World English Bible
1Now the children of Israel, who lived in Judea, heard all that Holofernes the chief captain of Nebuchadnezzar king of the Assyrians had done to the nations, and in what way he had pillaged all their temples and brought them to nothing.
2Therefore they were exceedingly afraid of him, and were troubled for Jerusalem and for the temple of the Lord their God.
3For they were newly-returned from the captivity, and all the people of Judea had only recently gathered together; and the vessels and the altar and the house had been sanctified after the profanation.
4Therefore they sent into all the coasts of Samaria and the villages, and to Bethoron and Belmen and Jericho, and to Choba and Esora, and to the valley of Salem;
5and they captured for themselves in advance all the tops of the high mountains, and fortified the villages which were in them, and stored up food as provisions for war, for their fields had been recently reaped.
6Also, Joacim the high priest, who was in those days in Jerusalem, wrote to those who lived in Bethulia and Betomestham, which is opposite Esdraelon toward the open country near Dothaim,
7charging them to hold the passages of the hill country; for through them there was an entrance into Judea, and it was easy to stop those who would come up, because the passage was narrow, for two men at the most.
8And the children of Israel did as Joacim the high priest had commanded them, with the elders of all the people of Israel, who lived at Jerusalem.
9Then every man cried to God with great fervor, and they humbled their souls with great vehemence,
10and both they and their wives and their children, and their cattle, and every stranger and hired hand, and their servants bought with money, put sackcloth on their loins.
11Thus every man, and the women and little children, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, fell before the temple and cast ashes upon their heads and spread out their sackcloth before the face of the Lord; they also put sackcloth around the altar.
12And they cried to the God of Israel, all with one consent earnestly, so that he would not give over their children as prey and their wives for a spoil and the cities of their inheritance to destruction and the sanctuary to profanation and reproach, for the nations to rejoice over them.
13So God heard their prayers and looked upon their afflictions; for the people fasted many days in all Judea and Jerusalem before the sanctuary of the Lord Almighty.
14And Joacim the high priest, and all the priests who stood before the Lord and those who ministered to the Lord, had their loins dressed with sackcloth, and offered the daily burnt offerings with the vows and free gifts of the people,
15and had ashes on their liturgical headdresses; and they cried to the Lord with all their power, so that he would look upon all the house of Israel graciously.