1 It was reported to Holofernes that the people of Israel were prepared for war, that they had closed the mountain passes, for tified the ramparts on the summits of all the high mountains and placed blockades in the plains. 2 Seething with anger, Holofernes called the leaders of the Moabites, the generals of Am mon and all the governors of the Seacoast, 3 and said to them, Tell me, sons of Canaan, who are these people living in the mountain region? Which towns do they inhabit? What is the strength of their army? In what does their power and strength consist? Who has been placed at their head as commander of their army? 4 Why have they not appeared before me like everyone else in the West?
5 Achior, commander of the Ammo nites, said to him, May my Lord listen to the word spoken by your servant, for I will tell you the truth about these people from the mountain region whom you now encounter. 6 These people descend from the Chaldeans. 7 They settled first in Mesopotamia, for they did not wish to worship any longer the gods of their ancestors who lived in Chaldea. 8 They abandoned the religion of their ancestors, and worshiped the God of Heaven, a God whom they had come to recognize. Because of this their fathers drove them out and they fled to Mesopotamia where they dwelt for a long time. 9 Then their God told them to leave the country where they had settled and go to the land of Canaan. They went to live there, and acquired an abundance of gold and silver and numerous herds of cattle.
10 There was famine throughout the land of Canaan, so they went down into Egypt where they remained as long as there was food. Then they became so numerous that their race could not be counted. 11 But the king of Egypt rose up against them and tricked them into making bricks, and they were humiliated and made into slaves. 12 They called upon their God who punished the whole of Egypt with such incurable plagues that the Egyptians drove them out. 13 Then God dried up the Red Sea in front of them 14 and he led them along the route of Sinai and Kadesh Barnea. The Israelites drove all the inhab itants into the desert
17 As long as they did not offend God, they prospered, because their God who hates wrongdoing was on their side. 18 But when they strayed from the path he had set for them, they were completely annihilated in many battles, and they were led off into captivity in a country not their own. The temple of their God was le veled to the ground and their cities were occupied by their enemies. 19 Now that they have turned again to their God, they have returned from exile from the various places in which they had been scattered. They have retaken Jerusalem where their Sanctuary is and they have settled in the mountain region because it has remained deserted. 20 And now, Sovereign Lord, we must find out if there is any wrongdoing in this people. 21 If they are sinning against their God, then we shall march against them and we shall conquer. But if there is no sinfulness in their nation, then, my Lord, turn aside from them for fear that their Lord and God will cover them with his shield and the whole world will witness our downfall.
22 Now it happened that when Achior had finished speaking, all the people standing in a circle around the tent began criticizing and protesting. The officers of Holofernes and all the inhabitants of the seacoast and of Moab wanted to beat him black and blue. They said, 23 We are not afraid of the children of Israel. Look, they are a people with no strength or energy to sustain a violent conflict. 24 Let us go forth, and they will be like bread for your whole army, O Lord Holofernes!