1 But Holofernes, on another day, instructed his army to ascend against Bethulia.
2 Moreover, there were one hundred and twenty thousand foot-soldiers, and twenty-two thousand horsemen, besides the contingents of those men who had been taken captive, and all the youths who had been abducted from the provinces and the cities.
3 All these prepared themselves together to fight against the sons of Israel, and they came through the foothills of the mountain, even to the apex, which looks down upon Dothain, from the place which is called Belma, up to Chelmon, which is opposite Esdrelon.
4 But the sons of Israel, when they saw the multitude of them, prostrated themselves upon the ground, scattering ashes over their heads, praying with one accord that the God of Israel would show his mercy upon his people.
5 And, taking up their arms of war, they set up positions at the places that lead along a narrow footpath between the mountains, and they guarded them all day and night.
6 Now Holofernes, while circling around, discovered that the fountain that flowed in to them, led directly through an aqueduct on the south side, beyond the city. And he instructed their aqueduct to be cut off.
7 Even so, there were springs not far from the walls, from which they were seen to draw water secretly, to refresh themselves a little rather than to drink their fill.
8 But the sons of Ammon and Moab approached Holofernes, saying: “The sons of Israel do not trust in their lances, nor in their arrows, but the mountains are their defense, and the steep hills and precipices constitute their fortifications.
9 Therefore, so that you may be able to overcome them without joining battle, set guards at the springs so that they may not draw water from them, and you will put them to death without the sword, or at least, being weary, they will hand over their city, which they suppose to be, by its position in the mountains, unable to be conquered.”
10 And these words were pleasing before Holofernes and before his attendants, and so he stationed a hundred men around every spring.
11 And when they had kept this watch through twenty full days, the cisterns and collections of waters failed among all the inhabitants of Bethulia, so that there was within the city not enough to satisfy them for even one day, because water was given out to the people daily by measure.
12 Then, all the men and women, youths and little ones, gathering together before Uzziah, all with one voice together,
13 said: “May God be judge between us and you, for you have done evil with us, in not being willing to speak peacefully with the Assyrians, and because of this, God has sold us into their hands.
14 And therefore, there is no one to help us, while we are prostrated before their eyes with thirst and great destruction.
15 And now, gather together all who are in the city, so that we may willingly deliver everyone of us to the people of Holofernes.
16 For it is better that as captives, being alive, we should bless the Lord, than that we should die and become a disgrace to all flesh, after we have seen our wives and our children die before our eyes.
17 We call to witness this day heaven and earth, and the God of our fathers, who takes vengeance upon us according to our sins, so that now you may deliver the city into the hand of the military of Holofernes. And may our end be brief, by the edge of the sword, that would be made longer by the dryness of thirst.”
18 And when they had said these things, there happened a great weeping and a loud lamentation within the assembly. From everyone and for many hours, with one voice, they cried out to God, saying:
19 We have sinned like our fathers, we have acted unjustly, we have committed iniquity.
20 May you have mercy on us, for you are pious, or with your own scourges avenge our iniquities, but do not be willing to deliver those trusting in you to a people who are ignorant of you,
21 so that they may not say among the Gentiles, ‘Where is their God?’ “
22 And when, being weary from these outcries, and tired from these weepings, they became silent,
23 Uzziah, rising up covered in tears, said: “Be steadfast in soul, brothers, and let us wait these five days for mercy from the Lord.
24 For perhaps he will break off his indignation and give glory to his own name.
25 But if, with five days passing, help does not arrive, we will accomplish the words that you have spoken.”