“Yahweh has done
What he purposed.
He has carried out
As he ordained
He has demolished
He has made
Of your foes.”
Yahweh has done what he planned to do. He has carried out his threat as he said he would. He has demolished Jerusalem without any pity. Notice that it was Yahweh and not the Babylonian king who destroyed Jerusalem. Now, he has made the enemies and foes of Zion rejoice and exalt. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Ayin. Each verse after this will use the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet in this acrostic poem.
“Then Jonathan, with his men and Simon, withdrew to Bethbasi in the wilderness. He rebuilt the parts of it that had been demolished. Then they fortified it. When General Bacchides learned of this, he assembled all his forces. He sent orders to the men of Judea. Then he came and encamped against Bethbasi. He fought against it for many days as he made machines of war.”
Jonathan and his men went southeast of Bethlehem to Bethbasi in the wilderness marshes along the Jordan River, near Tekoa. They rebuilt their stronghold and fortified it. When General Bacchides heard of this, he assembled his forces and camped out against the forces of Jonathan for many days. He kept building his war machines.
“Then Holofernes went down to the seacoast with his army. He stationed garrisons in the fortified towns. He took picked men from them as his auxiliaries. These people and all in the countryside welcomed him with garlands, dances, and tambourines. Yet he demolished all their shrines. He cut down their sacred groves. He had been commanded to destroy all the gods of the land. All the nations should worship King Nebuchadnezzar alone. All their dialects and tribes should call upon him as a god. Then he came toward Esdraelon, near Dothan, fronting the great ridge of Judea. He camped between Geba and Scythopolis. He remained for a whole month in order to collect all the supplies for his army.”
General Holofernes went down along the seacoast and set up garrisons of his troops in the fortified cities. He even picked some men from the local area to serve in his auxiliary army. They all welcomed him with garlands, dances, and tambourines as a conquering hero. Everything seemed great until he decided to tear down their shrines and sacred groves. He wanted all the local gods destroyed. The only god would be King Nebuchadnezzar. However, this is a misplaced historical event since the idea of king or ruler as a god only came with the Greeks and the Romans, not the Assyrians or Persians who were very tolerant of various religions. Besides, the unity of religious beliefs was not part of the original assignment of Holofernes. Finally, he rested a month at Esdraelon, on the border of Judah, to get more supplies for his troops. Esdraelon was on the plains of Jezreel between the coast and the Jordan River in the old Ephraim territory. Geba was actually in the Benjamin territory. So Holofernes was already in Israel, when he camped with his troops for a month.