Table of Contents
The Book of Judith
The 1st Chapter
Arphaxat the King of the Medes subdued many people unto his dominion, and builded a noble strong city, which he called Egbathanis (kjv= Ecbatane). The walls of it he made of free stone, four squared, seventy cubits high, and thirty cubits broad. He made towers thereupon of an hundred cubits high. But upon the four corners every side was twenty foot broad. He made the ports in the height, like as was the towers. This King trusted in his mighty host, and in his glorious chariots.
So in the twelfth year of his reign it happened, that Nabuchodonosor the King of the Assirians (which reigned in the great city of Nineve) fought against Arphaxat, and overcame him in the great field called Ragau, beside Euphrates and Tigris and Jadason in the field of Erioth the King of the Elikes.
Then was the kingdom of Nabuchodonosor exalted, and his heart was lift up: and sent unto all them that dwelt in Celicia, and Damascus, and Libanus, and unto the Heathen that dwell in Carmel, and Cedar and to such as dwell in Galilee in the great field of Esdrelon, and all them that were in Samaria, and beyond the river Jordan unto Jerusalem, and the whole land of Jesse unto the mountains of Ethiopia. Unto all these did Nabuchodonosor the King of the Assyrians send messengers. But they all with one consent would not agree unto him and sent the messengers again empty, and put them away without honor. Then Nabuchodonosor the King took indignation at all those lands, and swore by his throne and his kingdom, that he would be avenged of all those countries.
The 2nd Chapter
In the thirteenth year of King Nabuchodonosor, upon the twenty second day of the first month, it was devised in the court of Nabuchodonosor the King of the Assyrians, that he would defend himself. So he called unto him all the elders, all his Captains, and men of war, and showed them his secret counsel, and told them, that his purpose was, to bring the whole earth under his dominion. Now when they were all content with this saying, Nabuchodonosor the King called Holofernes the chief Captain of his wars and said unto him: Go your way forth against all the Kingdoms of the West, and specially against those that have despised my commandment. You shall spare no realm, all the strong cities shall you bring in subjection unto me.
Then Holofernes called together all the Captains and rulers of all the power in Assyria, and mustered the soldiers unto the host (like as the King commanded him) namely, an hundred and twenty thousand fighting men upon foot, and twelve thousand archers upon horseback. All his ordinance sent he before with an innumerable multitude of camels, so that the host was well provided for with oxen, and small cattle, and that without number. He caused the corn to be prepared out of all Syria for his host. Much gold and silver took he out of the Kings house. So he took his journey , he and all his host, with chariots, horsemen, and archers: of whom there were so many, that they covered the ground of the land, like as grasshoppers.
And when he was gone past the borders of the Assyrians, he came toward the great mountains of Ange, which lie upon the left side of Celicia: and so he went up in to all their castles, and won every stronghold. As for the wealthy city of Melothus, he break it down, and spoiled all the children of Tharsis and the Ismaelites, which lay toward the wilderness, and upon the South side of the land of Chelon. He went over Euphrates also, and came into Mesopotamia, and break down all the high cities that were there from the brook of Nambre till a man come to the sea: and he took the boarders in from Celicia unto the coasts of Japhet toward the South. He carried away all the Madianites, and spoiled all their goods: and whosoever with stood him, he slew them with the sword. After this he went down to the field of Damascus in the time of harvest, and burnt up all the corn and all the trees, and caused the vines to be cut down. And the fear of him fell upon all them that dwelt on the earth.
The 3rd Chapter
So the Kings and the princes of all the cities and lands sent their ambassadors: namely they of Syria and Mesopotamia, Syria Sobal, and Libia, and Celicia, which came to Holofernes, and said: Let your wrath cease toward us: It is better for us to serve the great King Nabuchodonosor with our lives, and to be subject unto you, then that we should die, and be slain, and receive greater hurt. All our cities and possessions, all mountains and hills, all fields, great and small cattle, sheep, goats, horses, and camels, all our goods and households, be in your power, under your subjection be it all together. We ourselves also and our children will be your own, come unto us a peaceable Lord, and use our service at your pleasure.
