286 UNIVERSAL HISTORY- THE ANCIENT WORLD.
er, being deposed as a usurper. Before reaching his own country, Necho fell upon the
strong fortress of Gaza, next to Ashdod, the principal town of Philistia, and carried it
after a siege.
Nabopolassar was now (B. C. 60S) in the last year of his life. Alarmed by the loss of
Syria, he determined to recover what Necho had taken from him. After the army was raised
and equipped, however, the aged king found himself unable to conduct the expedition, and
so the command was given to his son, Nebuchadnezzar. This prince had already had
considerable experience in war, and had shown tokens of the distinguished career which
awaited him. He pushed boldly into Upper Syria, where at Carchemish the Egyptians had
established themselves in full force to hold the country. Here they were attacked by the
Babylonian army and were completely melted away.
Nebuchadnezzar proceeded to the West, meeting no further opposition. He paused for a short
time in Palestine, where he received the submission of Jehoiakim, whom Necho had set up,
and then continued his triumphant course to the gateway of Egypt. Doubtless the Pharaoh
would have paid dearly for his recent ambitions but for the news which here reached
Nebuchadnezzar of his father's death. Without delay, the king, fearing that some rival
might usurp the throne of Babylon, gave orders for his army to retrace its course into
Upper Syria, an<l himself, with a detachment, made all speed by the nearest route across
the desert to the capital.
In Babylon, however, everything was quiet. After the death of Nabopolassar, the priests,
loyal to the son, had assumed the Conduct of affairs until the prince might return from
the borders of Egypt. He had a triumphant reception, and was peacefully established on the
throne of the Empire. His accession, in B. C. 604, marks the era of Babylonian greatness.
Whether we regard the vigor and success of his wars, or the glory of his capital, or his
prestige as a civil ruler, his reign must be considered one of the most illustrious of
ancient history. It was at this time that the great palaces and temples arose, that the
were built, that the Hanging Gardens were reared for the Median wife of the king. It is
hardly too much to say that the chief renown .of the Babylonians as a nation is referable
in a large degree to the personal energy and kingcraft and warcraft of Nebuchadnezzar.
To Josephus and other Jewish historians we are indebted for the best accounts of the wars
of this period. The contemporaneous records of Babylonia furnish but scanty and imperfect
materials from which to gather any extended account of the military movements of the time.
It is to be assumed that most of the campaigns of Nebuchadnezzar were carried on to the
West-into Syria, Palestine, Phoenicia, Egypt. It was from this direction that he was
provoked in his boyhood, and the restless peoples spreading out towards Syria and the
Mediterranean were in a state of turbulence most likely to continue the provocation. On
the side of the Medes and Persians not much trouble was to be anticipated. His wife was a
sister of Astyages,an4 Cyrus had not yet appeared on the stage. These circumstances gave
peace on one side of the Empire, and on the other, war. The Jewish historians had good
reason to recount the devastations wrought by the great king's armies.
For the first six years the reign of Nebuchadnezzar was but little disturbed. The first
important insurrection was the revolt of Tyre, the chief city of the Phoenicians. About
the same time, Jehoiakim, king of Judah-doubtless calling to mind the fact that he owed
his own sovereignty to Pharaoh Necho, the rival of the king of Babylon, and believing that
the Egyptians would come to his aid-revolted and took up arms. It was to punish these
Phoenician and Jewish rebels that Nebuchadnezzar undertook the first great campaign after
his accession. He invested Tyre, but that strong city proved for a long time impregnable.
So the king, without desisting from the siege, divided his forces, and with one division
proceeded against Jerusalem. To the last moment Jehoiakim relied upon the Egyptians to
come to his aid, but the Pharaoh held aloof, and his self-constituted