Containing The Interval Of One Hundred And Eighty-Two Years And A Half.
From The Captivity Of The Ten Tribes To The First Year Of Cyrus.
How Josiah Fought With Neco [King Of Egypt], And Was Wounded And Died In A Little Time Afterward; As Also How Neco Carried Jehoahaz, Who Had Been Made King Into Egypt And Delivered The Kingdom To Jehoiakim, And [Lastly] Concerning Jeremiah And Ezekiel.
1. NOW Neco, king of Egypt, raised an army, and marched to the river Euphrates, in order to fight with the Medes and Babylonians, who had overthrown the dominion of the Assyrians, (9) for he had a desire to reign over Asia. Now when he was come to the city Mendes, which belonged to the kingdom of Josiah, he brought an army to hinder him from passing through his own country, in his expedition against the Medes. Now Neco sent a herald to Josiah, and told him that he did not make this expedition against him, but was making haste to Euphrates; and desired that he would not provoke him to fight against him, because he obstructed his march to the place whither he had resolved to go. But Josiah did not admit of this advice of Neco, but put himself into a posture to hinder him from his intended march.
I suppose it was fate that pushed him on this conduct, that it might take an occasion against him; for as he was setting his army in array, (10) and rode about in his chariot, from one wing of his army to another, one of the Egyptians shot an arrow at him, and put an end to his eagerness of fighting; for being sorely wounded, he command a retreat to be sounded for his army, and returned to Jerusalem, and died of that wound; and was magnificently buried in the sepulcher of his fathers, when he had lived thirty-nine years, and of them had reigned thirty-one. But all the people mourned greatly for him, lamenting and grieving on his account many days; and Jeremiah the prophet composed an elegy to lament him, (11) which is extant till tills time also. Moreover, this prophet denounced beforehand the sad calamities that were coming upon the city. He also left behind him in writing a description of that destruction of our nation which has lately happened in our days, and the taking of Babylon; nor was he the only prophet who delivered such predictions beforehand to the multitude, but so did Ezekiel also, who was the first person that wrote, and left behind him in writing two books concerning these events. Now these two prophets were priests by birth, but of them Jeremiah dwelt in Jerusalem, from the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah, until the city and temple were utterly destroyed. However, as to what befell this prophet, we will relate it in its proper place.
2. Upon the death of Josiah, which we have already mentioned, his son, Jehoahaz by name, took the kingdom, being about twenty-three years old. He reigned in Jerusalem; and his mother was Hamutal, of the city Libhah. He was an impious man, and impure in his course of life; but as the king of Egypt returned from the battle, he sent for Jehoahaz to come to him, to the city called Hamath (12) which belongs to Syria; and when he was come, he put him in bands, and delivered the kingdom to a brother of his, by the father's side, whose name was Eliakim, and changed his name to Jehoiakim and laid a tribute upon the land of a hundred talents of silver, and a talent of gold; and this sum of money Jehoiakim paid by way of tribute; but Neco carried away Jehoahaz into Egypt, where he died when he had reigned three months and ten days. Now Jehoiakim's mother was called Zebudah, of the city Rumah. He was of a wicked disposition, and ready to do mischief; nor was he either religions towards God, or good-natured towards men.
(9) This is a remarkable passage of chronology in Josephus, that about the latter end of the reign of Josiah, the Medes and Babylonians overthrew the empire of the Assyrians; or, in the words of Tobit's continuator, that "before Tobias died, he heard of the destruction of Nineveh, which was taken by Nebuchodonosor the Babylonian, and Assuerus the Mede," Tob. 14:15. See Dean Prideaux's Connexion, at the year 612.
(10) This battle is justly esteemed the very same that Herodotus (B. II. Sect. 156) mentions, when he says, that "Necao joined battle with the Syrians [or Jews] at Magdolum, [Megiddo,] and beat them," as Dr. Hudson here observes.
(11) Whether Josephus, from 2 Chronicles 35:25, here means the book of the Lamentations of Jeremiah, still extant, which chiefly belongs to the destruction of Jerusalem under Nebuchadnezzar, or to any other like melancholy poem now lost, but extant in the days of Josephus, belonging peculiarly to Josiah, cannot now be determined.
(12) This ancient city Hamath, which is joined with Arpad, or Aradus, and with Damascus, 2 Kings 18:34; Isaiah 36:19; Jeremiah 49:23, cities of Syria and Phoenicia, near the borders of Judea, was also itself evidently near the same borders, though long ago utterly destroyed.