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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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(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.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
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. The passover is very briefly noticed in our account, and is described as such an one as had not taken place since the days of the Judges 2 Kings Judges 23:21 simply mentions the appointment of this festival on the part of the king, and the execution of the king's command has to be supplied. 2 Kings 23:22 contains a remark concerning the character of the passover. In 2 Chronicles 35:1-19 we have a very elaborate description of it. What distinguished this passover above every other was, (1) that "all the nation," not merely Judah and Benjamin, but also the remnant of the ten tribes, took part in it, or, as it is expressed in 2 Chronicles 35:18, "all Judah and Israel;" (2) that it was kept in strict accordance with the precepts of the Mosaic book of the law, whereas in the passover instituted by Hezekiah there were necessarily many points of deviation from the precepts of the law, more especially in the fact that the feast had to be transferred from the first month, which was the legal time, to the second month, because the priests had not yet purified themselves in sufficient numbers and the people had not yet gathered together at Jerusalem, and also that even then a number of the people had inevitably been allowed to eat the passover without the previous purification required by the law (2 Chronicles 30:2-3, 2 Chronicles 30:17-20). This is implied in the words, "for there was not holden such a passover since the days of the judges and all the kings of Israel and Judah." That this remark does not preclude the holding of earlier passovers, as Thenius follows De Wette in supposing, without taking any notice of the refutations of this opinion, was correctly maintained by the earlier commentators. Thus Clericus observes: "I should have supposed that what the sacred writer meant to say was, that during the times of the kings no passover had ever been kept so strictly by every one, according to all the Mosaic laws. Before this, even under the pious kings, they seem to have followed custom rather than the very words of the law; and since this was the case, many things were necessarily changed and neglected." Instead of "since the days of the judges who judged Israel," we find in 2 Chronicles 35:18, "since the days of Samuel the prophet," who is well known to have closed the period of the judges.
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