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François-Xavier_Fabre_Nabuchodnosor_Has_Zedekiah’s_Children_Killed_before_his_Eyes. jpg|250px|thumbnail|left| 1787 Painting by François- Xavier Fabre of Nebuchadnezzar Killing Zedekiah’s Children before His Eyes]]
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.
====The Neo-Babylonian Dynasty====
The Neo-Babylonian Dynasty came to life through struggle and strife with its northern neighbor, Assyria. Babylon had long been the object of desire for many of the Near East empires and had been sacked by the Hittites and Elamites before the Assyrians placed the city directly under their control from 705-627 BC. Babylonian primary sources depict Assyrian rule as odious and oppressive, with the Assyrian King Sennacherib (ruled 704-681 BC) being seen as particularly cruel. Sennacherib was said to have let the temples fall into ruin and even removed Marduk's sacred cult statue, the patron god of Babylon, to Assyria. <ref> Kuhrt, Amélie. <i> The Ancient Near East: c. 3000-330 BC.</i> (London: Routledge, 2010), pgs. 582-85 </ref> Eventually, though, the Assyrians overextended their empire, allowing the Babylonians to form an alliance with the Medes and overthrow Assyrian rule.