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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Cambyses

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(Καμβύσης, a Gracized form of the old Persic Kabujiya, a "bard," Rawlinson, Hercdotms, in, 455), the second Persian monarch of the name, was the son of Cyrus the Great (but by what mother is disputed), whom he succeeded, B.C. 530. In the fifth year of his reign he invaded Egypt, taking offense, according to Herodotus (3:1), at the refusal of Amasis, the father of Psammenitus, the then reigning Egyptian king, to give him his daughter in marriage; but the real cause of the campaign (comp. Herodotus, 1:77) was the ambition of Cambyses (see Dahlmann, Herod. p. 148) to accomplish the design of his father in recovering this portion of Nebuchadnezzar's conquests (see Jeremiah 43; Jeremiah 46; Ezekiel 29-32; comp. Newton, On the Prophecies, 1:357). (See CYRUS). Egypt was subdued, according to Ctesias, through treachery; according to Panteenus (7:9), by intrigue; but according to Herodotus, in a pitched battle, after which the whole country, as also the Cyrenians and Barcans, submitted to him. He proceeded to execute his design of reducing Ethiopia also, but was compelled to retreat for want of provisions, his attack on Carthage having likewise failed through the refusal of his Phoenician allies to co-operate with him against their own colony. He was thus defeated in his plans, which doubtless contemplated the securing to Persia the caravan trade of the Desert (Herod. 2:1; 3:1-26; Ctesias, Pers. 9; Justin. 1:9; comp. Heeren's African Nations, 1:6). Diodorus says, indeed, that he penetrated as far as Merob, and even founded that city, naming it after his mother; but this statement is equally incorrect (see Strabo, p. 790) with that of Josephus, who says he changed its name to Meroe in honor of his sister (Ant. 2:10, 2). The conduct of Cambyses after this exhibited the darkest character of tyranny to such an extent that the Egyptians, whom he ruled with an iron sway (comp. Isaiah 19:4), attributed to him madness as the punishment of his impiety, and even the Persians ever after styled him the "despot" (δεσπότης, Herod. 3:89). Indeed, he appears to have been subject to epileptic fits from his birth (Herod, 3:8), and his behavior evinced a violence of temper bordering upon frenzy.' He is said to have married his own sisters, and to have brutally killed one of them for bewailing the execution of his own brother Smerdis by his order. His atrocities provoked an insurrection, headed by one of the Magian priests, who assumed the name of the murdered prince "Smerdis" (q.v.); and, as Cambyses was marching to put down the pretender, he died at Ecbatana of an accidental wound in the thigh, B.C. 521, leaving no heir (Herod. 3:61sq. Ctesias, Excerpt. Pers., gives a somewhat different account of his end, and also makes his reign eighteen years; but Clemens Alexandrinus, Strom.1:895, says he reigned ten years). (See PERSIA). He is named Kabujiya on the Persian tablet of the Behistun inscription (Rawlinson, Herod.2:492,493). (See CUNEIFORM INSCRIPTIONS). His name also appears on the Egyptian monuments in a royal cartouch. (See HIEROGLYPHICS).

Cambyses is probably the "Ahasuerus" mentioned in Ezra 4:6, as the Persian king addressed by the enemies of the Jews for the purpose of frustrating the rebuilding of the Temple, B.C. 529. Josephus also calls this monarch Cambyses, the son of Cyrus, and he gives the correspondence between the king and his Syrian viceroys in detail (Ant. 11:2:1 and 2), which he has evidently blended with that which took place with his successor, the pseudo-Smerdis ("Artaxerxes," Ezra 4:7 sq.), since he does not name the latter, but only alludes to the usurpation of the Magians in the interval before the accession of Darius Hystaspis (ib. in, 1). (See AHASUERUS).


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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Cambyses'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tce/c/cambyses.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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