Nebuchadnezzar II (i//; Aramaic: ܢܵܒܘܼ ܟܘܼܕܘܼܪܝܼ ܐܘܼܨܘܼܪ ; Hebrew: נְבוּכַדְנֶצַּר Nəḇūḵaḏneṣṣar; Ancient Greek: Ναβουχοδονόσωρ Naboukhodonósôr; Arabic: نِبُوخَذنِصَّر nibūḫaḏniṣṣar; c 634 – 562 BC) was king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, His 43 year reign is commonly accepted as occurring from c. 605 BC to 562 BC though some estimates have his reign beginning as early as 624 BC to 582 BC . According to the Bible, he conquered Judah and Jerusalem, and sent the Jews into exile. He is credited with the construction of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and for the destruction of the First Temple. He is featured in the Book of Daniel and is mentioned in several other books of the Bible.
The Akkadian name, Nabû-kudurri-uṣur, means "O god Nabu, preserve/defend my firstborn son". Nabu is the Babylonian deity of wisdom, and son of the god Marduk. In an inscription, Nebuchadnezzar styles himself as Nabu's "beloved" and "favourite". His name has previously been mistakenly interpreted as "O Nabu, defend my kudurru", in which sense a kudurru is an inscribed stone deed of property. However, when contained in a ruler's title, kudurru approximates to "firstborn son" or "oldest son". Variations of the Hebrew form include נְבוּכַדְנֶאצַּר and נְבוּכַדְרֶאצַּר (Nəḇuḵaḏreṣṣar). He is also known as Bakhat Nasar, which means "winner of the fate", or literally, "fate winner".
Nebuchadnezzar was the oldest son and successor of Nabopolassar, who delivered Babylon from its three centuries of vassalage to its fellow Mesopotamian state Assyria, and in alliance with the Medes, Persians, Scythians and Cimmerians, laid Nineveh in ruins. According to Berossus, some years before he became king of Babylon, Babylonian dynasties were united. There are conflicting accounts of Nitocris of Babylon being either his wife or daughter.
Nabopolassar was intent on annexing the western provinces of Syria (ancient Aram) from Necho II (whose own dynasty had been installed as vassals of Assyria, and who was still hoping to help restore Assyrian power), and to this end dispatched his son westward with a large army. In the ensuing Battle of Carchemish in 605 BC, the Egyptian and Assyrian army was defeated and driven back, and Syria and Phoenicia were brought under the control of Babylon. Nabopolassar died in August that year, and Nebuchadnezzar returned to Babylon to ascend to the throne.
After the defeat of the Cimmerians and Scythians, previous allies in the defeat of Assyria, Nebuchadnezzar's expeditions were directed westward, although the powerful Median empire lay to the north. Nebuchadnezzar's political marriage to Amytis of Media, the daughter of the Median king, had ensured peace between the two empires.
Nebuchadnezzar engaged in several military campaigns designed to increase Babylonian influence in Aramea (modern Syria) and Judah. An attempted invasion of Egypt in 601 BC was met with setbacks, however, leading to numerous rebellions among the Phoenician and Canaanite states of the Levant, including Judah. Nebuchadnezzar soon dealt with these rebellions, capturing Jerusalem in 597 BC and deposing King Jehoiakim, then in 587 BC due to rebellion, destroying both the city and the temple, and deporting many of the prominent citizens along with a sizable portion of the Jewish population of Judea to Babylon. These events are described in the Prophets (Nevi'im) and Writings (Ketuvim), sections of the Hebrew Bible (in the books 2 Kings and Jeremiah, and 2 Chronicles, respectively). After the destruction of Jerusalem, Nebuchadnezzar engaged in a thirteen-year siege of Tyre (585–572 BC) which ended in a compromise, with the Tyrians accepting Babylonian authority.
Following the pacification of the Phoenician state of Tyre, Nebuchadnezzar turned again to Egypt. A clay tablet, now in the British Museum, states: "In the 37th year of Nebuchadnezzar, king of the country of Babylon, he went to Mitzraim (Egypt) to wage war. Amasis, king of Egypt, collected [his army], and marched and spread abroad." Having completed the subjugation of Phoenicia, and a campaign against Egypt, Nebuchadnezzar set himself to rebuild and adorn the city of Babylon, and constructed canals, aqueducts, temples and reservoirs.
