Nebuchadnezzar was a very relevant character in the biblical history of the Old Testament. Do you want to know why? In this article, we are going to analyze his figure and the facts that made him transcend to his time.
Nebuchadnezzar in the Bible
In the Bible, there are many characters who are mentioned on different occasions, but their great or little importance within our religion is not fully recognized.
One of them is Nebuchadnezzar, a character from the Old Testament who marked a before and after in the history of Ancient Israel, becoming an enemy for the Jews and a hero for the Persians of those times.
Today, we are going to see a little more about this character using the references that you can find in the Bible and the historical findings that experts have obtained to give you a complete vision of him and form a well-based opinion.
Biblical history is very important to understand Christianity and its origins, so we invite you to get to know it with us and thus incorporate a lot of new knowledge into your prayers that will make you get closer to the Lord. Let us begin!
Nebuchadnezzar I and Nebuchadnezzar II
There are two historical figures by the name of Nebuchadnezzar, both kings of Babylon, but who lived in very different periods and are not related at all.
Nebuchadnezzar I lived in the 12th century BC, reigning over the city-state of Babylon, located in present-day Iraq and known as one of the most influential cities of the Ancient Age. Although this king led Babylon to a status of wealth and abundance, he had no relationship with the people of Israel and therefore does not appear in the Bible.
On the other hand, Nebuchadnezzar II reigned over the same place in the 6th century BC, 600 years after the previous one. During his lifetime, he freed Babylon from the Assyrian empire and managed to expand its borders to the very land of Canaan or, as we know it today, Israel.
It is this second king who appears in the biblical accounts and who is of great importance in the development of monotheism and, therefore, Christianity. In the following video, you can see his relevance from a more historical perspective, thus knowing all his milestones and why he is considered a great king for some and a villain for others.
Nebuchadnezzar meaning and explanation
The name Nebuchadnezzar comes from the extinct Akkadian language, which was spoken in the region at that time, but which disappeared after the different invasions that the territory received throughout its history until today.
The literal translation would be “O Nabu, protect my crown”, Nabu being the Babylonian god of writing and wisdom. Thus, the first lesson we draw is that the citizens of Babylon professed a polytheistic faith, very different from the one we have and the one that Moses taught his people many years ago.
As we have already told you, Nebuchadnezzar II invaded the Jews during his reign, destroying Jerusalem and its temple and taking captive the most important people in the kingdom.
The destruction of the temple is not a detail to be underestimated, since at that time the analogy of the temple as the house of God had a much more literal meaning and its destruction was a crucial setback in the Jewish faith.
Given the relevance of this event, there are several biblical books that speak of the subject, the main ones being II Chronicles and II Kings. The prophetic books also mention it, some of them even living it in the first person.
The first prophet who spoke of the invasion of Babylon was Isaiah, in Isaiah 13 and Isaiah 14; in which reference is made to the Babylonian prophecy. In it, the Lord warns his people through Isaiah of the danger that is approaching if they do not change their sinful and impure customs and do not recover the path of true faith.
Other prophets who lived it in their flesh were Jeremiah and Ezekiel; which had the mission of refounding the people of Israel during exile and reinstilling faith in God after their punishment.
Next, we leave you a fragment of Jeremiah that very clearly reflects the situation they experienced because of the generalized sin of the people.
“Israel is a wayward flock, scattered by lions. First the king of
Assyria ate him, and then King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon crushed his bones.” (Jeremiah 50:17)
Other prophets lived after the exile such as Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, and Zechariah; all of them distributed in the books of the Old Testament that bear their names. Even so, the most important prophet who wrote about Nebuchadnezzar was Daniel and that is why we will dedicate a separate section to him.
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Daniel and King Nebuchadnezzar
The Book of Daniel is a detailed account of how a person from the Jewish aristocracy lived in exile in Babylon in the court of King Nebuchadnezzar. Protected by the Lord, he managed to be an important member of the king’s close circle and live some of the best-known episodes of his life.
In Daniel 2 we find a very significant story about a dream of King Nebuchadnezzar and how it was a vision sent by God to make the king see what
his true faith should be.
The story begins when Nebuchadnezzar cannot sleep properly due to what he considers to be a nightmare. The next day, he needs someone to interpret his dream without him having to explain it, something unthinkable for any mortal being, so he has all the wise men of Babylon executed including Daniel.
