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country that separated the two kingdoms, was the subject of continual discord; as afterwards between the Ptolemies and Seleucide. They were eternally contending for it, and it was alternately won by the stronger. Psammetichus, seeing himself the peaceable possessor of all Egypt, and having restored the ancient form of government,' thought it high time for him to look to his frontiers, and to secure them against the Assyrian, his neighbour, whose power increased daily. For this purpose he entered Palestine at the head of an army.
Perhaps we are to refer to the beginning of this war an incident related by u Diodorus, that the Egyptians, provoked to see the Greeks posted on the right wing by the king himself in preference to them, quitted the service, they being upwards of two hundred thousand men, and retired into Ethiopia, where they met with an advantageous settlement.
Be that as it will, Psammetichus entered Palestine, where his career was stopped by Azotus, one of the principal cities of the country, which gave him so much trouble, that he was forced to besiege it twenty nine years before he could take it. This is the longest siege mentioned in ancient history.
This was anciently one of the five capital cities of the Philistines. The Egyptians, having seized it some time before, had fortified it with such care that it was their strongest bulwark on that side. Nor could Sennacherib enter Egypt till he had first made himself
* This revolution happened about seven years after the captivity of Manasseh king of Judah.
. Lib. i. p.
« Diod. c. 157 VOL. I.
master of this city, which was taken by Tartan, one of his generals. "The Assyrians had possessed it hitherto; and it was not till after the long siege just now mentioned that Egypt recovered it.
In this period, the Scythians, leaving the banks of the Palus Meotis, made an inroad into Media, defeated Cyaxares the king of that country, and laid waste all Upper Asia, of which they kept possession during twenty eight years. They pushed their conquests in Syria as far as to the frontiers of Egypt: but Psammetichus marching out to meet them, prevailed so far, by his presents and entreaties, that they advanced no farther, and by that means delivered his kingdom from these dangerous enemies.
* Till his reign the Egyptians had imagined themselves to be the most ancient nation upon earth. Psammetichus was desirous to prove this himself, and he employed a very extraordinary experiment for this purpose ; he commanded, if we may credit the relation, two children, newly born of poor parents, to be brought up in the country in a hovel, that was to be kept continually shut. They were committed to the care of a shepherd, others say, of nurses, whose tongues were cut out, who was to feed them with the milk of goats; and was commanded not to suffer any person to enter into this hut, nor himself to speak even a single word in the hearing of these children. At the expiration of two years, as the shepherd was one day coming into the hut to feed these children, they both cried out, with hands extended towards their fosterfather, “beckos, beckos.” The shepherd surprised
w Isa. xx. 1. Herod. I. i. c. 105.
* Herod. 1. ii. c. 2, 3.
to hear a language that was quite new to him, but which they repeated frequently afterwards, sent advice of this to the king, who ordered the children to be brought before him, in order that he himself might be witness to the truth of what was told him; and accordingly both of them began in his presence to stammer out the sounds above mentioned. Nothing was now wanting but to inquire what nation it was that used this word; and it was found that the Phrygians called bread by this name. From this time they were allowed the honour of antiquity, or rather of priority, which the Egyptians themselves, notwithstanding their jealousy of it, and the many ages they had possessed this glory, were obliged to resign to them. As goats were brought to these children, in order that they might feed upon their milk, and historians do not say that they were deaf, some are of opinion that they might have learnt the word bek, or bekkos, by mimicking the cry of those creatures.
Psammetichus died in the twenty fourth year of Josias king of Judah, and was succeeded by his son Nechao.
Nechao. * This prince is often called in scripture Pharaoh Necho.
He attempted to join the Nile to the Red Sea, by cutting a canal from the one to the other. They are separated at the distance of at least a thousand stadia." After one hundred and twenty thousand workmen
• He is called Necho in the English version of the scriptures.
? A. M. 3388. Ant. J. C. 616. Herod. 1. i. c. 158. Allowing 625 feet, or 125 geometrical paces to each stadium, the distance will be 118 English miles, and a little above one third of a mile. Herodotus says that this design was afterwards put in execution by Darius the Persian L. ii. c. 158.
had lost their lives in this attempt, Nechao was obliged to desist; the oracle which had been consulted by him having answered, that this new canal would open a passage to the barbarians (for so the Egyptians called all other nations), to invade Egypt.
Nechao was more successful in another enterprise. Skilful Phenician mariners, whom he had taken into his service, having sailed out of the Red Sea to discover the coasts of Africa, went successfully round them, and the third year after their setting out, returned to Egypt through the straits of Gibraltar. This was a very extraordinary voyage in an age when the compass was not known. It was made twenty one centuries before Vasco de Gama, a Portuguese, by discov. ering the Cape of Good Hope, in the year one thousand four hundred and ninety seven, found out the very same way to sail to the Indies, by which these Phenicians had come from thence into the Med. iterranean.
· The Babylonians and Medes having destroyed Nineveh, and with it the empire of the Assyrians, were thereby become so formidable, that they drew upon themselves the jealousy of all their neighbours. Ne. chao, alarmed at the danger, advanced to the Euphrates, at the head of a powerful army, in order to check their progress. Josiah, king of Judah, so famous for his uncommon piety, observing that he took his route through Judea, resolved to oppose his
With this view, he raised all the forces of his kingdom, and posted himself in the valley of Megiddo, a city on this side Jordan, belonging to the tribe of Manasseh, and
b Herod. l. iv. c. 42. Joseph. Antiq. 1. a. c. 6. ? Kings xxiii. 29, 30. ?Chron. sxxv. 20—25.
called Magdolus by Herodotus. Nechao informed him by a herald that his enterprise was not designed against him; that he had other enemies in view, and that he had undertook this war in the name of God, who was with him; that for this reason he advised Josiah not to concern himself with this war, for fear lest it otherwise should turn to his disadvantage. However, Josiah was not moved by these reasons : he was sensible that the bare march of so powerful an army through Judea would entirely ruin it; and besides, he feared that the victor, after the defeat of the Babylonians, would fall upon him, and dispossess him of part of his dominions. He therefore marched to engage Nechao, and was not only overthrown by him, but unfortunately received a wound, of which he died at Jerusalem, whither he had ordered himself to be carried.
Nechao, animated by this victory, continued his march, and advanced towards the Euphrates. He defeated the Babylonians, took Carchemish, a large city in that country, and securing to himself the possession of it by a strong garrison, returned to his own kingdom, after having been absent three months from it.
Being informed in his march homeward, that Jehoahaz had caused himself to be proclaimed king at Jerusalem, without first asking his consent, he commanded him to meet him at Riblah in Syria. The unhappy prince was no sooner arrived there, but he was put in chains by Nechao's order, and sent prisoner to Egypt, where he died. From thence pursuing his march, he came to Jerusalem, where he gave the sceptre to Eliakim, called by him Jehoiakim, another
2 Kings xxiii. 33, 35. 2 Chron. xxxvi. 1, 4.