Called in Jeremiah Nebuchadnezzar, the son and successor of Nabopolassar, succeeded to the kingdom of Chaldea about 600 B. C. He had been some time before associated in the kingdom, and sent to recover Carchemish, which had been wrested from the empire by Necho king of Egypt. Having been successful, he marched against the governor of Phoenicia, and Jehoiakim king of Judah, tributary of Necho king of Egypt. He took Jehoiakim, and put him in chains to carry him captive to Babylon; but afterwards he left him in Judea, on condition of his paying a large annual tribute. He took away several persons from Jerusalem; among others, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, all of the royal family, whom the king of Babylon caused to be carefully educated in the language and learning of the Chaldeans, that they might be employed at court, 2Ki 24:1; 2Ch 36:6; Da 1:1.
Nabopolassar dying, Nebuchadnezzar, who was then either in Egypt or in Judea, hastened to Babylon, leaving to his generals the care of bringing to Chaldea the captives taken in Syria, Judea, Phoenicia, and Egypt; for according to Berosus, he had subdued all these countries. He distributed these captives into several colonies, and in the temple of Belus he deposited the sacred vessels of the temple of Jerusalem, and other rich spoils. Jehoiakim king of Judah continued three years in fealty to Nebuchadnezzar, and then revolted; but after three or four years, he was besieged and taken in Jerusalem, put to death, and his body thrown to the birds of the air according to the predictions of Jeremiah, Jer 22.
His successor, Jehoiachin, or Jeconiah, king of Judah, having revolted against Nebuchadnezzar, was besieged in Jerusalem, forced to surrender, and taken, with his chief officers, captive to Babylon; also his mother, his wives, and the best workmen of Jerusalem, to the number of ten thousand men. Among the captives were Mordecai, the uncle of Esther, and Ezekiel the prophet, Es 2:6. Nebuchadnezzar also took all the vessels of gold, which Solomon made for the temple and the king's treasury, and set up Mattaniah, Jeconiah's uncle by the father's side, whom he named Zedekiah. Zedekiah continued faithful to Nebuchadnezzar nine years, at the end of which time he rebelled, and confederated with the neighboring princes. The king of Babylon came into Judea, reduced the chief places of the country, and besieged Jerusalem; but Pharaoh Hophra coming out of Egypt to assist Zedekiah, Nebuchadnezzar went to meet him, and forced him to retire to his own country. This done, he resumed the siege of Jerusalem, and was three hundred and ninety days before the place. In the eleventh year of Zedekiah, B. C. 588, the city was taken and Zedekiah, being seized, was brought to Nebuchadnezzar, who was then at Riblah in Syria. The king of Babylon condemned him to die, caused his children to be put to death in his presence, and then bored out his eyes, loaded him with chains, and sent him to Babylon, 2Ki 24-25; 2Ch 36.
During the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, the city of Babylon and the kingdom of Babylonia attained their highest pitch of splendor. He took great pains in adorning Babylon; and this was one great object of his pride. "Is not this," said he, "great Babylon that I have built for the house of my kingdom, by the might of my power, and for the honor of my majesty?" But God vanquished his pride, and he was reduced for a time to the condition of a brute, according to the predictions of Daniel. See Da 1.1-4.37. An inscription found among the ruins on the Tigris, and now in the East India House at London, gives an account of the various works of Nebuchadnezzar at Babylon and Borsippa. Abruptly breaking off, the record says the king's heart was hardened against the Chaldee astrologers. "He would grant no benefactions for religious purposes. He intermitted the worship of Merodach, and put an end to the sacrifice of victims. He labored under the effects of enchantment." Nebuchadnezzar is supposed to have died B. C. 562, after a reign of about forty years.
One of the famous structures ascribed to Nebuchadnezzar, and in which no doubt he took much pride, was the famous "hanging gardens," which he is said to have erected to gratify the wish of his queen Amytis for elevated groves such as she was accustomed to in her native Media. This could only be done in a country so level as Babylonia, by constructing an artificial mountain; and accordingly the king caused on e to be made, four hundred feet square and over three hundred feet high. The successive terraces were supported on ranges of regular piers, covered by large stones, on which were placed thick layers of matting and of bitumen and two courses of stones, which were again covered, with a solid coating of lead. On such a platform another similar, but smaller, was built, etc. The various terraces were then covered with earth, and furnished with trees, shrubbery, and flowers. The whole was watered from the Euphrates, which flowed at its base, by machinery within the mound. These gardens occupied but a small portion of the prodigious area of the palace, the wall inclosing the whole being six miles in circumference. Within this were two other walls and a great tower, besides the palace buildings, courts, gardens, etc. Al the gates were of brass, which agrees with the language used by Isaiah in predicting the capture of Babylon by Cyrus, Isa 45:25. The ruins of the hanging gardens are believed to be found in the vast irregular mound called Kasr, on the East Side of the Euphrates, eight hundred yards by six hundred at its base. The bricks taken from this mound are of fine quality, and are all stamped with the name of Nebuchadnezzar.
