2 Kings 23:29
In his days Pharaohnechoh king of Egypt went up against the king of Assyria to the river Euphrates: and king Josiah went against him; and he slew him at Megiddo, when he had seen him.
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(29) Pharaoh-nechoh.—Necho II., the successor of Psammetichus, and the sixth king of the 26th or Saite dynasty, called Νεκὼς by Herodotus (ii. 158, 159; 4:42); he reigned circ. 611-605 B.C. , but is not mentioned in the Assyrian records, so far as they are at present known to us.

The king of Assyria.—It is sometimes assumed that Necho’s expedition was directed against “the then ruler of what had been the Assyrian empire” (Thenius and others), and that the king in question was Nabopalassar, the conqueror of Nineveh, who became king of Babylon in 626-625 B.C. If the fall of Nineveh preceded or coincided with this last event, then Nabopalassar must be intended by the historian here. But if, as the chronology of Eusebius and Jerome represents, Cyaraxes the Mede took Nineveh in 609-608 B.C. , or, according to the Armenian chronicle, apud Eusebius, in 608-607 B.C. , then Necho’s expedition (circ. 609 B.C. ) was really directed against a king of Assyria in the strict sense. After the death of Assurbanipal (626 B.C. ) it appears that two or three kings reigned at Nineveh, namely, Assur-idil-ilani-ukinni, Bel-sum-iskun and Esar-haddon II. (the Saracus of Abydenus and Syncellus). Nineveh must have fallen before 606 B.C. , as Assyria does not occur in the list of countries mentioned by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 25:19-26) in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, i.e., 606 B.C. The probable date of its fall is 607 B.C. A year or so later Necho made a second expedition, this time against the king of Babylon, but was utterly defeated at Carchemish. (See Schrader, K. A. T., pp. 357-361.) Josephus says that Necho went to wage war with the Medes and Babylonians, who had just put an end to the Assyrian empire, and that his object was to win the dominion of Asia.

King Josiah went against him.—Probably as a vassal of Assyria, and as resenting Necho’s trespass on territory which he regarded as his own. The Syriac adds: “to fight against him: and Pharaoh said to him, Not against thee have I come; return from me. And he hearkened not to Pharaoh, and Pharaoh smote him.” This may once have formed part of the Hebrew text, but is more likely a gloss from Chronicles.

At Megiddo.—In the plain of Jezreel (1Kings 4:12). (Comp. Zechariah 12:11.) Herodotus calls it Magdolus (ii. 159). The fact that this was the place of battle shows that Necho had not marched through southern Palestine, but had taken the shortest route over sea, and landed at Accho (Acre). Otherwise, Josiah would not have had to go so far north to meet him.

When he had seen him.—At the outset of the encounter; as we might say, the moment he got sight of him. According to the account in Chronicles, which is derived from a different source, Josiah was wounded by the Egyptian archers, and carried in a dying state to Jerusalem (2Chronicles 35:22 seq.). Thenius thinks that Jeremiah 15:7-9 was spoken on occasion of Josiah’s departure with his army from the north, and that the prophet’s metaphor, “her sun went down while it was yet day,” refers to the eclipse of Thales, which had recently happened, 610 B.C. (Herod, i. 74, 103).

2 Kings 23:29. In his days Pharaoh-nechoh, king of Egypt, went up, &c. — According to Herodotus, Nechoh was the proper name of this monarch, Pharaoh being the general name of all their kings, as has been before observed in these notes. He tells us he was the son and successor of Psammeticus, king of Egypt, and a man of a bold and enterprising spirit; that he made an attempt to join the Nile and the Red sea, by drawing a canal from the one to the other; that, though he failed in this design, yet, by sending a fleet from the Red sea, through the straits of Babelmandel, he discovered the coast of Africa, and in this expedition to the Euphrates, intended to destroy the united force of the Babylonians and Medes, and thereby to obtain the whole monarchy of Asia. See Prideaux’s Connect., and Calmet’s Dict. Went up against the king of Assyria — The king of Babylon, who, having formerly rebelled against the Assyrian, had now conquered him, as appears by the course of the sacred, and the concurrence of profane history; and therefore is here and elsewhere called the Assyrian, and the king of Assyria, because now he was the head of that empire. To the river Euphrates — Against Carchemish by Euphrates, as it is expressed 2 Chronicles 35:20, which the Assyrian had taken from Pharaoh’s confederates, who therefore sends forces against the Assyrian, that he might both help them and secure himself. Josiah went against him — Either to defend his own country from Pharaoh’s incursions, or to assist the king of Babylon, with whom he seems to have been in league. And he slew him at Megiddo — Gave him his death-wound there, though he died not till he came to Jerusalem. When he had seen him — When he fought with him, or in the first onset. Megiddo was a city in the half-tribe of Manasseh, not far from the Mediterranean sea. It does not appear that Josiah had any clear call to engage in this war; possibly he received his death-wound as a punishment of his rashness. Mr. Locke, however, observes, that from the time of the carrying away of Manasseh, the kings of Judah were under the protection of the Babylonians; and that Josiah, being most piously observant of his faith, would not grant a passage to this enemy of the king of Babylon, and therefore went against him.

