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In attempting to perform this task, let me first briefly notice the leading circumstances immediately connected with the Asiatic inroad of this victorious horde of barbarians. Herodotus tells us that a band of Cimmerians, having been expelled from Europe by certain Scythians, gained possession (probably by surprise) of the Lydian capital Sardis, with the exception of the citadel. He adds that the victorious Scythians afterwards followed in pursuit of these Cimmerians, and, deviating from the right route, encountered and utterly defeated the Median king Cyaxares. They marched as conquerors southward (and this fact implies their successful progress through a considerable portion of Mesopotamia, during which Babylon also might learn to fear their power) until they had passed below Ascalon, and had therefore approached the southern limits of Palestine. They would there find themselves on the borders of the desert which lies between Palestine and the land of the Pharaohs. Such an obstacle was calculated to check and discourage rude barbarians, unprovided with means to cross the sandy waste. Accordingly, we are not to wonder that the Egyptian king Psammitichus, taking advantage of this circumstance, met them with prayers and presents, and succeeded in dissuading them from proceeding further in that direction.
These barbarians, after their agreement with Psammitichus, returned into the regions of the Tigris and Euphrates, without turning aside to inflict injury upon the subjects of the young and pious Josiah. The believer in Holy Writ can, without difficulty, understand this. Judea was at the time under the special and covenant protection of the Most High, after whom her youthful king had already begun to seek, and in whom, as the God of David his father, he had placed his confidence and hope. The Greek historian gives the following account of the duration of the power of the Scythians, and of the manner in which they exercised it after their return into Upper Asia.d . For twenty-eight years, then, the Støthians governed Asia, and everything was overthrown by their licentiousness and neglect ; for besides the usual tribute, they exacted from each what they chose to impose, and, in addition to the tribute, they rode round the country, and plundered them of all their possessions. As a barbarous horde, they would be ill qualified to capture fortified cities, although supreme in the open country. And it would seem that, to the close of their twenty-eight years of Asiatic dominion, they were too powerful to
c It does not seem possible to date the Scythian advance to the south of Palestine earlier than cir. 634, B. C., the sixteenth year of Josiah's age. And the sacred historian tells us that in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet young, he began to seek after the God of David his father.'
a Herod, i, 106.
be openly attacked ; as it was only by inviting their chiefs to a banquet, and treacherously slaying them when intoxicated, that Cyaxares and the Medes succeeded in expelling them from Asia.
It is sufficiently clear from this sketch of the insolence and impunity of these barbarian conquerors that, in such a state of widely-spread disorder and oppression, all formal and real political connection between the land of the ten tribes and the sovereign of Nineveh must have been thoroughly dissolved, while the Scythian dominion continued. Nineveh, deeply humbled, and shorn of her imperial greatness, would be nothing more than the capital of the Assyrian territory. The lieutenant or viceroy in Babylone would, at the commencement of this barbarian dominion, be intently occupied in watching the state of affairs in his own vicinity, not without the hope of ultimately availing himself of the surrounding confusion to throw off all subjection and vassalage to Nineveh, and declare himself an independent sovereign. And even if a ruler of Babylon, revolting from his Assyrian liege-lord, had attempted to take possession of Samaria, Josiah (as the descendant of David and rightful occupant of his throne) might well have deemed him
* It is the object of this paper to endeavour to prove, chiefly on the authority of Herodotus, the contemporaneousness of the Scythian dominion in Upper Asia, with Josiah's religious reformation in Samaria, and the subsequent thirteen years of his reign. From other sources, however, it is believed that Labynetus declared himself the independent sovereign of Babylon, cir. 626 B.C., in the sixteenth year of Josiah's reign, and eight years after the last great Assyrian triumph in the defeat and death of the Median Phraortes. Labynetus (who is the same as Nabopolasar, the father of Nebuchadnezzar) would scarcely have taken this decisive step until he såw that it could be done with probable impunity. And on this ground it may be safely believed that in 626 B. C. (to name the latest date), and two years before the close of Josiah's religious reformation, Nineveh had, from some cause or other, sunk into an apparently final and hopeless loss of her imperial power, and was no longer able to control Babylon, much less to exercise sovereign authority in such remote provinces as Syria and Samaria. Let this point be examined a little more closely. The defeat and death of Phraortes, 634 B.C., would undoubtedly exercise a strong moral influence over the surrounding states and tribes in renewing the fear of Assyria. And even the subsequent victory of Cyaxares, a comparatively untried sovereign, who had recently ascended the throne, and his commencement of the siege of Nineveh, would scarcely remove all apprehension that the Assyrian might again regain the ascendancy- not to mention the probability that Babylon would feei a secret jealousy of the rising greatness of the ambitious Mede. When therefore the Mede, who had smitten the Assyrian, was himself smitten by the Scythian strangers, and these seemed to have established themselves in Asia, it may be reasonably supposed that Babylon watched the course of events during perhaps the first four or five years of Scythian dominion, aud seeing Nineveh and Media alike humbled, without any immediate prospect of recovering what they had lost, ventured to declare herself independent. This would prevent our dating the Scythian overthrow of Cyaxares later than the twelfth of Josiah, 630 B.C.; though an earlier date may be very well admitted, even on this view. The subtle barbarians, if they paid any attention to such events, would rejoice in the independence of Babylon, and the long war between the Medes and Lydians. Their powerful neighbours would thus be divided and weakened, and their own security increased.
