The Egyptian campaign (Dan 11:25-11:28)

“He shall stir up

His power,

His determination,

Against the king of the south,

With a great army.

The king of the south

Shall wage war

With a much greater,

Stronger army.

But he shall not stand.

Plots shall be devised

Against him,

By those who eat

Of the royal rations.

They shall break him.

His army shall be swept away.

Many shall fall slain.

The two kings,

Their minds bent

On evil,

Shall sit

At one table.

They shall exchange lies.

But it shall not succeed.

There remains an end

At the time appointed.

He shall return

To his land

With great wealth.

But his heart shall be set

Against the holy covenant.

He shall work his will.

He shall return

To his own land.

King Antiochus IV determined to fight against the king of the south, in Egypt with a great army around 169 BCE. However, the king of the south, King Ptolemy VI (186-145 BCE), had a better stronger army. Nevertheless, King Antiochus IV prevailed, because there was some failure among the troops of King Ptolemy VI, as plots were devised by those who ate his royal rations. Many were killed. They seem to have come to some sort of agreement, but each was too devious to make it work. King Antiochus IV returned with great wealth. He apparently stopped off in Jerusalem and sacked it in 169 BCE, since his heart was against the holy covenant. There he worked his will before he returned to his own land.

The exploits of Holofernes (Jdt 2:21-2:28)

“They marched for three days from Nineveh to the plain of Bectileth. There they camped opposite Bectileth, near the mountain that is to the north of Upper Cilicia. From there Holofernes took his whole army, his infantry, cavalry, and chariots, and went up into the hill country. He ravaged Put and Lud. He plundered all the Rassisites and the Ishmaelites on the border of the desert, south of the country of the Chelleans. Then he followed the Euphrates River and passed through Mesopotamia. He destroyed all the hilltop cities along the brook Abron, as far as the sea. He also seized the territory of Cilicia. He killed every one who resisted him. Then he came to the southern borders of Japheth, fronting toward Arabia. He surrounded all the Midianites. He burned their tents and plundered their sheepfolds. Then he went down into the plain of Damascus during the wheat harvest. He burned all their fields. He destroyed their flocks and herds. He sacked their towns. He ravaged their lands. He put to death all their young men with the edge of the sword. Fear and dread of him fell upon all the people who lived along the seacoast. This included those at Sidon and Tyre, as well as those who lived in Sur, Ocina, and all who lived in Jamnia. Those who lived in Azotus and Ascalon feared him greatly.”

The geography here is a little muddled. It is about 600 miles from Nineveh to Damascus, but here it seems like just a few days. No one seems to know where this Bectileth was. Cilicia was on the Mediterranean Sea in Asia Minor, part of modern day Turkey. It, too, was about 500-600 miles from Nineveh, a difficult trip in 3 days, even in our modern times. Lud maybe the Syrian Lydia, but it is difficult to find Put. It is also difficult to know much about the Rassisites, the Ishmaelites, or the Chelleans. Generally, Ishmaelites usually referred to Arabs.   It is also difficult to pinpoint the Abron brook. Obviously, he traveled south along the Euphrates River, which is about 300 miles east of the seacoast. Japheth was near Arabia, which would be south of where he was. He also attacked the Midianites, on his way to Damascus. Holofernes burned down the wheat fields, destroyed the flocks and herds, sacked and ravaged the land. He killed their young men. He then turned further south towards the coast. Thus there was great fear in Sidon and Tyre, as well as all along the coastal towns of   Sur, Ocina, Jamnia, Azotus, and Ascalon near Tyre, in the Asher tribe territory.