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Bible Dictionaries

Holman Bible Dictionary

Scythians

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(sscihth' ih uhnss) Nomadic, Indo-European people, speaking an Iranian dialect, who migrated from central Asia into southern Russia between 800,600 B.C. They were skilled horsemen who excelled in barbaric attack and plunder. Archaeologists have discovered abundant evidence of Scythian artistry in metalwork. Their forces, in pursuit of the Cimmerians, drove south through or around the Caucasus Mountains to the borders of Assyria. A Scytho-Assyrian alliance was formed about 680-670 B.C.

According to the Greek historian Herodotus, a Scythian attack forced the Medes to withdraw from an assault against Nineveh (apparently 626-620 B.C.). Later, the Scynthians advanced southward along the Palestinian coast to the Egyptian border (611 B.C.), where they were bought off by the Egyptian Pharaoh. They were eventually driven back northward into southern Russia by the Medes.

Scythian power was dominant in the area northwest of the Black Sea until about 350 B.C. Eventually, new invaders, the Sarmatians, having confined them to the Crimean area, destroyed the remaining Scythian remnants after A.D. 100.

The Old Testament refers to Scythians as Ashchenaz (Genesis 10:3; Jeremiah 51:27 ). See Ashchenaz . Earlier scholars identified the Scythians as Jeremiah's foe from the north and Zephaniah's threatened invader of Judah, but such theories rest on weak evidence. Colossians 3:11 uses Scythians to represent the most repugnant barbarian and slave, saying they, too, are accepted in Christ, all social and cultural barriers being abolished in His church.

Charles Graham

Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Scythians'. Holman Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hbd/s/scythians.html. 1991.

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