Watchman's Teaching Letter #71 March 2004
This is my seventy-first monthly teaching letter and continues my sixth year of publication. In the last lesson we discussed the “sin unto death” which is the sin of race-mixing. When a White commits miscegenation, he/she is literally shaking his/her fist in the face of the Almighty. This is also true for anyone who promotes “universalism” in any way, shape or form! We will now continue on a topic which would rank at the same level of seriousness. Most of us have the very bad habit of believing almost everything we hear or read! All the speaker or writer need to do is somehow make his ideas sound reasonable and wrap them up in an attractive package. Amazingly, some of the most intellectually inclined people seem not to be exempt from this detrimental influence. On trivial matters a misjudgment may not be so damaging, but on weighty topics an erroneous premise can cause injury beyond all comprehension. Once such incorrect concepts are set into motion, they can be as damaging as nature’s severest disasters; floods, tornadoes, hurricanes and earthquakes. All this simply by not checking one’s premise. When such faulty conclusions are applied to Biblical matters, one can begin to imagine the detrimental consequences that can be produced. With the next few lessons, we are going to explore some consequences of these terribly unsound premises. This issue will start with the topic of Herodotus.
While some proclaim Herodotus as the “father of history”, others label him “the father of lies.” To show you why Herodotus was originally called the “father of lies”, I will quote The Portable Greek Historians, edited by M. I. Finley in the introduction on pages 6-7:
“... Herodotus was no philosopher, he was not even a systematic thinker; but he was no less sensitive than the sophists and the tragedians to the great moral issues, and he made a unique contribution to the discussion. He found a moral justification for Athenian dominance in the role she had played in the Persian Wars, and he sought to capture that story and fix it before its memory was lost.
“Herodotus had a most subtle mind, and the story he told was complex, full of shadings and paradoxes and qualifications. In traditional religion, for example, he stood somewhere between outright skepticism and the murky piety of Aeschylus. His political vision was Athenian and democratic, but it lacked any trace of chauvinism. He was committed, but not for one moment did that release him from the high obligation of understanding. His great [re]discovery was that one could uncover moral problems and moral truths in history, in the concrete data of experience, in a discourse which was neither freely imaginative like that of the poets nor abstract like that of the philosophers. That is what history meant to Herodotus; nothing could be more wrongheaded than the persistent and seemingly indestructible legend of Herodotus the charmingly naive storyteller.
“It did not follow as a self-evident and automatic consequence that the new discovery was at once welcomed or that histories and historians arose on all sides to advance the new discipline. The Athenians appreciated Herodotus, obviously, and yet a full generation was to elapse before anyone thought it a good idea to write a complete history of Athens, and even then the step was taken by a foreigner, Hellanicus of Lesbos, and he was an annalist, a chronicler, not a historian, and he continued to repeat the traditional myths alongside more recent, verifiable history. Other Greeks naturally resented the phil-Athenianism of Herodotus and his version of their role in the Persian Wars, but they did not rush to reply by writing their own histories. They objected and they challenged a detail here and there, and they eventually pinned the label ‘Father of Lies’ to him, a late echo of which can still be read in Plutarch’s essay On the Malice of Herodotus.”
Before Herodotus, there was what was called “the heroic age” which consisted mostly of legend which was passed on in the form of myths. It would be somewhat like the myth of Odin. Except we now know there was a real Scandinavian-Saxon Odin, and he appears in the British Royal Line. So with the Greeks we cannot be sure if the legends are true historical characters or simply religious myths. Herodotus was dubbed the “father of lies” because other Greeks naturally resented his moral justification for Athenian dominance in the role she had played in the Persian Wars. The “other Greeks” being those many who thought Sparta, or Corinth, or Thebes, should have had the hegemony of Greece. As a result of that original political accusation against Herodotus, people all down through history continue unwittingly to make that same uncalled-for incrimination against him (even in the Israel Identity Message today). And it is at this point where the charge becomes serious! (Again, I would remind the reader that I do not fully agree with all the sources I quote from, but utilize such in order to show the otherwise valuable information they contain.)
There are so very many things that we need to know about Herodotus, it can’t be told in a short space, and we will have to fill in all those things as we go along. I will now quote from the book The World Of Herodotus by Aubrey de Sélincourt under “Biographical”, page 28: “Little is known of Herodotus’ life, his birth-place was Halicarnassus, the modern Bodrum, originally a Carian town on the south-west coast of Asia Minor; it was later occupied by Dorian emigrants from Troezene, and became in time, like the other Greek settlements on the eastern coast of the Aegean ...”
