In the eighteenth year, on the twenty-second day of the first month, there was talk in the palace of Nebuchadnezzar king of the Assyrians about carrying out his revenge on the whole region, just as he said.
He called together all his officers and all his nobles and set forth to them his secret plan and recounted fully, with his own lips, all the wickedness of the region;
and it was decided that every one who had not obeyed his command should be destroyed.
When he had finished setting forth his plan, Nebuchadnezzar king of the Assyrians called Holofernes, the chief general of his army, second only to himself, and said to him,
"Thus says the Great King, the lord of the whole earth: When you leave my presence, take with you men confident in their strength, to the number of one hundred and twenty thousand foot soldiers and twelve thousand cavalry.
Go and attack the whole west country, because they disobeyed my orders.
Tell them to prepare earth and water, for I am coming against them in my anger, and will cover the whole face of the earth with the feet of my armies, and will hand them over to be plundered by my troops,
till their wounded shall fill their valleys, and every brook and river shall be filled with their dead, and overflow;
and I will lead them away captive to the ends of the whole earth.
You shall go and seize all their territory for me in advance. They will yield themselves to you, and you shall hold them for me till the day of their punishment.
But if they refuse, your eye shall not spare and you shall hand them over to slaughter and plunder throughout your whole region.
For as I live, and by the power of my kingdom, what I have spoken my hand will execute.
And you -- take care not to transgress any of your sovereign's commands, but be sure to carry them out just as I have ordered you; and do not delay about it."
So Holofernes left the presence of his master, and called together all the commanders, generals, and officers of the Assyrian army,
and mustered the picked troops by divisions as his lord had ordered him to do, one hundred and twenty thousand of them, together with twelve thousand archers on horseback,
and he organized them as a great army is marshaled for a campaign.
He collected a vast number of camels and asses and mules for transport, and innumerable sheep and oxen and goats for provision;
also plenty of food for every man, and a huge amount of gold and silver from the royal palace.
So he set out with his whole army, to go ahead of King Nebuchadnezzar and to cover the whole face of the earth to the west with their chariots and horsemen and picked troops of infantry.
Along with them went a mixed crowd like a swarm of locusts, like the dust of the earth -- a multitude that could not be counted.
They marched for three days from Nineveh to the plain of Bectileth, and camped opposite Bectileth near the mountain which is to the north of Upper Cilicia.
From there Holofernes took his whole army, his infantry, cavalry, and chariots, and went up into the hill country
and ravaged Put and Lud, and plundered all the people of Rassis and the Ishmaelites who lived along the desert, south of the country of the Chelleans.
Then he followed the Euphrates and passed through Mesopotamia and destroyed all the hilltop cities along the brook Abron, as far as the sea.
He also seized the territory of Cilicia, and killed every one who resisted him, and came to the southern borders of Japheth, fronting toward Arabia.
He surrounded all the Midianites, and burned their tents and plundered their sheepfolds.
Then he went down into the plain of Damascus during the wheat harvest, and burned all their fields and destroyed their flocks and herds and sacked their cities and ravaged their lands and put to death all their young men with the edge of the sword.
So fear and terror of him fell upon all the people who lived along the seacoast, at Sidon and Tyre, and those who lived in Sur and Ocina and all who lived in Jamnia. Those who lived in Azotus and Ascalon feared him exceedingly.
Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1952 [2nd edition, 1971] by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. (Revised Standard Version w/ Apocrypha)