Necho II of Egypt was a king of the 26th Dynasty, which ruled out of Saite. Necho undertook a number of construction projects across his kingdom. In his reign, according to the Greek historian Herodotus, Necho II sent out an expedition of Phoenicians, which in three years sailed from the Red Sea around Africa to the Strait of Gibraltar and back to Egypt, his son, Psammetichus II, upon succession may have removed Necho's name from monuments. Necho played a significant role in the histories of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, the Neo-Babylonian Empire and the Kingdom of Judah. Necho II is most the pharaoh mentioned in several books of the Bible; the aim of the second of Necho's campaigns was Asiatic conquest, to contain the westward advance of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, cut off its trade route across the Euphrates. However, the Egyptians were defeated by the unexpected attack of the Babylonians and were expelled from Syria; the Egyptologist Donald B. Redford observed that although Necho II was "a man of action from the start, endowed with an imagination beyond that of his contemporaries, Necho had the misfortune to foster the impression of being a failure."
Necho II was the son of Psammetichus I by his Great Royal Wife Mehtenweskhet. His prenomen or royal name Wahem-Ib-Re means "Carrying out Heart Re." Upon his ascension, Necho was faced with the chaos created by the raids of the Cimmerians and the Scythians, who had not only ravaged Asia west of the Euphrates, but had helped the Babylonians shatter the Assyrian Empire. That once mighty empire was now reduced to the troops and nobles who had gathered around a general holding out at Harran, who had taken the throne name of Ashur-uballit II. Necho attempted to assist this remnant upon his coronation, but the force he sent proved to be too small, the combined armies were forced to retreat west across the Euphrates. In the spring of 609 BC, Necho led a sizable force to help the Assyrians. At the head of a large army, consisting of his mercenaries, Necho took the coast route Via Maris into Syria, supported by his Mediterranean fleet along the shore, proceeded through the low tracts of Philistia and Sharon.
He prepared to cross the ridge of hills which shuts in on the south the great Jezreel Valley, but here he found his passage blocked by the Judean army. Their king, sided with the Babylonians and attempted to block his advance at Megiddo, where a fierce battle was fought and Josiah was killed. Herodotus reports the campaign of the pharaoh in his Histories, Book 2:159: Necho soon captured Kadesh on the Orontes and moved forward, joining forces with Ashur-uballit and together they crossed the Euphrates and laid siege to Harran. Although Necho became the first pharaoh to cross the Euphrates since Thutmose III, he failed to capture Harran, retreated back to northern Syria. At this point, Ashur-uballit vanished from history, the Assyrian Empire was conquered by the Babylonians; the Second Book of Kings states that Necho met King Josiah of the Kingdom of Judah at Megiddo and killed him. Leaving a sizable force behind, Necho returned to Egypt. On his return march, he found that the Judeans had selected Jehoahaz to succeed his father Josiah, whom Necho deposed and replaced with Jehoiakim.
He brought Jehoahaz back to Egypt as his prisoner. The Babylonian king was planning on reasserting his power in Syria. In 609 BC, King Nabopolassar captured Kumukh, which cut off the Egyptian army based at Carchemish. Necho responded the following year by retaking Kumukh after a four-month siege, executed the Babylonian garrison. Nabopolassar gathered another army. However, Nabopolassar's poor health forced him to return to Babylon in 605 BC. In response, in 606 BC the Egyptians attacked the leaderless Babylonians. At this point, the aged Nabopolassar passed command of the army to his son Nebuchadnezzar II, who led them to a decisive victory over the Egyptians at Carchemish in 605 BC, pursued the fleeing survivors to Hamath. Necho's dream of restoring the Egyptian Empire in the Middle East as had occurred under the New Kingdom was destroyed as Nebuchadnezzar conquered Egyptian territory from the Euphrates to the Brook of Egypt down to Judea. Although Nebuchadnezzar spent many years in his new conquests on continuous pacification campaigns, Necho was unable to recover any significant part of his lost territories.
For example, when Ashkalon rose in revolt, despite repeated pleas the Egyptians sent no help, were able to repel a Babylonian attack on their eastern border in 601 BC. When he did repel the Babylonian attack, Necho managed to capture Gaza while pursuing the enemy. Necho turned his attention in his remaining years to forging relationships with new allies: the Carians, further to the west, the Greeks. At some point during his Syrian campaign, Necho II initiated but never completed the ambitious project of cutting a navigable canal from the Pelusiac branch of the Nile to the Red Sea. Necho's Canal was the earliest precursor of the Suez Canal, it was in connection with a new activity that Necho founded a new city of Per-Temu Tjeku which translates as'The House of Atum of Tjeku' at the site now known as Tell el-Maskhuta, about 15 km west of Ismailia. The waterway was intended to facilitate trade between the Indian Ocean. Necho formed an Egyptian navy by recruiting di
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