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Nebuchadnezzar II

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Nebuchadnezzar redirects here. For other uses, see Nebuchadnezzar (disambiguation).
King of Babylon
Nebukadnessar II.jpg
An engraving with an inscription of Nebuchadnezzar II. Anton Nystrm, 1901.[1]
Reign c. 605 c. 562 BC
Predecessor Nabopolassar
Successor Amel-Marduk
Born c. 634 BC
Died c. 562 BC (aged 71 or 72)
Father Nabopolassar
Nebuchadnezzar II (from Akkadian ?????????????? Nab-kudurri-u?ur,
Hebrew ????????????????, Modern Nivukdne?ar, Tiberian Nbukthn?ar), meaning O
god Nabu, preservedefend my firstborn son) was king of Babylon c. 605 BC c. 562
BC, the longest reign of any king of the Neo-Babylonian empire.[2]

Contents [hide]
1 Career
2 Portrayal in the Bible
3 Portrayal in medieval Muslim sources
4 See also
5 References
6 Bibliography
7 External links

Building Inscription of King Nebuchadnezar II at the Ishtar Gate. An abridged

excerpt says I (Nebuchadnezzar) laid the foundation of the gates down to the ground
water level and had them built out of pure blue stone. Upon the walls in the inner
room of the gate are bulls and dragons and thus I magnificently adorned them with
luxurious splendour for all mankind to behold in awe.

Detail of a terracotta cylinder of Nebuchadnezzar II, recording the building and

reconstruction works at Babylon. 604-562 BCE. From Babylon, Iraq, housed in the
British Museum
Nebuchadnezzar was the eldest son and successor of Nabopolassar, an Assyrian
official who rebelled and established himself as king of Babylon in 620 BC; the
dynasty he established ruled until 539 BC, when the Neo-Babylonian Empire was
conquered by Cyrus the Great.[3][4] Nebuchadnezzar is first mentioned in 607 BC,
during the destruction of Babylon's arch-enemy Assyria, at which point he was
already crown prince.[5] In 605 BC he and his ally Cyaxares, ruler of the Medes and
Persians, led an army against the Assyrians and Egyptians, who were then occupying
Syria, and in the ensuing Battle of Carchemish, Necho II was defeated and Syria and
Phoenicia were brought under the control of Babylon.[6]

Nabopolassar died in August 605 BC, and Nebuchadnezzar returned to Babylon to

ascend the throne.[7] For the next few years his attention was devoted to subduing
his eastern and northern borders, and in 5945 BC there was a serious but brief
rebellion in Babylon itself.[8] In 5943 BC the army was sent again to the west,
possibly in reaction to the elevation of Psammetichus II to the throne of Egypt.[8]
King Zedekiah of Judah attempted to organise opposition among the small states in
the region, but his capital, Jerusalem, was taken in 587 BC (the events are
described in the Bible's Books of Kings and Book of Jeremiah).[9] In the following
years Nebuchadnezzar incorporated Phoenicia and the former Assyrian provinces of
Cilicia (southwestern Anatolia) into his empire and may have campaigned in Egypt.
[10] In his last years Nebuchadnezzar seems to have begun behaving irrationally,
pay[ing] no heed to son or daughter, and was deeply suspicious of his sons.[11] The
kings who came after him ruled only briefly and Nabonidus, apparently not of the
royal family, was overthrown by the Persian conqueror Cyrus the Great less than
twenty-five years after Nebuchadnezzar's death.

The ruins of Nebuchadnezzar's Babylon are spread over two thousand acres, forming
the largest archaeological site in the Middle East.[12] He enlarged the royal
palace (including in it a public museum, possibly the world's first), built and
repaired temples, built a bridge over the Euphrates, and constructed a grand
processional boulevard (the Processional Way) and gateway (the Ishtar Gate)
lavishly decorated with glazed brick.[13] Each Spring equinox (the start of the New
Year) the god Marduk would leave his city temple for a temple outside the walls,
returning through the Ishtar Gate and down the Processional Way, paved with
coloured stone and lined with molded lions, amidst rejoicing crowds.[11]

Portrayal in the Bible[edit]

Daniel Interpreting Nebuchadnezzar's Dream

Nebuchadnezzar is an important character in the Book of Daniel, a collection of
legendary tales and visions dating from the 2nd century BC.[14] The consensus among
scholars is that Daniel never existed and was apparently chosen for the hero of the
book because of his traditional reputation as a wise seer.[15][16] Daniel 1
introduces Nebuchadnezzar as the king who takes Daniel and other Hebrew youths into
captivity in Babylon, there to be trained in the magical arts. Through the help of
God, Daniel excels in his studies, and the second year of Nebuchadnezzar's reign he
interprets the king's dream of a huge image as God's omen of the rise and fall of
world powers, starting with Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom. (Daniel 2). In Daniel 3
Nebuchadnezzar admits the power of the God of the Hebrews when Yahweh saves three
of Daniel's companions from a fiery furnace, and in Daniel 4 a bout of madness
forces Nebuchadnezzar again to admit the power of God.

