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Judith 7 Good News Translation (GNT)

The Siege of Bethulia

1-2 The next day Holofernes gathered his whole army together, as well as his allied forces. It was an immense army, consisting of 170,000 infantry and 12,000 cavalry, not counting the support troops who took care of the equipment. He ordered them to march on Bethulia, seize the mountain passes, and attack the Israelites. So they moved out and set up camp beside the spring in the valley near Bethulia. The camp was so wide that it spread out toward the town of Dothan as far as Balbaim, and so long that it stretched from Bethulia to Cyamon, which faces Jezreel Valley.

When the Israelites saw the size of the army, they were terrified and said to one another,
    Those soldiers are going to eat up everything in sight. There's not enough food in the mountains, valleys, and hills put together to feed an army like that. But in spite of their fear, all the Israelites took up their weapons, lighted signal fires on the towers, and remained on guard duty all night. The next day Holofernes led out his entire cavalry so that the Israelites in Bethulia could see them. He inspected the approaches to the town and the springs that supplied its water. He seized the springs and stationed guards there, before returning to camp.

All the leaders of the Edomite and Moabite forces, along with the commanders of the troops from the Mediterranean coast, came to Holofernes and said,
    Sir, if you listen to our advice, your troops will not suffer heavy losses. 10 These Israelites do not rely on their weapons for defense but rather on the height of the mountains where they live, since the mountains are not easy to climb. 11 So then, General Holofernes, if you do not make a direct attack on them, your whole army will suffer no casualties. 12 Stay in your camp and keep your soldiers in their quarters. Just command your men to blockade the springs at the foot of the mountains, 13 because that's where the people of Bethulia come to draw their water. Then, when they are dying of thirst, they will surrender their town to you. Meanwhile, we and our men will go up to the tops of the surrounding mountains, where we will set up camp and keep anyone from leaving the town. 14 Everyone will starve to death—men, women, and children. Even before we attack, the streets will be littered with their corpses. 15 In this way you can make them pay for their rebellion and for refusing to surrender peacefully to you.

16 Holofernes and his entire staff were pleased with this suggestion, so he gave orders to put the plan into action. 17 The Moabites and 5,000 Assyrians moved their camp into the valley to control the source of the town's water. 18 The Edomites and the Ammonites went up into the mountains and set up their camp opposite the town of Dothan. They sent some of their men to the southeast in the direction of Acraba, near Chusi, which is beside the Mochmur River. The rest of the Assyrian army set up camp in the valley. Their camp was spread out over the whole countryside, because the number of tents and the amount of equipment needed for such a large army were immense.

19 Then the Israelites cried out to the Lord their God for help. They had lost their courage, for with the enemy all around them there was no way to escape. 20 The entire Assyrian army—infantry, chariots, and cavalry—blockaded Bethulia for thirty-four days until the town ran out of water. 21 All the reservoirs and cisterns went dry, so that the drinking water had to be rationed, and not a day passed when there was enough water to go around. 22 Children were becoming weak; everywhere throughout the town women and young people were collapsing. No one had any strength left.

23 All the people of the town—men, women, and children alike—gathered around Uzziah and the town officials and shouted in protest,
24     God will punish you for what you have done to us! You are to blame for what is happening, because you did not make peace with the Assyrians. 25 There is no one to help us now! God has put us in their power. We are exhausted and dying of thirst. 26 Call the Assyrians now and surrender to them, and let Holofernes and his army take the town and loot it. 27 We are better off as prisoners of war. They will make us slaves, but at least we will be alive, and we won't have to watch our wives and children dying before our eyes. 28 Heaven and earth are witnesses against you, and so is our God, the Lord of our ancestors, who is punishing us for their sins as well as ours. We can only hope and pray that he will not let these terrible things happen to us today.

29 Everyone there began to weep loudly and to pray to the Lord their God. 30 Then Uzziah said to them,

Don't give up, my friends! Let's wait five more days to see if the Lord our God will be merciful to us. Surely he will not abandon us completely. 31 But if no help comes after five days, then I will do as you say.

32 So Uzziah dismissed the people. All the men returned to their guard posts on the walls and towers, while the women and children went back to their homes. The morale of the entire town was very low.