Another labor of this monarch was that the ruins of which are now called Birs, Nimroud, about eight miles southwest of the above structure. See BABEL. The researches of Sir Henry Rawlinson have shown that this was built by Nebuchadnezzar, on the platform of a ruinous edifice of more ancient days. It consisted of six distinct terraces, each twenty feet high, and forty-two feet less horizontally than the one below it. On the top was the sanctum and observatory of the temple, now a vitrified mass. Each story was dedicated to a different planet, and stained with the color appropriated to that planet in their astrological system. The lowest, in honor of Saturn, was black; that of Jupiter was orange; that of Mars red, that of the sun yellow, that of Venus green, and that of Mercury blue. The temple was white, probably for the moon. In the corners of this long-ruined edifice, recently explored were found cylinders with arrowhead inscriptions, in the name of Nebuchadnezzar, which inform us that the building was named "The Stages of the Seven Spheres of Borsippa;" that it had been in a dilapidated condition; and that, moved by Merodach his god, he had reconstructed it with bricks enriched with lapis lazuli, "without changing its site or destroying its foundation platform." This restoration is also stated to have taken place five hundred and four years after its first erection in that form by Tiglath Pileser I., 1100 B. C. If not actually on the site of the tower of Babel mentioned in the Bible, and the temple of Belus described by Herodotus, this building would seem to have been erected on the same general plan. Every brick yet taken from it bears the impress of Nebuchadnezzar. Borsippa would seem to have been a suburb of ancient Babylon.
in the Babylonian orthography Nabu-kudur-uzur, which means "Nebo, protect the crown!" or the "frontiers." In an inscription he styles himself "Nebo's favourite." He was the son and successor of Nabopolassar, who delivered Babylon from its dependence on Assyria and laid Nineveh in ruins. He was the greatest and most powerful of all the Babylonian kings. He married the daughter of Cyaxares, and thus the Median and Babylonian dynasties were united.
Necho II., the king of Egypt, gained a victory over the Assyrians at Carchemish. (See Josiah; Megiddo.) This secured to Egypt the possession of the Syrian provinces of Assyria, including Palestine. The remaining provinces of the Assyrian empire were divided between Babylonia and Media. But Nabopolassar was ambitious of reconquering from Necho the western provinces of Syria, and for this purpose he sent his son with a powerful army westward (Da 1:1). The Egyptians met him at Carchemish, where a furious battle was fought, resulting in the complete rout of the Egyptians, who were driven back (Jer 46:2-12), and Syria and Phoenicia brought under the sway of Babylon (B.C. 606). From that time "the king of Egypt came not again any more out of his land" (2Ki 24:7). Nebuchadnezzar also subdued the whole of Palestine, and took Jerusalem, carrying away captive a great multitude of the Jews, among whom were Daniel and his companions (Da 1:1-2; Jer 27:19; 40:1).
Three years after this, Jehoiakim, who had reigned in Jerusalem as a Babylonian vassal, rebelled against the oppressor, trusting to help from Egypt (2Ki 24:1). This led Nebuchadnezzar to march an army again to the conquest of Jerusalem, which at once yielded to him (B.C. 598). A third time he came against it, and deposed Jehoiachin, whom he carried into Babylon, with a large portion of the population of the city, and the sacred vessels of the temple, placing Zedekiah on the throne of Judah in his stead. He also, heedless of the warnings of the prophet, entered into an alliance with Egypt, and rebelled against Babylon. This brought about the final siege of the city, which was at length taken and utterly destroyed (B.C. 586). Zedekiah was taken captive, and had his eyes put out by order of the king of Babylon, who made him a prisoner for the remainder of his life.
An onyx cameo, now in the museum of Florence, bears on it an arrow-headed inscription, which is certainly ancient and genuine. The helmeted profile is said (Schrader) to be genuine also, but it is more probable that it is the portrait of a usurper in the time of Darius (Hystaspes), called Nidinta-Bel, who took the name of "Nebuchadrezzar." The inscription has been thus translated:, "In honour of Merodach, his lord, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, in his lifetime had this made."
