Josiah's battle with pharaoh Necho
      The events that surround the last days of King Josiah are chronicled in the pages of ancient history.
      The first major event that takes place during the last few years of his reign is the fall of the Assyrian capital of Nineveh.
      The prophecy against Nineveh and the fall of the Assyrian empire is given in Zephaniah 2:13: “And He (God) will stretch out his hand against the north, to Destroy Assyria, and make Nineveh a desolation, as dry as the wilderness.“
       The fall of Nineveh and the Assyrian Empire is indeed mentioned in an artifact known as the Babylonian Chronicles located within the British Museum. It describes the following events which occurred around 612 B.C.:
       “In the fourteenth year of Nabopolassar, the  king of Akkad called up his army. Cyaxares, the king of the Manda-hordes (the Medes), also marched out to meet the king of Akkad . . . and they joined forces . . . They marched on the banks of the Tigris river and . . . encamped against Nineveh . . . Three battles were fought, then they made a great attack against the city . . . On that day Sinsharishkun, king of Assyria was defeated . . . and the city was turned into a pile of rubble . . . but the army of Assyria escaped . . . Ashuruballit . . . became the new king of Assyria and reigned in Harran.”  (ANET 304-305)  
      So Zephaniah’s prophecy against Nineveh became fulfilled.
       The next event leading to Assyria’s complete downfall occurs two years later when the Akkadian king attacks the new Assyrian capital at Harran. The Babylonian Chronicle continues:
      “The Manda-hordes . . .  came to the aid of the king of Akkad and they merged their armies and marched against Harran, against Ashuruballit. Fear of the enemy befell Ashuruballit and his soldiers . . . and they left the town. The King of Akkad arrived at Harran and seized the city.”  (BM 21901,ANET 305)
      At this time, Assyria sends a dispatch to Egypt requesting help from the Egyptian king Necho II, whose father had formed a treaty years earlier with the Assyrians. Necho II then takes his army and heads north to aid the Assyrians. But on his way, Josiah the king of Judah brings out his army to intercept the Egyptians at Megiddo. This battle is recorded in 2 Chronicles 35:20:
      “After all this, when Josiah had prepared the temple, Necho king of Egypt came up to fight against Carchemish by the Euphrates; and Josiah went out against him. But he sent messengers to him, saying, "What have I to do with you, king of Judah? I have not come against you this day, but against the house with which I have war; for God commanded me to make haste. Refrain from meddling with God, who is with me, lest He destroy you."
      Nevertheless Josiah would not turn his face from him, but disguised himself so that he might fight with him, and did not heed the words of Necho from the mouth of God. So he came to fight in the Valley of Megiddo. And the archers shot King Josiah; and the king said to his servants, "Take me away, for I am severely wounded."
       His servants therefore took him out of that chariot and put him in the second chariot that he had, and they brought him to Jerusalem. So he died, and was buried in one of the tombs of his fathers. And all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah.”
      The main core of the Egyptian army then advances northward to help the Assyrians who had assembled at Carchemish awaiting Necho’s army in order to attack the Babylonians at Harran.
       This event occurs during the same year as Josiah’s death in 609 B.C. and is verified in the Babylonian Chronicles as follows;
       “Seventeenth year of Nabopolassar, Ashur-uballit II king of Assyria and a large army of Egypt (that of Necho II who had come to his aid) crossed the river Euphrates and marched on to conquer Harran. His army entered it, but the garrison which the king of Akkad (Nabopolassar) had left there defeated them and so he encamped against Harran. He continued to make attacks against the town. However nothing was accomplished and they returned (to Carchemish).” (BM 21901, ANET 305)
      At the same time, a contingent of the Egyptian army advances back towards Jerusalem and captures Jehoahaz, who reigned only three months over Judah, and Necho sends him to Egypt as a prisoner in chains. Necho then installs Jehoiakim as ruler in Jerusalem. This is recorded in 2 Chronicles chapter 36.
