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SOME REMARKS ON THE FOREIGN POLICY OF


PSAMMETICHUS II IN THE LEVANT (595589 B.C.)

Danel Kahn
University of Haifa

Abstract
Since it is commonly held that Psammetichus II abstained from aggressive activ-
ity against Babylonia, I want to reconsider his policy (595-589 B.C.) toward the
Levant and the Babylonian Empire.1 No new data exists, leaving us only the (re)-
interpretation of the facts. In this article I shall review:
1. The Babylonian presence and activity in the Levant;
2. The anti-Babylonian conference in the fourth year of Zedekiah, King of
Judah (most probably 593 B.C.);
3. Alleged Judean involvement in Psammetichus IIs campaign against Kush;
4. Psammetichus IIs campaign to Kush in his third year of reign (593 B.C.);
5. The Eect of the Egyptian Campaign to Kush on the Levant;
6. The campaign of Psammetichus to the land of Kharu in his fourth regnal
year.

* * * *

According to Kitchen, Psammetichus policy in the Levant was as


follows: Necho II and Psammetichus II prudently declined any
further direct confrontations with Babylon . . . Following his Nubian
victory, Psammetichus II was content to show the ag in Philistia
and by his Byblos visitation maintain ordinary Egyptian relations
in Phoenicia . . . By contrast, Apries (589-570 B.C.) foolishly aban-
doned restraint . . ..2
Hornung states the following: The king (i.e. Psammetichus II)
maintained peace with the great power of Babylon and evidently
avoided interfering in the aairs of Palestine. Immediately after
taking the throne, however, his young son Apries (589-570 B.C.E.), . . .

1 Note that these are the correct dates for the reign of Psammetichus II. Parker,

The Length of the Reign of Amasis. The articles that were written before 1957
date Psammetichus IIs reign between 594-588 B.C.
2 Kitchen, Third Intermediate Period in Egypt, 407.

Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2008 JEH 1.1


Also available online - www.brill.nl
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supported the Judean king, Zedekiah, and the Phoenician cities in


their break with Nebuchadnezzar.3
The above generally peaceful evaluations of Psammetichus IIs
relations with Babylonia and its vassals, Judah and the Phoenician
states, or rather the deliberate avoidance of military contact with
the Babylonians, is commonly held by most Egyptologists and schol-
ars of the Ancient Near East.4 Some just do not mention any pol-
icy of Psammetichus towards the Levant,5 while others claim that
Egypt instigated Jerusalem to rebel against Babylonia, which was
part of an anti-Babylonian coalition already in 594,6 or that
Psammetichus Expedition to Byblos and the Phoenician coast (in
592-591 B.C.) impressed the kingdoms in the Levant and raised
the hopes of liberation from the Babylonian enslavement.7
First, let us survey the evidence for the Babylonian policy towards
the Levant preceding the days of Psammetichus II and during his
reign in Egypt.

1. Babylonia and the Levant

The Extent and Success of the Babylonian Campaigns to the Levant


Due to a lack of historical-military writing-tradition in the Neo-
Babylonian Empire, Nebuchadnezzar II (605-562 B.C.) was described
by scholars until 1956 as a king who had devoted his main energy
to the building and restoration of his country. This evaluation of
Nebuchadnezzars reign dramatically changed in 1956, when the
Babylonian Chronicle, which covers the rst eleven years of
Nebuchadnezzars reign, was published. From that moment on he

Hornung, History of Ancient Egypt, 141.


3

Cf. Freedy and Redford, The Dates in Ezekiel, 479-480 with now outdated
4

dating of events and thus wrong reconstruction of the history; Katzenstein, History
of Tyre, 316; Redford, Egypt, Canaan, and Israel, 463-464; Vittmann, gypten und die
Fremden, 40; Spalinger, The Concept of the Monarchy during the Saite Epoch,
22-24 and idem, Egypt and Babylonia: A Survey (c. 620 B.C.-550 B.C.), 232-
233. Cf. these statements with Spalingers view about Psammetichus II in
Psammetichus II, L IV, 1169-1172.
5 Lloyd The Late Period, 664-332 BC, 285, 338-339 and idem, The Late

Period (664-332 BC), 381.


