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Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature


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Ne´cho, an Egyptian king, son and successor (according to Herodotus, 2:158) of Psammetichus, and contemporary of the Jewish King Josias (B.C. 610). The wars and success of Necho, in Syria, are recorded by sacred as well as profane writers. Studious of military renown, and the furtherance of commerce, Necho, on ascending the throne of Egypt, applied himself to reorganize the army, and to equip a powerful fleet. In order to promote his purposes, he courted the Greeks, to whose troops he gave a post next to his Egyptians. He fitted out a fleet in the Mediterranean, and another in the Red Sea. Having engaged some expert Phoenician sailors, he sent them on a voyage of discovery along the coast of Africa. To him belongs the honor of being the first to equip an expedition for the purpose of circumnavigating Africa, and he thereby ascertained the peninsular form of that continent, twenty-one centuries before the Cape of Good Hope was seen by Diaz, or doubled by Vasco de Gama.

Before entering on this voyage of discovery, Necho had commenced reopening the canal from the Nile to the Red Sea, which had been cut many years before by Sesostris or Rameses the Great. The work, however, if we may believe Herodotus, was abandoned, an oracle warning the Egyptian monarch that he was laboring for the barbarian (Herod, ii. 158).

Necho also turned his attention to the Egyptian conquests already made in Asia: and, fearing lest the growing power of the Babylonians should endanger the territories acquired by the arms of his victorious predecessors, he determined to check their progress, and to attack the enemy on his own frontier. With this view he collected a powerful army, and entering Palestine, followed the route along the sea-coast of Judea, intending to besiege the town of Carchemish on the Euphrates. But Josiah, King of Judah, offended at the passage of the Egyptian army through his territories, resolved to impede, if unable to prevent, their march. Necho sent messengers to induce him to desist, assuring him that he had no hostile intentions against Judea, 'but against the house wherewith I have war; for God commanded me to make haste.' This conciliatory message was of no avail. Josiah posted himself in the valley of Megiddo, and prepared to oppose the Egyptians. In this valley the feeble forces of the Jewish king, having attacked Necho, were routed with great slaughter. Josiah, being wounded in the neck with an arrow, ordered his attendants to take him from the field. Escaping from the heavy shower of arrows with which their broken ranks were overwhelmed, they removed him from the chariot in which he had been wounded, and placing him in a 'second one that he had.' they conveyed him to Jerusalem, where he died (, sq.; , sq.).

Intent upon his original project, Necho did not stop to revenge himself upon the Jews, but continued his march to the Euphrates. Three months had scarcely elapsed, when, returning from the capture of Carchemish and the defeat of the Chaldæans, he learned that, though Josiah had left an elder son, Jehoahaz had caused himself to be proclaimed king on the death of his father, without soliciting Necho to sanction his taking the crown. Incensed at this, he ordered Jehoahaz to meet him 'at Riblah, in the land of Hamath;' and having deposed him, and condemned the land to pay a heavy tribute, he carried him a prisoner to Jerusalem. On arriving there, Necho made Eliakim, the eldest son, king, changing his name to Jehoiakim; and taking the silver and gold which had been levied upon the Jewish nation, he returned to Egypt with the captive Jehoahaz, who there terminated his short and unfortunate career. Herodotus says that Necho, after having routed the Syrians (the Jews) at Magdolus, took Cadytis, a large city of Syria, in Palestine, which, he adds, is very little less than Sardis (ii. 159; iii. 5). By Cadytis there is scarcely a doubt he meant Jerusalem; the word is only a Greek form of the ancient, as well as the modern, name of that city.

Pleased with his success, the Egyptian monarch dedicated the dress he wore to the Deity who was supposed to have given him the victory. He did not long enjoy the advantages he had obtained. In the fourth year after his expedition, being alarmed at the increasing power of the Babylonians, he again marched into Syria, and advanced to the Euphrates. The Babylonians were prepared for his approach. Nebuchadnezzar completely routed his army, recovered the town of Carchemish, and, pushing his conquests through Palestine, took from Necho all the territory belonging to the Pharaohs, from the Euphrates to the southern extremity of Syria (; ; ; ). Nebuchadnezzar deposed Jehoiachin, who had succeeded his father, and carried the warriors and treasures away to Babylon; a short time previous to which Necho died, and was succeeded by Psammetichus II.





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Bibliography Information
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Necho'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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