Nebuchadnezzar Plans His Attack on the Nations of the West
1In the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar's rule, on the twenty-second day of the first month,#2.1 first month: Abib (also called Nisan), the first month of the Hebrew calendar, from about mid-March to mid-April. he and his officials decided to keep his promise and take revenge on the nations that had refused to help him fight Arphaxad.#2.1 he and his officials … take revenge … Arphaxad: See 1.12. 2Nebuchadnezzar called together his highest officials and respected leaders, then explained that some nations had refused to be his allies.#2.2 that some nations had refused to be his allies: One possible meaning for the difficult Greek text. He told how he planned to destroy these rebellious nations, 3and every one of his officials agreed it must be done.
4After that meeting, King Nebuchadnezzar of Assyria#2.4 King Nebuchadnezzar of Assyria: See the note at 1.1. called for Holofernes, the general of his army, who ranked second only to the king himself. Nebuchadnezzar said to Holofernes:
5I am Nebuchadnezzar, the great king, the ruler of the earth! I want you to choose 120,000 foot soldiers and 12,000 cavalry troops—all of them brave and experienced in war. 6Then attack the nations of the west,#2.6 the nations of the west: Syria and Egypt, including the nations and regions they controlled. because they refused to help me fight King Arphaxad.
7Tell those nations that I am prepared to attack, and so they have no choice but to surrender.#2.7 they have no choice but to surrender: Greek “to prepare offerings of earth and water”; this was a Persian custom that showed complete surrender and submission to a powerful enemy. I will command my troops to invade every bit of their land and take everything of value. 8The valleys and gorges will be filled with wounded people, and the land will be flooded, because dead bodies will block every stream and river. 9Then I will capture everyone left alive and scatter them all over the earth.
10Holofernes, I want you to go ahead of me and take over their land. Keep control of the nations that surrender to you, and when I arrive, I will punish them myself. 11But destroy those nations that refuse to surrender. Show them no mercy and command your troops to take their possessions. 12As surely as I rule this powerful kingdom, I will keep my solemn promise to punish those nations. 13I am your king, so don't disobey any of my commands. Go and follow every order I have given you.
Holofernes Attacks the Nations
14Holofernes left and called together all the commanders and officers of the Assyrian army. 15Just as Nebuchadnezzar had ordered, he chose 120,000 of the best foot soldiers and 12,000 cavalry troops who were experts with bows and arrows. 16Holofernes prepared this army for war. 17He took enough camels, donkeys, and mules to carry all the equipment, and he also took a large number of sheep, oxen, and goats for food. 18Each soldier was given plenty food and water and was paid a huge amount of gold and silver from the royal treasury.
19Holofernes and his army marched out with chariots, cavalry, and foot soldiers to invade the western nations, while King Nebuchadnezzar stayed in Nineveh. 20#Jg 7.12; Jl 2.2-11. Holofernes had more troops than could be counted; they were like a swarm of locusts or like grains of sand on the seashore.
21They left Nineveh, and after they had marched three days, they reached the valley around the city of Bectileth, where they set up camp across from the city, near the mountains north of Cilicia. 22From there, Holofernes led his entire army of soldiers and chariots into the foothills. 23He completely destroyed the nations of Libya and Lydia, then took everything from the Rassisites and the Ishmaelites living on the edge of the desert south of Chellean.#2.23 Chellean: This place is unknown.
24Holofernes and his army crossed#2.24 crossed: Or “followed.” the Euphrates River and marched through Mesopotamia, destroying every walled city along the Abron River, as far as the Mediterranean Sea. 25He took over the territory of Cilicia, killing everyone who tried to resist him. Then he went as far as the southern border of Japheth, near Arabia. 26After his army had surrounded the Midianites, he burned down their tents and slaughtered their sheep. 27Next, he led his army into the valley around Damascus. It was during the wheat harvest, and so he first burned all the wheat fields, then he slaughtered the sheep and goats. He raided the towns and tore up the countryside, killing all the young men.
The Nations of the West Surrender to Nebuchadnezzar
28Everyone living along the Mediterranean Sea was terrified of Holofernes, including those in the cities of Tyre, Sidon, Sur, Ocina, Jamnia, Azotus, and Ascalon.