the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
1. His Name:
His name is found in two forms in the Bible, Nebuchadnezzar and Nebuchadrezzar. In the Septuagint he is called Ναβουχοδονοσόρ ,
The father of Nebuchadnezzar was Nabopolassar, probably a Chaldean prince. His mother is not known by name. The classical historians mention two wives: Amytis, the daughter of Astyages, and Nitocris, the mother of Nabunaid. The monuments mention three sons: Evil-merodach who succeeded him, Marduk-shum-utsur, and Marduk-nadin-achi. A younger brother of Nebuchadnezzar, called Nabu-shum-lishir, is mentioned on a building-inscription tablet from the time of Nabopolassar.
3. Sources of Information:
The sources of our information as to the life of Nebuchadnezzar are about 500 contract tablets dated according to the days, months and years of his reign of 43 years; about 30 building and honorific inscriptions; one historical inscription; and in the books of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and Kings. Later sources are Chronicles, Ezra, and the fragments of Berosus, Menander, Megasthenes, Abydenus, and Alexander Polyhistor, largely as cited by Josephus and Eusebius.
4. Political History:
From these sources we learn that Nebuchadnezzar succeeded his father on the throne of Babylon in 604 BC, and reigned till 561 BC. He probably commanded the armies of Babylon from 609. BC. At any rate, he was at the head of the army which defeated Pharaoh-necoh at Carchemish on the Euphrates in 605
5. Buildings, Etc.:
The monuments justify the boast of Nebuchadnezzar "Is not this great Babylon that I have built?" (Daniel 4:30 ). Among these buildings special emphasis is placed by Nebuchadnezzar upon his temples and shrines to the gods, particularly to Marduk, Nebo and Zarpinat, but also to Shamash, Sin, Gula, Ramman, Mah, and others. He constructed, also, a great new palace and rebuilt an old one of his father's. Besides, he laid out and paved with bricks a great street for the procession of Marduk, and built a number of great walls with moats and moat-walls and gates. He dug several broad, deep canals, and made dams for flooding the country to the North and South of Babylon, so as to protect it against the attack of its enemies. He made, also, great bronze bulls and serpents, and adorned his temples and palaces with cedars and gold. Not merely in Babylon itself, but in many of the cities of Babylonia as well, his building operations were carried on, especially in the line of temples to the gods.
6. Religion, Etc.:
The inscriptions of Nebuchadnezzar show that he was a very religious man, probably excelling all who had preceded him in the building of temples, in the institution of offerings, and the observance of all the ceremonies connected with the worship of the gods. His larger inscriptions usually contain two hymns and always close with a prayer. Mention is frequently made of the offerings of precious metals, stones and woods, of game, fish, wine, fruit, grain, and other objects acceptable to the gods. It is worthy of note that these offerings differ in character and apparently in purpose from those in use among the Jews. For example, no mention is made in any one of Nebuchadnezzar's inscriptions of the pouring out or sprinkling of blood, nor is any reference made to atonement, or to sin.
No reference is made in any of these inscriptions to Nebuchadnezzar's insanity. But aside from the fact that we could scarcely expect a man to publish his own calamity, especially madness, it should be noted that according to Langdon we have but three inscriptions of his written in the period from 580 to 561 BC. If his madness lasted for 7 years, it may have occurred between 580,567 BC, or it may have occurred between the Egyptian campaign of 567
8. Miracles, Etc.:
No mention is made on the monuments (1) of the dream of Nebuchadnezzar recorded in Daniel 2 , or (2) of the image of gold that he set up, or (3) of the fiery furnace from which the three children were delivered (Daniel 3 ). As to (1), it may be said, however, that a belief in dreams was so universal among all the ancient peoples, that a single instance of this kind may not have been considered as worthy of special mention. The annals of Ashur-banipal and Nubu-naid and Xerxes give a number of instances of the importance attached to dreams and their interpretation. It is almost certain that Nebuchadnezzar also believed in them. That the dream recorded in Dan is not mentioned on the monuments seems less remarkable than that no dream of his is recorded. As to (2) we know that Nebuchadnezzar made an image of his royal person (
The failure of Nebuchadnezzar to mention any of the particular persons or events recorded in Dan does not disprove their historicity, any more than his failure to mention the battle of Carchemish, or the siege of Tyre and Jerusalem, disproves them. The fact is, we have no real historical inscription of Nebuchadnezzar, except one fragment of a few broken lines found in Egypt.
T.G. Pinches, The New Testament in the Light of the Historical Records and Legends of Assyria and Babylonia ; Stephen Langdon, Building Inscriptions of the Neo-Babylonian Empire . See also, Rogers, History of Babylonia and Assyria ; and McCurdy, History, Prophecy and the Monuments , III.
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Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Nebuchadnezzar; Nebuchadrezzar'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​isb/​n/nebuchadnezzar-nebuchadrezzar.html. 1915.