1. The next day Holofernes gave an order to the whole of his army and to those people who had come to his help to move camp in the direction of Bethulia, to occupy the mountain slopes and to wage war against the Israelites.

2. All his valiant warriors moved that day; the forces of fighting men numbered one hundred and seventy thousand foot soldiers and twelve thousand cavalry, without counting the baggage and the men who looked after it as well as the crowd of people who accompanied them - a considerable crowd.

3. They camped in the valley near Bethulia, near the spring; they spread out the whole width from Dothan to Belbain, and the length from Bethulia to Cyamon which faces Esdraelon.

4. When the Israelites saw how numerous they were, they were extremely afraid and said to one another, "Without doubt this crowd is going to devour all the country, neither the high mountains nor the ravines nor the hills will be able to put a stop to their progress."

5. Nonetheless each one seized his fighting equipment; they lit fires on the tops of the towers and kept watch all that night.

6. The second day, Holofernes lined up all his cavalry in front of the Israelites in Bethulia.

7. He observed the approaches to their town, discovered the sources supplying water, seized them and stationed guards over them, then he returned to his army.

8. The leaders of the Edomites, the commanders of the Moabites and the generals of the Seacoast approached Holofernes and said,

9. "Let our Master listen to us, and your army will not suffer loss.

10. This people of Israel really do not put their trust in javelins but in the height of the mountains which they inhabit, for it is not easy to reach the summit of their mountains.

11. Master, if you wish to save the lives of your men, do not fight against them in battle formation.

12. Remain in your camp and keep all the men in your army safe but let us take possession of the spring which flows at the foot of the mountain,

13. because it is from there that the people of Bethulia draw all their water. They will be dying of thirst and so they will hand over their town. We and our people will scale the summits of the neighboring mountains and set up outposts to prevent anyone from leaving the town.

14. The famine will destroy them; men, women and children will be lying dead in the streets of their town before ever the sword is raised against them.

15. So you will have punished them severely for having rebelled and for not having come out to meet you with offers of peace."

16. This advice pleased Holofernes and all his officers, and he agreed to do what they said.

17. The Moabites, with five thousand Assyrians, moved camp; they encamped in the valley and cut off the springs and the water supply from the Israelites.

18. The Edomites and the Ammonites climbed up and camped on the mountain near Dothan; they sent some of their men to the south and to the east facing Egrebel, near Chusi, which is on the torrent of Mochmur. The rest of the Assyrian army encamped in the plain, covering the whole countryside. The camp site covered by their tents and their bag-gage spread out wide for they were an enormous crowd.

19. Disheartened, the people of Israel called upon the Lord their God because their enemies had encircled them and had cut off all means of escape.

20. All the Assyrian army, its foot soldiers, its chariots and horsemen surrounded them for thirty-four days.

21. The inhabitants of Bethulia saw the water jars becoming empty and the wells running dry so that drinking water had to be rationed every day.

22. The small children became weak with thirst; the women and the young collapsed in the streets and gateways of the town.

23. Then everyone - men, women, young people and children - gathered and accused Uzziah and the leaders of the town. They called out with loud cries and said before all the elders,

24. "May God judge between you and us, for you are the cause of this misfortune by not engaging in peaceful negotiations with the Assyrians.

25. And now there is no one who can bring us any help; God has delivered us into the hands of these pagans in such a way that we lie dying before them from great thirst and misery.

26. You must call on the Assyrians and let the whole army of Holofernes pillage us.

27. It is better for us to become their booty, for then we shall become slaves, but at least we shall live and not have to see our women, our older children and the little ones die before our eyes.

28. We urge you by heaven and earth and by our God, the Lord of our fathers, who punishes us according to our sins and the sins of our fathers: make this decision this very day."

29. Altogether they raised a great lamentation in the midst of the assembly, and they cried out with a loud voice to the Lord God.

30. Then Uzziah said to them, "Have confidence, my brothers; hold out for five days more, during which time the Lord our God will show us his mercy, for he will not abandon us forever.

31. If these days pass without his coming to our help, then we shall do what you say."

32. Then he dismissed the men, each to his post, and they went towards the ramparts and the towers of the town, and he sent the women and children back to their homes. Now there was a great depression throughout the town.

Livros sugeridos

“Quanto mais te deixares enraizar na santa humildade, tanto mais íntima será a comunicação da tua alma com Deus”. São Padre Pio de Pietrelcina


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