Nebuchadnezzar was the popular king of Babylon who ruled the throne during the time of the Judean exile. He is known to westerners as Nebuchadnezzar and Nebuchadnezzar were how his name was pronounced in ancient times. Chaldaic was a dialect of Aramaic, and it used to be the official language of the Middle East and Mesopotamian region once the Babylonians gained power over the Assyrians. Nebuchadnezzar’s official name was pronounced and written in this ancient language. His name means “Nabu defend my son” or ” a favorite of Nabu”. The deity Nabu was the son of the Babylonian chief god Marduk and Nebuchadnezzar was named after this deity from his father King Nebopolasser, who considered himself to be favored by Marduk.
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Nebuchadnezzar took the throne of Babylon in 605 B.C. when his father passed away from natural causes. This is when he appears on the Biblical Timeline Chart. Before he became king, he was a coregent with Nabopolassar, and he was out fighting many battles to expand the Babylonian empire. Nebuchadnezzar’s father defeated the Assyrians and from this event the Babylonians began to dominate various cultures all throughout the Middle East and the Mesopotamian region.
The Bible states that before Nebuchadnezzar began his conquest the Lord communicated to him that he was supposed to dominate the land of Judah. God had revealed himself to Nebuchadnezzar, and this probably happened through the dreams he had and through the reputation of the Hebrew people. Nebuchadnezzar’s father made it a point to search out ancient records so that he could worship the pagan deities from the past. This too probably helped to inspire Nebuchadnezzar to conquer Judah since the Assyrians had revelations from God that they were given this task for the Israelites they defeated. It should also be kept in mind that many of the Israelites were living in Assyria after the Babylonians took it over, and they too revealed God to the Babylonian rulers.
Nebuchadnezzar had become very powerful and successful with his conquests, and the defeat of Judah was one of his most important victories. A few years after he conquered Judah he had a particular group of young Hebrew boys to become educated within his court. Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were the young men who would really reveal God to him by their presence.
Nebuchadnezzar was prone to have strange dreams that troubled him deeply, and he would usually try to have the Chaldean wise men interpret these dreams. The Chaldean wise men couldn’t interpret his dreams but with God’s help Daniel was able to tell Nebuchadnezzar about his dreams.
King Nebuchadnezzar went insane during a seven-year period during his rule. Nebuchadnezzar honestly believed that he handled being so successful during his reign and would not acknowledge that God was behind his achievements. So God revealed to Nebuchadnezzar that he would go insane and believed that he was a wild animal. Daniel had told the Babylonian king that this would happen and eventually came to pass. After this period was over God allowed Nebuchadnezzar regain his sanity. He then was humble enough to acknowledge that the Lord of the Hebrews was the only true and living God.
Nebuchadnezzar married a Mede princess named Amytis and he spent the early years of his reign conquering the nations of Syria, Phoenicia and Egypt. He managed to subdue the Scythians, Tyre and the Cimmerians. He reconstructed the temples of Marduk, and he created the famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon which is considered one of the Seven Great Wonders of the ancient world. Nebuchadnezzar died in 562 B.C. and was succeeded by Amel-Marduk, who is also known as Belshazzar.
- Daniel 1 – 4 There are four key chapters in the book of Daniel that outlines God’s plans for Babylon and King Nebuchadnezzar.
- 2 Kings 24 and 25 Mentions Nebuchadnezzar’s activities in Judah.
- 2 Chronicles 36 Mentions Nebuchadnezzar’s activities in Judah from a different perspective.