Cyrus had planned the subjugation of this country, and that, at his death, he had bequeathed to his son the duty of punishing Ahmes for joining Crœsus and Nabonidus in a league against him. A second reason for undertaking this enterprise was that the king of Egypt had shown a good degree of vigour and prudence in the recent past. He had compelled the island of Cyprus to pay him tribute, and contracted an alliance with the Greeks of Cyrene and Polycrates the tyrant of Samos, thus threatening Persian dominance in Asia Minor. Finally, there was the Achæmenid lust for dominion, which only the conquest of the world could satisfy.
The immediate cause of the breach between the two powers is unknown. Whatever it may have been, it must have arisen early in the reign of Cambyses, for by 526 B.C. he was ready for the conflict. In that year he set in motion his army, which, as it neared Egypt, was supported by a fleet of Greek, Cyprian, and Phœnician vessels that had been collected at Akka.
The Jews must have been deeply interested in this expedition, and equally impressed by its magnitude, as it passed through Palestine. If any of them were disposed to disparage its strength, they were speedily disillusioned, for at Pelusium Cambyses routed the Egyptian army, and shortly afterward, at Memphis, he captured Psammeticus III, the son and successor of Ahmes, thus completing the conquest of the country.
There is wide disagreement among the authorities with reference to the treatment of the Egyptians and their religion by the conqueror. A nearly contemporary record, the inscription on the statue of Uzahor, says that, when Cambyses had established himself in Egypt, he took an Egyptian prænomen, Mesut-ra, received instruction in the religion of the country, recognised the goddess Neit by purging her temple, restoring its revenues and worship-
- Herodotus, ii, 126.
- Herodotus, ii, 181.
- Herodotus, iii, 39 ff.
- For the stories with reference to the subject current in the fifth century B.C., cf. Herodotus, iii, 1 ff.
- Prášek, GMP., i, 252. There is difference of opinion with reference to the date. Brugsch (Hist., ii, 312 ff.) insists that the invasion of Egypt took place in 527 B.C., but Wiedemann (GÄ., 226 ff.) seems to have shown that he misread Serapeum 354, the inscription on which his conclusion was based. Petrie, HE., iii, 360, supports Wiedemann. Duncker's (HA., vi, 145) date is 525 B.C.
- Herodotus, iii, 10 ff.