self justified in resisting such an attempt. For it was to the Assyrian monarch, and not to a disloyal vassal in Babylon, that the Most High had given the kingdom of Samaria. And if a conflict had ensued, the population of Judea, recruited by many years of peace, could have furnished a formidable military force, which, at that early stage, the Babylonian might have been unwilling, and indeed unable, to encounter.
But with many thoughtful English readers even the names of Cimmerians and Scythians, occurring in the annals of this comparatively remote period, will wear a suspicious appearance, and seem to belong to the realms of legendary tradition rather than to those of authentic history. Hence, while trying to show that the Scythian supremacy in Upper Asia was contemporaneous with Josiah's overthrow of idolatry in Samaria, it may be proper, or even necessary, to offer reasonable proof that Herodotus' account of the Cimmerian and Scythian invasions is not a legendary exaggeration of certain obscure barbarian inroads, but a portion of sober and well-authenticated history. And if these two points of authenticity and contemporaneousness can be fairly and reasonably established, it will at once be seen that Samaria had, at the time in question, so completely and finally passed from its subjection to (or even political connection with) Nineveh, that the pious and zealous king of Judah was guilty of no real infringement upon the rights of the Assyrian monarch in taking possession of the territory of the ten tribes, and exercising sovereign jurisdiction there as well as in Judea.
Let us, then, here inquire into the authenticity of the narrative before us. Should it be asked how is it possible to ascertain this? It may be replied, what is the test of the authenticity of the records of those early times, as given by Herodotus himself? We learn it distinctly from the well-known passage in which he tells us that Psammitichus, on becoming master of all Egypt, settled his (Asiatic) Greek mercenaries (to whom he was chiefly indebted for his success) as a colony on the banks of the Nile, in Lower Egypt, and near the sea. For he then proceeds to make the following important statement: From the time of the settlement of these people in Egypt, we Greeks have had such constant
munication with them that we are accurately informed of all
nas happened in Egypt, beginning from the reign of Psammitichus to this present time.
ow Psammitichus became sovereign of all Egypt, and settled
eek colony on the banks of the Nile, cir. 670 B.C. : and we
have the assurance of Herodotus that, from this early date. were acco
ne great public transactions occurring in Egyptian history accurately known to the Greeks. And it could not have
e learn it dose early times the test of the detto as
thus have the assurance of all the great public t
been earlier than the accession of Cyaxares to the Median throne -i. e. cir. 634 B.C.—that the Scythians were met by Psammitichus, and prevailed upon to desist from attempting to enter Egypt; and such an event would be thoroughly known, and excite the liveliest interest in Lower Egypt, where the Asiatic Greeks had been located. Accordingly, the march of these Scythians to the southern limits of Palestine and the borders of the Egyptian desert as conquerors whose name and power were universally dreaded, claims to be received as historic truth, having happened nearly forty years after the commencement of accurate and authentic Egyptian history in the writings of the Greek historians : and it is obvious that this greatly assists in confirming the statements of the previous victorious career of these barbarians in Assyria, and in showing that they must have passed through Mesopotamia, without encountering any successful opposition.
