Judith , CHAPTER 2
In the eighteenth year, on the twenty-second day of the first month, there was a discussion in the palace of Nebuchadnezzar, king of the Assyrians, about taking revenge on all the land, as he had threatened.
He summoned all his attendants and officers, laid before them his secret plan, and with his own lips recounted in full detail the wickedness of all the land.
They decided to destroy all who had refused to obey the order he had issued.
When he had fully recounted his plan, Nebuchadnezzar, king of the Assyrians, summoned Holofernes, the ranking general* of his forces, second only to himself in command, and said to him:
“Thus says the great king, the lord of all the earth: Go forth from my presence, take with you men of proven valor, one hundred and twenty thousand infantry and twelve thousand cavalry,
and proceed against all the land of the west, because they disobeyed the order I issued.
Tell them to have earth and water ready, for I will come against them in my wrath; I will cover all the land with the feet of my soldiers, to whom I will deliver them as spoils.
Their wounded will fill their ravines and wadies, the swelling river will be choked with their dead;
and I will deport them as exiles to the very ends of the earth.
“Go before me and take possession of all their territories for me. If they surrender to you, guard them for me until the day of their sentencing.
As for those who disobey, show them no mercy, but deliver them up to slaughter and plunder in all the land you occupy.
For as I live, and by the strength of my kingdom, what I have spoken I will accomplish by my own hand.
Do not disobey a single one of the orders of your lord; fulfill them exactly as I have commanded you, and do it without delay.”
So Holofernes left the presence of his lord, and summoned all the commanders, generals, and officers of the Assyrian forces.
He mustered one hundred and twenty thousand picked troops, as his lord had commanded, and twelve thousand mounted archers,
and drew them up as a vast force organized for battle.
He took along a very large number of camels, donkeys, and mules for carrying their supplies; innumerable sheep, cattle, and goats for their food;
abundant provisions for each man, and much gold and silver from the royal palace.
Then he and all his forces set out on their expedition in advance of King Nebuchadnezzar, to overrun all the lands of the western region with their chariots, cavalry, and picked infantry.
A huge, irregular force, too many to count, like locusts, like the dust of the earth, went along with them.
After a three-day march from Nineveh, they reached the plain of Bectileth, and camped opposite Bectileth near the mountains to the north of Upper Cilicia.
From there Holofernes took all his forces, the infantry, cavalry, and chariots, and marched into the hill country.
He devastated Put and Lud, and plundered all the Rassisites and the Ishmaelites on the border of the wilderness toward the south of the Chelleans.
Then, following the Euphrates, he went through Mesopotamia, and battered down every fortified city along the Wadi Abron, until he reached the sea.
He seized the territory of Cilicia, and cut down everyone who resisted him. Then he proceeded to the southern borders of Japheth, toward Arabia.
He surrounded all the Midianites, burned their tents, and sacked their encampments.
Descending to the plain of Damascus at the time of the wheat harvest, he set fire to all their fields, destroyed their flocks and herds, looted their cities, devastated their plains, and put all their young men to the sword.
Fear and dread of him fell upon all the inhabitants of the coastland, upon those in Sidon and Tyre, and those who dwelt in Sur and Ocina, and the inhabitants of Jamnia. Those in Azotus and Ascalon also feared him greatly.