1 It was told to Holofernes, the commander of the Assyrian army, that the Israelites were prepared for war and had blocked the passes in the mountains, fortified all the hilltops, and placed barricades in the plains. 2 He was very angry, and he called all the princes of Moab and the captains of Ammon and all the governors of the seacoast together. 3 He said to them, “Tell me, sons of Canaan, who are these people who live in the hill country? What cities do they inhabit? How large is their army? In what does their power and strength consist? And who is the king who rules them and leads their army? 4 Why have they alone refused to come and meet with me along with all those dwelling in the west?”
An Ammonite’s History of Israel
5 Then Achior, the leader of the Ammonites, said to him, “Let my lord hear now the word that comes from the mouth of your servant, and I will tell you the truth concerning this people who dwell in this hill country near you; no falsehood will come out of the mouth of your servant. 6 These people are descended from the Chaldeans. 7 They previously sojourned in Mesopotamia because they did not wish to follow the gods of their fathers, who were in Chaldea. 8 For they had departed from the way of their ancestors and worshiped the God of heaven, the God they had come to know. As a result, they cast them out from the presence of their gods, and they fled to Mesopotamia and sojourned there for a long time. 9 Then their God commanded them to depart from the place of their sojourn and go to the land of Canaan. They settled there and became very wealthy in gold, silver, and abundant livestock. 10 But when a famine spread through all of Canaan, they went down into Egypt and sojourned there as long as there was food; and there they became a great multitude, so great they could not be numbered.
11 “Then the king of Egypt rose against them and, taking advantage of them, forced them to make bricks; he humbled them and made them slaves. 12 So they cried out to their God, and He struck the whole land of Egypt with deadly plagues. The Egyptians cast them out from their presence. 13 So God dried up the Red Sea before them. 14 He led them by way of Sinai and Kadesh-Barnea, and they drove out all those living in the desert. 15 They settled in the land of the Amorites, and by their strength they utterly destroyed all the residents of Heshbon. And crossing over the River Jordan, they occupied all of the hill country. 16 Then they drove out the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Shechemites, and the Gergesites, and they dwelled there for a long time.
17 “If they did not sin before their God they prospered, because their God, who hates sin, was with them. 18 But when they strayed from the path which He prescribed for them, they were destroyed in numerous battles, and they were exiled to a land not their own, and the temple of their God was brought down to the ground, and their cities were seized by their adversaries. 19 Yet now they have come back to their God and returned from their dispersion, and they have taken back Jerusalem, where their sanctuary is. They have settled in the hill country, for it was not inhabited.
20 “Now my lord and master, if there is any sin of ignorance in this people and they sin against their God, then we will identify their offense and will go up to defeat them. 21 But if there is no lawlessness in their nation, then let my lord leave them alone, lest their Lord shield them, and their God defend them, and we will become a reproach before the whole earth.”
22 Now when Achior finished speaking these things, all the people standing around the tent started to grumble. Then Holofernes’ officials and all those dwelling in the seacoast and Moab insisted Achior be put to death. 23 They said, “We will not be afraid of the Israelites. For behold! They are people in whom there is no might nor the power to wage war. 24 Now therefore, we will go up, Lord Holofernes, and they will be devoured by your whole army.”
1 As the disruption of the men outside the council calmed down, Holofernes, the Assyrian army commander, spoke to Achior in the presence of all the crowd of foreigners and to all the sons of Moab: 2 “Who are you, Achior, and you mercenaries of Ephraim, to prophesy among us as you did today, to tell us we should not wage war against the Israelite people because their God will shield them? Who is god besides Nebuchadnezzar? He will send his power and will utterly destroy them from the face of the earth, and their God will not deliver them. 3 Rather we, the servants of the king, will strike them down as one man. They will not withstand the strength of our cavalry. 4 We will subdue them with it; their high hills will be drunk with their blood, and their plains will be filled with their bodies. Their footprints will no longer remain, but they will utterly perish, says King Nebuchadnezzar, lord of all the earth. It is he who has spoken; none of his words will be in vain.
5 “But you, O Achior, and your mercenaries of Ammon who spoke these words in the day of your wrongdoing, you will not see my face from this day forth until the time I will punish these people who came up out of Egypt. 6 When I return, the sword of my forces and of my servants will pass through your sides, and you will fall among their wounded men. 7 Now my servants will take you back to the hill country, and they will put you in one of the cities of the hill passes. 8 You will not die until you perish alongside them, 9 and if you really suppose in your heart that they will not be taken by us, then do not be downcast. I have spoken, and no word of mine shall fail.”