For another very concise narrative on Herodotus, I will quote The Portable Greek Historians, edited by M. I. Finley, pages 27-28:
“Halicarnassus in Asia Minor, where Herodotus was born and reared, was a Greek settlement ruled by a Carian dynasty under the higher suzerainty of the Persian king ... and the name of one of Herodotus’ kinsmen, the poet Panyassis, indicates that his family, too, though Greek in its culture and aristocratic in status, had a Carian strain. Herodotus’ partiality for the Carian queen Artemisia is familiar to every reader of the History; she is presented as the most sensible and most effective of Xerxes’ advisers in Greece. [M. I. Finley rushes to claim that Herodotus may be part Carian, due to the name of a single relative. This statement is somewhat reckless indeed!]
“Herodotus was born in the 480s B.C., too late to have any significant personal memories of the Persian Wars. When he was a young man his family was forced to leave Halicarnassus for political reasons and they settled on the island of Samos, which became his second home. By the time he was forty he had completed much of the research for the book he originally planned, a geographic and ethnographic survey of a large part of the ‘barbarian’ world. Not only had he travelled fairly widely in Asia Minor and the Aegean islands, but he had visited Egypt, the coasts of Syria and Phoenicia, Thrace, the edge of the Scythian territory north of the Black Sea, and eastern regions as far as Babylon (but not Persia proper). He travelled for information, not to explore, and therefore he concentrated on main centers such as Memphis and Babylon, and he seems to have moved quickly. His stay in Egypt, for example, can be fixed at a maximum of four months by his personal observations of the Nile flood.
“By the mid-440s Herodotus had moved to the Greek mainland, where he gave public readings from his work. In Athens, at least (and no doubt in other cities), he was acclaimed officially, though whether by some purely honorific gesture or by a more material reward is unknown. There, too, where he became acquainted with the Periclean circle and made a friend of Sophocles, he was inspired to transform his book into a history of the Persian Wars. And again he began to travel in search of material, inspecting battle sites and routes, visiting Sparta, Thebes, Delphi, and other key Greek centers, and going as far north as Macedonia. How long he was occupied in this way is not known, nor is the date when (or the reason why) he migrated to Thurii on the Gulf of Tarentum in southern Italy, a Panhellenic settlement founded in 443 under the sponsorship of Pericles.
“Presumably he spent the final years of his life in the west, writing his book and occasionally making short trips in Italy and Sicily and once to Cyrene in North Africa. The exact date of his death is also unknown, but it is demonstrable that, just as his life began in the final years of the Persian Wars, it closed early in the Peloponnesian War, which broke out in 431. There is no reference in the History to anything that occurred after 430 and there are things which he could hardly have said (or failed to say) after 424. The probability is that his death occurred nearer 430 than 424. His book was published in the 420s, soon after his death, most likely. All the details regarding the publication are unknown, and that is the final uncertainty in this short list of probabilities and possibilities which constitutes everything we know about the life of Herodotus.”
BACK TO THE BOOK OF DANIEL
Actually, Herodotus lived during a period of time when key parts of Daniel’s prophecies were in the process of being fulfilled! Not only Daniel’s prophecies, but Amos 9:9 which says: “For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth.” That word “sift” means to move. So wherever the House of Israel would be found, they would be on the move. Unlike the remnant of Judah that returned to Jerusalem, Yahweh placed a hedge in the way to prevent the House of Israel from returning to Palestine again. Though a few tried, in the end, it was aborted.
1 Kings 14:9-10 says (ASV): “9 But [the house of Israel] hast done evil above all that were before thee, and hast gone and made thee other gods, and molten images, to provoke me to anger, and hast cast me behind thy back: 10 Therefore, behold, I will bring evil upon the house of Jeroboam, and will cut off from Jeroboam every man-child, him that is shut up and him that is left at large in Israel, and will utterly sweep away the house of Jeroboam, as a man sweepeth away dung, till it be all gone.”
While the House of Israel was taken into Assyrian captivity and was to be sifted among the nations, Hosea 2:5-7 proclaims she will be prevented from finding her way back: “5 For their mother hath played the harlot: she that conceived them hath done shamefully: for she said, I will go after my lovers, that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink. 6 Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths. 7 And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but shall not find them: then shall she say, I will go and return to my first husband; for then was it better with me than now.”