6 Grimal, A History of Ancient Egypt, 362.
7 Lipschits, Nebuchadnezzars Policy in Hattu-Land, 471.
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some remarks on the foreign policy of psammetichus ii 141

appears as a great warrior and in studies about his reign special


attention is devoted to his military achievements.8
In the preserved accounts in the Babylonian Chronicle of the
years that correspond to those preceding the reign of Psammetichus II
and to his reign (598-594 B.C.) several campaigns to the Levant
were mentioned. In 598 (year 7) Jerusalem was captured and its
king deported. In 597 (year 8) he went to Hattu (the area west of
the Euphrates, which included in the 7th century B.C. in the North
the Neo-Hittite states in Anatolia and Philistia in the South). In
596 (year 9) Nebuchadnezzar advanced along the Tigris toward an
encounter with the Elamite army. The king of Elam took fright
and he went home. In 595 (year 10) Nebuchadnezzar stayed home most
of the year. In the months of Kislev and Tebeth (15.12.595-12.2.594)
there was a rebellion in Babylonia, which was quelled. Thereafter
he marched to Hattu, received vast booty and returned to Babylonia.
In 594 (year 11), the last year preserved in the chronicle, Nebu-
chadnezzar and his army marched to Hattu in Kislev (4.12.594-
2.1.593).9 Thus, Nebuchadnezzar campaigned victoriously during
ve years. Four victories in Hattu and in the fth year Elam retreated
without a ght.10
This evaluation of Nebuchadnezzar as a great warrior inuenced
also the views of scholars in Egyptian history of the 26th Dynasty,
when describing Psammetichus IIs policy in relation to that of
Nebuchadnezzars achievements in the Levant.11
When taking a closer look at the Babylonian sources, Ephhal
opted for a dierent picture.12 Nebuchadnezzar was defeated in Egypt
in year 4 (601 B.C.), and stayed at home in year 5 (600) retting his
numerous horses and chariotry. He raided the Arabs in year 6

8 Wiseman, Chronicles of Chaldean Kings; See: Ephhal, Nebuchadnezzar the

Warrior, 178-180.
9 Wiseman, Chronicles of Chaldean Kings, 72-75. See also Streck Nebukadnezzar II,

197-8 ( 5).
10 Lipschits, Nebuchadnezzars Policy in Hattu-Land, 471 claims that

Nebuchadnezzars frequent campaigns to the West were provoked by the strength


of Egypt and its renewed interest in the region in the time of Psammetichus II
(595-589 B.C.) and Apries. This claim is not precise for two reasons. a.) Psammetichus II
ascended the throne in Egypt after the Babylonian campaigns were renewed after
the Babylonian setback in Egypt, thus the Egyptian aggressive policy should be
ascribed to Necho II. b.) The Babylonian aim in Hattu was not Philistia or Judah,
but much more northern destinations.
11 See Spalinger, The Concept of the Monarchy during the Saite Epoch, 22-

24 and idem, Egypt and Babylonia: A Survey (c. 620 B.C.-550 B.C.), 232-233.
12 See Ephhal, Nebuchadnezzar the Warrior, 180-183, 188-189.
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(599) in the Syrian Desert, hardly a signicant military achievement.


Jehoiachin, Jerusalems new king, surrendered without resistance in year
7 (598). Nebuchadnezzar departed in his eighth year (597) to Hattu
in Tebeth (5.1-3.2.596)13 and arrived in Carchemish in Shebat (3.2-
5.3.596). The Babylonian army returned home immediately after
reaching the Euphrates. It was not engaged in any war in that year. In
year 9 Nebuchadnezzar advanced toward an encounter with the
Elamite army, but eventually did not ght. In year 10 (595)
Nebuchadnezzar stayed at home most of the year. In the months of
Kislev and Tebeth (15.12.595-12.2.594) there was a rebellion in
Babylonia. At an unstated date (obviously after quelling the rebel-
lion, apparently in Shebat [= after 12.2.594]) he marched to Hattu,
received the vast booty of the kings and the people of . . . and
returned to Babylonia. This campaign did not last more than two
months since the year ended in 11.4.594 and could not reach the
southern Levant. In year 11 (594) Nebuchadnezzar and his army
marched to Hattu in Kislev (4.12.594-2.1.593), but two months later
a man was accused in Borsippa (22 Shebat Year 11 = 22.2.593)
and executed for breaking his oath to the king (the judge in this
trial was Nebuchadnezzar himself).14 Thus, the only Babylonian mil-
itary campaign reaching the Southern Levant since the Babylonian
setback in the winter of 601-600 B.C. was the campaign against
Jerusalem in 598/7 B.C., which surrendered without a ght. It is
possible, however, that in the campaign of 598/7 Nebuchadnezzar
did achieve military victory and destroyed Gaza and Eqron, the
remaining kingdoms of Philistia, and that Egypt lost its holding in
the Southern Levant (II Kings, 24:7).15
According to Ephhal, Nebuchadnezzar did not achieve any
signicant victory since his ascent to the Babylonian throne, his
armies did not quell rebellions near the borders of Egypt since the
peaceful surrender of Jehoiachin at the beginning of 597 B.C., and
Nebuchadnezzars reign was weak during the years 595, 594 B.C.
Unfortunately, we do not have Babylonian evidence for the years
after 594 B.C.

13 All absolute dates in this article, which are based on the Babylonian calen-

dar, are taken from Parker and Dubberstein, Babylonian Chronology, 27-28.
14 Weidner, Hochverrat gegen Nebukadnezar II, 1-9 (for the date see p. 3).