      Four years after these events, in 605 B.C., another Biblical prophecy comes to pass, the destruction of the city of Carchemish and the Egyptian army located near the Euphrates river. This is stated in Jeremiah 46:1-10:
       “The word of the LORD which came to Jeremiah the prophet against the nations. Against Egypt. Concerning the army of Pharaoh Necho, king of Egypt, which was by the River Euphrates in Carchemish, and which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon defeated in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah: "Order the buckler and shield, And draw near to battle! Harness the horses, And mount up, you horsemen! Stand forth with your helmets, Polish the spears, Put on the armor! Why have I seen them dismayed and turned back? Their mighty ones are beaten down; They have speedily fled, And did not look back, For fear was all around," says the LORD. "Do not let the swift flee away, Nor the mighty man escape; They will stumble and fall Toward the north, by the River Euphrates. "Who is this coming up like a flood, Whose waters move like the rivers?  Egypt rises up like a flood, And its waters move like the rivers; And he says, 'I will go up and cover the earth, I will destroy the city and its inhabitants.' Come up, O horses, and rage, O chariots! And let the mighty men come forth: The Ethiopians and the Libyans who handle the shield, And the Lydians who handle and bend the bow. For this is the day of the Lord GOD of hosts, A day of vengeance, That He may avenge Himself on His adversaries. The sword shall devour; It shall be satiated and made drunk with their blood; For the Lord GOD of hosts has a sacrifice In the north country by the River Euphrates.”
      This battle between the Egyptian army under  Necho’s command and the Babylonian forces led by Nebuchadnezzar is recorded almost blow by blow in the Babylonian Chronicles. It states:
      “In the twentieth year (of Nabopolassar, 606 B.C.) . . . The army of Egypt, which was at Carchemish, crossed the Euphrates, and against the army of Akkad, which was camped at Quramatu, it marched. They pushed back the army of Akkad so that they withdrew. (BM 22047)  
      “In the twenty first year (of Nabopolassar, 605 B.C.) . . . Nebuchadnezzar his eldest son, the crown prince, mustered the Babylonian army and took command of his troops, he then marched to Carchemish, which is on the bank of the Euphrates, to go against the Egyptian army which lay at Carchemish.
      They fought with each other and the Egyptian army withdrew before him . . . As for the rest of the Egyptian army, which had escaped from defeat so quickly that no weapons had reached them, the Babylonian troops overtook them in the district of Hamath and defeated them so that not a single man was able to escape to his own country.” (BM 21946)
In the past God cutoff Egypt, Assyria and Israel. But in the Future, they will serve the Lord together:  
      Isaiah 19: “The burden against Egypt. Behold, the LORD rides on a swift cloud, And will come into Egypt; The idols of Egypt will totter at His presence, And the heart of Egypt will melt in its midst.
      "I will set Egyptians against Egyptians; Everyone will fight against his brother, And everyone against his neighbor, City against city, kingdom against kingdom.
       The spirit of Egypt will fail in its midst; I will destroy their counsel, And they will consult the idols and the charmers, The mediums and the sorcerers. And the Egyptians I will give Into the hand of a cruel master, And a fierce king will rule over them," Says the Lord, the LORD of hosts.
       The waters will fail from the sea, And the river will be wasted and dried up. The rivers will turn foul; The brooks of defense will be emptied and dried up; The reeds and rushes will wither. The papyrus reeds by the River, by the mouth of the River, And everything sown by the River, Will wither, be driven away, and be no more. The fishermen also will mourn; All those will lament who cast hooks into the River, And they will languish who spread nets on the waters.  Moreover those who work in fine flax and those who weave fine fabric will be ashamed; And its foundations will be broken. All who make wages will be troubled of soul.