THE IMPORTANCE OF WITNESSES
We are instructed at Deuteronomy 19:15 that all matters should be settled by two or three witnesses. We are also admonished that all false prophets are to be put to death. Therefore, all true prophets must be exonerated by at least two witnesses that the prophecy came, or will come to pass. Otherwise it constitutes a crime. The Gospel is witnessed by four witnesses, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John (a double set of witnesses). In the case of divine prophecy, the witnesses fall under the category of Anointed witnesses. We will now see that Herodotus became an Anointed witness that the House of Israel was indeed sifted among the nations. It was Herodotus’ witness to the location of the Scythian Israelites which becomes so important, especially in our present day.
We will now use documentation on this subject from The World Of Herodotus by Aubrey de Sélincourt, end of chapter 19 “The Accession of Darius”, pages 235-237:
“The Persian empire, as it was left by Cyrus and Cambyses, was now once again reduced to order; but the trouble about a career of conquest is, that it never knows when or where to stop. While Darius’ eastern campaigns were still going on, he had already become involved in European affairs with his intervention in Samos after the murder of Polycrates. I have already pointed out how important to Persia, as previously to Lydia, was the control of the Greek settlements on the Anatolian coast. Darius possessed this control, but there was always the risk of trouble so long as their kinsmen on the Greek mainland remained independent. It was therefore inevitable that the thoughts of Darius should turn towards Greece. Herodotus, in his usual way, finds the immediate cause of the Persian attempt to extend its power towards the west in the action of an individual. There was a Greek doctor named Democedes, a native of Crotona in southern Italy, who after a distinguished career as a state-paid practitioner in Aegina and Athens had been employed at a high salary by Polycrates in Samos. After Polycrates’ death, he had been dragged to the mainland and lived in great misery until Darius, who had heard of his skill, sent for him to treat his ankle which had been badly sprained and was being made daily worse by the attentions of his Egyptian doctors. Democedes quickly effected a cure and was richly rewarded by the King, given a large house in Susa and invited to dine regularly at the royal table. But, being a Greek, he was not satisfied: there was one thing he desired more than riches – to return to his native town. A little later Atossa, Darius’ wife, developed an abscess on her breast, and Democedes promised to cure it if she, in her turn, promised to give him whatever he asked for. The queen consented, the cure was effected, and Democedes demanded his reward: this was that Atossa should inflame Darius’ ambition for further conquest, and that the first objective should be Greece – for she had heard about Greece (so she was instructed to say) and coveted the girls of Sparta and Athens and Corinth for her attendants. He – Democedes – could obviously be of the greatest use in this new venture, because knowing the country he could act as guide to the Persian forces. The ruse succeeded, at least so far as Democedes was concerned; for two ships were fitted out, manned with a number of Persian officers, and, with Democedes as guide and pilot, sailed for the west. Having coasted the Greek mainland, the reconnaissance vessels continued westward until they reached Tarentum in Italy, where a friend of Democedes removed the ships’ steering-gear as they lay in harbour, arrested the Persians as spies and enabled the doctor to get safely away to Crotona. The Persian officers were then permitted to sail away, but there were still adventures awaiting them: they were wrecked on the coast of Iapygia and sold as slaves, but later ransomed and allowed to return to Susa, where they certainly had a story to tell the King.
“Darius did not act immediately upon the information, such as it was, which this preliminary reconnaissance – the first ever made by Persia of the Grecian coasts – afforded him. He had another plan in mind, larger in scope, but almost certainly directed to the same ultimate purpose, namely the subjugation of Greece. This was the invasion and conquest of Scythia. Herodotus represents this undertaking as a mere interlude – though on a great scale – and as something of an aberration on the part of the otherwise extremely competent Darius; actually, however, the attempt was based upon sound and far-seeing strategy, though doomed to fail by the nature of the country and of the people, about which Darius had insufficient information. The Greeks were a maritime people, and nearly all their grain was imported by sea from abroad, and they possessed no native-grown timber suitable for shipbuilding. If, therefore, Darius could take from the rear the thickly wooded Balkan countries from which Greece drew her timber, he would thereby deal her a crippling blow. Moreover, control of the Hellespont (the Dardanelles) would enable him to stop the Greek wheat convoys sailing from the Black Sea, and, finally, the subjugation of Scythia (southern Russia) would give him control of the routes by which gold passed in transit from the mines in Siberia and the Urals. And so it was that about the year 515 B.C., he bridged the Hellespont and marched his army off on this hazardous adventure.”
