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him, in his Egyptian kings; otherwise it were a matter of no great envy, to leave both Asychis and Amysis out of the roll, which were easily done by placing Sesac lower, and extending his life yet six years further, or more, (if the like abridgement shall be required of Psammeticus's reign,) into the years of Rehoboam.
Of Sabacus, the Ethiopian, who took the kingdom from Amysis, it is agreed by the most that he reigned fifty years. He was a merciful prince, not punishing all capital offences with death, but imposing bondage and bodily labour upon malefactors, by whose toil he both got much wealth into his own hands, letting out their service to hire, and performed many works of more use than pomp, to the singular benefit of the country. Zonaras calls this king Sua, the scriptures call him So. Hosea, the last king of Israel, made a league with him against Salmanassar, little to his good; for the Egyptian was more rich than warlike, and therefore his friendship could not preserve the Israelite from destruction.
It seems that the encroaching power of the Assyrian grew terrible to Egypt about these times, the victories of Tiglath Pileser and Salmanassar having eaten so far into Syria, in the reign of this one king So or Sabacus. Yea, perhaps, it was in his days, (for his reign began in the fourth of Menahem,) that Pul himself did make the first entrance into Palaestina. This caused So to animate the halfsubdued people against their conquerors; but the help which'he and hissuccessor gavethem was so faint, that Sennacherib's embassador compared the Egyptian succour to a broken staff of reed. Such indeed had Hosea found it, and such Hezekiah might have found it, had he not been supported by the strong staff of him that rules all nations with a rod of iron. It appears by the words of Rabshakeh, that the opinion was great in Judah of the Egyptian forces, for chariots and horsemen 3; but this power, whatsoever it was, grew needful within a little while, for the defence of Egypt itself, which So left unto Sethon his successor, having now fulfilled the fifty years of his reign.
Herodotus and Diodorus have both one tale, from the relation of Egyptian priests, concerning the departure of this king, saying, that he left the country, and willingly retired into Ethiopia, because it was often signified unto him in his dreams, by the god which was worshipped at Thebes, that his reign should be neither long nor prosperous, unless he slew all the priests in Egypt; which rather than to do, he resigned his kingdom. Surely these Egyptian gods were of a strange quality, that so ill rewarded their servants, and invited kings to do them wrong. Well might the Egyptians, (as they likewise did,) worship dogs as gods, when their chief gods had the property of dogs, which love their masters the better for beating them. Yet to what end the priests should have feigned this tale I cannot tell; and therefore I think that it might be some device of the fearful old man, who, seeing his realm in danger of an invasion, soughtan honest excuse for his departure out of it, and withdrawing himself into Ethiopia, where he had been bred in his youth. What if any one should say, that the Ethiopia into which he went was none other than Arabia, whereof Tirhakah the king, (perhaps at the instigation of this man,) raised an army against Sennacherib, when he meant to invade Egypt, within two or three years after? But I will not trouble myself with such inquiry. This I hold, that So, or Sabacus, was not indeed an Ethiopian, (for in his time lived the prophet Isaiah, who mentioneth the antiquity of Pharaoh's house,) but only so surnamed for his education, and because issuing from thence he got the kingdom from Amysis, who was his opposite. The quiet and mild form of his government, his holding the kingdom so long without an army,
» 2 Kingi zriii. 2*
and many other circumstances, argue no less. But whether finally he betook to a private life, or whether he forewent his life and kingdom at once, being now very old, it is time that we leave him, and speak of Sethon, his next successor, who is omitted by Diodorus, but remembered by Herodotus, by a sure token of his having been king.
Of Sethon, a/?o reigned with Hezekiah, and sided trilh him against Sennacherib.
The first year of Sethon's reign falls into the twelfth of Hezekiah, which was the fifth of Sennacherib. It was a troublesome age, and full of danger; the two great kingdoms of Assyria and Egypt being then engaged in a war, the issue whereof was to determine whether of them should rule or serve. The Assyrian had the better men of war, the Egyptian better provision of necessaries; the Assyrian more subjects, the Egyptian more friends; and among the new conquered half subjects of Ashur, many that were Egyptian in heart, though Assyrian in outward shew.