23:25-30 Upon reading these verses, we must say, Lord, though thy righteousness be as the great mountains, evident, plainly to be seen, and past dispute; yet thy judgments are a great deep, unfathomable, and past finding out. The reforming king is cut off in the midst of his usefulness, in mercy to him, that he might not see the evil coming upon his kingdom: but in wrath to his people, for his death was an inlet to their desolations.Pharaoh-Nechoh - This king is well known to us both from profane historians, and from the Egyptian monuments. He succeeded his father Psammetichus (Psamatik) in the year 610 B.C., and was king of Egypt for 16 years. He was an enlightened and enterprising monarch. The great expedition here mentioned was an attempt to detach from the newly-formed Babylonian empire the important tract of country extending from Egypt to the Euphrates at Carchemish. Calculating probably on the friendship or neutrality of most of the native powers, the Egyptian monarch, having made preparations for the space of two years, set out on his march, probably following the (usual) coast route through Philistia and Sharon, from thence intending to cross by Megiddo into the Jezreel (Esdraelon) plain.

The king of Assyria - This expression does not imply that Nineveh had not yet fallen. The Jews, accustomed to Assyrian monarchs, who held their courts alternately at Nineveh and Babylon 2 Kings 19:36; 2 Chronicles 33:11, at first regarded the change as merely dynastic, and transferred to the new king, Nabopolassar, the title which they had been accustomed to give to their former suzerains. When, later on, Nebuchadnezzar invaded their country they found that he did not call himself "King of Assyria," but "King of Babylon," and thenceforth that title came into use; but the annalist who wrote the life of Josiah inmediately upon his death, and whom the author of Kings copied, used, not unnaturally, the more familiar, though less correct, designation.

Josiah went against him - Josiah probably regarded himself as in duty bound to oppose the march of a hostile force through his territory to attack his suzerain. For further details see the account in Chronicles (marginal reference). On Megiddo, see Joshua 12:21 note.

29. In his days Pharaoh-nechoh—(See 2Ch 35:20-27). Pharaoh-nechoh, called Necos by Herodotus, who makes mention of this fight; wherein, as he saith, Necos conquered the Syrians in Magdalo. The king of Assyria, i.e. the king of Babylon, who having formerly rebelled against the Assyrian his lord, had now conquered him; as appears by the course of the sacred, and the concurrence of profane history; and therefore is here and elsewhere called the Assyrian, and the king of Assyria, because now he was the head of that empire. To the river Euphrates, i.e. against Carchemish by Euphrates, as it is expressed, 2 Chronicles 35:20, which the Assyrian had taken from the Syrians, Isaiah 10:9, Pharaoh’s confederates, who therefore sendeth forces against the Assyrian, that he might both help them, and secure himself.

Josiah went against him; either to defend his own country from Pharaoh’s incursions; or to assist the king of Babylon, with whom he seems to have been in league, as was noted before. He slew him, i.e. gave him his death’s wound there, though he died not till he came to Jerusalem, 2 Chronicles 35:23,24. When he had seen him, i.e. when he fought with him, or in the first onset. Thus fighting is called a looking in the face, 2 Kings 14:8.

In his days Pharaohnechoh king of Egypt,.... Who is called in the Targum Pharaoh the lame, because he was lame in his feet, perhaps gouty; Herodotus (x) also calls him Necos the son of Psammiticus; now it was in the last days of Josiah this king reigned in Egypt, or however that the following event was:

that he went up against the king of Assyria to the river Euphrates; to Carchemish, a city situated upon it; see 2 Chronicles 35:26, the king he went against was the king of Babylon, who had conquered the Assyrian monarchy, and therefore called king of it; some take him to be Nabopolassar; according to Marsham (y), he was Chyniladanus:

and King Josiah went against him; to stop him, that he might not pass through his country, and attack the king of Babylon, whose ally, perhaps, Josiah was; or, however, thought himself obliged to him by the privileges, power, and authority he allowed him to exercise in the land of Israel:

and he slew him at Megiddo, when he had seen him; as soon as they came face to face, and engaged in battle, see 2 Kings 14:8 that is Pharaoh slew Josiah at the first onset. Megiddo was a city in the tribe of Manasseh, Joshua 17:11. Herodotus (z) calls it Magdolus, which seems to be a city on the borders of Egypt, the same with Migdol, Jeremiah 44:1 where he says Pharoahnechoh conquered the Syrians; in Josephus (a) it is called Mendes very wrongly. Josiah seems to have engaged in this action without consulting the Lord and his prophets.