10 Now Holofernes commanded his servants, who were standing by in his tent, to capture Achior and remove him to Bethulia and turn him over to the sons of Israel. 11 Then the servants took hold of him and led him outside the camp toward the plain. They traveled from the plain into the hill country to the springs below Bethulia. 12 When the men of the city saw them, they took up their weapons and hurried out of the city to the crest of the mountain. The slingers kept the servants from ascending by hurling stones at them. 13 Taking shelter down at the base of the mountain, they tied up Achior and left him at the foot of the mountain, and went back to their master.
14 When the Israelites went down from their dwelling, they found and loosed him and brought him to Bethulia. They set him before the leaders of the city, 15 who in those days were Uzziah the son of Micah of the tribe of Simeon, and Chabris the son of Gothoniel, and Charmis the son of Melchiel. 16 They summoned all the city elders, and all their young men and the women rushed to the assembly, and they set Achior in the midst of all the people. Uzziah asked him what had happened. 17 He reported to them the events of the council of Holofernes, and all the many words he had spoken in the midst of the Assyrian officials, and all that Holofernes arrogantly boasted against the house of Israel.
18 Then the people fell down and worshipped God and cried out, saying, 19 “O Lord God of heaven, look down upon their arrogance, and have mercy on the humble state of our people. Look with favor upon those who are sanctified unto You this day.” 20 Then they encouraged Achior and praised him exceedingly. 21 Then Uzziah took him from the assembly to his house and gave a feast for the elders. And all that night they called upon the God of Israel for help.
Israel Is Attacked at Bethulia
1 On the next day, Holofernes commanded his entire army and all his allies who joined with him to move against Bethulia and occupy the passes up in the hill country, and to attack the Israelites. 2 So their soldiers broke camp, and their army numbered a hundred seventy thousand infantry and twelve thousand cavalry (not including the baggage handlers), a great multitude. 3 They camped beside the spring in the valley near Bethulia. They were spread out in width over Dothan as far as Belbaim and in length from Bethulia to Cyamon, facing Esdraelon.
4 When the Israelites saw their great numbers, they were exceedingly distressed, each saying to his neighbor, “Now they will ravage the entire land. Neither the high hills, nor the valleys, nor the foothills will support their weight.” 5 Still each one took up his weapons, and having lit fires on their watchtowers, they stood guard that whole night.
6 Then on the second day, Holofernes brought all his cavalry out in full view of the Israelites in Bethulia. 7 He carefully inspected the approaches leading to the city, and then he came upon the springs which were their water source and seized them. He placed soldiers there to guard over them, and returned to his encampment.
8 Then all the chief men of the sons of Edom, and all the leaders of the people of Moab, and the commanders of the seacoast region came to him, saying, 9 “Let our lord now hear our word, that there be no losses in your army. 10 For this people, the Israelites, do not put their trust in spears, but in the height of the mountains where they dwell, since it is not easy to reach their mountain peaks. 11 Indeed, master, do not engage them in battle formation, and not one man of your forces will fall. 12 Stay instead in your camp, and keep all the men of your army there. Have your servants take control of the spring which comes from the base of the mountain, 13 for this is where the citizens of Bethulia draw their water. Their thirst will consume them, and they will surrender their city. Then we and our forces will go up to the peaks of the mountains nearby and camp there to make sure no one departs from the city. 14 They and their wives and their children will waste away from starvation, and before the sword can come against them they will already be struck down in the streets where they live. 15 So you will repay them an evil recompense, because they rebelled and did not meet with you in peace.”
16 And their words pleased Holofernes and all his servants, and he gave command that they do just as they said. 17 So the forces of the Ammonites departed, along with five thousand Assyrians, and they set up camp in the valley and captured the springs, the water supply for the Israelites. 18 Then the Edomites and the Ammonites came up and camped in the hills facing Dothan, and from there they dispatched some of their troops to the south and east, toward Egrebeh, near Chusi beside the brook Mochmur. The remainder of the Assyrian forces camped on the plain and spread out over the whole countryside, and their tents and the supply lines expanded everywhere, an enormous array.