Of this last sort were Hezekiah and his people; who, knowing how much it concerned Pharaoh to protect them against his own great enemy, preferred the friendship of so near and mighty a neighbour, before the service of a terrible, yet far removed king. But herein was great difference, between Hezekiah and his subjects; for the good king, fixing his especial confidence in God, held that course of policy which he thought most likely to turn to the benefit of his country; the multitude of Judaea, looking into the fair hopes which this Egyptian league promised, were puffed up with vain conceits, thinking that all was safe, and that now they should not .need to fear any more of those injuries, which they had suffered by the Assyrians, and so became forgetful of God, 'taking counsel, but not of him'.' The prophet Isaiah complained much of this presumption, giving the people of Judah to understand, that ' the
* Egyptians were men and not God, and their horses 'flesh, and not spirit1;' that God himself should defend Israel upon repentance, and that' Ashur should
* fall by the sword, but not of man.' As for the •Egyptians, (said the prophet,) • they are vanity, and
* they shall help in vain, their strength is to sit still.' According to the prophet's words it came to pass:
for in the treaty of confederacy that was held at Zoan, all manner of contentment and assurance was given to the Jews, by Sethon, or his agents, who -filled them with such reports of horses and chariots,, that they did not look, (as saith Isaiah xxxi. 1,4.) 'unto the holy one of Israel, not seek unto the
* Lord; but he yet is wisest.'
After a while came Sennacherib with his army, and wakened them out of these dreams; for Sethon, their good neighbour, as near as he was, did seem far off, being unready when his help was most needful. It may seem that he purposed rather to make Palacstina than Egypt the stage whereon this great war should be acted, and was not without hope, that the Assyrians and Jews, weakening one another, should yiela unto him a fair advantage over both. Yet he fought with money; for he sent horses and camels laden with treasure, to hire the Arabians, whom Isaiah calleth ' a people that cannot profit3.' These Arabians did not profit indeed; for, (besides that it seems by the same place of Isaiah, that the rich treasures miscarried, -and fell into the enemies hands before any help appeared from Tirhakah,) all the strong cities of Judah were taken by Sennacherib, except Libnah, Lachis, and Jerusalem itself* which were in sore distress, till the sword of God, and not of man, defeated the Assyrian, who did go,
1 Iuiah zxx. 1. S Isaiah xxxi- ». 8. Isaiah xxxi 7. Iwiah iii. *.
* Isaiah xxx.«.
for fear +, to his tower, that is, he fled to Nineveh, where he was slain.
Concerning this expedition of Sennacherib, Herodotus takes this notice of it; that it was purposed against Egypt, where the men of war, being offended with Sethon their king, who had taken away their allowance, refused to bear arms in defence of him and their country ; that Sethon being Vulcan's priest, bemoaned himself to his god, who by dream promised to send him helpers; that hereupon Sethon, with such as would follow him, (which were craftsmen, shop-keepers, and the like,) marched towards Pelusium; and that a great multitude of field-mice, entering the camp of Sennacherib by night, did so gnaw the bows, quivers, and straps of his mens armour, that they were fain the next day to fly away in all haste, finding themselves disarmed. In memory hereof, (saith Herodotus,) the statue of this king is set up in the temple of Vulcan, holding a mouse in his hand, with this inscription: 1 Let him 'that beholds me, serve God.' Such was the relation of the Egyptian priests, wherein how far they swerved from the truth, being desirous to magnify their own king, it may easily be perceived. It seems that this image of Sethon was fallen down, and the tale forgotten in Diodorus's time, or else, perhaps, the priests did forbear to tell it him, (which caused him to omit it;) for that the nation of the Jews was then well known to the world, whereof every child could have told how much falsehood had been mingled with the truth.
We find this history agreeable to the scriptures, thus far forth: That Sennacherib king of the Assyrians and Arabians, (so Herodotus calleth him, the Syrians, or peradventure some borderers upon Syria, being meant by the name of Arabians,) lived in this age, made war upon Egypt, and was miraculously driven home. As for that exploit of the mice, and
4 Isaiah zxxi. 9.