One should not accept Lipschits opinion that the campaign in late 594 was
directed against the rising inuence of Psammetichus II in the Levant. Lipschits,
The Fall and Rise of Jerusalem, 65.
15 Katzenstein, Gaza in the Neo-Babylonian Period (626-539 B.C.E.), 43, 47;

Lipschits, The Fall and Rise of Jerusalem, 52, notes 54, 55.
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some remarks on the foreign policy of psammetichus ii 143

Even if one does not want to accept the revisionist view for-
warded by Ephhal, there is no evidence for a Babylonian campaign
to the southern Levant between 597 B.C. and 588 B.C. Furthermore,
the events in Nebuchadnezzars regnal years 10 and 11 (595, 594
B.C.) were serious enough to create unrest in Babylon and in Judah
(see below). Nebuchadnezzar had to stabilize the Babylonian heart-
land, and for several years could not quell rebellions at the remote
ends of his Empire.
Thus, Psammetichus II did not have to fear the Babylonian army
for it was not in the vicinity; neither did he have to confront them
or steer up unrest against them in his early years.16 Psammetichus
denitely did not avoid contact with the Babylonian army deliber-
ately, for it was not there.17 Psammetichus could slip into the
Babylonian power-vacuum almost without confrontation.

2. Opposition to Babylonia in the West

The Conference in Jerusalem in Zedekiahs Fourth Year


In the fourth regnal year of Zedekiah, King of Judah (598/7-586 B.C.),
a conference was held in Jerusalem, hosting envoys of the kings of
Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre and Sidon. The City-states from
Philistia did not participate, probably because they were already
destroyed by the Babylonians. It appears that the conference dealt
with the possibility of throwing o the Babylonian yoke or remain-
ing subjugated to Babylonia ( Jer. 27:1-11). It must be stressed that
Egypt is not mentioned in Jeremiah, chapters 27 and 28 dealing
with the conference and with the debate between Jeremiah and the
false prophets, and it did not participate in the conference. As we
shall see below, it was engaged elsewhere.
When did this conference take place in absolute chronology? The
chronology of the last kings of Judah is not clear. Jehoiachin surren-
dered to Nebuchadnezzar on the second day of Adar, March 16,
597 B.C.18 It is not clear if Zedekiah started to count his regnal

16 Contra Lipschits, Nebuchadnezzars Policy in Hattu-Land, 471.


17 Contra Spalinger, The Concept of the Monarchy during the Saite Epoch,
22-24 and idem, Egypt and Babylonia: A Survey (c. 620 B.C.-550 B.C.), 232.
18 Many scholars have dealt with this vexed problem. For a summary of schol-

arly opinions, see Tadmor, Chronology of the Last Kings of Judah; Galil, The
Babylonian Calendar and the Chronology of the Last Kings of Judah with earlier
literature there. Cf. Cogan, Review of Gershon Galil, The Chronology of the Kings.
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years from 1 Nisan 597 (13.4.597), less than a month after Jehoiachins
dethroning, and thus his fourth regnal year fell between 12.4.594-
30.4.593, or if Zedekiah started to count his regnal years from 1
Nisan 596 (3.4.596), and his fourth regnal year fell between 30.4.593-
19.4.592.19 If we accept the synchronisms between Zedekiah and
Nebuchadnezzar in II Kings 25, 2-8; Jeremiah 52, 5-12; 32,1,
Zedekiahs eleventh and last regnal year was congruent with the
nineteenth regnal year of Nebuchadnezzar (586/5 B.C.), and
Zedekiahs fourth regnal year (according to the Babylonian calen-
dar) must have fallen between 30.4.593-19.4.592. The Conference
should than be dated to the fth month (Ab), 25.8-24.9.593 B.C.20
Following the conference, Zedekiah was summoned to Babylonia.
The Judean King or his envoys21 arrived in Babylonia and proba-
bly had to explain the nature of the gathering in Jerusalem. The
fact that Zedekiah or his envoys arrived in Babylonia, means that
Zedekiah did not dare to defy Nebuchadnezzars orders, and thus,
Babylonia had still enough inuence in Judah. Nebuchadnezzar was
probably satised with Zedekiahs explanations, for he returned to
Judah and remained king.22

19 The proposal that the year count in Judah started in 1 Tishri, mainly sup-

ported by Malamat, The Twilight of Judah, 139 (=History of Biblical Israel, Ch.
16, 300), does not have evidence to support it and creates more problems than
it solves. See Galil, The Babylonian Calendar and the Chronology of the Last
Kings of Judah, 371.
20 Cf. however, Sarna, The Abortive Insurrection in Zedekiahs Day ( Jer. 27-

29), who dates the insurrection to Zedekiahs accession year, that according to
Sarna lasted from 2 Adar 597 to 1 Tishri.
21 See McKane, Jeremiahs Instructions to Seraiah ( Jeremiah 51: 59-64), 697-

