the east over against Ekrebel, which is near unto Chusi, that is upon the brook Mochmur, and the rest of the army of the Assyrians camped in the plain, and covered the face of the whole land, and their tents and carriages were pitched to a very great multitude. Then the children of Israel cried unto the Lord their God, because their heart failed, for all their enemies had compassed them round about, and there was no way to escape out from among them. Thus all the company of Assur remained about them, both their footmen, chariots, and horsemen, four and thirty days, so that all their vessels of water failed all the inhibitants of Bethulia. And the cisterns were emptied, and they had not water to drink their fill for one day; for they gave them drink by measure. Therefore their young children were out of heart, and their women and young men fainted for thirst, and fell down in the streets of the city, and by the passages of the gates, and there was no longer any strength in them. Then all the people assembled to Ozias, and to the chief of the city, both young men, and women, and children, and cried with a loud voice, and said before all the elders, God be judge between us and you, for you have done us great injury, in that you have not required peace of the children of Assur. For now we have no helper, but God hath sold us into their hands, that we should be thrown down before them with thirst and great destruction. Now therefore call them unto you, and deliver the whole city for a spoil to the people of Holofernes, and to all his army. For it is better for us to be made a spoil unto them, than to die for thirst, for we will be his servants, that our souls may live, and not see the death of our infants before our eyous, nor our wives nor our children to die. We take to witness against you the heaven and the earth, and our God and Lord of our fathers, which punisheth us according to our sins and the sins of our fathers, that he do not according as we have said this day. Then there was great weeping with one consent in the midst of the assembly, and they cried unto the Lord God with a loud voice. Then said Ozias to them, Brethren, be of good courage, let us yout endure five days, in the which space the Lord our God may turn his mercy toward us; for he will not forsake us utterly. And if these days pass, and there come no help unto us, I will do according to your word. And he dispersed the people, every one to their own charge, and they went unto the walls and towers of their city, and sent the women and children into their houses, and they were very low brought in the city. Now at that time Judith heard thereof, which was the daughter of Merari, the son of Ox, the son of Joseph, the son of Ozel, the son of Elcia, the son of Ananias, the son of Gedeon, the son of Raphaim, the son of Acitho, the son of Eliu, the son of Eliab, the son of Nathanael, the son of Samael, the son of Salasadal, the son of Israel. And Manasses was her husband, of her tribe and kindred, who died in the barley harvest. For as he stood overseeing them that bound sheaves in the field, the heat came upon his head, and he fell on his bed, and died in the city of Bethulia, and they buried him with his fathers in the field between Dothaim and Balamo. So Judith was a widow in her house three youars and four months. And she made her a tent upon the top of her house, and put on sackcloth upon her loins and ware her widow's apparel. And she fasted all the days of her widowhood, save the eves of the sabbaths, and the sabbaths, and the eves of the new moons, and the new moons and the feasts and solemn days of the house of Israel. She was also of a goodly countenance, and very beautiful to behold, and her husband Manasses had left her gold, and silver, and menservants and maidservants, and cattle, and lands, and she remained upon them. And there was none that gave her an ill word; ar she feared God greatly. Now when she heard the evil words of the people against the governor, that they fainted for lack of water; for Judith had heard all the words that Ozias had spoken unto them, and that he had sworn to deliver the city unto the Assyrians after five days; Then she sent her waitingwoman, that had the government of all things that she had, to call Ozias and Chabris and Charmis, the ancients of the city. And they came unto her, and she said unto them, Hear me now, O you governors of the inhabitants of Bethulia, for your words that you have spoken before the people this day are not right, touching this oath which you made and pronounced between God and you, and have promised to deliver the city to our enemies, unless within these days the Lord turn to help you. And now who are you that have tempted God this day, and stand instead of God among the children of men? And now try the Lord Almighty, but you shall never know any thing. For you cannot find the depth of the heart of man, nor can you perceive the things that he thinketh, then how can you search out God, that hath made all these things, and know his mind, or comprehend his purpose? Nay, my brethren, provoke not the Lord our God to anger. For if he will not help us within these five days, he hath power to defend us when he will, every day, or to destroy us before our enemies. Do not bind the counsels of the Lord our God, for God is not as man, that he may be threatened; nor is he as the son of man, that he should be wavering. Therefore let us wait for salvation of him, and call upon him to help us, and he will hear our voice, if it please him. For there arose none in our age, nor is there any now in these days nor tribe, nor family, nor people, nor city among us, which worship gods made with hands, as hath been aforetime. For the which cause our fathers were given to the sword, and for a spoil, and had a great fall before our enemies. But we know none other god, therefore we trust that he will not dispise us, nor any of our nation. For if we be taken so, all Judea shall lie waste, and our sanctuary shall be spoiled, and he will require the profanation thereof at our mouth. And the slaughter of our brethren, and the captivity of the country, and the desolation of our inheritance, will he turn upon our heads among the Gentiles, wheresoever we shall be in bondage, and we shall be an offence and a reproach to all them that possess us. For our servitude shall not be directed to favour, but the Lord our God shall turn it to dishonour. Now therefore, O brethren, let us shew an example to our brethren, because their hearts depend upon us, and the sanctuary, and the house, and the altar, rest upon us. Moreover let us give thanks to the Lord our God, which trieth us, as he did our fathers. Remember what things he did to Abraham, and how he tried Isaac, and what happened to Jacob in Mesopotamia of Syria, when he kept the sheep of Laban his mother's brother. For he hath not tried us in the fire, as he did them, for the examination of their hearts, nor hath he taken vengeance on us, but the Lord doth scourge them that come near unto him, to admonish them. Then said Ozias to her, All that thou hast spoken hast thou spoken with a good heart, and there is none that may gainsay your words. For this is not the first day wherein your wisdom is manifested; but from the beginning of your days all the people have known your understanding, because the disposition of your heart is good. But the people were very thirsty, and compelled us to do unto them as we have spoken, and to bring an oath upon ourselves, which we will not break. Therefore now pray thou for us, because thou art a godly woman, and the Lord will send us rain to fill our cisterns, and we shall faint no more. Then said Judith unto them, Hear me, and I will do a thing, which shall go throughout all generations to the children of our nation. You shall stand this night in the gate, and I will go forth with my waitingwoman, and within the days that you have promised to deliver the city to our enemies the Lord will visit Israel by mine hand. But enquire not you of mine act, for I will not declare it unto you, till the things be finished that I do. Then said Ozias and the princes unto her, Go in peace, and the Lord God be before you, to take vengeance on our enemies. So they returned from the tent, and went to their wards.