Then came Holofernes down from the mountains with horsemen and with great power, and conquered all strong cities, and all that dwelt in the land. And out of all cities he took strong men, such as were mete (worthy) for war, to help him. There came such a fear also upon those countries, that the indwellers of all the cities, the Princes and Rulers, and the people together, went forth to meet him as he came, and received him honorably with garlands and torches, with daunces (dances), tabrettes and pipes.
Nevertheless though they did this, yet might they not swage (bend) his rigorous stomach: but he destroyed their cities, and hewed down their woods. For Nabuchodonosor the king had commanded him, that he should root out all the Gods of the land: to the intent that he only might be called and taken for God, of the nations which Holofernes with his power brought under him. So went he through Syria Sobal, and through all Appamia, and all Mesopotamia, came to the Idumeans, in the land of Gabaa, and Septopoly, and took their cities, and remained there thirty days, wherein he caused all the whole multitude of his Host to be gathered together.
The 4th Chapter
When the children of Israel that dwelt in Jewry heard this, they were sore afraid of him. There came forth trembling also and fear upon them, that they sorrowed he should do unto the city of Jerusalem and the temple of the Lord, as he had done to other cities and their temples. So they sent into all Samaria round about unto Jericho, took in and occupied all the tops of the mountains, and made fast the towns with walls, and prepared corn for them against the battle.
Eliachim also the Priest wrote unto all them that dwell toward Esdrelon (which lays over against the great field by Dotha Im) and unto all those by whom men might have passage unto them, that they should take in the ways of the mountains, whereby there might be any way and passage to Jerusalem, and that they should hold diligent watch where any straight way was between the mountains. And the children of Israel did as Eliachim the Priest of the Lord had commanded them. And all the people cried earnestly, and humbled their souls with fasting and prayers, they and their wives. The Priests put on hairy clothes, and layed the young babes before the temple of the Lord, and covered the Altar of the Lord with an hairy cloth. And with one accord they cried unto the Lord God of Israel, that their children should not be given in to a prey, and their wives into a spoil, that their cities should not be layed waste, and that their Sanctuary should not be unhallowed, and so they to be a shame and rebuke unto the Heathen.
Then Eliachim the high Priest of the Lord went round about all Israel, and spoke unto them, saying: Be you sure, that the Lord will hear your petitions, if you continue steadfast in fastings and prayers in the sight of the Lord. Remember Moses the servant of the Lord, which overthrew the Amalechites (that trusted in their might and power, in their host, in their shields, in their chariots and horsemen) not with weapons, but with holy prayers. Even so shall all the enemies of Israel be, if you continue in this work, that you have begun. So upon this exhortation they continued in prayer before the Lord. In so much that they which offered burnt sacrifices unto the Lord, offered offerings unto the Lord being arrayed in hairy clothes and had ashes upon their heads. And they all besought God from their whole heart, that he would visit his people of Israel.
The 5th Chapter
And the word came to Holofernes the Prince of the wars of the of the Assyrians, that the children of Israel prepared themselves to make resistance, and how they had stopped the ways between the mountains. Then was he exceedingly wroth, and called all the Princes of Moab, and the Captains of Ammon, and said unto them: Tell me, what people is this, that keeps in the mountains? Or what manner of the cities are they ? What is their power ? Or what manner of Host have they ? who is their Captain ? And why do they despise us (more than those that dwell in the East) and come not forth to meet us, that they might receive us with peace ? Then Achior the Captain of the Ammonites answered, and said: Sir, if it please you to hear me, I will tell the truth before you concerning this people that dwell in the mountains, and there shall no lie go out of my mouth.
This people is of the generation of the Chaldees, they dwelt first in Mesopotamia, for they would not follow the gods of their fathers that were in the
land of Chaldees, and forsook they the customs of their forefathers (which had many gods) and worshipped one God, that made heaven and earth: which also commanded them that they should go from that place, and dwell at Haran. Now when there came dearth (drought) into the whole land, they went down to Egypt, and there they dwelt four hundred years, in the which they multiplied so greatly, that their Host might not be numbered. And when the King of Egypt oppressed them, and subdued them in the building of his cities with making clay and brick, they cried unto God their Lord, which punished the whole land of Egypt with diverse plagues.