(x) Euterpe, sive, l. 2. c. 158. (y) Chronic. Secul. 18. p. 568. (z) Ibid. c. 159. (a) Antiqu. l. 10. c. 5. sect. 1.

In his days Pharaohnechoh king of Egypt went up against the king of Assyria to the river Euphrates: and king Josiah {s} went against him; and he slew him at Megiddo, when he had seen him.

(s) Because Pharaoh passed through his country, he was afraid Pharaoh would have done him harm and would have stopped him, yet he did not consult the Lord, and therefore was slain.

29. Pharaoh-nechoh] R.V. necoh. He is stated to have been the 5th or 6th king of the Saïte 26th dynasty. His expedition against the king of Assyria was b.c. 610. He probably came from Egypt by sea and landed on the coast of Palestine. Otherwise Josiah would have chosen some place further south than Megiddo to meet him. From his conduct we may conclude that Josiah at this time was in alliance with, or perhaps tributary to, Assyria. The destination of the Egyptian expedition (according to the Chronicler) was Carchemish on the Euphrates, and he relates the very considerate message which the Egyptian king sent to Josiah, ‘What have I to do with thee, thou king of Judah? I come not against thee this day but against the house wherewith I have war. For God commanded me to make haste: forbear thee from meddling with God, who is with me, that He destroy thee not.’

and king Josiah went against him] In Chronicles we read that Josiah ‘disguised himself, that he might fight with the king of Egypt, and hearkened not unto the words of Nechoh from the mouth of God.’ The claim to be divinely directed in the expedition is singular in the mouth of an Egyptian king. The language is not, however, of the same kind as that which Rab-shakeh used, when he asserted that the Lord (Jehovah) had sent him (2 Kings 18:25). There may have been such a faith in a single Divine Being among the Egyptians that Nechoh could employ the word God (Elohim) in speaking thereof. Whatever the king’s belief, and in spite of the overthrow of Josiah, the Egyptian expedition against Assyria was unsuccessful in the end.

at Megiddo] On this city, and its position and military importance, see notes on 2 Kings 9:28. In 2 Chronicles it is said, ‘the archers shot at king Josiah, and the king said to his servants, Have me away, for I am sore wounded’.

