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New American Bible

2002 11 11
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Chapter 5


It was reported to Holofernes, commander-in-chief of the Assyrian army, that the Israelites were ready for battle, and had blocked the mountain passes, fortified the summits of all the higher peaks, and placed roadblocks in the plains.


In great anger he summoned all the rulers of the Moabites, the generals of the Ammonites, and all the satraps of the seacoast


and said to them: "Now tell me, you Canaanites, what sort of people is this that dwells in the mountains? Which cities do they inhabit? How large is their army? In what does their power and strength consist? Who has set himself up as their king and the leader of their army?


Why have they refused to come out to meet me along with all the other inhabitants of the West?"


Then Achior, the leader of all the Ammonites said to him: "My lord, hear this account from your servant; I will tell you the truth about this people that lives near you (that inhabits this mountain region); no lie shall escape your servant's lips.


1 "These people are descendants of the Chaldeans.


They formerly dwelt in Mesopotamia, for they did not wish to follow the gods of their forefathers who were born in the land of the Chaldeans.


Since they abandoned the way of their ancestors, and acknowledged with divine worship the God of heaven, their forefathers expelled them from the presence of their gods. So they fled to Mesopotamia and dwelt there a long time.


Their God bade them leave their abode and proceed to the land of Canaan. Here they settled, and grew very rich in gold, silver, and a great abundance of livestock.


Later, when famine had gripped the whole land of Canaan, they went down into Egypt. They stayed there as long as they found sustenance, and grew into such a great multitude that the number of their race could not be counted.


The king of Egypt, however, rose up against them, shrewdly forced them to labor at brickmaking, oppressed and enslaved them.


But they cried to their God, and he struck the land of Egypt with plagues for which there was no remedy. When the Egyptians expelled them,


God dried up the Red Sea before them,


and led them along the route to Sinai and Kadesh-barnea. First they drove out all the inhabitants of the desert;


then they settled in the land of the Amorites, destroyed all the Heshbonites by main force, crossed the Jordan, and took possession of the whole mountain region.


They expelled the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Shechemites, and all the Gergesites; and they lived in these mountains a long time.


"As long as the Israelites did not sin in the sight of their God, they prospered, for their God, who hates wickedness, was with them.


But when they deviated from the way he prescribed for them, they were ground down steadily, more and more, by frequent wars, and finally taken as captives into foreign lands. The temple of their God was razed to the ground, and their cities were occupied by their enemies.


But now that they have returned to their God, they have come back from the Dispersion wherein they were scattered, and have repossessed Jerusalem, where their sanctuary is, and have settled again in the mountain region which was unoccupied.


"So now, my lord and master, if these people are at fault, and are sinning against their God, and if we verify this offense of theirs, then we shall be able to go up and conquer them.


But if they are not a guilty nation, then your lordship should keep his distance; otherwise their Lord and God will shield them, and we shall become the laughing stock of the whole world."


Now when Achior had concluded his recommendation, all the people standing round about the tent murmured; and the officers of Holofernes and all the inhabitants of the seacoast and of Moab alike said he should be cut to pieces.


"We are not afraid of the Israelites," they said, "for they are a powerless people, incapable of a strong defense.


Let us therefore attack them; your great army, Lord Holofernes, will swallow them up."



1 [6] (6-9) Achior outlines the early history of the Hebrews, whose forefather, Abraham, first lived in Ur of the Chaldeans ( Genesis 11:28) and then migrated to Haran ( Genesis 11:31) in Aram Naharaim ( Genesis 24:10), which was called Mesopotamia by the Greeks. The gods of their forefathers were the pagan deities worshiped by Abraham's relatives ( Joshua 24:2).

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