Now when King of Egypt let them go their way, and the plague ceased, and then followed after them, and to bring them again into his service, while they were fleeing away, the God of heaven opened the sea, so that the waters stood fast upon both sides as a wall, and these went through the bottom of the sea dry shod. In the which place when an innumerable people of the Egyptians followed upon them, they were so overwhelmed with the waters, that there remained not one, to tell them that came after, how it happened. So when this people was passed through the reed sea, they came into the wilderness of the mount Sinai, where never a man might dwell before, and where the *son of man had never rested. There were the bitter waters made sweet for them, that they might drink, and forty years had they meat from heaven. Wheresoever they went (without bow and arrow, without buckler or sword) their God fought for them, and caused them to have the victory. Yes no man was able to hurt this people, except it were so, that they departed unfaithfully from the worshiping of the Lord their God. But as often as they worshiped any other beside their God, he gave them over to be spoiled, to be slain, and to be put to confusion. Nevertheless as often as they were sorry for departing from the worship of their God, the same God of heaven gave them power and strength to withstand their enemies. *son of man had never rested: as Lord Jesus was called this in the New Testament
Moreover they slew the King of the Cananites, Jebusites, Pheresits, Hethits, Euites and Amorites, and all the mighty in Hesbon, and took their lands and cities in possession: and so long as they sinned not in the sight of their God, it went well with them, for their God hates unrighteousness. For in times past when they went out of the way, which God had given them, that they should walk in it, they were destroyed in diverse battles of many nations: and many of them were carried away prisoners unto a strange country. But now lately they have turned themselves again unto the Lord their God, and are come together again out of the countries where they were scattered abroad: and thus they have conquered these mountains, and dwell therein: and as for Jerusalem where their Sanctuary is, they have it again in possession.
And therefore my lord, make diligent inquisition, if this people have done wickedness in the sight of their God, then let us go up against them, for doubtless their God shall deliver them into your hands, and subdue them unto your power. But if this people have not displeased their God, we shall not be able to withstand them, for their God shall defend them, and so shall we be a shame to all the world.
Now when Achior had spoken out these words, all the Princes of Holofernes were wroth, and thought to slay him, and said one to another: what is he this, which dare say, that the children of Israel are able to withstand Nabuchodonosor the King and his Host ? whereas they are an unweaponed people, without strength or understanding of the feats of war ? That Achior therefore may know that he has deceived us, we will go up in to the mountains: and when the mighty men of them are taken, he also shall be struck with the sword, that all people may know, that Nabuchodonosor is the God of the earth, and there is none other without him.
The 6th Chapter
So when they had left off speaking, Holofernes took sore indignation and said unto Achior. For so much as you have prophesied unto us, saying: That the people of Israel shall be defended of their God, I will show you, that there is no God but Nabuchodonosor. Yes when we slay them all as one man, you also shall perish with them through the sword of the Assyrians, and all Israel shall be destroyed with you, and then shall you feel, that Nabuchodonosor is the lord of the whole earth. Then shall the sword of my knighthood go through your sides, and you shall fall down stickte (struck) among the wounded of Israel, and shall not come to yourself again, but be utterly destroyed with them. But if you think your prophesy to be true, why do you then change your color ? why are you afraid ? Think you that my words are not able to be performed ? But that you may know, that you shall feel these things with them, behold, from this hour forth will I send you unto yonder people, that when the punishment of my sword (which they have so worthily deserved) falls upon them, you may be punished with them.
So Holofernes command his servants to take Achior, and to carry him to Bethulia, and to deliver him into the hands of the children of Israel. Then Holofernes servants took him and went through the plain field. But when they drew near unto the mountains, the sling casters came out against them: Nevertheless they got them away by the side of the mountain, and bound Anchior hand and foot to a tree, and so left him bound with *withyes (strong flexible branches :willow),and turned again unto their lord.
Notwithstanding the children of Israel went down to Bethulia, came unto him, loosed him, brought him into Bethulia, set him in the midst of the people, and asked him what the matter was, that the Assyrians had left him bound.