Verse 29. - In his days Pharaoh-Nechoh King of Egypt went up against the King of Assyria. Neku, the "Pharaoh-Nechoh" of this passage, and the Necos of Herodotus (2. 158, 159), was the son of Psamatik I., and succeeded his father on the throne of Egypt, probably in B.C. 610. He was one of the most enterprising of the later Egyptian kings, and appears to have made this expedition in his second or third year. The unsettled condition of Western Asia after the Scythic invasion, and the fall of the Assyrian empire, seemed to give an opportunity for Egypt to reclaim her old dominion over Syria and Mesopotamia. The "King of Assyria," against whom Pharaoh-Nechoh "went up," was probably Nabopolassar, the father of Nebuchadnezzar. His proper rifle was "King of Babylon," which is what Nebuchadnezzar always calls him ('Records of the Past,' vol. 5. p. 113, line 22; vol. 7. p. 71, line 6; p. 75, line 9); but the Jews not unnaturally regarded him as the inheritor of the Assyrian empire, as indeed they regarded the Persian monarchs also (Ezra 6:22), and therefore gave him the title of "King of Assyria." To the river Euphrates. The author of Chronicles says that "Necho King of Egypt came up to fight against Carchemish" (or "at Carehemish") "by Euphrates," which shows that his design was to penetrate into Northern Syria, where Carchemish (now Jerabus) was situated, with a view probably of crossing the Euphrates by the ford at Bir, or by that at Balis, into Mesopotamia. And King Josiah wont against him. It is possible that Josiah had accepted the position of Babylonian tributary after the fall of the Assyrian kingdom, and thought himself bound to resist an attack upon his suzerain. Or he may simply have resented the violation of his territory, without his permission, by a foreign army. Certainly, if he had allowed the free passage of the Egyptian troops, backwards and forwards, through his country, he would in a short time have lost even the shadow of independence. Nechoh's assurance that his expedition was not against him (Josiah), but against the Assyrians (2 Chronicles 35:21), was not a thing to be relied upon, any more than his declaration that God had commanded his expedition. And he slew him at Megiddo, when he had soon him. Megiddo is, beyond all doubt, the present El-Ledjun on the northern outskirt of the range of hills which separates the Plain of Esdraelon from that of Sharon. It is certainly surprising to find that Josiah had taken up a position so far to the north, leaving Jerusalem, and, indeed, all Judaea, unprotected. But he may have thought the advantages of the position such as to compensate for any risk to the Judaean cities, in which he would, of course, have left garrisons. Or, possibly, as Keil and Bahr suppose, Nechoh may have conveyed his troops to the Syrian coast by sea, and have landed in the Bay of Acre, close to the Plain of Esdraelon. In this case Josiah would have no choice, but, if he opposed the Egyptian monarch at all, must have met him where he did, in the Esdraelon plain, as he entered it from the Plain of Acre. 2 Kings 23:29Compare 2 Chronicles 35:20-24. The predicted catastrophe was brought to pass by the expedition of Necho the king of Egypt against Assyria. "In his days (i.e., towards the end of Josiah's reign) Pharaoh Necho the king of Egypt went up against the king of Asshur to the river Euphrates." Necho (נכה or נכו, 2 Chronicles 35:20; Jeremiah 46:2; called Νεχαώ by Josephus, Manetho in Jul. Afric., and Euseb., after the lxx; and Νεκώς by Herod. ii. 158,159, iv. 42, and Diod. Sic. i. 33; according to Brugsch, hist. d'Eg. i. p. 252, Nekou) was, according to Man., the sixth king of the twenty-sixth (Saitic) dynasty, the second Pharaoh of that name, the son of Psammetichus I and grandson of Necho I; and, according to Herodotus, he was celebrated for a canal which he proposed to have cut in order to connect the Nile with the Red Sea, as well as for the circumnavigation of Africa (compare Brugsch, l.c., according to whom he reigned from 611 to 595 b.c.). Whether "the king of Asshur" against whom Necho marched was the last ruler of the Assyrian empire, Asardanpal (Sardanapal), Saracus according to the monuments (see Brandis, Ueber den Gewinn, p. 55; M. v. Niebuhr, Gesch. Assurs, pp. 110ff. and 192), or the existing ruler of the Assyrian empire which had already fallen, Nabopolassar the king of Babylon, who put an end to the Assyrian monarchy in alliance with the Medes by the conquest and destruction of Nineveh, and founded the Chaldaean or Babylonian empire, it is impossible to determine, because the year in which Nineveh was taken cannot be exactly decided, and all that is certain is that Nineveh had fallen before the battle of Carchemish in the year 606 b.c. Compare M. v. Niebuhr, Gesch. Assurs, pp. 109ff. and 203, 204. - King Josiah went against the Egyptian, and "he (Necho) slew him at Megiddo when he saw him," i.e., caught sight of him. This extremely brief notice of the death of Josiah is explained thus in the Chronicles: that Necho sent ambassadors to Josiah, when he was taking the field against him, with an appeal that he would not fight against him, because his only intention was to make war upon Asshur, but that Josiah did not allow himself to be diverted from his purpose, and fought a battle with Necho in the valley of Megiddo, in which he was mortally wounded by the archers. What induced Josiah to oppose with force of arms the advance of the Egyptian to the Euphrates, notwithstanding the assurance of Necho that he had no wish to fight against Judah, is neither to be sought for in the fact that Josiah was dependent upon Babylon, which is at variance with history, nor in the fact that the kingdom of Judah had taken possession of all the territory of the ancient inheritance of Israel, and Josiah was endeavouring to restore all the ancient glory of the house of David over the surrounding nations (Ewald, Gesch. iii. p. 707), but solely in Josiah's conviction that Judah could not remain neutral in the war which had broken out between Egypt and Babylon, and in the hope that by attacking Necho, and frustrating his expedition to the Euphrates, he might be able to avert great distress from his own land and kingdom.

(Note: M. v. Niebuhr (Gesch. Ass. p. 364) also calls Josiah's enterprise "a perfectly correct policy. Nineveh was falling (if not already fallen), and the Syrian princes, both those who had remained independent, like Josiah, and also the vassals of Asshur, might hope that, after the fall of Nineveh, they would succeed in releasing Syria from every foreign yoke. Now well-founded this hope was, is evident from the strenuous exertions which Nabukudrussur was afterwards obliged to make, in order to effect the complete subjugation of Syria. It was therefore necessary to hinder at any price the settlement of the Egyptians now. Even though Necho assured Josiah that he was not marching against him (2 Chronicles 35:21), Josiah knew that if once the Egyptians were lords of Coele-Syria, his independence would be gone.")

