1 Holofernes, general-in-chief of the Assyrian army, received the intelligence that the Israelites were preparing for war, that they had closed the mountain passes, fortified all the high peaks and laid obstructions in the plains.
2 Holofernes was furious. He summoned all the princes of Moab, all the generals of Ammon and all the satraps of the coastal regions.
3 'Men of Canaan,' he said, 'tell me: what people is this that occupies the hill-country? What towns does it inhabit? How large is its army? What are the sources of its power and strength? Who is the king who rules it and commands its army?
4 Why have they disdained to wait on me, as all the western peoples have?'
5 Achior, leader of all the Ammonites, replied, 'May my lord be pleased to listen to what your servant is going to say. I shall give you the facts about these mountain folk whose home lies close to you. You will hear no lie from the mouth of your servant.
6 These people are descended from the Chaldaeans.
7 They once came to live in Mesopotamia, because they did not want to follow the gods of their ancestors who lived in Chaldaea.
8 They abandoned the way of their ancestors to worship the God of heaven, the God they learnt to acknowledge. Banished from the presence of their own gods, they fled to Mesopotamia where they lived for a long time.
9 When God told them to leave their home and set out for Canaan, they settled there and accumulated gold and silver and great herds of cattle.
10 Next, famine having overwhelmed the land of Canaan, they went down to Egypt where they stayed till they were well nourished. There they became a great multitude, a race beyond counting.
11 But the king of Egypt turned against them and exploited them by forcing them to make bricks; he degraded them, reducing them to slavery.
12 They cried to their God, who struck the entire land of Egypt with incurable plagues, and the Egyptians expelled them.
13 God dried up the Red Sea before them
14 and led them forward by way of Sinai and Kadesh-Barnea. Having driven off all the inhabitants of the desert,
15 they settled in the land of the Amorites and in their strength exterminated the entire population of Heshbon. Then, having crossed the Jordan, they took possession of all the hill-country,
16 driving out the Canaanites before them and the Perizzites, Jebusites, Shechemites and all the Girgashites, and lived there for many years.
17 All the while they did not sin before their God, prosperity was theirs, for they have a God who hates wickedness.
18 But when they turned from the path he had marked out for them some were exterminated in a series of battles, others were taken captive to a foreign land. The Temple of their God was rased to the ground and their towns were seized by their enemies.
19 Then having turned once again to their God, they came back from the places to which they had been dispersed and scattered, regained possession of Jerusalem, where they have their Temple, and reoccupied the hill-country which had been left deserted.
20 So, now, master and lord, if this people has committed any fault, if they have sinned against their God, let us first be sure that they really have this reason to fail, then advance and attack them.
21 But if their nation is guiltless, my lord would do better to abstain, for fear that their Lord and God should protect them. We should then become the laughing-stock of the whole world.'
22 When Achior had ended this speech, all the people crowding round the tent began protesting. Holofernes' own senior officers, as well as all the coastal peoples and the Moabites, threatened to tear him limb from limb.
23 'Why should we be afraid of the Israelites? They are a weak and powerless people, quite unable to stand a stiff attack.
24 Forward! Advance! Your army, Holofernes our master, will swallow them in one mouthful!'