698.
22 Cf. the summoning of rebellious or troublesome kings to their overlord and

their eventual fate: Manasseh, King of Judah was taken to Babylonia by the
Assyrians and reinstated (II Chron. 33: 11-13), for the historicity of this episode
see Rainey, Manasseh, King of Judah, 160-162; Jehoahaz was summoned by
Necho II to appear before him in Riblah and was removed from the kingship of
Judah and deported to Egypt (II Kings 23: 33); In the fourteenth Century B.C.
Labahyu, King of Shechem was caught and sent to appear before Pharaoh, but
was murdered on the way by his opponents (EA 245), see Moran, The Amarna
Letters, 299; Aziru of Amurru visited Pharaohs court and defended himself against
accusations of his enemies (EA 161, 140), he then returned home to face the Hittite
threat.
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some remarks on the foreign policy of psammetichus ii 145

3. Judean Involvement in Psammetichus Campaign against Kush?

At the same year that the anti-Babylonian conference was held in


Judah, Psammetichus campaigned against Kush in his third regnal
year (593 B.C.).23 The Egyptian army destroyed Kerma (Pnoubs),24
and reached Napata and may have burnt the Kushite king in his
palace.25 Psammetichus IIs army was composed of Egyptian and
foreign (Carian, Ionian, Dorian, and Phoenician) troops. According
to the letter of (Pseudo) Aristeas to Philokrates (ca. 2/1 c. B.C.),26
Judean soldiers were sent to the aid of Psammetichus to ght with
his armies against the king of the Kushites. If it was Zedekiah who
sent his troops to aid Psammetichus II against Kush in 593, a shift
in Judahs alliance towards Egypt must have occurred prior to the
anti-Babylonian conference in Judah. In this case, Egypt must
have acted in the Levant before 593. A Judean king would not
have sent his forces to aid the enemy of his Babylonian overlord,
without being convinced that the adventure is worth the risk, or
without having another choice.27

23 Early historians based the existence of a campaign of Psammetichus II against

Nubia just before his death in his sixth regnal year on the information found in
Herodotus, The Histories II, 161. For Stelae of Psammetichus describing the war
against Kush in his third year, see: Sauneron and Yoyotte, La campange nubi-
enne de Psammtique II; Bakry, Psammtichus II and his Newly-found Stela
at Shelll; Habachi, Psammetique II dans la region de la premire Cataracte;
Goedicke, The Campaign of Psammetik II against Nubia. For translation and
comments, see: der Manuelian, Living in the Past, 337-350 (Shellal), 351-355 (Karnak),
365-371 (Tanis); Eide, et al., Fontes Historiae Nubiorum, Vol. I, 279-286 (Henceforth
FHN I); Trk, The Kingdom of Kush, 366, 371-374; Gozzoli, The Writing of History
in Ancient Egypt during the First Millennium BC, 95-99; idem, The Nubian War Texts
of Psammetichus II, 46-49; idem, La campagna nubiana di Psammetico II.
24 See recently Bonnet and Valbelle, Des Pharaons venus dAfrique, 164-171.
25 For the destruction of Napata by Egyptian forces, see: Kendall, The Napatan

Palace at Gebel Barkal, 308 and idem, Preprint of Napatan Temples: A Case
Study from Gebel Barkal, Ch. XI. Contra FHN I, 284-286. For the possible
burning of the Kushite king in his palace see: der Manuelian, Living in the Past,
367, 371, n. 284.
26 Sauneron and Yoyotte, Sur la politique Palestinienne des rois Sites, 132-

133. On the authenticity and credibility of this text, see: Hadas, Aristeas to Philocrates,
1-54; Schmidt, Untersuchung zur Falschung historischer Dokumente bei Pseudo-Aristaios, 111-
143.
27 Cf. Greenberg, Ezekiel 17 and the Policy of Psammetichus II, 307 and n.

16. This reconstruction is based on wrong dates for the Nubian campaign of
Psammetichus II, but the line of thought is the same. Freedy and Redford, The
Dates in Ezekiel, 476 postulate that the anti-Babylonian convention took place
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This, however, is not the case. It was Babylonia, who controlled


the Levant, even though the Prophet Hanania son of Azur thought
its supremacy would end within two years ( Jeremiah 28: 1-4, 10-
11). Egypt is not mentioned in any way in Jeremiah 27-29 where
the events of 593 are described. Thus, it becomes clear that Zedekiah
did not send any Judean forces to aid Psammetichus and that the
information from the letter of Aristeas pertains to the aid that was
sent to Psammetichus I.28