According to Babylonian tradition, towards the end of his life, Nebuchadnezzar prophesied the impending ruin of the Chaldean Dynasty (Berossus and Abydenus in Eusebius, Praeparatio Evangelica, 9.41). He died in Babylon between the second and sixth months of the forty-third year of his reign, and was succeeded by Amel-Marduk.
Construction activity 
During the last century of Nineveh's existence, Babylon had been greatly devastated, not only at the hands of Sennacherib and Assurbanipal, but also as a result of her ever renewed rebellions. Nebuchadnezzar, continuing his father's work of reconstruction, aimed at making his capital one of the world's wonders. Old temples were restored; new edifices of incredible magnificence were erected to the many gods of the Babylonian pantheon (Diodorus of Sicily, 2.95; Herodotus, 1.183). To complete the royal palace begun by Nabopolassar, nothing was spared, neither "cedar-wood, nor bronze, gold, silver, rare and precious stones"; an underground passage and a stone bridge connected the two parts of the city separated by the Euphrates; the city itself was rendered impregnable by the construction of a triple line of walls. The bridge across the Euphrates is of particular interest, in that it was supported on asphalt covered brick piers that were streamlined to reduce the upstream resistance to flow, and the downstream turbulence that would otherwise undermine the foundations. Nebuchadnezzar's construction activity was not confined to the capital; he is credited with the restoration of the Lake of Sippar, the opening of a port on the Persian Gulf, and the building of the Mede wall between the Tigris and the Euphrates to protect the country against incursions from the north. These undertakings required a considerable number of laborers; an inscription at the great temple of Marduk suggests that the labouring force used for his public works was most likely made up of captives brought from various parts of western Asia.
Nebuchadnezzar is credited with the construction of the Hanging Gardens, for his homesick wife Amyitis (or Amytis) to remind her of her homeland, Medis (Media) in Persia. He is also credited for the construction of the Ishtar Gate, one of the eight gates leading into the city of Babylon. However, some scholars argue that they may have been constructed by a queen from the Assyrian city, Nineveh.
Portrayal in the Bible 
Nebuchadnezzar is widely known through his portrayal in the Bible, especially the Book of Daniel as נְבוּכַדְנֶאצַּר. The Bible discusses events of his reign and his conquest of Jerusalem. The second chapter of Daniel relates an account attributed to the second year of his reign, in which Nebuchadnezzar dreams of a huge image made of various materials (gold, silver, bronze, iron and clay). The prophet Daniel tells him God's interpretation, that it stands for the rise and fall of world powers, starting with Nebuchadnezzar's own as the golden head.
In Daniel chapter 3, Nebuchadnezzar erects a large idol made of gold for worship during a public ceremony on the plain of Dura. When three Jews, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (respectively renamed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego by their captors, to facilitate their assimilation into Babylonian culture), refuse to take part, he has them cast into a fiery furnace. They are protected by what Nebuchadnezzar describes as "the son of a god" (Daniel 3:25) and emerge unscathed without even the smell of smoke. Daniel chapter 4 contains an account of Nebuchadnezzar's dream about an immense tree, which Daniel interprets to mean that Nebuchadnezzar will go insane for seven years because of his pride. The chapter is written from the perspective of king Nebuchadnezzar.
