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Nebuchadnezzar II commonly referred to Nebuchadnezzar, was the king of Babylonian empire referred to in the Bible. Nebuchadnezzar was one of the greatest kings of the Babylonian Empire. He conquered many nations, including the Israelites and the Egyptians.

The first born son, and heir, of Nabopolassar, would serve as commander of early raids of Judah during the reign of Jehoiakin, taking a great many prisoners back to Babylon, about the time Nabopolassar died. Later, his armies would return, destroying Jerusalem and the temple there.

In Babylon, he would attempt to force the Jews to worship the local gods, with limited success. With strong believers from among the Jews in his staff, he nevertheless continued his ruthless ways until being driven insane by the true God, the God of his captors.

Being delivered from the madness, he came to embrace "the Most High ... the King of Heaven" in true humility. However, he was then used by the Lord to completely destroy Jerusalem. Having spared Jehoiakin's life (though blinding him), the Judean king would be released into the care of the court of Nebuchanezzar's son, Evil-merodach.

Biography

Early Life (634 BC-605 BC)

Nebuchadnezzar was born to King Nabopolassar of the Babylonian Empire in 634 B.C . In 605 B.C Nabopolassar wanted to conqueror Egyptian land and therefore, dispatched Nebuchadnezzar to Carmesis on the Euphrates river. Shortly after Nebuchadnezzar's successful military campaign, Nabopolassar died and Nebuchadnezzar was coronated as king.

Early Reign (605 BC-585 BC)

The newly crowned King Nebuchadnezzar decided to continue his father's goal of conquering Phoenicia and Judah. Between 605-601 BC, Nebuchadnezzar engaged in multiple military engagements in Aram in order to secure Babylonian influence in the region. In 601 BC, he reduced Tyre and Sidon to tributaries and attempted to invade Egypt but failed.

Capturing Judah

Nebuchadnezzar eventually invaded the land of Judah, which at the time was currently being ruled by King Jehoiakim. After conquering the land Nebuchadnezzar made Jehoiakim a subordinate ruler of Judah. In 597 BC, he received an oath of loyalty from King Jehoiakim and Judah was reduced to a vassal state as well as hostages taken to Babylon. But after three years, Jehoiakim rebelled and so Nebuchadnezzar put down the rebellion.[1] Jehoiakim's rebellion was defeated by the combined strength of Nebuchadnezzar's Chaldean (or Babylonian) as well as several other groups.[2] These groups were all assigned to put down the rebellion in accordance with God's will.[3] Due to these attacks Jehoiakim was killed and was succeeded by his son Jehoiachin.[4] Following his subjugation of Phoenicia and his destruction of Jerusalem, Nebuchadnezzar marched against Egypt and prevailed which compensated for his previous, failed attempt.[5] After this he returned to Babylon.

Training Israelites as Babylonians

After the capture of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar ordered for the physically fit and well educated people who were prominent in society of Judah to be trained in Babylon to enter his service.[6] Nebuchadnezzar assigned specific food for the soldiers in training to eat in order to fit to them his standards.[7] Four of these, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (renamed Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego) refused to eat the food provided to them by Nebuchadnezzar and contested for ten days that their diet was healthier.[8] After they had shown that they were healthier, Nebuchadnezzar's chief officer provided four with vegetables. After the period of three years of training ended, the chief office presented all of the trained soldiers to Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar conversed with the group of soldiers whom denied his food and found them wiser than most, due to their gifts in knowledge from God.[9]

Unusual dreams

One evening, while lying in his bed he had a disturbing dream. The next morning he summoned his astrologers and wisemen (for whom Babylon was famous).[10] The wise men, however, requested the Babylonian King tell it to his servants so they may interpret it to him.[11] Realizing they wanted to gain extra time to try to figure out the meaning, Nebuchadnezzar demanded they would explain the dream or face execution[12] Nebuchadnezzar was informed that it was impossible.[13] So Nebuchadnezzar ordered the execution of all the wise men in his kingdom.[14] But before that could be done, Daniel who had been one of the trained soldiers who refused to eat Nebuchadnezzar's food, went to King Nebuchadnezzar and asked to be given until morning to interpret the dream. Nebuchadnezzar agreed.[15]

