General Holofernes sets the plan in action (Jdt 7:16-7:18)

“These words pleased General Holofernes and all his servants. He gave orders to do as they had said. So the army of the Ammonites moved forward, together with five thousand Assyrians. They encamped in the valley. They seized the water supply and the springs of the Israelites. The Edomites and the Ammonites went up and encamped in the hill country opposite Dothan. They sent some of their men toward the south and the east, toward Egrebeh, which is near Chusi beside the Wadi Mochmur. The rest of the Assyrian army encamped in the plain. They covered the whole face of the land. Their tents and supply trains spread out in great number. They formed a vast multitude.”

General Holofernes thought that seizing the water supply was a good idea. He gave orders to his army. The Ammonites with 5,000 Assyrian troops seized the water supply and the water springs. The Edomites and Ammonites encamped in the in the hill country opposite Dothan. Some went south and east to Egrebeh, Chusi, and Mochmur. All of these places are near Shechem, which would put this place further north in Manasseh territory. Meanwhile, the Assyrian army camped in the valley plain area so that they nearly covered the whole face of the earth. They had lots of tents and supplies spread out like a great large blanket.

 

Advertisements

They discuss the idea of seizing the spring water (Jdt 7:8-7:15)

“Then all the chieftains of the Edomites and all the leaders of the Moabites along with the commanders of the coastland came to General Holofernes and said.

‘Listen to what we have to say, my lord.

Your army will suffer no losses.

This people, the Israelites,

Do not rely on their spears

But on the height of the mountains where they live.

It is not easy to reach the tops of their mountains.

Therefore, my lord,

Do not fight against them in regular formation.

Not a man of your army will fall.

Remain in your camp!

Keep all the men in your forces with you.

Let your servants take possession of the spring of water

That flows from the foot of the mountain,

Which is where all the people of Bethulia get their water.

So thirst will destroy them.

They will surrender their town.

Meanwhile, we and our people

Will go up to the tops of the nearby mountains.

We will camp there to keep watch to see

That no one gets out of the town.

They and their wives and children will waste away with famine.

Before the sword reaches them

They will be strewn about in the streets where they live.

Thus you will pay them back with evil,

Because they rebelled and did not receive you peaceably.’”

The local groups of Edomites, Moabites, and coastal people had a proposal for General Holofernes. They came up with the idea where the Assyrians would lose no men in battle because the mountains were hard to climb. This is the only occasion where mountains seem to favor the Israelites. In all other cases the battles seemed to be around towns and in valleys. They proposed that the water supply be shut down. Somehow the water springs were at the bottom of the mountain. It seems like there might be water at the top of the mountain. The Israelites would suffer from a great thirst. Eventually, they would surrender their towns as they would waste away with famine. This is somewhat similar to the idea of trying to cause a famine in Samaria under the Israelite King Jehoram (852-841 BCE) in 2 Kings, chapter 6, when he was attacked by the king of the Arameans. This would be an easy way to conquer these rebellious men of Judah and Benjamin, since theoretically Israel had already been conquered the previous century.