While boasting about his achievements, Nebuchadnezzar is humbled by God. The king loses his sanity and lives in the wild like an animal for seven years. After this, his sanity and position are restored and he praises and honors God. There has been some speculation on what the organic cause of this insanity might have been. Some consider it to be an attack of clinical lycanthropy or alternatively porphyria. Psychologist Henry Gleitman has claimed that Nebuchadnezzar's insanity was a result of general paresis or paralytic dementia seen in advanced cases of syphilis. Origen attributed the metamorphosis as a representation of the fall of Lucifer, Bodin and Cluvier maintained it was a metamorphosis of both soul and body, Tertullian confined the transformation to the body only, without the loss of reason, cases of which Augustine stated were reported in Italy, but gave them little credit. Gaspard Peucer asserted that the transformation of men into wolves was common in Livonia. Some Jewish Rabbins asserted there was an exchange of souls between the man and ox, while others argued for an apparent or docetic change which was not real. The most generally received opinion, which was also held by Jerome, was that the madman was under the influence of hypochondriachal monomania by which God could humble the pride of kings.
Some scholars  think that Nebuchadnezzar's portrayal by Daniel is a mixture of traditions about Nebuchadnezzar — he was indeed the one who conquered Jerusalem — and about Nabonidus (Nabuna'id). For example, Nabonidus was the natural, or paternal father of Belshazzar, and the seven years of insanity could be related to Nabonidus' sojourn in Tayma in the desert. Fragments from the Dead Sea Scrolls, written from 150 BC to 70 AD  state that it was Nabonidus (N-b-n-y) who was smitten by God with a fever for seven years of his reign while his son Belshazzar was regent.
The Book of Jeremiah contains a prophecy about the arising of a "destroyer of nations", commonly regarded as a reference to Nebuchadnezzar (Jer. 4:7), as well as an account of Nebuchadnezzar's siege of Jerusalem and looting and destruction of the temple (Jer. 52).
Helel, Son of the Morning 
Chapter 14 of the Book of Isaiah refers to what Jewish exegesis of the prophetic vision of Isaiah 14:12-15 identifies as King Nebuchadnezzar II; the Hebrew word says "Helel ben Shaḥar" ("the shining one, son of the morning"). It is a taunting prophecy against an oppressive king. In Isaiah 14, the king is being mocked, as he is struck through with a sword, killed, and thrown into a common grave. Although mainstream Christianity attributes this passage to the fall of Lucifer because verse 20 says that this king will not be joined with the others in burial, but rather be cast out of the grave, most scholars believe that these passages cannot be about a fallen angel, assuming that the king referred to in these passages is killed. Likewise, it is usually claimed that by the word "Helel ben Shaḥar", the Morning Star is meant; but Isaiah gives no intimation whatsoever that Helel is a star.
Interpretations of Nebuchadnezzar's actions 
Named after Nebuchadnezzar 
- The opera Nabucco (1842) by Giuseppe Verdi.
- The Nabucco pipeline, a planned natural gas pipeline that will transport natural gas from Turkey to Austria, via Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary.
- Saddam Hussein considered himself to be the reincarnation of Nebuchadnezzar and had the inscription "To King Nebuchadnezzar in the reign of Saddam Hussein" inscribed on bricks inserted into the walls of the ancient city of Babylon during a reconstruction project he initiated; he named one of his Republican Guards divisions after Nebuchadnezzar.
- A bottle of champagne filled with the volume equivalent of 20 standard bottles (15 litres) is called a Nebuchadnezzar.
- "Nebuchadnezzar's Furnace" is a type of daylily.
- The name of Morpheus' vessel in the films The Matrix and The Matrix Reloaded.
- Nebuchadnezzar II is a playable character in Civilization V.
- Nebuchadnezzar II is mentioned in the Microsoft computer game Age of Empires in the eighth Babylon campaign "Nineveh" in the history section and after the campaign is won.
In politics 
- Saddam Hussein was likened to Nebuchadnezzar, largely due to his attempt to rebuild the Great Walls of Babylon with bricks that each had his name inscribed upon them.
Notes and references 
- Anton Nyström, Allmän kulturhistoria eller det mänskliga lifvet i dess utveckling, bd 2 (1901)
- Assyrian and Babylonian Chronicles, pg 100 pub. 1975 by A.K. Grayson
- Harper, R. F. quoted in Peet, Stephen Denison (editor). 1900. “Editorial Notes,” The American Antiquarian and Oriental Journal. New York: Doubleday, vol. XXII, May and June, p. 207.
- Lamb, Harold. 1960. Cyrus the Great. New York: Doubleday, p. 104.
