“I will signal for them.
I will gather them in.
I have redeemed them.
They shall be
As they were before.
Though I scattered them
Among the nations,
Yet in far countries
They shall remember me.
They shall rear their children.
They shall return.
I will bring them home
From the land of Egypt.
I will gather them
I will bring them
To the land of Gilead.
I will bring them
Until there is no room for them.
They shall pass through
The sea of distress.
The waves of the sea
Shall be struck down.
The depths of the Nile
Shall dry up.
The pride of Assyria
Shall be laid low.
The scepter of Egypt
Yahweh was going to give a signal for the Israelites to gather, since he had redeemed them from their captivity. They would be as numerous as they were before. Even though they were scattered among many distant countries, they raised their children there before they returned. Yahweh was going to bring them home from Egypt and Assyria. He was going to put them in Gilead, the east side of the Jordan River, or in Lebanon, on the seacoast, until there was no more room for them there. They would have no problems, since Yahweh was going to lead them through distressed seas, mild waves, and the deep dry Nile River. The pride of Assyria would be brought down, while the control of the Egyptian rule or scepter would leave.
“When Achior had finished saying these things, all the people standing around the tent began to complain. Holofernes’ officers, all the inhabitants of the seacoast, and those from Moab insisted that Achior should be cut to pieces. They said.
‘We are not afraid of the Israelites.
They are a people with no strength or power for making war.
Therefore let us go ahead, Lord Holofernes.
Your vast army will swallow them up.’”
When Achior was finished speaking, all the people complained. The officers of Holofernes, the people from the seacoast, and Moab all insisted that Achior be put to death. They said that they were not afraid of the Israelites since they have no strength or war powers. They wanted to get going to swallow up the Israelite army and people.
“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.
“Then King Nebuchadnezzar of the Assyrians sent messengers to all who lived in Persia. He sent messengers to all who lived in the west, those who lived in Cilicia, Damascus, Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon. He sent messengers to all who lived along the seacoast. He sent messengers to those nations of Carmel, Gilead, Upper Galilee, the great Plain of Esdraelon, Samaria and its surrounding towns, and beyond the Jordan as far as Jerusalem, Bethany, Chelous, and Kadesh. He even sent messengers to the river of Egypt, Tahpanhes, Raamses, the whole land of Goshen, even beyond Tanis and Memphis, to all who lived in Egypt as far as the borders of Ethiopia. But all who lived in the whole region disregarded the summons of King Nebuchadnezzar of the Assyrians. They refused to join him in the war. They were not afraid of him, but regarded him as only one man. So they sent back his messengers empty-handed and in disgrace.”
King Nebuchadnezzar sent messengers into Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and Egypt to get people to fight with him. These were the people west of Babylon. However, in none of these areas did anybody respond to him because they were not afraid of him. He was just one man living in a faraway place. Thus his messengers returned empty-handed and disgraced.