And in connection with this part of our subject it must be remembered that the inroad of the Scythians is very closely connected by Herodotus with that of the Cimmerians, the former entering Asia in pursuit of the latter ; hence the confirmation of either portion of the narrative strongly tends also to confirm the other. Now the test of the authenticity of the historical annals of these early times given by this writer, and already brought forward—viz., that wherever the Asiatic Greeks possessed the means of readily obtaining correct information, their historical records may be depended upon as accurate—applies with even greater force to the Cimmerian than to the Scythian part of Herodotus' narrative. This is almost self-evident: for the kingdom of Lydia was itself in the immediate vicinity of the Asiatic Greeks, and the Cimmerians are related to have possessed themselves of Sardis (the metropolis of Lydia), with the exception of the citadel, in the reign of its king Ardys. This event, as will presently appear, cannot well be dated earlier (if indeed so early) than 640 B.C., i. e., about thirty years after the Greeks had obtained access to the authentic public history of the comparatively remote region of Egypt. And these Greeks had also a deep personal interest in the disasters and successes of their powerful neighbour ; for the Lydian kings had already commenced a system of hostile aggression against the Greek states, some fifty years before the capture of Sardis. These various republics would thus watch with the suspicion of conscious inferiority and danger, whatever materially affected the powerful and ambitious Lydian. Hence the capture of Sardis, and the unexpected and menacing proximity of a horde of barbarians, who might speedily attack the Greeks also, must very soon have become matter of notoriety at Smyrna, one of the principal cities of the Ionian confederacy, less than forty miles distant from Sardis, and whose territory had been invaded by the predecessor of Ardys. The important tidings would spread rapidly, and become well-known through all the other Greek commonwealths in Asia. If, therefore, we think that the seemingly fair and reasonable test of authenticity so decisively proposed by Herodotus can be relied on, we may entertain a well-grounded confidence that all the great public events in Egyptian, and much more in Lydian history, occurring at the period now under consideration, were accurately known to the Asiatic Greeks. Consequentlyh the capture of Sardis by the Cimmerians, their settlement near the Euxine in the district where Sinope was afterwards built. and their subsequent expulsion by the Lydian king Alyattes, as also the negociations between Psammitichus and the victorious Scythians on the southern borders of Palestine, and their expulsion from Asia twenty-eight years afterwards by Cyaxares—may all be
This date of Cyaxares' accession may be proved from Herodotus, and the calculations of modern astronomy. Dr. Ludwig Ideler of Berlin has calculated that an eclipse, registered in the ancient tables, as having occurred in the seventh year of the reign of Cambyses, happened on the 16th of July, 523 B.C. Hence Cyrus was still living on that day of the month, in 530 B.C., and died before the 16th of July 529 B.C. We therefore approximate to the truth, within six months, if we name 530 B.C., as the year of Cyrus' death. But Herodotus assures us that 104 years elapsed between the accession of Cyaxares and the death of Cyrus. Add this sum to 530, and we have 634 B. C., as the date of the death of Phraortes, and the accession of Cyaxares; which events may be regarded as contemporary with the eighth year of the reign of Josiah.
8 Ardys reigned 49 years, and the capture of Sardis most probably occurred towards the close of his reign. But we read that his predecessor, Gyges, invaded the territories of Miletus and Smyrna, and took the city of Colophon; all three places belonging to the Asiatic Greeks. Ardys himself gained possession of Priene, and invaded Miletus. It is possible that Ardys may have been absent with his army in the territory of Miletus, when the Cimmerians surprised Sardis; and that the barbarians, despairing of mastering the citadel, were prevailed upon by gifts to withdraw; or they may have retreated at the return of Ardys.
h One or two additional points, tending to authenticate the Scytho-Cimmerian narrative in Herodotus, are better added in a note. When he is about to relate the expedition of Darius against the European Scythians, he says-Darins was desirous of revenging himself upon the Scythians, because they formerly, having invaded the Median territories, were the first beginners of violence.' B. iv. c. i Again, in describing the vast preparation of Xerxes to invade Greece, he adds • that the expedition of Darius against the Scythians appears nothing in comparison with this ; nor that of the Scythians, when in pursuing the Cimmerians, and invading the Medic territory, they subdued almost all the upper part of Asia, on account of which Darius afterwards attempted to inflict vengeance upon them.' B. vii. c. 20. And it is to be remembered that Herodotus elsewhere writes that Darius was about twenty years old, when Cyrus died, 530 B. c. He was therefore born cir. 550 B, C., i.e. about eighty years after the Scythian defeat of Cyaxares, and scarcely fifty-five years after their expulsion from Asia. Again, the eclipse which terminated the long Lydo-Median war, happened in 610 B. C. By this time the Lydians, and through them the Greeks, would be familiar with the great con. temporary political transactions in Media. And it was not until after the clos the war, that Cyaxares expelled the Scythians.