The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Book of Judith
When their talk had died down, Holofernes himself, in a transport of rage, said to Achior,
This, then, is thy prophecy, that the race of Israel will find protection in their God? Thou hast a lesson still to learn; that Nabuchodonosor is god, and he only.
So be it; when the Israelites fall like one man, thou too shalt feel the sword of Assyria, and share their utter ruin.
Proof thou shalt have first, that Nabuchodonosor is the world’s supreme lord; then, no more breathing-space given thee, thou shalt perish with the rest, shalt lie where Israel lies, with Assyrian steel between thy ribs.
What, does thy face fall, sir Oracle? Why those pale cheeks, if thou knowest all my threats are vain?
Nay, be assured thou shalt learn the truth when the Israelites learn it, no sooner. Henceforth thy lot shall be thrown in with theirs; only when my sword falls on them shalt thou feel my vengeance.
With that, Holofernes bade his men lay hold of Achior and bear him off to Bethulia,✻ and so hand him over to the men of Israel.
Lay hold of him they did, and set out on their journey across the plain, but when they reached the mountain spurs, out came slingers to meet them.
So they let the mountains alone, tied Achior hand and foot to a tree, and went back to their master, leaving Achior there with the ropes round him.
But now the men of Israel ventured down from Bethulia, and came to his side; he was set free and taken back to the town with them. There he must stand up before the general assembly of the people and satisfy their questioning: what moved the Assyrians to leave him thus bound?
The chieftains there at this time were the Simeonite, Ozias son of Micha, and Charmi, who was also called Gothoniel.
Before these and all the elders, in full view of the people, Achior told them what answer he had made to Holofernes’ question; how the bystanders had been for killing him outright;
in what angry fashion Holofernes had given orders for his surrender to Israel, only so that he too, in the hour of their defeat, might be doomed to execution; and of all the punishments he was threatened with, only for saying, They have the God of heaven to defend them.
When Achior had finished his story, the people bowed down with one accord, face to earth, offering the Lord worship and entreaty; all was weeping and lament.
Lord, they cried, God of heaven and earth, leave not this insolence unregarded, our distress unrelieved, the prayer of thy chosen servants unheeded! Give proof, now, that those who trust in thee are never forsaken, that the presumptuous, who boast of their own strength, are ever brought low!
So they made an end of weeping; and now, their day of public prayer over, they offered Achior consolation.
The God of our fathers, they told him, will give thee thy reward. Thou hast been the herald of his great deeds, and thou shalt live to see the downfall of thy enemies.
Then, when the Lord our God has granted his servants deliverance, may he still be with thee, thy own God, here in our midst; thou and thine shall be made free of our company.
And now Ozias, dismissing the assembly, bade Achior to his house and made a great feast for him;
all the elders, too, were bidden, and together they refreshed themselves, now the fast was over.
But afterwards all the people were summoned from their homes anew; and in solemn assembly, the whole night long, they prayed to the God of Israel, to win deliverance.
The Holy Bible