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NECHO ( and ):

King of Egypt from 610 to 594 B.C.; son of Psam(m)ethik I., of the twenty-sixth Egyptian dynasty. According to Herodotus (ii. 158), he undertook to connect an arm of the Nile with the Red Sea by means of a canal; he was really opening a canal which Rameses II. had begun (comp. Budge, "History of Egypt," vi. 219). Necho did not finish the work, which was completed by Darius I. Necho also employed Phenicians to circumnavigate Africa, which they did in the space of three years (Herodotus, iv. 42).

As the Assyrian empire was tottering to its fall Necho marched (608) into Asia to share in the spoil. Josiah, King of Judah, who sought to check his progress, was defeated and killed by Necho at Megiddo (comp. II Kings xxiii. 29 et seq.; II Chron. xxxv. 20 et seq.). Three months later Necho summoned Jehoahaz, whom the Judeans had made king, to appear before him at his camp at Riblah, put Jehoahaz in chains, and took him captive to Egypt. He raised Jehoahaz's brother Eliakim to the throne, changing his name to Jehoiakim, and laid upon Judah a tribute of 100 talents of silver and a talent of gold. Whether Necho accomplished more than this in the course of this campaign the sources do not show.

Four years later Necho was again in Asia, and suffered at Carchemish a severe defeat at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar (Jer. xlvi. 2), being compelled to retreat hastily to Egypt. Had not Nebuchadnezzar been called to Babylon by the death of his father, Egypt would have been invaded by the Babylonian. It was, no doubt, Necho who induced Jehoiakim to rebel against Nebuchadnezzar in 599 (II Kings xxiv. 1). This was probably his last attempt to interfere in Palestinian affairs.

No Egyptian inscription from Necho's reign has been found beyond a stele recording the death of an Apis bull.

Bibliography:
  • Paton, Early History of Syria and Palestine, 1901, pp. 273-276;
  • Budge, History of Egypt, vi. 218-226.
E. C. G. A. B.
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