A clay tablet (Illustration: Brick of Nebuchadnezzar II), now in the British Museum, bears the following inscription, the only one as yet found which refers to his wars: "In the thirty-seventh year of Nebuchadnezzar, king of the country of Babylon, he went to Egypt [Misr] to make war. Amasis, king of Egypt, collected [his army], and marched and spread abroad." Thus were fulfilled the words of the prophet (Jer 46:13-26; Eze 29:2-20). Having completed the subjugation of Phoenicia, and inflicted chastisement on Egypt, Nebuchadnezzar now set himself to rebuild and adorn the city of Babylon (Da 4:30), and to add to the greatness and prosperity of his kingdom by constructing canals and aqueducts and reservoirs surpassing in grandeur and magnificence everything of the kind mentioned in history (Da 2:37). He is represented as a "king of kings," ruling over a vast kingdom of many provinces, with a long list of officers and rulers under him, "princes, governors, captains," etc. (Da 3:2-3,27). He may, indeed, be said to have created the mighty empire over which he ruled.
Modern research has shown that Nebuchadnezzar was the greatest monarch that Babylon, or perhaps the East generally, ever produced. He must have possessed an enormous command of human labour, nine-tenths of Babylon itself, and nineteen-twentieths of all the other ruins that in almost countless profusion cover the land, are composed of bricks stamped with his name. He appears to have built or restored almost every city and temple in the whole country. His inscriptions give an elaborate account of the immense works which he constructed in and about Babylon itself, abundantly illustrating the boast, 'Is not this great Babylon which I have build?' Rawlinson, Hist. Illustrations.
After the incident of the "burning fiery furnace" (Da 3) into which the three Hebrew confessors were cast, Nebuchadnezzar was afflicted with some peculiar mental aberration as a punishment for his pride and vanity, probably the form of madness known as lycanthropy (i.e, "the change of a man into a wolf"). A remarkable confirmation of the Scripture narrative is afforded by the recent discovery of a bronze door-step, which bears an inscription to the effect that it was presented by Nebuchadnezzar to the great temple at Borsippa as a votive offering on account of his recovery from a terrible illness. (See Daniel.)
He survived his recovery for some years, and died B.C. 562, in the eighty-third or eighty-fourth year of his age, after a reign of forty-three years, and was succeeded by his son Evil-merodach, who, after a reign of two years, was succeeded by Neriglissar (559-555), who was succeeded by Nabonadius (555-538), at the close of whose reign (less than a quarter of a century after the death of Nebuchadnezzar) Babylon fell under Cyrus at the head of the combined armies of Media and Persia.
I have examined, says Sir H. Rawlinson, "the bricks belonging perhaps to a hundred different towns and cities in the neighbourhood of Baghdad, and I never found any other legend than that of Nebuchadnezzar, son of Nabopolassar, king of Babylon." Nine-tenths of all the bricks amid the ruins of Babylon are stamped with his name.
In the monuments Nabu-juduri-utsur, the middle syllable being the same as Kudur or Chedor-laomer. Explained by Gesenius "the prince favored by Nebo"; Oppert, "Nebo, kadr ("power"), and zar ("prince")"; Rawlinson, "Nebo his protector (participle from naatsar "protect") against misfortune" (kidor "trouble".) His father Nabo-polassar having overthrown Nineveh, Babylon became supreme. Married his father's Median ally, Cyaxares' daughter, Amuhia, at the time of their alliance against Assyria 625 B.C. (Abydenus in Eusebius, Chronicles Can., i. 9). Possibly is the Labynetus (Herodotus i. 74) who led the Babylonian force under Cyaxares in his Lydian war and whose interposition at the eclipse (610 B.C.) concluded the campaign. Sent by Nabopolassar to punish Pharaoh Necho, the conqueror of Josiah at Megiddo. Defeated Necho at Carchemish (605 B.C.) and wrested from him all the territory from Euphrates to Egypt (Jer 46:2,12; 2Ki 24:7) which he had held for three years, so that "he came not again any more out of his land."
Became master of Coelo-Syria, Phoenicia, and Palestine. Took Jerusalem in the third year of Jehoiakim, and "carried into the land of Shinar, to the house of his god (Merodach), part of the vessels of the house of God" (Da 1:1-2; 2Ch 36:6). Daniel and the three children of the royal seed were at that time taken to Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar mounted the throne 604 B.C., having rapidly re-crossed the desert with his light troops and reached Babylon before any disturbance could take place. He brought with him Jehovah's vessels and the Jewish captives. The fourth year of Jehoiakim coincided with the first of Nebuchadnezzar (Jer 25:1). In the earlier part of the (year Nebuchadnezzar smote Necho at Carchemish, Jer 46:2). The deportation from Jerusalem was shortly before, namely, in the end of Jehoiakim's third year; with it begins the Babylonian captivity, 605 B.C. (Jer 29:1-10). Jehoiakim after three years of vassalage revolted, in reliance on Egypt (2Ki 24:1). Nebuchadnezzar sent bands of Chaldees, Syrians, Moabites, and Ammonites against him (2Ki 24:2).
