Holofernes hears of the Israelite preparations (Jdt 5:1-5:4)

“It was reported to Holofernes, the general of the Assyrian army, that the people of Israel had prepared for war. They had closed the mountain passes. They had fortified all the high hilltops. They had set up barricades in the plains. He was very angry. He called together all the princes of Moab, the commanders of Ammon, and all the governors of the coastland. He said to them.

‘Tell me, you Canaanites,

What people is this that lives in the hill country?

What towns do they inhabit?

How large is their army?

What does their power or strength consist of?

Who rules over them as king?

Who leads their army?

Why have they alone,

Of all who live in the west,

Refused to come out and meet me?’”

When General Holofernes heard that the Israelites were preparing for war, he called all the local princes and commanders of the coastland, Moab, and Ammon together. Moab and Ammon were east of Israel on the other side of the Jordan. The Moabites and Ammonites were the traditional enemies to the east of Judah. Why had the Israelites closed the mountain passes, fortified the hilltops, and set up barricades? Who are they guys? He wanted to know about them. How big was their army? Who was their leader? Why were they the only ones resisting in the Canaanite territory, when everyone else had come out to meet and greet him?

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