19 Then the children of Israel were disheartened, and they cried out to the Lord their God. Their enemies had them surrounded, and there was no way for them to escape. 20 The entire army of Assyrians—their infantry, chariots, and their cavalry—encircled them for thirty-four days, and all the water containers of the citizens of Bethulia stood empty. 21 Their cisterns were dried up, and there was not one day in which there was enough water to drink, for the water was rationed. 22 Their children became listless, and their women and youths fainted from thirst and collapsed in the city streets and in the gateways, for there was no longer any strength in them.
The People Want Surrender
23 Then all the people, the youths, the women, and the children, crowded around Uzziah and the leaders of the city. With loud voices they cried out before all the elders, saying, 24 “May God judge between you and us! For you have done us a great wrong by not making peace with the Assyrians. 25 For now there is none to help us. And God has delivered us into the hands of them who laid us low in thirst and in great destruction. 26 So call to them and surrender the whole city to be plunder to the army of Holofernes and all his forces. 27 For it is better for us to be plunder to them, for we shall become their slaves, but our lives will be saved, and we will not have to watch our infants die before our eyes, and our wives and children breathing their last. 28 We call all of heaven and earth to witness against you and entreat our God, the Lord of our fathers, who is punishing us according to our sins and the sins of our fathers, do according to these words spoken this very day.”
29 And with one accord, a great mourning broke out in the midst of the whole assembly, and with a loud voice they cried out to the Lord God. 30 But Uzziah spoke to them, “Brothers, take courage, and let us endure yet five more days, in which the Lord our God will return His mercy to us. He will not utterly forsake us. 31 But if these days come and go, and no help reaches us, I will do as you say.”
32 Then he dismissed the people to their various posts, and they went up on the walls and watchtowers of their city, and he sent the women and children home. And they were in great misery in the city.
1 Alleluia. Praise God in His saints; Praise Him in the firmament of His power;
2 Praise Him for His mighty acts; Praise Him according to the abundance of His greatness.
3 Praise Him with the sound of a trumpet; Praise Him with the harp and lyre;
4 Praise Him with timbrel and dance; Praise Him with strings and flute;
5 Praise Him with resounding cymbals; Praise Him with triumphant cymbals;
6 Let everything that breathes praise the Lord. Alleluia.
1 This is a psalm written with David’s own hand, although outside the number, when he fought in single combat with Goliath. I was small among my brothers And the youngest in my father’s house; I tended my father’s sheep.
2 My hands built a musical instrument; My fingers tuned a lyre.
3 And who shall tell my Lord? The Lord Himself, He Himself hears.
4 He sent forth His Angel And took me from my father’s sheep; And he anointed me with his anointing oil.
5 My brothers were handsome and tall, But the Lord took no pleasure in them.
6 I went out to meet the foreigner, And he cursed me with his idols;
7 But I drew his own sword and beheaded him, And removed disgrace from the children of Israel.
Proverbs of Solomon 31
26 She runs her household carefully, And she does not eat the bread of idleness.
27 She opens her mouth wisely and lawfully, And her charity raises her children, and they become rich, And her husband praises her,
28 “Many daughters acquire riches; many do mighty things, But you excel and surpass all.”
29 Desires to please are deceitful, and the beauty of a wife is vain; For a wise wife is blessed, And let her in fear praise the Lord.
30 Give to her from the fruits of her hands, And let her husband praise her at the gates.
1 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment,
2 a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always.
3 About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, “Cornelius!”
4 And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, “What is it, lord?” So he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God.
5 Now send men to Joppa, and send for Simon whose surname is Peter.
6 He is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea. He will tell you what you must do.”
7 And when the angel who spoke to him had departed, Cornelius called two of his household servants and a devout soldier from among those who waited on him continually.
8 So when he had explained all these things to them, he sent them to Joppa.
9 The next day, as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour.
10 Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance
11 and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth.
12 In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air.
13 And a voice came to him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.”
14 But Peter said, “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.”
15 And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.”
16 This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again.
17 Now while Peter wondered within himself what this vision which he had seen meant, behold, the men who had been sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate.
18 And they called and asked whether Simon, whose surname was Peter, was lodging there.
19 While Peter thought about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are seeking you.
20 Arise therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them.”
21 Then Peter went down to the men who had been sent to him from Cornelius, and said, “Yes, I am he whom you seek. For what reason have you come?”
22 And they said, “Cornelius the centurion, a just man, one who fears God and has a good reputation among all the nation of the Jews, was divinely instructed by a holy angel to summon you to his house, and to hear words from you.”
23 Then he invited them in and lodged them. On the next day Peter went away with them, and some brethren from Joppa accompanied him.