  1. Judith 7:28 We can...today; some Greek manuscripts and ancient translations have We demand that you surrender, as we have asked you to do today.
Good News Translation (GNT)

Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society

Judith 7 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Campaign against Bethulia

The next day Holofernes ordered his whole army, and all the allies who had joined him, to break camp and move against Bethulia, and to seize the passes up into the hill country and make war on the Israelites. So all their warriors marched off that day; their fighting forces numbered one hundred seventy thousand infantry and twelve thousand cavalry, not counting the baggage and the foot soldiers handling it, a very great multitude. They encamped in the valley near Bethulia, beside the spring, and they spread out in breadth over Dothan as far as Balbaim and in length from Bethulia to Cyamon, which faces Esdraelon.

When the Israelites saw their vast numbers, they were greatly terrified and said to one another, “They will now strip clean the whole land; neither the high mountains nor the valleys nor the hills will bear their weight.” Yet they all seized their weapons, and when they had kindled fires on their towers, they remained on guard all that night.

On the second day Holofernes led out all his cavalry in full view of the Israelites in Bethulia. He reconnoitered the approaches to their town, and visited the springs that supplied their water; he seized them and set guards of soldiers over them, and then returned to his army.

Then all the chieftains of the Edomites and all the leaders of the Moabites and the commanders of the coastland came to him and said, “Listen to what we have to say, my lord, and your army will suffer no losses. 10 This people, the Israelites, do not rely on their spears but on the height of the mountains where they live, for it is not easy to reach the tops of their mountains. 11 Therefore, my lord, do not fight against them in regular formation, and not a man of your army will fall. 12 Remain in your camp, and keep all the men in your forces with you; let your servants take possession of the spring of water that flows from the foot of the mountain, 13 for this is where all the people of Bethulia get their water. So thirst will destroy them, and they will surrender their town. Meanwhile, we and our people will go up to the tops of the nearby mountains and camp there to keep watch to see that no one gets out of the town. 14 They and their wives and children will waste away with famine, and before the sword reaches them they will be strewn about in the streets where they live. 15 Thus you will pay them back with evil, because they rebelled and did not receive you peaceably.”

16 These words pleased Holofernes and all his attendants, and he gave orders to do as they had said. 17 So the army of the Ammonites moved forward, together with five thousand Assyrians, and they encamped in the valley and seized the water supply and the springs of the Israelites. 18 And the Edomites and Ammonites went up and encamped in the hill country opposite Dothan; and they sent some of their men toward the south and the east, toward Egrebeh, which is near Chusi beside the Wadi Mochmur. The rest of the Assyrian army encamped in the plain, and covered the whole face of the land. Their tents and supply trains spread out in great number, and they formed a vast multitude.

The Distress of the Israelites

19 The Israelites then cried out to the Lord their God, for their courage failed, because all their enemies had surrounded them, and there was no way of escape from them. 20 The whole Assyrian army, their infantry, chariots, and cavalry, surrounded them for thirty-four days, until all the water containers of every inhabitant of Bethulia were empty; 21 their cisterns were going dry, and on no day did they have enough water to drink, for their drinking water was rationed. 22 Their children were listless, and the women and young men fainted from thirst and were collapsing in the streets of the town and in the gateways; they no longer had any strength.

23 Then all the people, the young men, the women, and the children, gathered around Uzziah and the rulers of the town and cried out with a loud voice, and said before all the elders, 24 “Let God judge between you and us! You have done us a great injury in not making peace with the Assyrians. 25 For now we have no one to help us; God has sold us into their hands, to be strewn before them in thirst and exhaustion. 26 Now summon them and surrender the whole town as booty to the army of Holofernes and to all his forces. 27 For it would be better for us to be captured by them.[a] We shall indeed become slaves, but our lives will be spared, and we shall not witness our little ones dying before our eyes, and our wives and children drawing their last breath. 28 We call to witness against you heaven and earth and our God, the Lord of our ancestors, who punishes us for our sins and the sins of our ancestors; do today the things that we have described!”

29 Then great and general lamentation arose throughout the assembly, and they cried out to the Lord God with a loud voice. 30 But Uzziah said to them, “Courage, my brothers and sisters![b] Let us hold out for five days more; by that time the Lord our God will turn his mercy to us again, for he will not forsake us utterly. 31 But if these days pass by, and no help comes for 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 towers of their town. The women and children he sent home. In the town they were in great misery.


  1. Judith 7:27 Other ancient authorities add than to die of thirst
  2. Judith 7:30 Gk Courage, brothers
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 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.

'Judith 7 ' not found for the version: Complete Jewish Bible.
Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

Copyright © 1998 by David H. Stern. All rights reserved.

'Judith 7 ' not found for the version: The Message.
The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson

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