This battle is also mentioned by Herodotus (ii. 159); but he calls the place where it was fought Μάγδολον, i.e., neither Migdol, which was twelve Roman miles to the south of Pelusium (Forbiger, Hdb. d. alten Geogr. ii. p. 695), nor the perfectly apocryphal Magdala or Migdal Zebaiah mentioned by the Talmudists (Reland, Pal. p. 898,899), as Movers supposes. We might rather think with Ewald (Gesch. iii. p. 708) of the present Mejdel, to the south-east of Acca, at a northern source of the Kishon, and regard this as the place where the Egyptian camp was pitched, whereas Israel stood to the east of it, at the place still called Rummane, at Hadad-Rimmon in the valley of Megiddo, as Ewald assumes (Gesch. iii. p. 708). But even this combination is overthrown by the face that Rummane, which lies to the east of el Mejdel at the distance of a mile and three-quarters (geogr.), on the southern edge of the plain of Buttauf, cannot possibly be the Hadad-Rimmon mentioned in Zechariah 12:11, where king Josiah died after he had been wounded in the battle. For since Megiddo is identical with the Roman Legio, the present Lejun, as Robinson has proved (see at Joshua 12:21), and as is generally admitted even by C. v. Raumer (Pal. p. 447, note, ed. 4), Hadad-Rimmon must be the same as the village of Rmmuni (Rummane), which is three-quarters of an hour to the south of Lejun, where the Scottish missionaries in the year 1839 found many ancient wells and other traces of Israelitish times (V. de Velde, R. i. p. 267; Memoir, pp. 333, 334). But this Rummane is four geographical miles distant from el Mejdel, and Mediggo three and a half, so that the battle fought at Megiddo cannot take its name from el Mejdel, which is more than three miles off. The Magdolon of Herodotus can only arise from some confusion between it and Megiddo, which was a very easy thing with the Greek pronunciation Μαγεδδώ, without there being any necessity to assume that Herodotus was thinking of the Egyptian Migdol, which is called Magdolo in the Itin. Ant. p. 171 (cf. Brugsch, Geogr. Inschriften altgypt. Denkmler, i. pp. 261,262). If, then, Josiah went to Megiddo in the plain of Esdrelom to meet the king of Egypt, and fell in with him there, there can be no doubt that Necho came by sea to Palestine and landed at Acco, as des Vignoles (Chronol. ii. p. 427) assumed.

(Note: This is favoured by the account in Herodotus (ii. 159), that Necho built ships: τριήρεες αἱ μὲν ἐπὶ τῇ βορηΐ́η θαλάσσῃ ... αἱ δὲ ἐν τῷ Ἀραβίῳ κόλπῳ (triremes in septentrionale et australe mare mittendas. Bhr) - καὶ ταυτῃσί τε ἐχρᾶτο ἐν τῷ δέοντι· καὶ Σύροισι πεζῇ ὁ Νεκὼς συμβαλὼν ἐν Μαγδόλῳ ἐνίκησε; from which we may infer that Necho carried his troops by sea to Palestine, and then fought the battle on the land. M. v. Niebuhr (Gesch. p. 365) also finds it very improbable that Necho used his fleet in this war; but he does not think it very credible "that he embarked his whole army, instead of marching them by the land route so often taken by the Egyptian army, the key of which, viz., the land of the Philistines, was at least partially subject to him," because the ὅλκαδες (ships of burden) required for the transport of a large army were hardly to be obtained in sufficient numbers in Egypt. But this difficulty, which rests upon mere conjecture, is neutralized by the fact, which M. Duncker (Gesch. i. p. 618) also adduces in support of the voyage by sea, namely, that the decisive battle with the Jews was fought to the north-west of Jerusalem, and when the Jews were defeated, the way to Jerusalem stood open for their retreat. Movers (Phniz. ii. 1, p. 420), who also imagines that Necho advanced with a large land-army towards the frontier of Palestine, has therefore transferred the battle to Magdolo on the Egyptian frontier; but he does this by means of the most arbitrary interpretation of the account given by Herodotus.)

For if the Egyptian army had marched by land through the plain of Philistia, Josiah would certainly have gone thither to meet it, and not have allowed it to advance into the plain of Megiddo without fighting a battle.

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