Olias the son of Micha of the tribe of Simeon, a Charin (which is also called Gothonel) were the principal rulers at the same time. Now when Achior stood in the midst of the Senators, and before them all he told them, what answer he gave Holofernes, to the thing that he asked him, and how Holofernes people would have slain him for so saying, and how Holofernes himself was wroth, and commanded him for the same cause to be delivered unto the Israelites: that when he overcame the children of Israel he might command Achior also to be put to death with diverse torments, because he said: The God of heaven is their defender. And when Achior had plainly told out all these things, all the people fell down upon their faces, praising the Lord, and poured out their prayers together unto the Lord, with a general complaint and weeping, and said: O' Lord God of heaven and earth, behold their pride, and look upon our lowliness, and consider how it stands with your saints, and make it to be known, that you forsake not those, which hold them fast by you, and how that you bring them low, that presume of themselves, and make their boast of their own strength. So when the weeping and the prayer of the people (which they had made the whole day long) was ended, they comforted Achior, saying: The God of our fathers, whose power and strength you have praised, shall so reward you, that you shall rather see their destruction. When the Lord our God then shall give his servants this liberty, God be also with you among us: So that if it please you, you with your may dwell with us.
Now when Osias had ended the counsel, he took him to his house, and made a great supper, called the elders to it, and so they refreshed themselves after fasting. And afterward was all the people called together, which made their prayers all night long in the congregation, and besought the God of Israel for help.
The 7th Chapter
The next day Holofernes commanded his host, to go up against Bethulia. There were an hundred and twenty thousand fighting men on foot, and two and twenty thousand horsemen, beside the preparing of them that were won: and came to them on every side out of the countries and cities which he had taken. All these prepared themselves unto the battle against the Israelites, and came on by the hillside, unto the top that looks over Dothaim, from the place which is called Belma, unto Thelmon that lays toward Esdrelon.
Now when the children of Israel saw so great a multitude of Assyrians, they fell down flat upon the ground, strewed ashes upon their heads, and prayed with one accord, that the God of Israel would show mercy upon his people. And so they took their weapons, and sat between the mountains in the narrow place, and kept the way day and night. But while Holofernes was going about, he found the water spring, which from the South side was conveyed into the city by a conduit: this commanded he to be directed another way, and to cut their conduit in sunder. There were wells also not far from the walls, which they used secretly, more for pleasure than necessity.
Then went the Ammorites and the Moabites unto Holofernes, and said: the children of Israel trust neither in spear nor arrow, but have taken in and keep the mountains and hills. That you may over come them without the striking of any battle, set men to keep the wells, that they draw no water out of them: so shall you destroy them without sword, or at the least they shall be so feeble, that they must be faine to give over the city, which they think not able to be won, for so much as it lays in the mountains. These words pleased Holofernes well and all his men of war, and he set an hundred men at every well round about.
And when this watch had endured twenty days, the Cisterns and all that had water, failed them that dwelt in the city of Bethulia, so that in the whole city they had not drink enough for one day, for the people had water given them daily in measure. The came the men and the woman, young persons and children all unto Osias, and said all with one voice: God be judge between us and you, for you have dealt evil with us: you would not speak peaceably with the king of the Assyrians, therefore God has sold us in their hands, and there is no man to help us where as we are brought down before their eyes in thirst and great destruction. Therefore gather now together all the people that be in the city, that we may all yield ourselves willingly unto Holofernes: for better it is that we be captive and praise the Lord with our lives, than to be slain and perish, and to be laughed to scorn and ashamed of every man when we see our wives and children die before our eyes. We take heaven and earth this day to record, and the God of our fathers (which punishes us according to the deserving of our sins) and give you warning, that you give up the city now into power of Holofernes host, that our end may be short with the sword, which else shall endure long for want of water and for thirst.
When they had spoken out these words, there was a great weeping and howling in the whole congregation, and that of every man, and they cried an whole hour long unto God with one voice, saying: we have sinned with our fathers, we have done amiss, we have dealt wickedly. You that are gracious, have mercy upon us, punish our unrighteousness with your own scourge, and give not those over that knowledge you, unto a people that knows you not, least they say among the Heathen: where is their God?
