6When the disturbance made by the people outside the council had died down, Holofernes, the commander of the Assyrian army, said to Achior* in the presence of all the foreign contingents:
2 Who are you, Achior and you mercenaries of Ephraim, to prophesy among us as you have done today and tell us not to make war against the people of Israel because their God will defend them? What god is there except Nebuchadnezzar? He will send his forces and destroy them from the face of the earth. Their God will not save them; 3we the kings* servants will destroy them as one man. They cannot resist the might of our cavalry. 4We will overwhelm them;* their mountains will be drunk with their blood, and their fields will be full of their dead. Not even their footprints will survive our attack; they will utterly perish. So says King Nebuchadnezzar, lord of the whole earth. For he has spoken; none of his words shall be in vain.
5 As for you, Achior, you Ammonite mercenary, you have said these words in a moment of perversity; you shall not see my face again from this day until I take revenge on this race that came out of Egypt. 6Then at my return the sword of my army and the spear* of my servants shall pierce your sides, and you shall fall among their wounded. 7Now my slaves are going to take you back into the hill country and put you in one of the towns beside the passes. 8You will not die until you perish along with them. 9If you really hope in your heart that they will not be taken, then do not look downcast! I have spoken, and none of my words shall fail to come true.
10 Then Holofernes ordered his slaves, who waited on him in his tent, to seize Achior and take him away to Bethulia and hand him over to the Israelites. 11So the slaves took him and led him out of the camp into the plain, and from the plain they went up into the hill country and came to the springs below Bethulia. 12When the men of the town saw them,* they seized their weapons and ran out of the town to the top of the hill, and all the slingers kept them from coming up by throwing stones at them. 13So having taken shelter below the hill, they bound Achior and left him lying at the foot of the hill, and returned to their master.
14 Then the Israelites came down from their town and found him; they untied him and brought him into Bethulia and placed him before the magistrates of their town, 15who in those days were Uzziah son of Micah, of the tribe of Simeon, and Chabris son of Gothoniel, and Charmis son of Melchiel. 16They called together all the elders of the town, and all their young men and women ran to the assembly. They set Achior in the midst of all their people, and Uzziah questioned him about what had happened. 17He answered and told them what had taken place at the council of Holofernes, and all that he had said in the presence of the Assyrian leaders, and all that Holofernes had boasted he would do against the house of Israel. 18Then the people fell down and worshipped God, and cried out:
19 O Lord God of heaven, see their arrogance, and have pity on our people in their humiliation, and look kindly today on the faces of those who are consecrated to you.
20 Then they reassured Achior, and praised him highly. 21Uzziah took him from the assembly to his own house and gave a banquet for the elders; and all that night they called on the God of Israel for help.
The New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized Edition), copyright 1989, 1995 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.
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10 February 2011