However, the Hebrew prophet maintains his faith and the Lord shows him the king’s dream. In this way, Daniel manages to save his skin and that of others by telling and interpreting the dream.
This consisted of a large statue made of different metals that signified the fragility of the different human empires such as the Babylonians. When one kingdom perished, another rose in its place in a seemingly endless cycle.
But there is something that can end all the kingdoms of the world and this is the kingdom of God. Symbolized as a rock from a mountain in the dream, he is able to destroy the statue and establish himself as the only eternal and indestructible kingdom in the universe.
Nebuchadnezzar realizes this and, after congratulating Daniel, recognizes the great power of God.
In the next chapter, Daniel 3, Nebuchadnezzar erects an imposing golden statue in the midst of Babylon and forces all the citizens to bow before it.
Even so, there are three Jews who refuse to do so and are sentenced to die in a fiery furnace. There, the Lord miraculously saves them from harm and the king realizes again how powerful God is. But this is not enough and another episode is necessary for Nebuchadnezzar to really have faith.
Nebuchadnezzar turns into a beast
Finally, chapter Daniel 4, is related again to a dream; although in this case, it is a very different dream.
The prophet Daniel interprets his dream, in which Nebuchadnezzar is a tree that is felled by an envoy of God and forced to eat with the animals as if it were a beast for 7 years.
In fact, this dream was a prophecy and Daniel warned her that if she didn’t change her habits, everything that happened in the dream was going to happen for real.
And so it was, Nebuchadnezzar’s madness soon arrived, which made him see himself surrounded by animals and treated like them until he recognized which was the true God. After this, he regained his power and kingdom from him and never again doubted his faith.
This episode leaves us with the following verses that are so strong by way of prayer:
“After seven years, I, Nebuchadnezzar, stopped being crazy. Then I raised my eyes
to heaven and gave thanks to the Most High God, who lives forever. I praised him and said:
Your power will last forever,
and your kingdom will have no end.
Before you, we
who live on earth can do nothing.
You do what you want
with the armies of heaven
and with the inhabitants of the world.
No one can oppose you,
nor make any claims against you.”
King Nebuchadnezzar, additional information
To complete all your knowledge about Nebuchadnezzar II, we are going to leave you here other additional information that may interest you and that is not found in the Bible.
How does Nebuchadnezzar die?
There are no records of King Nebuchadnezzar dying violently or as a result of poisoning as was usual in those times. The most probable cause of his death is surely due to aging.
The most important thing about his death is the entire political landscape he left behind. His figure led Babylon to be one of the largest empires of the time and to build possibly the most beautiful city in the world, with the Hanging Gardens of Babylon considered one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world.
However, after his death, it would be difficult to keep that empire together, which ended up perishing a few years later.
Son of Nebuchadnezzar
Nebuchadnezzar’s son was Evilmerodac, who succeeded him on the throne although his reign lasted only 2 years. The internal fights began to be evident and the Babylonian empire was living its last years of existence.
The most relevant thing about his reign was that he got the king of Judah, known as King Jehoiachin, out of prison after more than 30 years of captivity and became almost a friend
The throne of Evilmerodac was usurped by Neriglislar, Nebuchadnezzar’s son-in-law after a conspiracy, although his reign did not last long either and Nabonidus finally succeeded him.
Nabonidus was the last king of Babylon before the empire was defeated by the Persians. This ended the years of Jewish captivity in Babylon since the Persian king authorized the Jews to return to his land.
Nebuchadnezzar in popular culture
There are many references to the name of Nebuchadnezzar in different areas of popular culture due to the legendary nature of his character and the fame he has for appearing in biblical writings.
A very clear example is seen in the award-winning film The Matrix, which deals with a dystopian future in which human beings are enslaved by machines. The fact is that the ship that one of the characters uses is called Nebuchadnezzar and receives this name because of the relationship of the biblical character with dreams.
On the other hand, the designation that a 15-liter bottle of champagne takes is also called Nebuchadnezzar. Other biblical characters also appear in these designations, such as Solomon (18 liters) or Melchizedek (30 liters)
Finally, there is an opera by the great composer Giuseppe Verdi called Nabucco, which is an adaptation of the king’s life. We leave you with a video so you can enjoy this opera:
And here we end our biblical history article on King Nebuchadnezzar II, a very important character in the Bible who forced the inhabitants of Israel to renew their faith while he also discovered the true God.
We hope that you have learned a lot and that you have enjoyed everything that we have explained to you.