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been instructed and encouraged in the service of God, by the glorious discoveries* made to him, prophesied the same things at Babylon that Jeremiah did at Jerusalem ; which confirming Jeremiah's prophecies, was a great comfort to him. Thus did these two great prophets visit the people with several warnings, endeavouring, by very significant emblems, and direct prophecies, to reclaim them. But they still persisting in their obstinacy and disobedience, God brought upon them those judgments he had so often by his prophets threatened, and which Zedekiah's impiety hastened : for he revolting, in the ninth year of his reign, from Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him king, provoked the haughty monarch to march with a vast army, and besiege Jerusalem. Where we will leave the Jews, and look back a little to an action which happened in another part of the kingdom of Judah, wherein Bethulia owed its deliverance to the policy and courage of the heroine Judith. +
• Discoveries. See Ezekiel i. 2, 3, 4, 5, 8.
+ Fudith. Some modern critics have endeavoured to make the history of Judith pass for an allegory; but it has nothing of the air of fiction or parable. Both Jews and the ancient Christians looked upon it as a true history, though the former have not placed it among their canonical books. The author is not certainly known ; but it is very probable that it was composed during the captivity, because it was written in the Chaldaic tongue. The original, from which were made the Greek versions, quoted by the fathers, and the Latin, done by St. Jerom, are lost. As to the time, it is most certain that it was before the burning of Jerusalem and the temple, and after the captivity in Jehoiakim’s days; which appears from Judith iv. 3, where it is said, “ They were newly returned from the captivity," which must be that in Jehoiakim's time, for that in Zedekiah's continued seventy years, before which Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, had subdued Arphaxad, king of the Medes, and demolished Ecbatane. This Arphaxad, probabiy, was Phrartes, or Aphraartes, who, as Herodotus tells us, was defeated by the Assyrians (who were then subject to the king of Babylon) and perished with his army. Which agrees with what is said in the first chapter of Judith, that Arphaxad was over. come by Nebuchadnezzar, who returned to Nineveh, which was the capital of the kingdom of Assyria. But to come more precisely to the time of Holofernes,
Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon and Nineveh, having defeated and taken Arphaxad, king of the Medes, proposed to himself to subdue the nations of Asia to the westward : on which expedition he sent his general Holofernes with a mighty army, who, spreading terror in all parts, made himself master of Mesopotamia, Syria, Libya, and Cilicia, which voluntarily submitted to him. After these conquests he turned his arms to the country of Edom, where he found as little resistance. The Israelites taking the alarm, gathered what forces they had, possessed themselves of the mountains, and fortified their towns. Holofernes, surprised that they should think of opposing his army, enquired of the Moabites and Am. monites what strength that people had, and what motive could induce them to stand out ? Achior, chief of the Ammonites, in a few words told him the history of that nation; and having informed him how they had been sometimes protected, and sometimes abandoned by their God, concluded, that if they had offended their God, he would deliver them into his hands; but if they had not, their God would defend them, and that all his
would not be able to subdue them. Holofernes hearing this account, with great indignation caused Achior to be sent into Bethulia, which he besieged, intending to destroy
king Nebuchadnezzar's general, in the second chapter of Judith it is positively said, that Nebuchadnezzar put his general on this expedition in the first month of the eighteenth year of his reign, which was the ninth year of Zedekiah, king of Judah ; so that the defeat of Holofernes and the siege of Jerusalem happened in the same year, though it must be supposed that the expedition against Bethulia was in the beginning of the year, and the siege at the end of it; for we read in the fifteenth of Judith, that Joakim the priest, with the elders, came from Jerusalem to salute Judith, and she returned to Jerusalem with them to give thanks, which could not be in the time of a siege. As for the Bethulians enjoying peace during Judith's life, it may be supposed that Nebuchadnezzar being employed two years in the siege of Jerusalem, might spend some years in reducing other parts of the country; and Bethulia being a place naturally strong, as situated in the mountainous part of the country, he was unwilling to weary his army before it, or make any attempt on il, till he had subdued the rest.
him when it was taken. The inhabitants of Bethulia seeing the number of the enemy, began to be alarmed, and were so pressing with Ozias the governor of the place, that to quiet them, he promised to surrender the town, if in five days they were not relieved. But that which pressed them most was the want of water, for otherwise the town, by reason of its high situation, was inaccessible. This want of water was occasioned by the advice of the Idumeans and others, whom Holofernes had subdued, who told him there was no way of reducing the place, but by cutting off the water at the foot of the mountains, which supplied them. This advice Holofernes, pursued, which made Ozias the governor, in despair, promise the people he would hold out no longer than five days.
