The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Book of Judith
Consternation fell on all the Israelites that dwelt in Juda, at the news of his coming;
fear struck deep at their anxious hearts, that Jerusalem and its temple might fare as other cities and temples had fared.
So they sent the word round all the Samaritan country, and back again to Jericho, that all the mountain-heights were to be occupied;
the villages on them were put in a state of defence, and corn stored up in readiness for the campaign.
Nay, the high priest Eliachim sent letters even further afield; the hill-folk that lived facing Esdrelon across the wide plain around Dothain, controlling the passes to the south,
must occupy all the hill-paths leading to Jerusalem, standing ever on guard where the defile was narrowest.
Such orders from Eliachim, the Lord’s high priest, the Israelites faithfully carried out.
Meanwhile, in good earnest, the whole nation made appeal to the Lord, doing penance, men and women alike, with fast and prayer.
Garb of sackcloth the priests wore, and bade the very infants lie prostrate before the temple gates; in sackcloth they veiled the Lord’s own altar;
and so with one voice they made appeal to the Lord, the God of Israel. Were they to see their children slaves, their women-folk allotted as spoil, their cities razed, their sanctuary profaned? Were they to become the scorn of the Gentiles?
And Eliachim, the Lord’s high priest, went about everywhere among the Israelite folk with words of comfort.
Be sure, said he, that the Lord will listen to your plea, if you pray on, fast on, in his presence.
Remember how Amelec, long ago, boasted of their overwhelming strength, of their great army, shields and chariots and horsemen; and it was by the holy prayers he offered, not by the sword, that the Lord’s servant Moses defeated them.✻
So shall it be with all Israel’s enemies, will you but persevere in your undertaking.
Thus encouraged, they kept their posture of entreaty, there in the Lord’s presence;
the very priests who offered him sacrifice, did so in sackcloth, with ashes on their heads;
and with all their hearts they prayed, every one of them, that God would bring deliverance to his people of Israel.
The Holy Bible