And when they were so weary with this crying and weeping, that they held their tongues, Osias stood up with watery eyes, and said: O' take good hearts unto you, (dear brethren) and be of good cheer, and let us wait these five days for mercy of the Lord: peradventure he shall cut away his indignation, and give glory unto his name. But if he help us not when these five days are passed, we shall do as you have said.
The 8th Chapter
And it happened when these words came to the ears of Judith a widow, which was the daughter of Merari, the son of Idox, the son of Joseph, the son of Osiah, the son of Elia, the son of Jedeon, the son of Raphoim, the son of Achitob, the son of Melchia, the son of Euam, the son of Nathania, the son of Salathiel, the son of Simeon, the son of Ruben. And her husband was called Manasses, which died in the days of the barley harvest. For while he was binding the sheaves together in the field, the heat came upon his head, and he died at Bethulia his city, and there was he buried beside his fathers. Now was Judith his desolate widow three years and six months. And in the higher parts of her house she made herself a privy (private) chamber, where she dwelt, being closed in with her maidens. She wore a smock of hair, and fasted all the days of her life, except the Sabbaths, and new moons and solemn days that the people of Israel kept. She was a very fair and beautiful person. Her husband had also left her great riches, and plenteous household, great unmovable possessions and many cattle. This Judith was a woman of very good report with everyone, for she feared the Lord greatly, and there was no body that spoke an evil word of her.
When this Judith heard, how Osias had promised the people, that after the fifth day he would give up the city unto the Assyrians, she sent for the elders Chambri and Charmin, and when they came to her, she said: what thing is this, wherein Osias has consented, that if God help not within five days, he will give over the city to the Assyrians ? What are ye, that you tempt the Lord ? This devise obtains no mercy of God, but provokes him unto wrath and displeasure. Will you set the mercy of the Lord a time and appoint him a day after your will?
Nevertheless for so much as the Lord is patient, let us rather amend ourselves, pouring out tears, and beseeching him of grace. For God threatens not as a man, neither will he be provoked into wrath as the children of men. And therefore let us heartily fall down before him, and serve him with a meek spirit, and with weeping eyes say unto the Lord, that he deal with us according to his own will and mercy: that like as our heart is now vexed, and brought low through the pride of them, it may so be comforted through his grace: in so much as we follow not the sins of our forefathers, which forsook their God, and worshiped other Gods: for the which sin they perished with the sword, were spoiled and brought to shame of all their enemies. As for us, we know none other God but only him, for whose comfort let us tarry with meekness. He shall require and make inquisition for our blood, from the vexations of our enemies: he shall bring down all the Heathen, that rise up against us, and put them to dishonor, even the Lord our God.
Therefore dear brethren, seeing you are the honorable and elders in the people of God, unto whom all the people have respect, and upon whom the life of the people stands, lift up their hearts with your exhortation, that they may call to remembrance, how our fathers also in times past were tempted, that they may be proved, if they worshiped their God aright. They ought to remember, how our father Abraham being tempted, and tried through many tribulations, was found a lover and friend of God. So was Isaac, so was Jacob, so was Moses, and all they pleased God, being tried through many troubles, were found steadfast in faith. Again, they that received not their tentations (temptations) with the fear of God, but put themselves forth with unpatiency (impatience) and murmuring against God, perished of the destroyer, and were slain of serpents. And therefore should not we undertake to be avenged, for the thing that is done to us: but consider, that all these punishments are far less than our sins and misdeeds. Believing also, that this correction comes to unto us (as to the servants of God) for amendment, and not for our destruction.
Then said Osias and the elders unto Judith: All that you speak, is true, and no man can reprove your words. Pray you for us now therefore unto God, for you are an holy woman, and fear God. And Judith said unto them: seeing you know, that my words are of God, then prove my counsel and devise, if it be of God: and beseech God, that he will bring my counsel to good end.
Thus have I devised: you shall stand this night before the port, and I will go forth with Abra my maiden: Pray you therefore unto God, that he will graciously remember his people of Israel within five days, as you have said. As for the thing that I go in hand withal, ask you no questions of it, till I open it unto you myself: do you nothing else but pray unto the Lord your God for me. Then Osias the prince of the people of Juda said unto her: Go your way in peace the Lord be with you, that we may be avenged of our enemies. And so they went from her again.
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