Again I will quote from The World Of Herodotus by Aubrey de Sélincourt, chapter 20, pages 238-245:
“Ancient Scythia was an enormous territory ... To the east it was broken by mountains – the Altai range, the Pamirs, the Tien Shan; the Urals divided the Asiatic section from the European. The whole vast area, except the actual mountains, was natural grassland, or steppe, interrupted in the east by patches of desert not extensive enough to prevent intercommunication between the various tribes. ... For a brief period in their history – twenty-eight years, according to Herodotus – in the latter part of the seventh century B.C., they looked like changing their ways, for after a victory in war over the Cimmerians they swarmed southward in pursuit of the enemy, established themselves in northern Iran, occupied Urartu, and controlled territory as far west as the river Halys, the eastern boundary of the old Lydian kingdom ...
“In spite of the fact that the Scythians were a typically nomad race, some of their tribes in the neighbourhood of the Black Sea were agricultural, and a large part of the Greek supply of grain was imported from those regions. There was also a body of trade between the Scythians and the Greek Black Sea settlements in other commodities, such as honey, milk, meat, furs, hides and salt. Slaves, too, were brought into the Greek communities from Scythia – presumably enemies whom the Scythians had captured in war. This trade, of very considerable bulk, together with Scythian prowess in war and the memory of their brief but spectacular domination of Asia – and also, no doubt, the strangeness of many Scythian customs – led Herodotus to devote nearly three quarters of the fourth book of his history to his account of the country, very nearly as much as he devoted to Egypt. To equip himself for writing of this people, he went to Olbia, a Greek settlement on the mouths of the Bug and Dniester. The town was friendly with the Scythians and depended for its survival on trade with the Scythian world, and Herodotus, from this base, made his journeys, and asked his questions. There are scattered references to the Scythians in other classical authors, but the account of Herodotus is by far the richest and most detailed, and in the absence of any native Scythian literature, it remained the chief source of our knowledge until it was amplified, and in most cases confirmed, by modern archaeology and excavation.
“Herodotus was careful, as always, to distinguish in his account between what he observed with his own eyes, what he was told by reliable witnesses, and what was purely hearsay or local legend.
“It is, as we have seen, essential to Herodotus’ method to record, amongst sober facts, any sort of odd tale that chanced to come his way, such as the belief of the Issedones that somewhere in the distant north lived the one-eyed Arimaspians and the griffins that guard the gold, or the report of the Bald Men beyond the Argippaei that the mountains which shut them in were inhabited by a goat-footed race beyond which, still further to the northward, were men who slept for six months in the year. But such tales are tales, and Herodotus never offers them to the reader as anything else. As to his account of the way of life of the Scythians themselves, there is every reason to believe that it is substantially accurate; his careful and elaborate description of Scythian burials has been confirmed in almost every point by recent excavation, and, that being so, it is difficult not to believe in the general truth of the rest. [Note: Diodorus Siculus 2. 43. 5, lists the Arimaspi (as a Scythian tribe), better known by him and not as fantastical as Herodotus.]
“... It was the spade of the archaeologists which rediscovered them, and showed us (what Herodotus does not mention) that though they were an unlettered race and in most ways savage, they did have a not negligible art. Countless objects in bronze or gold have been recovered from Scythian tombs throughout the length of their vast territory, which are not without beauty and show an often admirable craftsmanship: plaques, belt buckles, weapons, necklets, horse-trappings, decorated shield-centres, constantly representing, in a somewhat stylised manner but with a vivid sense of life, the forms of birds and animals.
