The people of Judah heard what Holofernes, the commander of King Nebuchadnezzar's armies, had done to the other nations. They heard how he had looted and destroyed all their temples,
and they were terrified of him and afraid of what he might do to Jerusalem and to the Temple of the Lord their God.
They had only recently returned home to Judah from exile and had just rededicated the Temple and its utensils and its altar after they had been defiled.
So they sent a warning to the whole region of Samaria and to the towns of Kona, Beth Horon, Belmain, Jericho, Choba, and Aesora, and to Salem Valley.
They immediately occupied the mountaintops, fortified the villages on the mountains, and stored up food in preparation for war. It was fortunate that they had recently harvested their fields.
The High Priest Joakim, who was in Jerusalem at that time, wrote to the people in the towns of Bethulia and Betomesthaim, which face Jezreel Valley near Dothan.
He ordered them to occupy the mountain passes which led into the land of Judah, where it would be easy to withstand an attack, since the approach was only wide enough for two people at a time to pass.