       Surely the princes of Zoan are fools; Pharaoh's wise counselors give foolish counsel. How do you say to Pharaoh, "I am the son of the wise, The son of ancient kings?" Where are they? Where are your wise men? Let them tell you now, And let them know what the LORD of hosts has purposed against Egypt. The princes of Zoan have become fools; The princes of Noph (the ancient city near present day Cairo) are deceived; They have also deluded Egypt, Those who are the mainstay of its tribes. The LORD has mingled a perverse spirit in her midst; And they have caused Egypt to err in all her work, As a drunken man staggers in his vomit. Neither will there be any work for Egypt, Which the head or tail, Palm branch or bulrush, may do.
      In that day Egypt will be like women, and will be afraid and fear because of the waving of the hand of the LORD of hosts, which He waves over it. And the land of Judah will be a terror to Egypt; everyone who makes mention of it will be afraid in himself, because of the counsel of the LORD of hosts which He has determined against it. In that day five cities in the land of Egypt will speak the language of Canaan and swear by the LORD of hosts; one will be called the City of Destruction.
      In that day there will be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to the LORD at its border. And it will be for a sign and for a witness to the LORD of hosts in the land of Egypt; for they will cry to the LORD because of the oppressors, and He will send them a Savior and a Mighty One, and He will deliver them. Then the LORD will be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians will know the LORD in that day, and will make sacrifice and offering; yes, they will make a vow to the LORD and perform it.
      And the LORD will strike Egypt, He will strike and heal it; they will return to the LORD, and He will be entreated by them and heal them.
      In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian will come into Egypt and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians will serve with the Assyrians. In that day Israel will be one of three with Egypt and Assyria; a blessing in the midst of the land, whom the LORD of hosts shall bless, saying, "Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance."
      This article is a chapter from our 3 volume book series "Bible Believer's Archaeology" which can be downloaded for your ebook reader or mobile device by visiting our resource download page by Clicking Here.
Photo Links to Artifacts Mentioned in this Article
Babylonian victory at Carchemish
Fall of Nineveh
Nabopolassar Babylon artifact
Egyptians at Carchemish
Nabopolassar's Victory at Babylon
Babylonians take  Carchemish
Fall of Nineveh
& Harran Battles
Egyptians at Carchemish
The Holy Bible, Author: The Lord God
Scripture taken from the New King James Version unless noted.
Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament - Princeton University Press 1969 Edited by James Pritchard. ISBN 0-691-03503-2
Anet 304-305 - In the fourteenth year of Nabopolasar (612 B.C.) - The fall of Nineveh and Ashuruballit becomes the new Assyrian king ruling out of Harran
Anet 305 - In the Sixteenth year of Nabopolasar (610 B.C.) his forces along with the Manda-hordes attack Ashuruballit at Harran and the Assyrian king flees.
Anet 305- In the Seventeenth year of Nabopolasar (609 B.C.) Ashuruballit’s army combined with Pharaoh Necho II’s army and try unsuccessfully to try and take back Harran. (2013)
Babylonian Chronicle (ABC 2) - BM 25127 (98-2-16, 181)
Early years of Nabopolasar and his defeat of the Assyrians at Babylon.   (2013)
Babylonian Chronicle (ABC 3) - BM 21901 ((96-4-9, 6)
Fall of Ninevah, Assurballit becomes Assyrian king and he and Egyptians forces combine to battle the Akkadians at Harran.  (2013)
Babylonian Chronicle (ABC 4) - BM 22047 (96-4-9, 152)
Army of Egypt in the twentieth year of Nabopolasar (606 B.C.) stationed at Carchemish crossed over the Euphrates and made the army of Akkad withdraw.   (2013)
Babylonian Chronicle (Jerusalem Chronicle) (ABC5) Reign of Nebuchadnezzar: The defeat of the Assyrians and Egyptians at the Battle of Carchemish 605 B.C. BM21946
Artwork: “Egyptian Warrior on Chariot,” Illustrated in Library of Universal History - Volume 1, Author: Israel Smith Clare. Publisher: Union Book Co. (1898).
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