The nations quake
At the sound
Of its fall.
I cast it down
Who go down
To the pit.
All the trees of Eden,
All that were
In the world below.
They also shall go down
By the sword,
Along with its allies,
Those who lived
In its shadow
Among the nations.’”
Yahweh, via Ezekiel, said that he had made the other nations shake at the sound of this falling great cedar tree. Yahweh had cast it down to Sheol where others had gone into the pit also. This included the choice and best cedar trees from Lebanon and the Garden of Eden. All these well-watered trees were consoled in the world below. They all went down to Sheol with those who had been killed by the sword, as well as the allies who had lived in the shadow of this great tree.
“Then Jonathan set out and traveled beyond the river. He traveled among the towns. All the army of Syria gathered to him as allies. When he came to Askalon, the people of the city met him and paid him honor. From there he departed to Gaza, but the people of Gaza shut him out. So he besieged it. He burned its suburbs with fire and plundered them. Then the people of Gaza pleaded with Jonathan so he made peace with them. He took the sons of their rulers as hostages. He sent them to Jerusalem. He passed through the country as far as Damascus.”
Jonathan crossed the Jordan River, where all the Syrian troops joined him. The people of Askalon, one of the 5 Philistine cities on the coast, received him well and honored him. However, the people of Gaza, another old Philistine city, did not treat him well so that he besieged the city and burned its suburbs. Finally they asked for peace but Jonathan took the sons of the rulers as hostages, sending them to Jerusalem. He seems to have gone anywhere he wanted up as far north as Damascus.
“When Jonathan and the people heard these words of Demetrius, they did not believe or accept them. They remembered the great wrongs that Demetrius had done in Israel. He had greatly oppressed them. They favored Alexander because he had been the first to speak peaceable words to them. They remained his allies all his days.”
Jonathan was not impressed with the many promises of King Demetrius I. The king had done a lot of evil things to Israel. Jonathan, instead, favored King Alexander over King Demetrius I. He formed an alliance with King Alexander and not with King Demetrius, despite all his great promises of friendship and money.
“Then all the renegade lawless people plotted and said.
Jonathan and his men are living in quiet and confidence.
Now let us bring Bacchides back.
He will capture them all in one night.’
They went and consulted with him. Bacchides started to come with a large force. He secretly sent letters to all his allies in Judea. He told them to seize Jonathan and his men. However, they were unable to do it, because their plan became known. Jonathan’s men seized about fifty of the men of the country who were leaders in this treachery, and killed them.”
Once again, we see the lawless Hellenistic renegade Jews plotting against Jonathan. Jonathan seemed to have been left alone. They wanted to bring back General Bacchides and capture him in one night. This once again emphasizes the civil war aspect of his uprising. After they consulted with General Bacchides, he started out with a large force. He sent letters to his allies to tell them to seize Jonathan. However, the opposite happened. Jonathan seized about 50 men who were against him and killed them.
“Concerning the wrongs that King Demetrius is doing to them, we have written to him as follows.
‘Why have you made your yoke heavy
Upon our friends and allies the Jews?
If now they appeal again for help against you,
We will defend their rights.
We will fight you on sea and on land.’”
The problem here is that this is not part of the written agreement. This seems to be an oral agreement that the Romans and the legates agreed to. There is no indication that the Romans helped the Jews against King Demetrius I. They simply repeated the general agreement that they had with the Jewish Nation.
“The next day General Holofernes ordered his whole army, and all the allies who had joined him, to break camp. They were to move against Bethulia. They were to seize the passes up into the hill country. They were going to make war on the Israelites. All their warriors marched out that day. Their fighting forces numbered one hundred seventy thousand infantry and twelve thousand cavalry, not counting the baggage and the foot soldiers handling it, a very great multitude. They encamped in the valley near Bethulia, beside the spring. They spread out in breadth over Dothan as far as Balbaim, and in length from Bethulia to Cyamon, which faces Esdraelon. When the Israelites saw their vast numbers they were greatly terrified. They said to one another.
‘They will now strip clean the whole land.
Neither the high mountains, the valleys, nor the hills
Will bear their weight.’
Yet they all seized their weapons. When they had kindled fires on their towers, they remained on guard all that night.”
The very day after they got rid of Achior, General Holofernes ordered his army to break camp. They were going to invade Bethulia. They were going to seize the mountain passes and make war on the Israelites. This huge fighting army marched out. They had 170,000 foot soldiers, 12,000 cavalry, plus foot soldiers to take care of their baggage. They camped near Bethulia, close to Dothan with Esdraelon at their back. When the Israelites finally saw how big the army was, they were terrified. However, they lit fires in their towers to stand watch that night.