Saturday, April 12, 2014

Judith, Chapters 1-4: Where is the main character?

Chapter 1

King Arphaxad built a wall around Ecbatane. The Apocrypha goes into great detail about the thickness of the walls and the height of the towers, which I will spare you. Lucky for him he did that, because soon King Nabuchodonosor invades. The city is flooded with refugees. King Nab tries to draft a bunch of tribes under his auspices into his army, but it's kind of like that scene in Braveheart where the Irish refuse to attack the Scots: they all laugh at him and send his recruiters home. Nab is understandably pissed at this and vows to kill all their children. Someday. When he manages to recruit a bigger army. For now, though, he contents himself with besieging Ecbatane. Eventually he prevails and he kills Arphaxad in the mountains with darts. Then he goes back and has a feast for 120 days, during which, understandably, the city gets wrecked.

Chapter 2

The following year, Nab decides to exact his revenge on all the people who laughed at him. He calls all of his officers together and tells them to destroy the belligerents. The promise to do it, then don't. He calls his best 5-star general, Holofernes in and orders him to go west and kill anything that stands in his way. He can take prisoners if they surrender. So he gathers 120 000 men, horses and provisions and heads out to Nineve, then up into the mountains, killing and burning all the while. Word spreads of this early General Sherman, and people are very afraid.

Chapter 3

The coastal cities try to bribe Holofernes with everything they own, and he accepts, but he does insist on destroying all their shrines, because King Nab has declared himself a god and only wants people to worship him. Then he leaves for a place called Scythopolis, right on the border with Judea, where he camps for a month as his army regroups.

Chapter 4

The people of Judea are well aware of Holofernes, and afraid. Not for their own silly lives, no, they're afraid he'll destroy their shiny new temple. So they prepare all their fortified towns for a siege. The high priest in Jerusalem writes to all of them and says they really need to keep Holofernes out. Fortunately, the mountain passes are so narrow the men will have to walk two abreast. Meanwhile, the people in Jerusalem pray, rather than doing anything useful like making weapons or going out to the mountains to help with the defense. God looks down and sees all these silly people and their cows worshiping in their sackcloth and decides to spare them this time.

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