Submission of the Vassal Nations. 1So they sent messengers to him to sue for peace in these words: 2“We, the servants of Nebuchadnezzar the great king, lie prostrate before you; do with us as you will. 3See, our dwellings and all our land and every wheat field, our flocks and herds, and all our encampments are at your disposal; make use of them as you please. 4Our cities and their inhabitants are also at your service; come and deal with them as you see fit.”
5After the spokesmen had reached Holofernes and given him this message, 6he went down with his forces to the seacoast, stationed garrisons in the fortified cities, and took selected men from them as auxiliaries. 7The people of these cities and all the inhabitants of the countryside received him with garlands and dancing to the sound of timbrels. 8But he devastated their whole territory and cut down their sacred groves, for he was allowed to destroy all the gods of the land, so that every nation might worship only Nebuchadnezzar, and all their tongues and tribes should invoke him as a god.* a 9At length Holofernes reached Esdraelon in the neighborhood of Dothan,* the approach to the main ridge of the Judean mountains; 10he set up his camp between Geba* and Scythopolis, and stayed there a whole month to replenish all the supplies of his forces.
* [3:8] Invoke him as a god: Holofernes violates Nebuchadnezzar’s instructions (see 2:5–13). No Assyrian, Neo-Babylonian, or Persian king is known to have claimed divinity. During Hellenistic times, Ptolemy V (203–181 B.C.) and the Seleucid Antiochus IV made claims to divinity. In Dn 3 and 6, divinity is ascribed to Nebuchadnezzar and Darius, respectively.
* [3:9] Dothan: a town in Ephraimite territory fourteen miles north of Shechem, mentioned elsewhere only twice (Gn 37:17 and 2 Kgs 6:13), but five times in Judith (3:9; 4:6; 7:3, 18; 8:3). Destroyed in 810 B.C. by Aramean invasions, Dothan was deserted until the Hellenistic period when a small settlement was constructed. Because it is mentioned so often, Dothan is sometimes thought to be the author’s home.
* [3:10] Geba: location uncertain. Scythopolis, the Greek name for ancient Beth-shean (Jos 17:11), the only city in Judith given its Greek name, strategically guarded the eastern end of the Valley of Jezreel.