4. The Date of the Campaign against Kush

The nal destruction of Kush by Psammetichus II can be estimated


with some precision. The date on Psammetichus IIs Stela of Shellal
(some km. south of Elephantine), one of the versions which describe
this event, is Psammetichus third regnal year, second month of
Shemu day 10 (26.10.593).29 This date marks the end of the cam-
paign and the setting up of the stela and not the start of the events.30
The way back would have lasted a minimum of ca. 34 days,31 thus
the campaign ended in 20.9.593 (rst month of Shemu day 6) at the
latest.
A stela, found at Dafneh and dated to the 26th dynasty on ortho-
graphical grounds and language, mentions rain in the mountains
of Punt in connection with dicult roads that had not been trodden
for many years, the army thanked the king for the marvel of rain
and inundation after drought. The armed forces were saved because

in 594, and that Judah sent auxiliary forces to the aid of Egypt in the following
year.
28 Sauneron and Yoyotte, Sur la politique Palestinienne des rois Sites, 132-

133. See also: Burstein, Psamtek I and the End of Nubian Domination in Egypt.
29 Von Beckerath, Chronologie des Pharaonischen gypten, 198. Note that Pestman,

Les Papyrus dmotiques de Tsenhor, 176 diverges by 2 days from von Beckerath. Contra
der Manuelian, Living in the Past, 343, n. 191, and Goedicke The Campaign of
Psammetik II against Nubia, 190, who date the Stela to 8.10.592.
30 Cf. the date on the Victory Stela of Piankhy. Grimal, La stle triomphale de

Pi(ankh)y, 10, n. 1.
31 The voyage from Napata to Thebes lasted about 38-9 days. Cf. the cam-

paign of Piankhy according to his victory stela. Piankhy departed from Napata
on <1>t sw 9 (Piankhy Stela l. 29) and was present at the Opet festival on 2
t sw 19, the rst day of the Opet festival. See Grimal, La stle triomphale de
Pi(ankh)y, 44, n. 112. The distance between Elephantine and Thebes is 137 miles
(ca.220 km.), approximately four sailing days. See: Yurco, Sennacheribs Third
Campaign and the Coregency of Shabaka and Shebitku, 227, n. 53.
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some remarks on the foreign policy of psammetichus ii 147

of the Nile-ood. Kitchen proposed from this broken context a raid


into Napatan dominated Nubia in the reign of Psammetichus II.32
The date of the miraculous event (which probably enabled the army
to defeat his foes) was the fourth month of Peret, day 12 (*28th of
August if this fragment describes the events in Psammetichus IIs
third year) two months before the date on the stela from Shellal.
This would enable the Egyptian army to arrive in Kush when the
Nile was at its peak (August) and easiest to cross the cataracts, to
defeat the Kushites and to return to Elephantine leisurely when the water
receded. However, attributing the Dafneh Stela to Psammetichus IIs
Nubian campaign is conjectural.

5. The Eect of the Egyptian Campaign to Kush on the Levant

The conference for deciding the policy of Phoenicia, Judah and


the Trans-Jordanian kingdoms in relation to the Babylonian lord-
ship, was held at the time that the Egyptian army was ghting in
the far south against its bitter foe, thousands of kilometers away. It
seems that the news of Egyptian victory over Kush did not reach
the Levant before the delegations gathered in Judah and they were
not inuenced by the outcome of the campaign when deliberating
their line of action.
At a later date, however, the outcome of Psammetichus cam-
paign had become known in Judah and even in Babylonia as it is
reected in Ezekiel 30:9
On that day messengers shall go forth at my bidding (= from before me)
in boats to make condent Kush tremble. Convulsion shall be in them on
the day of Egypt. Indeed it/she (the convulsion/Egypt) is coming.33

In the time of Ezekiel, Kush was not part of Egypt, nor did it con-
trol Egypt anymore. Egypt and Kush were bitter enemies ghting
against each other at least since the expulsion of the Kushites by
Psammetichus I in 656 B.C.34 Kush was denitely not one of Egypts

32 Petrie, Nebesheh and Defenneh, 107, pl.42 (13); Perdu, Prologue un corpus

des stles royales de la XXVIe dynastie, 26; Kitchen, The Land of Punt, 602.
Cf. Meeks, Locating Punt, 70-71 locates Punt in Arabia. This would make this
stela irrelevant for the Nubian campaign of Psammetichus II. See, however, the
comments of Kitchen, Ancient People West of the Red Sea in Pre-Classical
Antiquity, 11-12.
33 It is not clear if Egypt is coming or the convulsion.
34 Kahn, The Assyrian Invasions of Egypt (673-663 B.C.).
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allies as can be assumed from reading Ezekiel 30:8 uncritically.


Thus, this prophecy was not part of what precedes or follows it
and must stand on its own. It reects the trembling of Kush and
the pain and havoc that were caused in Kush, for it would not
feel any convulsion if Egypt, its enemy, would be destroyed.
Kush, Egypts bitter foe in the South, and one of the major king-
doms in the past 150 years, was now destroyed and its King was
dead. The news about the victory had reached Judah, and even
Ezekiel in Southern Babylonia. Egypt had destroyed one of her two
major enemies. The southern front was eliminated. Babylon, Egypts
northern opponent was also not at the peak of its strength (see
above). At the end of the year 593 B.C. Egypt seemed to be the
strongest power of the day.

