In the deuterocanonical Book of Judith, Holofernes was an Assyrian invading general dispatched by Nebuchadnezzar to take vengeance on the nation who withheld assistance for his recent war. Holofernes occupied all the countries along the sea coast and destroyed all their gods, so that they would worship Nebuchadnezzar alone. Holofernes was warned against attacking the Jewish people by Achior, the leader of the Ammonites, which angered him and his followers; they rebuked him, insisting that there was no god other than Nebuchadnezzar.
The general laid siege to Bethulia, commonly believed to be Meselieh, and the city almost fell. Holofernes's advance stopped the water supply to Bethulia, and the people lost heart and encouraged Ozias and their rulers to give way. The leaders vowed to surrender if no help arrived within five days.
Bethulia was saved by Judith, a beautiful Hebrew widow who entered Holofernes's camp, seduced him, then beheaded him while he was drunk. She returned to Bethulia with the severed head, and the Hebrews defeated the enemy.