The instructions to Holofernes, the general of the army (Jdt 2:4-2:13)

“When he had completed his plan, King Nebuchadnezzar of the Assyrians called Holofernes, the chief general of his army, second only to himself. He said to him.

‘Thus says the Great King,

The lord of the whole earth,

Leave my presence.

Take with you men confident in their strength,

One hundred twenty thousand foot soldiers

And twelve thousand cavalry.

March out against all the land to the west,

Because they disobeyed my orders.

Tell them to prepare earth and water.

I am coming against them in my anger.

I will cover the whole face of the earth with the feet of my troops.

I will hand them over to be plundered.

Their wounded shall fill their ravines and gullies.

The swelling river shall be filled with their dead.

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 must yield themselves to you.

You shall hold them for me until the day of their punishment.

But to those who resist, show no mercy.

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 I will accomplish by my own hand.

You take care not to transgress any of your lord’s commands.

Be sure to carry them out exactly as I have ordered you.

Do it without delay!’”

Now Holofernes comes on the scene. There is no indication of his name in the army of Nebuchadnezzar, but there was a latter Persian general around 350 BCE with that name. That has led some to think that Nebuchadnezzar was really the Persian King Artaxerxes III. Anyway, the plans have been made. Thus the king brought in his chief general officer of his army. He was the king and lord of all the land. Holofernes was to take 120,000 foot soldiers and 12,000 cavalry to wipe out the western people who had disobeyed him. He wanted anyone who had disobeyed his messengers killed and plundered. If anyone resisted, he was not to show any mercy. Holofernes was to follow out his orders exactly. He was to do it without any delay.

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