Page:A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi and Jonah.djvu/49

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Cambyses, they made any attempt to complete the temple or even to put their city into a defensible condition. If there are any psalms or other literary remains of the period in the Old Testament, they cannot, for obvious reasons, be distinguished from those of the latter part of the reign of Cyrus.

The reckless ways of Cambyses in Eygpt made the name of Persia hated in that country. The murder of his own brother, Bardes, which he had hitherto succeeded in concealing, now bore fruit in the alienation of his own people by the impostor Gomates, who seized the throne of Persia and proclaimed himself the missing son of Cyrus. When the news reached Egypt the king, although he at first shrank from a contest in which success, however he achieved it, meant lasting infamy, at length, by the urgent advice of his counsellors, put himself at the head of his army and started for Persia. When he reached Syria, however, his courage failed him, and, calling together the nobles who attended him, he first confessed the assassination of Bardes and appealed to them to dethrone the usurper, and then committed suicide.[1] Thus, the Jews must have been among the first to learn of an event of the greatest significance for them and their interests.


Cambyses, who had no son, was finally succeeded by Darius Hystaspes, representing a collateral branch of the Achæmenids. The story of the method by which he obtained the crown, as given by Herodotus,[2] is full of romantic details. The new king himself, in the inscription already cited, gives this concise and simple account of the matter:

"There was not a man, either Persian or Median, or any one of our family, who could dispossess of the empire this Gomates, the Magian. The State feared him exceedingly. He slew many people who had known the old Bardes; for this reason he slew the people, lest they should recognise him as
  1. The statement of Herodotus (Hist., iii, 64), that the death of the king was accidental, is contradicted by the Behistun inscription, in which Darius says expressly that "Cambyses, killing himself, died." RP.2, i, 114.
  2. Hist., iii, 71 ff.