“A good deal of Herodotus’ account is concerned with the geography of the country; indeed, he devotes more space to geographical description, and speculation, here than in any other part of his history. He was fascinated by mere size – as in Egypt by the size of the temples and pyramids, as in Babylon by the mighty walls, so here in Scythia by the limitless expanse of plain, the vast unexplored mountain ranges in the east, and the great rivers, so far surpassing in majesty the Anatolian streams he had known in his boyhood. With an accuracy surprising in view of the resources at his disposal, he describes the rivers, with the courses they follow as far to the northward as his own travels or the reports of other men can trace them: the Ister (Danube) ‘mightiest river in the known world,’ which never varies, summer or winter, in the volume of its waters; the Borysthenes (Dnieper), second largest of Scythian rivers, providing the finest pasture, the best fish and the most excellent water, clear and bright, for drinking; the Hypanis (Bug) with its source in a lake about the margins of which wild white horses graze; the Tanais (Don), flowing from a lake far up-country into the Sea of Azov; all these together with their tributaries, he writes of with a delighted recognition of the wonder and richness of a world which to most of his contemporary Greeks was nothing but a darkness or a legend. Moreover it is in connection with his discussion of Scythia that Herodotus puts forward certain speculations about world geography, which are not without interest and certainly in advance of his time. He cannot help laughing, he says, about the absurdity of the map-makers, all of whom show ‘Ocean’ running like a river round a circular earth, with Asia and Europe of the same size. The idea of the ‘stream of Ocean’ he rejects outright, for the excellent reason that there is no evidence for it; Darius, by sending the Greek seaman Scylax down the Indus with orders to sail westward and explore the coast of the southern ocean as far as the Persian Gulf, had proved all Asia to be surrounded by sea with the exception of its easterly part – as to that, nothing was known. The land of the Hyperboreans in the distant north, ‘came’ according to a certain Aristeas of Marmora, ‘down to the sea.’ Similarly with Europe; never, says Herodotus, has he been able to meet anybody who could give him firsthand information of sea to the west and north of it – it might, indeed, be there, but there was no proof of it. He is also much better aware of the relative size of the continents of Asia, Europe and Libya than the map-makers apparently were; none the less he quite obviously enormously underrates the size of Libya (Africa) though his discussion of it is of great interest as it is here that he tells the story of its circumnavigation by Phoenician seamen during the reign of the Pharaoh Necho.
“As for the Scythians themselves, Herodotus admits at the outset that he has little admiration for them, as is natural in a cultivated Greek for whom the life of a nomad would be not far removed from savagery. There was, however, one thing about the Scythians which Herodotus tells us that he did indeed admire – their management of the most important problem in human affairs, their own preservation. This problem, he says, the Scythians solved better than anyone else on the face of the earth. No invader of Scythia could escape destruction; no hostile force could, unless the Scythians wished it, ever even come to grips with them. Without towns or settled dwellings, living in tents [at Hosea 12:9, “tents” = tabernacles] and waggons, dependent for food not upon agriculture but upon their cattle, these people, unless they wished to fight – and why should they? – could for ever give an invader the slip, luring him on deep into the heart of a strange country where, sooner or later, he would starve. And this, of course, was precisely what happened to Darius and his army of – reputedly – 700,000 men. No battle was fought; the Scythians, retreating before the advancing Persians, scorched the earth behind them, and Darius was compelled ignominiously to return home with nothing accomplished.
“Herodotus’ sense of history – a different thing from the collection of hstrongistorical facts by observation or report – is well illustrated in his account of the origins of Scythia. Here, as his custom was, he recorded the legends: first the native legend of Targitaus, who lived a thousand years before the coming of Darius, and of his three sons who disputed the sovereignty between them, until certain golden objects fell from heaven and blazed with fire until the youngest of the brothers stepped forward to lift them, and thus was recognised as King of the Royal Scythians, the other brothers going off to rule their separate tribes; then the Greek legend which made Scythes, son of Heracles and a viper maiden, the founder of the line of Scythian Kings; and, finally, another, and much more prosaic, account, which he declared to be the best. According to this, which is consonant with the general movement of peoples in prehistoric times, the Scythians came into the steppe as a result of the pressure of various migrating tribes (all of which Herodotus names) moving, one on the heels of another, from the east and north in search of territory. It is observations of this kind – passages in which the legends are duly quoted as matters of human interest and curiosity, and then relegated to their proper place – which perhaps as much as any others indicate the sheer historical ability and grasp of Herodotus, and incidentally invite the reader’s confidence in the details which he records of the lives and manners of strange peoples.
“Those details are, in the case of the Scythians, many and curious. The picture they compose is a barbaric and horrible one: the dedication to war, the scalping of enemies killed in battle, the drinking from cups made from their skulls, the sacrifice of prisoners to the War God, represented by an ancient iron sword set upon the top of an immense pile of brushwood and faggots a mile in circumference, the punishments by burning alive, the sealing of oaths by a draught of blood and wine, the hatred and suspicion of all foreigners, the savage self-mutilation of the mourners at the funeral of the King. Most gruesome of all is Herodotus’ description of the ceremony which used to take place a year after a royal burial: fifty of the dead king’s servants were strangled and their bodies gutted and stuffed, and fifty horses served in the same manner; the horses were then set up around the tomb on half-wheels fixed by stakes to the ground, bitted and bridled as in life, and the men by means of a stake driven upward through the neck were mounted upon the horses, and there the grisly circus was left until it crumbled away into dust. There is good reason to believe that this description is a true one, for everything else which Herodotus records about the royal burials (in which, too, other members of the King's household, concubines, butlers, cooks, grooms and so on, were strangled and buried with their master) is amply confirmed by recent excavation. There was, however, one kind of Scythian burial, and that not the least fruitful for modern archaeology, of which Herodotus does not seem to have heard: this was the ice-tomb, as found in recent years in considerable numbers in the Altai. The tomb was dug deep, the ground above it froze iron-hard, and a layer of boulders placed on the top prevented the earth from thawing out.