6. The Campaign of Psammetichus II to Kharu35

The following year (592 B.C.), Psammetichus II was in the land of


Kharu (Syria-Palestine). This information is preserved in a petition
of Padiese, a priest of Ta-wedjay (El Hibeh), to King Darius I in
the year 513 B.C. The grandfather of this priest, also named Padiese
was summoned by Psammetichus II, together with priests from
other temples in Egypt, bearing an.w ower-bouquets to go to the
land of Kharu. Padiese was selected by his fellow priests to accom-
pany Pharaoh on his journey to Kharu. While in Kharu, Padieses
fellow priests disinherited him from the priesthood and incomes.36
The nature of Psammetichus journey to Kharu is mainly con-
ceived as a peaceful one. It is seen by most scholars as:
A. a triumphal progress, cultic showing of the ag accompa-
nied by priests bearing ower bouquets, broadcasting his tri-
umph over the Sudan without an accompanying army;
B. cementing alliances and lifting the spirits of the anti-Babylonian
resistance but avoiding contact with the Babylonians;

35 For the extent of Kharu, see: Gardiner, Ancient Egyptian Onomastica I, *180-*187

and in the late period: Vittmann, Der demotische Papyrus Rylands 9, 349-50.
36 Grith, Catalogue of the Demotic Papyri, 95 . For a recent translation and com-

ments, see: Vittmann, Der demotische Papyrus Rylands 9.


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some remarks on the foreign policy of psammetichus ii 149

C. a pilgrimage to the holy sites in the land of Kharu (sailing


to the city of Byblos and respecting the cult of Osiris there
and possibly other shrines in Palestine as well).37
Objections to these assumptions can be raised:
A. The fact that a priest tells that he accompanied Pharaoh to
Kharu does not mean that no army was involved in the
journey; just that priests were involved. It must be stressed,
that Padiese was not at all interested in the historical value
of Psammetichus campaign. He was only interested in the
loss of his grandfathers position in the temple. He looked
on matters from the cultic and personal and not from a royal
or military viewpoint. Other instances of priests accompa-
nying the army are known as well. rw, a priest, who accom-
panied Shoshenq I in his campaign(s) against Israel,38 and
P -d-hImn-<nb>-nsw-t .wy, a Theban priest, who accompa-
nied Piankhy on his campaign against Tefnakht and even
received the latters submission.39 Flower-bouquets were given
by Piankhy in the temple of Heliopolis, while campaigning
against northern Egypt,40 and were given to Osorkon, the
high Priest of Amun in Thebes to proclaim victory over his
foes.41 From these examples it can be seen that priests accom-
panied the army, and that ower bouquets were also given
to king/leader or god in/after successful military campaigns.

37 De Meulenaere, Herodotus over de 26ste Dynastie, 70; Kienitz Die Politische Geschichte

gyptens, 25, n. 2; Freedy and Redford, The Dates in Ezekiel, 479-481; Redford,
Egypt, Canaan, and Israel, 464; Malamat, History of Biblical Israel, Ch. 16, 318;
Spalinger, Egypt and Babylonia: A Survey (c. 620 B. C.-550 B. C.), 233-234;
idem, The Concept of the Monarchy during the Saite Epoch, 22; Katzenstein,
History of Tyre, 316-317; Grimal, A History of Ancient Egypt, 362; Lipschits,
Nebuchadnezzars Policy in Hattu-Land, 471; Schipper, Israel und gypten, 243-
244; Vittmann, gypten und die Fremden, 40 (See n. 4 above).
38 Schipper, Israel und gypten, 192 .
39 Grimal, La stle triomphale de Pi(ankh)y, 174, n. 515. For Assyrian priests per-

forming rites in the army camps while on military campaign, see: Reade, Religious
Ritual in Assyrian Sculpture, 15-19.
40 Grimal, La stle triomphale de Pi(ankh)y, 137, n. 412. See also Sauneron and

Yoyotte, Sur la politique Palestinienne des rois Sites, 136.


41 Caminos, The Chronicle of Prince Osorkon, 35, 41-42. See additional examples

in Yoyotte, Sur le voyage asiatique de Psammetique II, 143; Brunner-Traut,


Blumenstrauss, 839; Dittmar, Blumen und Blumenstrue, 69-70.
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150 danel kahn