- Schrader, Eberhard. 1888. The Cuneiform Inscriptions and the Old Testament. London: Williams and Norgate, p. 48 (footnote).
- Chicago Assyrian Dictionary sub Kudurru Ca5'
- Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book VIII, ch. 6–8.
- Elgood, Percival George. 1951. Later Dynasties of Egypt. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, p. 106.
- Smith, William and Fuller, J.M. 1893. A Dictionary of the Bible: Comprising Its Antiquities, Biography, Geography, and Natural History. London: John Murray, vol. I, p. 314.
- Foster, Karen Polinger (1998). "Gardens of Eden: Flora and Fauna in the Ancient Near East". Transformations of Middle Eastern Natural Environments: Legacies and Lessons. New Haven: Yale University. pp. 320–329. Retrieved 2007-08-11.
- "How the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World Work". Stuff You Missed in History Class. 8.04.08
- Kroeger, Catherine Clark; Evans, Mary J. (2009). The Women's Study Bible: New Living Translation (Second ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-529125-4.
- Henry Gleitman, Psychology (New York: W W Norton, 2007), 219.
- Samuel Fallows, The Popular and Critical Bible Encyclopaedia and Scriptural Dictionary The Howard-Severance Company (1920) Vol.2 p.302
- Wolfram von Soden: "Eine babylonische Volksüberlieferung von Nabonid in den Danielerzählungen". In: Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 53 (1935), pp. 81–89.
- Bruce, F. F. "The Last Thirty Years". Story of the Bible. ed. Frederic G. Kenyon. Retrieved June 19, 2007.
- Calvin's Bible Commentaries: Jeremiah and Lamentations, Part I, John Calvin, translated by John King, Forgotten Books, 2007, p. 168.
- "ASTRONOMY - Helel, Son of the Morning.". The unedited full-text of the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia. JewishEncyclopedia.com. Retrieved 1 July 2012.
- Wilken, Robert (2007). Isaiah: Interpreted by Early Christian and Medieval Commentators. Grand Rapids MI: Wm Eerdmans Publishing. p. 171. ISBN 978-0-8028-2581-0.
- Gunkel, "Schöpfung und Chaos," pp. 132 et seq.
- Encyclopedia of the Developing World, edited by Thomas M. Leonard, p. 793.
- Archeology Under Dictatorship, Michael L. Galaty and Charles Watkinson, p. 203.
- Fontenot, Gregory; Degen, E. J.; Tohn, David. 2005. On point: the United States Army in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, p. 263. ISBN 978-1-59114-279-9
See also 
- Chapter 23, "The Chaldaean Kings" in Georges Roux, Ancient Iraq (3rd ed.). London: Penguin Books, 1992. ISBN 0-14-012523-X
- ABC 5: Chronicle Concerning the Early Years of Nebuchadnezzar
- Nabuchodonosor on the Catholic Encyclopedia
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Easton, Matthew George (1897). "Nebuchadnezzar". Easton's Bible Dictionary (New and revised ed.). T. Nelson and Sons.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Nabuchodonosor". Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company.
- Nos ancêtres de l'Antiquité, 1991, Christian Settipani, p.
- Stefan Zawadski, "Nebuchadnezzar's Campaign in the 30th Year (575 BC): A Conflict with Tyre?" in Mordechai Cogan and Dan`el Kahn (eds), Treasures on Camels' Humps: Historical and Literary Studies from the Ancient Near East Presented to Israel Eph'al (Jerusalem, Magnes Press, 2008).
- T. E. Gaston, Historical Issues in the Book of Daniel, Oxford: Taanathshiloh, 2005
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|Wikisource has the text of the 1879 American Cyclopædia article Nebuchadnezzar.|
- Inscription of Nabuchadnezzar. Babylonian and Assyrian Literature – old translation
- Nabuchadnezzar Ishtar gate Inscription
- Jewish Encyclopedia on Nebuchadnezzar
- Nebuchadnezzar II on Ancient History Encyclopedia
|King of Babylon
605 BC – 562 BC