The next morning, Daniel correctly told the king the dream which was interpreted to him by God. Nebuchadnezzar saw a great statue with a head of gold, a chest of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, legs of iron and feet and toes partly of clay and partly of iron. Then a great stone came and struck down the statue and that stone then became an enormous mountain which filled the whole earth. Daniel explained that the metals of the statue represented kingdoms in the future, with the head of gold referring to Nebuchadnezzar's empire itself.[16] Daniel also explained the other kingdoms in the dream which included those of Alexander the Great, the Persian empire, and the Roman Empire. King Nebuchadnezzar was amazed and made Daniel chief of his wise men and appointed Daniel's friends as administrators over Babylon[17]

Enforcement of Idol Worship

Shortly after this, Nebuchadnezzar requested a 27 meter tall, 27 meter wide statue to be built and set it up in the plain of Dura near Babylon.[18] Nebuchadnezzar then invited the entire governmental staff in Babylon to attend the dedication of the statue[19] Nebuchadnezzar's herald then proclaimed that when the sound of the royal orchestra was heard everyone would be required to bow down and worship the statue of gold or face execution by Nebuchadnezzar's officials in a flaming furnace.[20] Some astrologers (whom most likely were not executed with the rest of the wise men because of Daniel's successful interpretation of the dream), who were most likely jealous, reported to Nebuchadnezzar that Daniel's friends refused to bow before the massive idol.[21] Nebuchadnezzar then summoned the Babylonian administrators into his presence. The second Nebuchadnezzar angrily demanded to know why they refused to bow to his statue they replied that they worshipped only God.[22]

This enraged Nebuchadnezzar so much that he ordered the furnace heated 7 time hotter than usual. He had the strongest men in his army bind them and throw them into the furnace.[23] It was so hot that it killed the soldiers.[24] After tossing the three men into the furnace Nebuchadnezzar leaped in surprise when he noticed there were four men in the furnace exclaiming that the fourth looked like a son of a god. Nebuchadnezzar who was so amazed he asked Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to come out to him. They did and it was observed that they suffered no burn or injury either to them or their clothing and that they did not even smell of smoke. Nebuchadnezzar was so amazed that he declared God to be the only God.[25]

Besiege on Jerusalem

Once Jehoiachin succeeded his father as king he did evil against God.[26] God, in result orchestrated Nebuchadnezzar's forces to besiege Jerusalem. Nebuchadnezzar's army attacked Jerusalem, with Nebuchadnezzar himself watching the attack at Jerusalem.[27] Eventually the raid forced Jehoiachin and his officers into surrender and Jehoiachin was taken prisoner.[28] The Babylonian king afterwards stole riches from the Temple and the royal palace and vandalizing temple equipment.[29] After stealing from the temple he ordered for the deportation of several of the fighting men and skilled laborers to Babylon, totaling to ten-thousand civilians.[30] Leaving only the peasants Nebuchadnezzar additionally deported Jehoiachin and his staff, wealthy-people, government officials and another seven-thousand soldiers and another one-thousands skilled workers.[31]

Reign of Zedekiah

Nebuchadnezzar then appointed Jehoiachin's uncle, Mattaniah as king renaming him Zedekiah[32] in 587 B.C.

In 586 B.C, Zedekiah started a rebellion with the help of Egypt which also involved the cities of Tyre and Sidon. In anger, and by the accordance of God for Zedekiah's disobedience, King Nebuchadnezzar attacked the city of Jerusalem.[33] This attack began on the tenth day of the tenth month.[34] The Babylonian forces encamped around the city until the eleventh year of Zedekiah's reign.[35] Eventually Zedekiah's made an attempt to push back, due to their shortage of food supply but their attempt failed, forcing them to flee and leaving Zedekiah separated from his forces.[36] Zedekiah and his sons were captured and brought to Nebuchadnezzar who was based in Riblah nearby to monitor the long-winded encampment at Jerusalem. There, he had the sons executed and then personally gouged out Zedekiah's eyes.[37]

Once again Nebuchadnezzar ordered Jerusalem to be sieged by the commander of Nebuchadnezzar's guard, Nebuzaradan.[38] Nebuzaradan also managed to capture Zedekiah's officials and brought to them to Nebuchadnezzar at his base in Riblah. There Nebuchadnezzar ordered their execution.[39] Nebuchadnezzar afterwards appointed Gedaliah to subordinate the land of Judah, though he was eventually assassinated.[40]