Next, Phoenicia revolted. Then in person Nebuchadnezzar marched against Tyre. In the seventh year of his reign he marched thence against Jerusalem; it surrendered, and Jehoiakim fell, probably in battle. Josephus says Nebuchadnezzar put him to death (Ant. 10:6 section 3). (See JEHOIAKIM.) Jehoiakim after a three months' reign was carried away to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar with the princes, warriors, and craftsmen, and the palace treasures, and Solomon's gold vessels cut in pieces, at his third advance against Jerusalem (2Ki 24:8-16). Tyre fell 585 B.C., after a 13 years' siege. Meantime Zedekiah, Nebuchadnezzar's sworn vassal, in treaty with Pharaoh Hophra (Apries) revolted (Eze 17:15). Nebuchadnezzar besieged him 588-586 B.C., and in spite of a temporary raising of the siege through Hophra (Jer 37:5-8) took and destroyed Jerusalem after an 18 months' siege (2 Kings 25). Zedekiah's eyes were put out after he had seen his sons slain first at Riblah, where Nebuchadnezzar "gave judgment upon him," and was kept a prisoner in Babylon the rest of his life. (See GEDALIAH; NEBUZARADAN; JERUSALEM.)
Phoenicia submitted to him (Ezekiel 26-28; Josephus, Ap. 1:21), and Egypt was punished (Jer 46:13-26; Eze 29:2-10, Josephus, Ant. 10:9, section 7). Nebuchadnezzar is most celebrated for his buildings: the temple of Bel Merodach at Babylon (the Kasr), built with his Syrian spoils (Josephus, Ant. 10:11, section 1); the fortifications of Babylon, three lines of walls 80 ft. broad, 300 ft. high, enclosing 130 square miles; a new palace near his father's which he finished in 15 days, attached to it were his "hanging gardens," a square 400 ft. on each side and 75 ft. high, supported on arched galleries increasing in height from the base to the summit; in these were chambers, one containing the engines for raising the water to the mound; immense stones imitated the surface of the Median mountain, to remind his wife of her native land. The standard inscription ("I completely made strong the defenses of Babylon, may it last forever ... the city which I have glorified," etc.) accords with Berosus' statement, and nine-tenths of the bricks in situ are stamped with Nebuchadnezzar's name.
Daniel (Da 4:30) also records his boast, "is not this great Babylon which I have built by the might of my power and for the honour of my majesty?" Sir H. Rawlinson (Inscr. Assyr. and Babyl., 76-77) states that the bricks of 100 different towns about Bagdad all bear the one inscription, "Nebuchadnezzar, son of Nabopolassar, king of Babylon." Abydenus states Nebuchadnezzar made the nahr malcha, "royal river," a branch from the Euphrates, and the Acracanus; also the reservoir above the city Sippara, 90 miles round and 120 ft. deep, with sluices to irrigate the low land; also a quay on the Persian gulf, and the city Teredon on the Arabian border. The network of irrigation by canals between the Tigris and Euphrates, and on the right bank of the Euphrates to the stony desert, was his work; also the canal still traceable from Hit at the Euphrates, framing 400 miles S.E. to the bay of Grane in the Persian gulf. His system of irrigation made Babylonia a garden, enriching at once the people and himself.
The long list of various officers in Da 3:1-3,27, also of diviners forming a hierarchy (Da 2:48), shows the extent of the organization of the empire, so that the emblem of so vast a polity is "a tree ... the height reaching unto heaven, and the sight to the end of all the earth ... in which was meat for all, under which the beasts ... had shadow and the fowls dwelt in the boughs and all flesh was fed of it" (Da 4:10-12). In Da 2:37 he is called "king of kings," i.e. of the various kingdoms wheresoever he turned his arms, Egypt, Nineveh, Arabia, Phoenicia, Tyre. Isaiah's patriotism was shown in counseling resistance to Assyria; Jeremiah's (Jeremiah 27) in urging submission to Babylon as the only safety; for God promised Judah's deliverance from the former, but "gave all the lands into Nebuchadnezzar's hands, and the beasts of the field also, to serve him and his son and his son's son."
