1 In the eighteenth year, on the twenty-second day of the first month, a rumour ran through the palace that Nebuchadnezzar king of the Assyrians was to have his revenge on all the countries, as he had threatened.
2 Summoning his general staff and senior officers, he held a secret conference with them, and with his own lips pronounced utter destruction on the entire area.
3 It was then decreed that everyone should be put to death who had not answered the king's appeal.
4 When the council was over, Nebuchadnezzar king of the Assyrians sent for Holofernes, general-in-chief of his armies and subordinate only to himself. He said to him,
5 'Thus speaks the Great King, lord of the whole world, "Go; take men of proven valour, about a hundred and twenty thousand foot soldiers and a strong company of horse with twelve thousand cavalrymen;
6 then advance against all the western lands, since these people have disregarded my call.
7 Bid them have earth and water ready, because in my rage I am about to march on them; the feet of my soldiers will cover the whole face of the earth, and I shall plunder it.
8 Their wounded will fill the valleys and the torrents, and rivers, blocked with their dead, will overflow.
9 I shall lead them captive to the ends of the earth.
10 Now go! Begin by conquering this whole region for me. If they surrender to you, hold them for me until the time comes to punish them.
11 But if they resist, look on no one with clemency, hand them over to slaughter and plunder throughout the territory entrusted to you.
12 For by my life and by the living power of my kingdom I have spoken. All this I shall do by my power.
13 And you, neglect none of your master's commands, act strictly according to my orders without further delay." '
14 Leaving the presence of his sovereign, Holofernes immediately summoned all the marshals, generals and officers of the Assyrian army
15 and detailed the picked troops as his master had ordered, about a hundred and twenty thousand men and a further twelve thousand mounted archers.
16 He organised these in the normal battle formation.
17 He then secured vast numbers of camels, donkeys and mules to carry the baggage, and innumerable sheep, oxen and goats for food supplies.
18 Every man received full rations and a generous sum of gold and silver from the king's purse.
19 He then set out for the campaign with his whole army, in advance of King Nebuchadnezzar, to overwhelm the whole western region with his chariots, his horsemen and his picked body of foot.
20 A motley gathering followed in his rear, as numerous as locusts or the grains of sand on the ground; there was no counting their multitude.
21 Thus they set out from Nineveh and marched for three days towards the Plain of Bectileth. From Bectileth they went on to pitch camp near the mountains that lie to the north of Upper Cilicia.
22 From there Holofernes advanced into the highlands with his whole army, infantry, horsemen, chariots.
23 He cut his way through Put and Lud, carried away captive all the sons of Rassis and sons of Ishmael living on the verge of the desert south of Cheleon,
24 marched along the Euphrates, crossed Mesopotamia, rased all the fortified towns controlling the Wadi Abron and reached the sea.
25 Next he attacked the territories of Cilicia, butchering all who offered him resistance, advanced on the southern frontiers of Japheth, facing Arabia,
26 completely encircled the Midianites, burned their tents and plundered their sheep-folds,
27 made his way down to the Damascus plain at the time of the wheat harvest, set fire to the fields, destroyed the flocks and herds, sacked the towns, laid the countryside waste and put all the young men to the sword.
28 Fear and trembling seized all the coastal peoples; those of Sidon and Tyre, those of Sur, Ocina and Jamnia. The populations of Azotos and Ascalon were panic-stricken.