Nebuchadnezzar's Insanity

A while after this, Nebuchadnezzar grew proud of all his building projects and boasted of his achievements. He then had a vision of a tree which was large and beautiful and could be seen from all the nations and sheltered all the wild animals.[41] In his dream an angel also came down and told him to cut the branches and trunk of the tree and leave the roots and if he did not acknowledge God he would be driven into madness[42]

Nebuchadnezzar was disturbed and desperate so he called in Daniel who explained that this was a divine warning from God to stop his arrogant ways. Nebuchadnezzar heeded the warning until twelve months later while walking along the roof of his palace, Nebuchadnezzar fell back into pride.[43] Following this, an angel came down and made the same declaration he had made in the dream.[44] Nebuchadnezzar went mad and was driven by people for 7 months. Nebuchadnezzar was drenched with dew until his hair grew like an animal and his nails like a bird[45] after which he acknowledged the authority of God and was given his sanity. He was then devoted and subject to God and died peacefully in 562 BC.

Nebuchadnezzar Insane

Nebuchadnezzar in his insane state


Characteristics

The babylonian king was very dictatorial and was very power hungry. Nebuchadnezzar became obsessed with conquering lands, eventually even attacking Israelite and Judean land. Nebuchadnezzar was used as an instrument of justice and punishment on many of Israel and Judah's kings by the accordance of God.[46] After seeing the miraculous interpretation of dreams by Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar believed God as the one true God. This was short-lived, as Nebuchad did not on his newfound "faith"[47] and shortly afterwards forced all of his subjects to worship an idol statue of himself as a Babylonian god. After the refusal of three men the kings wrath was unleashed and they were ordered to be burned in the blazing hot furnace. After the miraculous survival of these men Nebuchadnezzar declared God to be the only God. Once again Nebuchadnezzar quickly abandoned this and re-started on military campaigns against Israel in order to satisfy his power-hunger.

He ruthlessly killed and captured many civilians and officials showing no remorse and had several government officers including kings assassinated. After capturing Israelite/Judean territory once again he resorted to several expensive and massive architectural projects in order to glorify himself and became prideful. Due to his pride he began to receive visions from Angels and ignored the warnings until became mentally insane for seven months.

He finally acknowledged the authority of God only to actually follow through and obey him until his death.

Verses

  1. 2 Kings 24:1 (Link)
  2. 2 Kings 24:2 (Link)
  3. 2 Kings 24:3-4 (Link)
  4. 2 Kings 24:5-6 (Link)
  5. 2 Kings 24:7 (Link)
  6. Daniel 1:1-4 (Link)
  7. Daniel 1:5 (Link)
  8. Daniel 1:8-16 (Link)
  9. Daniel 1:17-20 (Link)
  10. Daniel 2:1-3 (Link)
  11. Daniel 2:4 (Link)
  12. Daniel 2:8-9 (Link)
  13. Daniel 2:10-11 (Link)
  14. Daniel 2:12-13 (Link)
  15. Daniel 2:14-16 (Link)
  16. Daniel 2:24-38 (Link)
  17. Daniel 2:46-48 (Link)
  18. Daniel 3:1 (Link)
  19. Daniel 3:2-3 (Link)
  20. Daniel 3:5-7 (Link)
  21. Daniel 3:8-12 (Link)
  22. Daniel 3:13-18 (Link)
  23. Daniel 3:19-20 (Link)
  24. Daniel 3:22-23 (Link)
  25. Daniel 3:24-30 (Link)
  26. 2 Kings 24:8-9 (Link)
  27. 2 Kings 24:10-11 (Link)
  28. 2 Kings 24:12 (Link)
  29. 2 Kings 24:13 (Link)
  30. 2 Kings 24:14 (Link)
  31. 2 Kings 24:15-16 (Link)
  32. 2 Kings 24:17 (Link)
  33. 2 Kings 24:19-20 (Link)
  34. 2 Kings 25:1 (Link)
  35. 2 Kings 25:2 (Link)
  36. 2 Kings 25:3-5 (Link)
  37. 2 Kings 25:7 (Link)
  38. 2 Kings 25:8-18 (Link)
  39. 2 Kings 25:19-21 (Link)
  40. 2 Kings 25:22-26 (Link)
  41. Daniel 4:10-12 (Link)
  42. Daniel 4:13-17 (Link)
  43. Daniel 4:28-31 (Link)
  44. Daniel 4:32-33 (Link)
  45. Daniel 4:33 (Link)
  46. Romans 13:4-5 (Link)
  47. James 2:17 (Link)

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