At that time there dwelt in Bethulia a woman named Judith, as eminent for virtue and piety as for the great wealth and possessions her husband had left her. She, hearing what the governor had done to quiet the people, sent for him and the leading men of the city, and in their presence reproved him for it, assuring them that God, by her, would find out an expedient to deliver them; but enjoined them not to enquire into her project, for she declared she would not inform them. Upon this they left her, wishing her good success.
Judith was sensible of the charms of her person, for she was very beautiful, and with these she proposed to captivate and betray the proud general. Having therefore addressed herself in prayer to God, she adds all the embellishments of art and dress, and attended only by her maid, makes the best of her way to the Assyrian camp. Being come to the out-guard, she was stopped, and asked who, and whence she was ? She told them, she was a Hebrew who had fled from her countrymen for protection, because she was sensible that her fate was near.
Her dress and beauty commanded respect, and they immediately provided a chariot for her and her maid, and a guard of a hundred choice men to conduct her to the general's tent. Where being arrived, and waiting without the tent, till the general was ready to receive her, the officers and soldiers with much pleasure surveyed and admired her beauty. Being introduced, Holofernes met her at the tent-door, and seating himself under a rich canopy of state, he assured her of his protection, and desired an account of the cause of her visit. After due respect paid to the presence of so great a person, she expressed herself to him as she had done to the advanced guard; and addressed herself so artfully to him in words that adınitted a double meaning, as,* “ That the Lord had sent her to
perform such an enterprise with him, as would ex“ cite the wonder of the world when it was known," so that he became enamoured with her wit and beauty. Holofernes fondly concluding that the God of the Hebrews was angry with them, which he, through mistake, imagined the cause of Judith's quitting them, gave her leave to go and come whither, and when she pleased, without controul. Judith was a pious woman, and a strict observer of the ceremonies of her religion; and to prevent any pollution by cating with the Assyrians, when Holofernes pressed her to eat as he did, she declined it, telling him, that she had brought enough to serve her till she had finished what she came about. Thus she continued three days in the Assyrian camp, and on the fourth day Holofernes invited her to an entertainment, where she drank of his wine, but eat only what she had ordered her maid to provide. The general was so well pleased with her conversation, that he drank very liberally, and proposed to pass the night with the beautiful stranger; but he became so intoxicated, that he fell upon his bed fast asleep. Upon which Bagoas, the general's eunuch, dismissed all the company, except Judith, and then himself withdrew. Now was Judith's project ripe for execution; praying therefore to God to strengthen her in the performance of it, she approached the bed, and finding his senses quite locked up with wine, she drew his scimitar, and at two strokes cut off his head, which she immediately gave to her maid, whom she had ordered to attend
* As. See Judith xi. 16,
her without. The maid put up the head in the bag in which she carried their provisions, and away they hasten towards the mountains of Bethulia. When they were come within hearing, Judith called to the watch to open the gates, and being admitted, the governor and people from all quarters of the town came thronging to see her ; upon which she shewed them Holofernes's head, assuring them, that though she had ensnared him with her beauty, yet he had committed nothing immodest with her. Judith well knowing the consternation into which the sudden death of Holofernes would put the Assyrian army, advised the Bethulians to take the advantage of it, and arm to pursue and kill them. They had great reason to observe her instructions, whose conduct had so far put them in the way for their deliverance. The besieged therefore immediately ran to, arms, and to encourage them, Judith had ordered the head of Holofernes to be hung upon the wall in sight of the enemy. The Bethulians appearing in the passes of the mountains, the enemy's 'out-guards gave notice to their officers, and the officers sent to the general : upon which Bagoas, his eunuch, went to the tent, and knocking at the door, but having no answer, he opened it, and went in, where, to his great amazement and surprise, he saw the headless body of his master wallowing in his blood; missing Judith, who he thought had slept with Holofernes that night, he went to her tent; but not finding her there, he straightway concluded who was the author of this mischief and disgrace to the Assyrians. This dismal news soon spread through the camp, and occasioned such terror, that every one began to shift for himself, flying over the plains and mountains in the greatest confusion and disorder. The Bethulians took the advantage of this, and attacked them in small partics from several quarters, as did likewise all the neighbouring people, who, as well as those of Bethulia, enriched themselves greatly with the booty. After this Joakim came to Bethulia, attended with the chief men of Israel, and having saluted Judith, and complimented her for her glorious conduct and policy, she returned with them to Jerusalem,