Admin moved page How Did Nebuchadnezzar Impact Ancient Near Eastern History? to How Did Nebuchadnezzar Impact Ancient Near Eastern History
François-Xavier_Fabre_Nabuchodnosor_Has_Zedekiah’s_Children_Killed_before_his_Eyes. jpg| 300px|thumbnail|left| 1787 Painting by François- Xavier Fabre of Nebuchadnezzar Killing Zedekiah’s Children before His Eyes]]__NOTOC__Nebuchadnezzar II (ruled 604-562 BC), the second king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, most commonly known just as “Nebuchadnezzar” in modern times, is one of the most important but also one of the most misunderstood leaders of the ancient world. Depicted as wantonly cruel in the Old Testament, it is a historical fact that he was responsible for taking the Kingdom of Judah into captivity and destroying the Solomonic Temple. With that said, Nebuchadnezzar II’s leadership style, policies, and tactics differed little from those of other notable kings in the same era. Once one cuts through some of the hyperbole surrounding Nebuchadnezzar II, it quickly becomes evident that he affected the ancient Near East in several , profound ways.
Under Nebuchadnezzar II, Babylon once again became one of the greatest cities in the ancient world. It had languished for centuries under Assyrian rule, but
under Nebuchadnezzar II and the other Neo-Babylonian kings it became the center of a new and vibrant empire. Much of how Nebuchadnezzar II brought Babylon back to greatness was through the conquest of other kingdoms, such as Judah, but he also embarked on an ambitious building program that made his city the envy of the ancient world.
====The Neo-Babylonian Dynasty====
Babylon’s reasserted presence in the Levant under Nebuchadnezzar II did not sit well with Egypt, which had its imperial ambitions in the region. Seeking to establish a foothold in the Levant, the Egyptians aligned with Judah, setting the stage for
one final, decisive battle between the Egyptians and Babylonians. In 605 BC, the Babylonian army led by Nebuchadnezzar II defeated the combined Egyptian-Judah army of pharaoh Nekau II (ruled 610-595 BC), making the Judah and its king, Jehoiakim, a vassal of Babylon. <ref> Kitchen, Kenneth A. <i> On the Reliability of the Old Testament.</i> (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans, 2003), p. 44 </ref> Jehoiakim played the role of a loyal vassal, but his two successors were not so appeasing toward Nebuchadnezzar II, which led to disastrous consequences for Judah as documented in both the Bible and Babylonian sources.
After Jehoiakim died in 597 BC, his son, Jehoiachin, became the king of Judah at age eighteen. According to II Kings 24:10-16, Jehoiachin and thousands of other Judeans were taken into captivity by Nebuchadnezzar II. The precise reason why Jehoiachin was removed is never clarified, but the event is corroborated in Babylonian chronicles.
“Year seven, month Kislimu: The king of Akkad moved his army into Hatti land, laid siege to the city of Judah and the king took the city on the second day of the month Addaru. He appointed in it a (new) king of his liking, took heavy booty from it and brought it into Babylon.” <ref> Pritchard, James B, ed. <i>Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament.</i> 3rd ed. (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1992), p. 564</ref>
Nebuchadnezzar II then appointed Zedekiah to be king of Judah because he would have presumably been more pliable, but it turned out that he was just as recalcitrant as his predecessors. Angered at the situation, Nebuchadnezzar II did what any ancient king of the Near East would have done – he invaded the kingdom, destroyed their most holy site, and took most of the population into captivity. The sacking of Jerusalem and destruction of the Solomonic Temple took place in the year 586 BC. <ref> Kitchen, p. 45</ref>
<blockquote>“And they slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and put out the eyes of Zedekiah, and bound him with fetters of brass, and carried him to Babylon. And in the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month, which is the nineteenth year of king Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, came Nebuzardan, a captain of the guard, a servant of the king of Babylon, unto Jerusalem. And he burnt the house of the Lord, and the king’s house, and all the houses of Jerusalem, and every great man’s house burnt he with fire. And all the army
of the Chaldeans, that were with the captain of the guard, brake down the walls of Jerusalem round bout. Now the rest of the people that were left in the city, and the fugitives that fell away to the king of Babylon, with the remnant of the multitude did Nebuzardan the captain of the guard carry away.” <ref> II Kings 25:1-11</ref></blockquote>
====Nebuchadnezzar II’s Building Projects====
300px|thumbnail|left|The Ishtar Gate of Nebuchadnezzar II Now in the Berlin Museum]] [[File: Nabuchodonosar_II.jpeg|300px|thumbnail|right|Statue of a Neo-Babylonian King Believed to Be Nebuchadnezzar II]]Once Nebuchadnezzar II had secured the boundaries of his dynasty’s empire, he was free to pursue more peaceful endeavors in Babylon. For several decades before Nebuchadnezzar II came to power, Babylon had languished, with many of its once great monuments falling into ruin. The central part of Babylon, which was on the banks of the Euphrates River, was remodeled in a truly extravagant manner. The king’s palace was built in the center of it all with the newly constructed Etemenanki Ziggurat – the ziggurat of the god Marduk and what was more than likely the inspiration for the “Tower of Babel” in Genesis 11: 1-9 – nearby. <ref> Frankfort, Henri. <i> The Art and Architecture of the Ancient Orient.</i> (New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 1996), p. 203 </ref> Marking the way into Nebuchadnezzar II’s inner city was the famed Ishtar Gate, which was dedicated to Ishtar, the Mesopotamian goddess of love and war. The beautifully done gateway was made of glazed bricks and covered with numerous depictions of mythological bulls and dragons. <ref> Frankfort, p. 205</ref>
Conclusion====In the centuries after the collapse of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, Nebuchadnezzar II’s reputation progressively worsened, thanks in large part to his portrayal in the Old Testament. Although many of the biblical passages that relate to Nebuchadnezzar II are true, especially those in II Kings, the fact remains that he was a significant figure in the ancient Near East. Nebuchadnezzar II was a great conqueror who established a Near Eastern empire that was essentially the geographical equivalent of the Assyrian Empire, but perhaps just as important were his building activities. Through his ambitious building program, the Babylonian king made sure that his city would once again become one of the greatest in the ancient world and that even more than 2,000 years later people would still view some of those monuments with awe.
[[Category: Ancient History]] [[Category: Ancient Mesopotamian History]]
[[Category: Babylon]] [[Category: Biblical History]] [[Religious History]]
[[Near East History]]