The kingdom originally given to Adam (Ge 1:28; 2:19-20), forfeited by sin, God temporarily delegated to Nebuchadnezzar, the "head of gold," the first of the four great world powers (Daniel 2 and Daniel 7). As Nebuchadnezzar and the other three abused the trust, for self not, for God, the Son of Man, the Fifth, to whom of right it belongs, shall wrest it from them and restore to man his lost inheritance, ruling with the saints for God's glory and man's blessedness (Ps 8:4-6; Re 11:15-18; Da 2:34-35,44-45; 7:13-27). Nebuchadnezzar was punished with the form of insanity called lycanthropy (fancying himself to be a beast and living in their haunts) for pride generated by his great conquest and buildings (Daniel 4). When man would be as God, like Adam and Nebuchadnezzar he sinks from lordship over creation to the brute level and loses his true manhood, which is likeness to God (Ge 1:27; 2:19; 3:5; Ps 49:6,10-12; 82:6-7); a key to the symbolism which represents the mighty world kingdoms as "beasts" (Daniel 7).
Angel "watchers" demand that every mortal be humbled whosoever would obscure God's glory. Abydenus (268 B.C.) states: "Nebuchadnezzar having ascended upon his palace roof predicted the Persian conquest of Babylon (which he knew from Da 2:39), praying that the conqueror might be borne where there is no path of men and where the wild beasts graze"; a corruption of the true story and confirming it. The panorama of the world's glory that overcame Nebuchadnezzar through the lust of the eye, as he stood on his palace roof, Satan tried upon Jesus in vain (Mt 4:8-10). In the standard inscription Nebuchadnezzar says, "for four years in Babylon buildings for the honour of my kingdom I did not lay out. In the worship of Merodach my lord I did not sing his praises, I did not furnish his altar with victims, nor clear out the canals" (Rawlinson, Herodotus, ii. 586). It was "while the word was in the king's mouth there fell a voice from heaven ... thy kingdom is departed from thee" (compare Herod, A
Nebuchadnez'zar or Nebuchadrezzar. Nebuchadrez'zar
Son of Nabopolassar and virtually founder of the later kingdom of Babylon, the first of the four great Gentile empires. Nebuchadnezzar acted as his father's general and defeated Pharaoh-necho at Carchemish, B.C. 606. Jer 46:2. Judah about this time became tributary to Babylon, and some captives (including Daniel) and holy vessels were carried away. 2Ch 36:5-7; Da 1:1-4. This is called 'the first captivity' of Judah.
Three years later, Judah revolted and Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem. In B.C. 599 the king and many captives, with the treasures of the temple, were taken to Babylon: this is called 'the great captivity.' In B.C. 588 Nebuchadnezzar again besieged Jerusalem, burnt the temple, and destroyed the city. He also took Tyre, B.C. 573, after a siege of thirteen years, for which "he had no wages, nor his army" (the inhabitants having escaped with their riches by sea); but God rewarded him with the spoils of Egypt, which he conquered. 2-Kings/24'>2 Kings 24, 2 Kings 25; 2 Chr. 36; Eze 29:18-20.
The more personal history of Nebuchadnezzar is given by Daniel. Nebuchadnezzar had selected him, and some of his fellow captives, to fill honourable positions in the state. In the second year of Nebuchadnezzar's reign (B.C. 603) he had the remarkable dream of the Great Image, in the interpretation of which the fact was made known that he had been chosen by God as the first king of an entirely new era, the times of the Gentiles. The house of David had for the time been set aside as God's ruler on earth, and in Nebuchadnezzar the Gentiles had been entrusted with supreme authority. Daniel could say to him, "Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory . . . . thou art this head of gold."
Nebuchadnezzar was a heathen, but he had now learned that he held his kingdom from the God of heaven, and was responsible to Him. In setting up the image of gold he denied the God of heaven, and the head of Gentile power became idolatrous; but on the occasion of his casting into the fiery furnace the three Hebrew companions of Daniel, because they would not worship the image he had set up, he was amazed to see another Person in the furnace like a son of God. He called the three out of the furnace, addressing them as 'servants of the most high God'; he blessed their God, and said that no one must speak anything against Him; but the miracle had no practical moral effect upon him. He had another dream, showing that for his pride God was going to humble him. Daniel counselled him to break off his sins by righteousness, and his iniquities by showing mercy to the poor. Twelve months were given him for repentance; but at the end of that time in his pride he said, "Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?" Then a voice from heaven declared that his kingdom was departed from him. (A monument of Nebuchadnezzar says, "I completely made strong the defences of Babylon, may it last for ever . . . . the city which I have glorified for ever," etc.)
He was now a maniac, and was driven away from men, and ate grass as the ox. He remained thus apparently seven years, signified by 'seven times' (as a time, times, and half a time signify three and a half years in Da 12:7); then his reason returned, and the kingdom was restored to him. He now said, "I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgement: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase." Dan. 2