B. As for the Babylonian threat it is inconceivable to imag-


ine that Psammetichus II went into hostile Babylonian held
territory with only priests and owers to protect him, especially
if it was his rst campaign, and he did not control the area.
Furthermore, it has been already noted by Ephhal (see above)
that the Babylonian strength in the Levant in the days of
Nebuchadnezzar was overestimated by scholars. It seems that
Psammetichus was not afraid to meet Nebuchadnezzar face-
to-face as Spalinger maintains.42 Nebuchadnezzar was an
absent overlord during most of the rst decade of the sixth
c. B.C., and possibly not a very successful one.43
C. A pilgrimage to the holy sites in the land of Kharu (or any
country which is under control of Pharaoh) is the normal
procedure to show sovereignty over the subjugated populace
and gods (and vice versa).44 However, no Egyptian temples
are known in the Levant during this period,45 especially not
after Babylonian rule and destruction of rebelling kingdoms.46
So, if Psammetichus conducted a journey of pilgrimage (not
stated in the text), it was to non-Egyptian temples,47 a fact
that strengthens a claim of sovereignty over the Levant by
the Egyptians. Furthermore, nowhere is it stated that
Psammetichus went specically to Byblos for pilgrimage, as
maintained by so many scholars, let alone by ship. The verb
used for the advancement of Pharaoh in Kharu is described
by the verb na. This verb can be written with the determinative

Spalinger, The Concept of the Monarchy during the Saite Epoch, 23.
42

See above and Ephhal, Nebuchadnezzar the Warrior, 178-189.


43
44 Cf. Piankhy Stela, l. 103. Grimal, La stle triomphale de Pi(ankh)y, 132-3. Cf.

the pilgrimage and rituals that were conducted by Cambyses after conquering
Egypt as recorded on the statue inscription of Udjahorresnet. See: Lichtheim,
Ancient Egyptian Literature III, 36-41. See also E. Bickerman, The Edict of Cyrus
in Ezra 1, 92-97.
45 Wimmer, (No) More Egyptian Temples in Canaan and Sinai. In the exca-

vations of Eqron a sistrum was unearthed with a short inscription mentioning


Amun-Re, lord of the thrones of the two lands, preeminent in the Holy Mountain
at the Horns of the Earth. This cultic piece was attributed by the excavator
Gitin, Ekron of the Philistines, 41 to the 26th Dyn. stratum and could suggest
Egyptian cultic activity in Eqron. However, Redford, Taharqa in Western Asia
and Libya, *191, n. 12 dates this sistrum correctly to the 25th Dyn.
46 Schipper, Israel und gypten, 243, n. 282.
47 For possible Egyptian inuence on the cult of the temple in Judah, see:

Malamat, History of Biblical Israel, Ch. 16, 316-317.


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some remarks on the foreign policy of psammetichus ii 151

P1 (A), to describe advancement by ship, but the scribe


chose to use the determinative D 54 (V), thus losing the abil-
ity to determine whether Pharaoh advanced by land or by
sea.48 Logically, it is inconceivable that Pharaoh sailed to
Byblos, which must have been in Babylonian controlled ter-
ritory. But for arguments sake, let us assume that Byblos
was independent and pro-Egyptian oriented. Would Pharaoh
sail without an army on a pilgrimage to far-away Lebanon,
risking his life at sea, and even more if needed to land on
hostile Babylonian controlled shores because of bad weather,
to arrive in the pro-Egyptian enclave of Byblos, and be cut
o from Egypt by the Babylonian forces, just to worship an
alleged form of Osiris in Byblos, when he could worship
Osiris in Egypt in all safety?
One should conclude that Pharaoh did not go on a peaceful pil-
grimage tour, if Kharu was not under his control prior to his
voyage. Either Zedekiah still adhered to Nebuchadnezzars orders
in 593 and arrived in Babylon to explain his recent actions, or
control in the Levant must have passed from the Babylonians to
the Egyptians during Zedekiahs sojourn in Babylon at the earliest,
or otherwise we must conclude that Zedekiah was a servant of two
masters at the same time.49 Thus, 592 B.C. seems to be the date
of the military reconquest50 of the Levant by Psammetichus II.
The warlike nature of Psammetichus advancement in Kharu was
noticed by Grith,51 Alt,52 Yoyotte53 and Greenberg.54 These stud-
ies (except for Yoyotte) were published before the discovery of
Psammetichus stelae or without knowledge of this publication
describing his war against Kush in his third regnal year, and they
based their reconstruction on Papyrus Rylands 9 and Herodotus II
161, which reverse the order of events. It is clear that Psammetichus II

