Chapter 5 recounts the story of the Israelites from Abraham until the time of this story. The servant which summarizes the Israelites’ life draws a conclusion at the end for his master to consider.
And whilst they sinned not before their God, they prospered, because the God that hates iniquity was with them. But when they departed from the way which he appointed them, they were destroyed in many battles very sore, and were led captives into a land that was not their’s, and the temple of their God was cast to the ground, and their cities were taken by the enemies. But now are they returned to their God, and are come up from the places where they were scattered, and have possessed Jerusalem, where their sanctuary is, and are seated in the hill country; for it was desolate.
Now therefore, my lord and governor, if there be any error against this people, and they sin against their God, let us consider that this shall be their ruin, and let us go up, and we shall overcome them. But if there be no iniquity in their nation, let my lord now pass by, lest their Lord defend them, and their God be for them, and we become a reproach before all the world.
Holofernes’ (the man in charge of the conquest) men determine that they the Israelites should not be feared. In Chapter 6, Holofernes speaks up saying,
And who art you, Achior, and the hirelings of Ephraim, that you have prophesied against us as to day, and have said, that we should not make war with the people of Israel, because their God will defend them? and who is God but Nabuchodonosor? He will send his power, and will destroy them from the face of the earth, and their God shall not deliver them: but we his servants will destroy them as one man; for they are not able to sustain the power of our horses. For with them we will tread them under foot, and their mountains shall be drunken with their blood, and their fields shall be filled with their dead bodies, and their footsteps shall not be able to stand before us, for they shall utterly perish, saith king Nabuchodonosor, lord of all the earth: for he said, None of my words shall be in vain. And you, Achior, an hireling of Ammon, which have spoken these words in the day of your iniquity, shall see my face no more from this day, until I take vengeance of this nation that came out of Egypt. And then shall the sword of mine army, and the multitude of them that serve me, pass through your sides, and you shall fall among their slain, when I return. Now therefore my servants shall bring you back into the hill country, and shall set you in one of the cities of the passages: And you shall not perish, till you be destroyed with them.
The Israelites saved Achior from further torture, and Achior was able to tell them what had happened, and what Holofernes declaration was. The people of Israel praised God and asked that He magnify Himself to those who would mock Him.
This scene reminds me of a similar situation in Isaiah 37. The King of Assyria pronounces that God will not save them from his conquest, because no other god had done so before of their own tribes. Hezekiah pleads with God to not let the King of Assyria mock Him. Isaiah returns the message to Hezekiah, assuring him that God is on the side of Israel, and He will cause the Assyrian Army to go back home.
In Chapter 7 we see a strategy developed by the tribe of Esau. It’s a brilliant plan, by cutting off the water to the city, the people would lose strength and would not be able to fight. By the end of the chapter, after only about a day, the majority of the city is willing to give up because of this.
Although Esau made up with his brother Jacob, it’s disturbing that we can still see the feud spiritually entwined between these two brothers inside this story. After-all, who knows best how to disrupt you, than those who are family?
As I work through this story, it will be interesting to see how the rest of the prophecy regarding Esau and Jacob plays out. Because previously God declared to Rebekah that the “older will serve the younger”.