“Darius’ broad strategy in undertaking the invasion of Scythia was, as I have suggested, far-seeing and imaginative, but we can hardly suppose that he would have risked the venture had he been better informed of the nature of the country and of the Scythians themselves. The attempt was frustrated from the very beginning, as soon as he had crossed the Danube on the bridge of boats which had been constructed for him by his Ionian mercenaries. The Scythian horsemen led him on and on in an interminable and fruitless chase, until once, in desperation, Darius sent a message to the Scythian King. ‘Why on earth, my good sir,’ he said, ‘do you keep on running away? If you are strong enough, fight; if not, submit.’ ‘My lord of Persia,’ the King replied, ‘what I have been doing is precisely the kind of life I always lead, in peace as in war. Why should I fight, having nothing to defend – neither towns nor crops? But we acknowledge no master, so be damned to you.’ A few days later he sent Darius a present, not the gift of earth and water, sign of submission, which Darius had hoped for, but a bird, a mouse, a frog and five arrows. Darius, the wish being father to the thought, tried to interpret this puzzling present in a sense favourable to himself, but Gobryas, one of the seven lords who had conspired to kill the usurping Magus, was wiser. ‘My friends,’ he said, ‘unless you turn into birds and fly, or into mice and burrow in holes, or into frogs and jump into the lakes, you will never get home again and escape the Scythian arrows.’ So the weary march back to the Danube began.
“The Scythians seeing that the Persians had decided to abandon the enterprise, ordered a section of their forces to ride with all speed to the bridge on the Danube and to persuade the Greeks who were guarding it against Darius’ return to break it up, and so trap the Persian army in enemy country. In this way, it was urged, Ionia could regain its freedom. With the party at the bridge were a number of the leading men of the Asiatic Ionian towns, amongst them Miltiades the Athenian, then ruler of the Chersonese, and Histiaeus, the tyrant of Miletus. Miltiades urged his companions to fall in with the Scythian plan, but Histiaeus violently opposed him, pointing out that all of them owed their position of authority to the Persian control of Ionia. If the Greek cities of the coast should regain their independence from Persia, they – the ‘tyrants’ – would assuredly be thrown out and democratic regimes established. ‘And what,’ he said, ‘would be the good of that?’ It is a comment on Greek personal and political attitudes that Histiaeus carried the others with him, and the chance, obviously a good one, of destroying a large Persian army, and probably Darius himself, was deliberately given up. Darius and his forces, though not without difficulty, succeeded in evading the pursuit of the Scythians, and reached the bridge in safety. They then crossed into Thrace, marched to Sestos in the Chersonese and were ferried over the straits into Asia. ‘The Scythians,’ Herodotus remarks, ‘have a low opinion of the men of Ionia in consequence of all this: to consider them as a free people, they are, they say, the most despicable and craven in the world; and, considered as slaves, the most subservient to their masters and the least likely to run away.’ In human judgements quite a lot depends, it seems, upon the point of view.
“Herodotus greatly magnifies the importance of the failure of Darius’ Scythian adventure, for, all things considered, it was only a minor setback in the expansion and consolidation of the Persian empire. Possibly it was not even a setback, for the actual conquest of Scythia may never have been in Darius’ mind at all. It was the control of Thrace that he really needed, and of the Aegean coastline as much further westward as he could reach. In this object he was successful, for Megabazus, the officer he left in charge of his forces in Europe after his own return to Susa, completed the conquest of Thrace and extended Persian dominion as far as Macedonia and the river Strymon. If this is the true interpretation of Darius’ policy, then his crossing of the Danube may have been merely a diversion with the object of laying hands on the gold mines of Dacia ...”
Note: The Scythia which Herodotus discusses in his story of Darius’ conquest here is only that European portion north of Thrace and west of the Black Sea. Not even Herodotus could imagine that conquering this portion of Scythia would deliver the many other tribes of Scythian kin into Persian hands. The important object here is the reality that Herodotus witnessed to a people known as “Scythians.” But without understanding the Scythians are Israel, it’s only another story.