The Book of Jeremiah contains a prophecy about Nebuchadnezzar as the destroyer of

nations (Jer. 47) and gives an account of the siege of Jerusalem and the looting
and destruction of the First Temple (Jer. 52).

Portrayal in medieval Muslim sources[edit]

According to Tabari, Nebuchadnezzar, whose Persian name was Bukhtrashah, was of
Persian descent, from the progeny of Judharz, however modern scholars are unanimous
that he was either a native Mesopotamian (Assyrian-Babylonian) or a Chaldean. Some
medieval writers erroneoulsly believed he lived as long as 300 years.[17] While
much of what is written about Nebuchadnezzar depicts a ruthless warrior, some texts
describe a ruler who was concerned with both spiritual and moral issues in life and
was seeking divine guidance.[18]

Nebuchadnezzar was seen as a strong, conquering force in Islamic texts and

historical compilations, like Tabari. The Babylonian leader used force and
destruction to grow an empire. He conquered kingdom after kingdom, including
Phoenicia, Philistia, Judah, Ammon, Moab, and more.[19] The most notable events
that Tabaris collection focuses on is the destruction of Jerusalem.[17]

See also[edit]
Book of Daniel
Kings of Babylonia
Neo-Babylonian empire
Jump up ^ Anton Nystrm, Allmn kulturhistoria eller det mnskliga lifvet i dess
utveckling, bd 2 (1901)
Jump up ^ Freedman 2000, p. 953.
Jump up ^ Bertman 2005, p. 95.
Jump up ^ Oates 1997, p. 162.
Jump up ^ Wiseman 1991a, p. 182.
Jump up ^ Wiseman 1991a, p. 182-183.
Jump up ^ Wiseman 1991a, p. 183.
^ Jump up to a b Wiseman 1991a, p. 233.
Jump up ^ Wiseman 1991a, p. 233-234.
Jump up ^ Wiseman 1991a, p. 235-236.
^ Jump up to a b Foster 2009, p. 131.
Jump up ^ Arnold 2005, p. 96.
Jump up ^ Bertman 2005, p. 96.
Jump up ^ Collins 2002, p. 2.
Jump up ^ Collins 1999, p. 219.
Jump up ^ Redditt 2008, p. 180.
^ Jump up to a b ?abari, Mu?ammad Ibn-Garir A?- (1987). The History of Al-Tabari.
State Univ. of New York Pr. pp. 4370.
Jump up ^ Wiseman, D.J. (1985). Nebuchadrezzar and Babylon. Oxford.
Jump up ^ Tabouis, G.R. (1931). Nebuchadnezzar. Whittlesey House. p. 3.
Arnold, Bill T. (2005). Who Were the Babylonians. BRILL. ISBN 9004130713.
Bertman, Stephen (2005). Handbook to Life in Ancient Mesopotamia. Oxford University
Press. ISBN 9780195183641.
Cline, Eric H.; Graham, Mark W. (2011). Ancient Empires From Mesopotamia to the
Rise of Islam. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521889117.
Dalley, Stephanie (1998). The Legacy of Mesopotamia. Oxford University Press. ISBN
Foster, Benjamin Read; Foster, Karen Polinger (2009). Civilizations of Ancient
Iraq. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0691137226.
Freedman, David Noel (2000). Nebuchadnezzar. In Freedman, David Noel; Myers, Allen
C. Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible. Eerdmans. ISBN 9789053565032.
Lee, Wayne E. (2011). Warfare and Culture in World History. NYU Press. ISBN
Oates, J (1991). The Fall of Assyria (635-609 BC). In Boardman, John; Edwards, I.
E. S. The Cambridge Ancient History, Volume III Part II. Cambridge University
Press. ISBN 9780521227179.
Sweeney, Marvin A. (1996). Isaiah 139 With an Introduction to Prophetic
Literature. Eerdmans. ISBN 9780802841001.
Wiseman, D.J. (1991a). Babylonia 605539 BC. In Boardman, John; Edwards, I. E. S.
The Cambridge Ancient History, Volume III Part II. Cambridge University Press. ISBN
Wiseman, D.J. (1991b). Nebuchadrezzar and Babylon The Schweich Lectures of The
British Academy 1983. OUPBritish Academy. ISBN 9780197261002.
Bandstra, Barry L. (2008). Reading the Old Testament An Introduction to the Hebrew
Bible. Wadsworth Publishing Company. ISBN 0495391050.
Bar, Shaul (2001). A letter that has not been read dreams in the Hebrew Bible.
Cincinnati Hebrew Union College Press.