48 Wb II 206, 7 (by sea) and 206, 11 (by land).


49 Cf. the case of Aziru. Singer, Appendix III a Concise History of Amurru,
148-158. However, according to the biblical sources Zedekiah was not a cunning
king.
50 Psammetichus was described as w Styw victor over the Asiatics on a base

of a Sphinx of Psammetichus. See Gauthier, Un monument nouveau du roi


Psamtik II; Sauneron and Yoyotte, La campange nubienne de Psammtique II, 196,
n. 1 proposes to read St as Ssmt, a place name in Nubia.
51 Grith, Catalogue of the Demotic Papyri, 93.
52 Alt, Psammetich II.
53 Yoyotte, Sur le voyage asiatique de Psammetique II.
54 Greenberg, Ezekiel 17 and the Policy of Psammetichus II.
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152 danel kahn

campaigned against Kharu in his fourth regnal year and shortly


after his return fell ill and eventually died in his sixth regnal year.55
No further activities of his in foreign lands are known.
Zedekiah was accused by Ezekiel that he breached the treaty
with Babylonia and requested protection from Egypt (Ezekiel 17).56
It is not stated when exactly Zedekiah rebelled and switched alliances.
II Kings 24:20 laconically mentions that Zedekiah rebelled against
the king of Babylon. In the following sentence, II Kings 25:1, the
date of the Babylonian arrival is given as the ninth year of his
(Zedekiahs) reign, in the tenth month, in the tenth day of the
month (= 6 January 587),57 Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came,
he and all his army, against Jerusalem, and encamped against it.
From the textual proximity between the rebellion and the arrival
of the Babylonian army, it was understood that the Babylonians
immediately reacted to the rebellion and arrived within months, as
can already be seen in Josephus Flavius, Antiquities of the Jews, X
108: Now when Zedekiah had preserved the league of mutual
assistance he had made with the Babylonians for eight years, he
broke it, and revolted to the Egyptians, in hopes, by their assis-
tance, of overcoming the Babylonians. When the king of Babylon
knew this, he made war against him. Josephus based this infor-
mation on II Kings 24:20-25:7, calculated that Zedekiah was loyal
8 years and rebelled in his ninth regnal year. In recent scholarship
the rebellion was connected to the accession of Apries to the throne
of Egypt in 588, several months before the arrival of the Babylonians.
This date has been proven to be wrong and should be dated to
10 February 589,58 two years before the arrival of the Babylonians.
Furthermore, the Policy of Apries did not dier from Psammetichus IIs

55 Psammetichus illness is connected by Herodotus II 161 to the campaign to

Kush (which occurred in year 3) and according to P. Rylands 9 col 15.8 .


Psammetichus fell ill after his campaign in Kharu. Padiese returned to t y-w
and on his way he heard that Pharaoh was ill. He hurried to the house of Pharaoh
to complain that he lost his job and income, but could not address his complaint
to the king. It seems dicult to imagine that an unemployed and mistreated priest
would wait two years to turn to the king for justice. (cf. Padiese III who waited
7 months until his complaint was heard, this amount of time is not mentioned
in the days of Psammetichus II). Psammetichus IIs death is dated to 10 February
589 B.C. See: Leahy, The Adoption of Ankhnesneferibre at Karnak, 157.
56 Greenberg, Ezekiel 17 and the Policy of Psammetichus II.
57 According to Parker and Duberstein, Babylonian Chronology, 28.
58 Leahy, The Adoption of Ankhnesneferibre at Karnak, 157.
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some remarks on the foreign policy of psammetichus ii 153

policy towards the Levant, as was demonstrated above. Apries too


tried to powerfully intervene in Palestine and come to the aid of
Judah against the Babylonians ( Jeremiah, 36:8). A reason and date
for Zedekiahs defection, other than the demise of Psametichus II
should be sought.
It seems that Zedekiah changed his loyalty in 592 B.C. on the
occasion of the Egyptian military campaign to Kharu,59 Egypt
seemed again at the peek of power after destroying her southern
foe and campaigning in the Levant; Babylonia, on the other hand,
did not set foot in the area for several years and was occupied in
quelling internal strife. Zedekiah could not have known that
Psammetichus would fall ill immediately after returning home from
his campaign. Apries, his successor, basically did not deviate from
the foreign policy of his predecessors in the Levant. The Babylonian
belated response to the Judean rebellion (and to the rebellion in
Tyre) shows that Babylonia did not recover from internal strife until
late 588, when it nally could respond to the rebellion in the West.60
Perhaps Assyriologists may detect in legal, administrative and royal
texts evidence for this Babylonian weakness during Nebuchadnezzars
second decade.

Abbreviations

AfO Archiv fr Orientforschung


BAR Biblical Archaeology Review
BSFE Bulletin de la Societ franaise dgyptologie
FHN I Eide et al., Fontes Historiae Nubiorum, Vol. I
IEJ Israel Exploration Journal
JAOS Journal of the American Oriental Society
JBL Journal of Biblical Literature
VT Vetus Testamentum
ZAW Zeitschrift fr die Alttestamentlische Wissenschaft

59 Freedy and Redford, The Dates in Ezekiel, 480, n. 100; Alt, Psammetich II.,

294, n. 2.
60 Cf. the campaign of Sargon II against Samaria in his second year; the third

campaign of Sennacherib in 701, four years after Sargon IIs death; the campaign
of Ashurbanipal against Egypt in 667, two years after the death of Esarhaddon
on his way to Egypt to quell a rebellion. Cf. Ephhal, On Warfare and Military
Control, 96-99.
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154 danel kahn

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