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Judith: Chapter 1

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1It was the twelfth year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, who ruled over the Assyrians in the great city of Nineveh. In those days Arphaxad ruled over the Medes in Ecbatana. 2He built walls around Ecbatana with hewn stones three cubits thick and six cubits long; he made the walls seventy cubits high and fifty cubits wide. 3At its gates he raised towers one hundred cubits high and sixty cubits wide at the foundations. 4He made its gates seventy cubits high and forty cubits wide to allow his armies to march out in force and his infantry to form their ranks. 5Then King Nebuchadnezzar made war against King Arphaxad in the great plain that is on the borders of Ragau. 6There rallied to him all the people of the hill country and all those who lived along the Euphrates, the Tigris, and the Hydaspes, and, on the plain, Arioch, king of the Elymeans. Thus, many nations joined the forces of the Chaldeans. a Syr: Gk Cheleoudites

7Then Nebuchadnezzar, king of the Assyrians, sent messengers to all who lived in Persia and to all who lived in the west, those who lived in Cilicia and Damascus, Lebanon and Antilebanon, and all who lived along the seacoast, 8and those among the nations of Carmel and Gilead, and Upper Galilee and the great plain of Esdraelon, 9and all who were in Samaria and its towns, and beyond the Jordan as far as Jerusalem and Bethany and Chelous and Kadesh and the river of Egypt, and Tahpanhes and Raamses and the whole land of Goshen, 10even beyond Tanis and Memphis, and all who lived in Egypt as far as the borders of Ethiopia. 11But all who lived in the whole region disregarded the summons of Nebuchadnezzar, king of the Assyrians, and refused to join him in the war; for they were not afraid of him, but regarded him as only one man. b Or a man So they sent back his messengers empty-handed and in disgrace.

12Then Nebuchadnezzar became very angry with this whole region, and swore by his throne and kingdom that he would take revenge on the whole territory of Cilicia and Damascus and Syria, that he would kill with his sword also all the inhabitants of the land of Moab, and the people of Ammon, and all Judea, and every one in Egypt, as far as the coasts of the two seas.

13In the seventeenth year he led his forces against King Arphaxad and defeated him in battle, overthrowing the whole army of Arphaxad and all his cavalry and all his chariots. 14Thus he took possession of his towns and came to Ecbatana, captured its towers, plundered its markets, and turned its glory into disgrace. 15He captured Arphaxad in the mountains of Ragau and struck him down with his spears, thus destroying him once and for all. 16Then he returned to Nineveh, he and all his combined forces, a vast body of troops; and there he and his forces rested and feasted for one hundred twenty days.


a Syr: Gk Cheleoudites

b Or a man

Text Commentary view alone

1.1–6 :

Nebuchadnezzar declares war against Arphaxad of Media. Nebuchadnezzar reigned over the Neo-Babylonian empire, not the Assyrians, from 605–562 BCE; his father, Nabopolassar, had destroyed the Assyrian capital in 612 BCE. The Assyrians may have been seen as equivalent to Syrians, or the Greek/Seleucid rulers from whom the Maccabees won their independence. Arphaxad is a fictional king.

6 :

Chaldeans is another name for the Neo-Babylonians. The import of this reference is unclear, since Nebuchadnezzar is here associated with the Assyrians.

1.7–16 :

The rising threat of Nebuchadnezzar and his response to the nations who spurn him. The geographical expanse of the area threatened by Nebuchadnezzar is emphasized. The area is larger than either the Assyrian or Babylonian empires, but corresponds to lands ruled by the later Persian and Greek empires.

13–16 :

The easy victory of Nebuchadnezzar over the great Arphaxad of Ecbatana demonstrates the threat that looms over smaller nations. This episode concludes with Nebuchadnezzar's celebration and a temporary pause in the action. A number of these pauses will occur throughout the novel, * framing the scenes of dramatic action and allowing for a more deliberate pacing of the story.

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