In the eighteenth year of his rule, on the twenty-second day of the first month, a discussion took place in the palace of King Nebuchadnezzar of the Assyrians, about how to take revenge upon the whole region as he had promised.
After calling together all his attendants and all his officials, he laid out before them his secret plan and established, with his own mouth, all the wickedness of the region.
They determined to destroy everyone who hadn't obeyed his command.a4
When he finished laying out his plan, King Nebuchadnezzar of the Assyrians called for Holofernes, the general of his army and next in charge after the king himself. The king said to him,
“The great king, the master of all the earth, says that you will leave my presence and take with you men who are sure of their own strength, one hundred twenty thousand infantry and twelve thousand cavalry.
You will lead them out against all the lands in the west because they disobeyed my command.
"You will tell the people to prepare earth and water, for I'm coming out against them in my rage, and I will cover the entire earth with the feet of my army. I will hand them over as spoil.
Their wounded will fill up their valleys and every brook and river will be filled, overflowing with their dead.
Then I will lead them as prisoners to the ends of the earth.
You will go ahead of me to seize all of their territory. If they surrender to you, keep them for me until the day of their punishment. and set up camp between Geba and Scythopolis. He stayed there one whole month, waiting for all of his army's baggage to arrive.
But show no mercy to any who continue to resist. Hand them over to be killed and plundered. Do this wherever you go.
As I live, and by the power of my kingdom, I have spoken, and I will do this with my own hand.
Now don't neglect even one of your master's commands, but carry them out exactly as I have ordered you and without delay."
Holofernes left the presence of his master and called together all the leaders, captains, and commanders of the Assyrian army.
He assembled the chosen men in divisions as his master commanded him, one hundred twenty thousand infantry and twelve thousand cavalry armed with bows.
He arranged them as a great army prepared for war.
He also took a great many camels, donkeys, and mules to carry their baggage, and countless sheep, oxen, and goats as provisions.
He took enough food for everyone, as well as a large quantity of gold and silver from the king's palace.
Then he and his whole army set out ahead of King Nebuchadnezzar to cover the whole face of the earth to the west with their chariots, cavalry, and chosen infantry.
Joining them was an assorted group of people, so many that they couldn't be numbered. They were like swarms of locusts, like the dust of the earth.
After marching for three days from Nineveh to the plain of Bectileth, they camped across from Bectileth near the mountain to the north of Upper Cilicia.
From there Holofernes took his whole army—the infantry, the cavalry, and his chariots—and he went up into the highlands.
He cut through Put and Lud, and looted all the people of Rassis and the Ishmaelites along the edge of the desert to the south of the Chelleans.
He traveled along the Euphrates, passing through Mesopotamia, and destroyed every strategic city along the brook of Abron until he reached the sea.
He seized the territory of Cilicia, killing everyone who resisted him. Then he went to the region of Japheth, to the south along the edge of Arabia.
He surrounded all of the Midianites, burned their tents, and plundered their sheep pens.
Then he went down onto the plain of Damascus during the wheat harvest and burned all their fields, destroyed their flocks and herds, and sacked their cities. He emptied their fields and killed all their young men with the sword.
Fear and dread of Holofernes fell upon the people living along the seacoast, in Sidon and Tyre, those living in Sur and Ocina, and those living in Jamnia. The people who lived in Azotus and Ascalon were especially afraid of him.