Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Kings. Greek, “they sent to him ambassadors, with proposals for peace, saying: Behold we, the servants of Nabuchodonosor, the great king, lay before thee; use us as thou thinkest best,” &c. These proposals were made by those on the sea-coast, from Sidon and Tyre to Ascalon, from whom Holofernes took “the choicest men,” being received with honour, ver. 10. (Haydock) — Syria, &c. These are not specified in the Greek. — Sobal, or Soba, (1 Kings xiv. 47.) near Damascus, where Ptolemy (v.) places Samoulis. — Lybia seems too remote, and had not been attacked: some therefore would read Lycia, or Lygia, (Herodotus vii. 72.) or rather Lydia, (Calmet) which Holofernes had “cut in pieces,” according to the Greek, chap. ii. 13. (Haydock)
Ver. 2. Great. This was his usual title, Daniel ii. 30., and 4 Kings xviii. 19. (Calmet) — Slavery. Yet they make an unconditional submission. (Haydock) — It is better for us to submit to servitude than to be slaughtered like our brethren. (Menochius)
Ver. 3. Sight, at thy disposal, Genesis xiii. 9., and Proverbs xv. 11.
Ver. 10. Lights. Torches were used to testify joy, 2 Machabees iv. 22.
Ver. 11. Though. Greek, “He demolished all their borders, and cut down their groves.”
Ver. 13. Called. Greek, “Worshipped by all nations, and that all their tongues and tribes might call him god.” (Haydock) — Behold to what lengths ambition may be carried. If he had only claimed a place among the other pagan deities, his title was as good as theirs. (Calmet) — He is a figure of Antichrist; for whom all heretics pave the way, 2 Thessalonians ii. (Worthington)
Ver. 14. Apamea, on the river Orontes, between which and the river Eleutherus, lay the Mesopotamia here mentioned. — Idumeans, or to “Rama,” near Gabaa, which was on the north of Jerusalem; whereas Idumea lay far to the south. (Calmet) — Yet (Haydock) Gabaa may designate a mountainous country, as 1 Kings vii. 1., (Menochius) and there is no reason why Idumea might not have felt the power of Holofernes, as well as Madian, &c. (Haydock) — The order of conquests is not observed, (Menochius) for while the commander-in-chief was in one place, his generals were dispersed into different parts. He had now advanced as far as Gabaa of Saul, (Haydock) when meditating a serious attack upon Egypt, he thought proper to concentrate his forces; little expecting to meet with such a check at Bethulia. (Calmet) — Greek, “He came to Esdrelon, near Dotaia, (or Dothaim, north of Sichem) which is opposite the great saw of Judea,” or the range of mountains of Ephraim. (Calmet) — Old Vulgate, “of Juda,” dividing it from Idumea. The kings of Israel had fortified the defiles, 3 Kings xv. 17.
Ver. 15. Took. Greek, “encamped between Gaba and Scythopolis, (Bethsan, Josue xvii. 11.) and he was there a month of days, to collect all the burden of his army.”
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Many submit themselves to Holofernes. He destroyeth their cities, and their gods, that Nabuchodonosor only might be called god.
1 Then the kings and the princes of all the cities and provinces, of Syria, Mesopotamia, and Syria Sobal, and Libya, and Cilicia, sent their ambassadors, who coming to Holofernes, said:
2 Let thy indignation towards us cease: for it is better for us to live and serve Nabuchodonosor, the great king, and be subject to thee, than to die and to perish, or suffer the miseries of slavery.
3 All our cities and our possessions, all mountains, and hills, and fields, and herds of oxen, and flocks of sheep, and goats, and horses, and camels, and all our goods, and families are in thy sight:
4 Let all we have be subject to thy law.
5 Both we and our children are thy servants.
6 Come to us a peaceable lord, and use our service as it shall please thee.
7 Then he came down from the mountains with horsemen, in great power, and made himself master of every city, and all the inhabitants of the land.
8 And from all the cities he took auxiliaries, valiant men, and chosen for war.
9 And so great a fear lay upon all those provinces, that the inhabitants of all the cities, both princes and nobles, as well as the people, went out to meet him at his coming,
10 And received him with garlands, and lights, and dances, and tumbrels, and flutes.
11 And though they did these things, they could not for all that mitigate the fierceness of his heart:
12 For he both destroyed their cities and cut down their groves.
13 For Nabuchodonosor, the king, had commanded him to destroy all the gods of the earth, that he only might be called god by those nations which could be brought under him by the power of Holofernes.
14 And when he had passed through all Syria Sobal, and all Apamea, and all Mesopotamia, he came to the Idumeans, into the land of Gabaa,
15 And he took possession of their cities, and stayed there for thirty days, in which days he commanded all the troops of his army to be united.