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Bible Dictionaries

Morrish Bible Dictionary

Nebuchadnezzar, or Nebuchadrezzar

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Son of Nabopolassar and virtually founder of the later kingdom of Babylon, the first of the four great Gentile empires. Nebuchadnezzar acted as his father's general and defeated Pharaoh-necho at Carchemish, B.C. 606. Jeremiah 46:2 . Judah about this time became tributary to Babylon, and some captives (including Daniel) and holy vessels were carried away. 2 Chronicles 36:5-7 ; Daniel 1:1-4 . This is called 'the first captivity' of Judah.

Three years later, Judah revolted and Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem. In B.C. 599 the king and many captives, with the treasures of the temple, were taken to Babylon: this is called 'the great captivity.' In B.C. 588 Nebuchadnezzar again besieged Jerusalem, burnt the temple, and destroyed the city. He also took Tyre, B.C. 573, after a siege of thirteen years, for which "he had no wages, nor his army" (the inhabitants having escaped with their riches by sea); but God rewarded him with the spoils of Egypt, which he conquered. 2Kings 24,2 Kings 25 ; 2 Chronicles 36 ; Ezekiel 29:18-20 .

The more personal history of Nebuchadnezzar is given by Daniel. Nebuchadnezzar had selected him, and some of his fellow captives, to fill honourable positions in the state. In the second year of Nebuchadnezzar's reign (B.C. 603) he had the remarkable dream of the Great Image, in the interpretation of which the fact was made known that he had been chosen by God as the first king of an entirely new era, the times of the Gentiles. The house of David had for the time been set aside as God's ruler on earth, and in Nebuchadnezzar the Gentiles had been entrusted with supreme authority. Daniel could say to him, "Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory . . . . thou art this head of gold."

Nebuchadnezzar was a heathen, but he had now learned that he held his kingdom from the God of heaven, and was responsible to Him. In setting up the image of gold he denied the God of heaven, and the head of Gentile power became idolatrous; but on the occasion of his casting into the fiery furnace the three Hebrew companions of Daniel, because they would not worship the image he had set up, he was amazed to see another Person in the furnace like a son of God. He called the three out of the furnace, addressing them as 'servants of the most high God'; he blessed their God, and said that no one must speak anything against Him; but the miracle had no practical moral effect upon him. He had another dream, showing that for his pride God was going to humble him. Daniel counselled him to break off his sins by righteousness, and his iniquities by showing mercy to the poor. Twelve months were given him for repentance; but at the end of that time in his pride he said, "Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?" Then a voice from heaven declared that his kingdom was departed from him. (A monument of Nebuchadnezzar says, "I completely made strong the defences of Babylon, may it last for ever . . . . the city which I have glorified for ever," etc.)

He was now a maniac, and was driven away from men, and ate grass as the ox. He remained thus apparently seven years, signified by 'seven times' (as a time, times, and half a time signify three and a half years in Daniel 12:7 ); then his reason returned, and the kingdom was restored to him. He now said, "I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgement: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase." Daniel 2 Daniel 4 .

Thus Nebuchadnezzar learnt to honour the God who had made him the head of gold. How long he survived this is not known. Evil-merodach, his son, succeeded him in B.C. 561. There is evidence that many towns were built during his reign in his name being found on the bricks among their ruins in every direction.


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Bibliography Information
Morrish, George. Entry for 'Nebuchadnezzar, or Nebuchadrezzar'. Morrish Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/mbd/n/nebuchadnezzar--or-nebuchadrezzar.html. 1897.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, August 19th, 2019
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20
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