Fausset's Bible Dictionary



In the monuments Nabu-juduri-utsur, the middle syllable being the same as Kudur or Chedor-laomer. Explained by Gesenius "the prince favored by Nebo"; Oppert, "Nebo, kadr ("power"), and zar ("prince")"; Rawlinson, "Nebo his protector (participle from naatsar "protect") against misfortune" (kidor "trouble".) His father Nabo-polassar having overthrown Nineveh, Babylon became supreme. Married his father's Median ally, Cyaxares' daughter, Amuhia, at the time of their alliance against Assyria 625 B.C. (Abydenus in Eusebius, Chronicles Can., i. 9). Possibly is the Labynetus (Herodotus i. 74) who led the Babylonian force under Cyaxares in his Lydian war and whose interposition at the eclipse (610 B.C.) concluded the campaign. Sent by Nabopolassar to punish Pharaoh Necho, the conqueror of Josiah at Megiddo. Defeated Necho at Carchemish (605 B.C.) and wrested from him all the territory from Euphrates to Egypt (Jer_46:2; Jer_46:12; 2Ki_24:7) which he had held for three years, so that "he came not again any more out of his land."

Became master of Coelo-Syria, Phoenicia, and Palestine. Took Jerusalem in the third year of Jehoiakim, and "carried into the land of Shinar, to the house of his god (Merodach), part of the vessels of the house of God" (Dan_1:1-2; 2Ch_36:6). Daniel and the three children of the royal seed were at that time taken to Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar mounted the throne 604 B.C., having rapidly re-crossed the desert with his light troops and reached Babylon before any disturbance could take place. He brought with him Jehovah's vessels and the Jewish captives. The fourth year of Jehoiakim coincided with the first of Nebuchadnezzar (Jer_25:1). In the earlier part of the (year Nebuchadnezzar smote Necho at Carchemish, Jer_46:2). The deportation from Jerusalem was shortly before, namely, in the end of Jehoiakim's third year; with it begins the Babylonian captivity, 605 B.C. (Jer_29:1-10). Jehoiakim after three years of vassalage revolted, in reliance on Egypt (2Ki_24:1). Nebuchadnezzar sent bands of Chaldees, Syrians, Moabites, and Ammonites against him (2Ki_24:2).

Next, Phoenicia revolted. Then in person Nebuchadnezzar marched against Tyre. In the seventh year of his reign he marched thence against Jerusalem; it surrendered, and Jehoiakim fell, probably in battle. Josephus says Nebuchadnezzar put him to death (Ant. 10:6 section 3). (See JEHOIAKIM.) Jehoiakim after a three months' reign was carried away to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar with the princes, warriors, and craftsmen, and the palace treasures, and Solomon's gold vessels cut in pieces, at his third advance against Jerusalem (2Ki_24:8-16). Tyre fell 585 B.C., after a 13 years' siege. Meantime Zedekiah, Nebuchadnezzar's sworn vassal, in treaty with Pharaoh Hophra (Apries) revolted (Eze_17:15). Nebuchadnezzar besieged him 588-586 B.C., and in spite of a temporary raising of the siege through Hophra (Jer_37:5-8) took and destroyed Jerusalem after an 18 months' siege (2 Kings 25). Zedekiah's eyes were put out after he had seen his sons slain first at Riblah, where Nebuchadnezzar "gave judgment upon him," and was kept a prisoner in Babylon the rest of his life. (See GEDALIAH; NEBUZARADAN; JERUSALEM.)

Phoenicia submitted to him (Ezekiel 26-28; Josephus, Ap. 1:21), and Egypt was punished (Jer_46:13-26; Eze_29:2-10, Josephus, Ant. 10:9, section 7). Nebuchadnezzar is most celebrated for his buildings: the temple of Bel Merodach at Babylon (the Kasr), built with his Syrian spoils (Josephus, Ant. 10:11, section 1); the fortifications of Babylon, three lines of walls 80 ft. broad, 300 ft. high, enclosing 130 square miles; a new palace near his father's which he finished in 15 days, attached to it were his "hanging gardens," a square 400 ft. on each side and 75 ft. high, supported on arched galleries increasing in height from the base to the summit; in these were chambers, one containing the engines for raising the water to the mound; immense stones imitated the surface of the Median mountain, to remind his wife of her native land. The standard inscription ("I completely made strong the defenses of Babylon, may it last forever ... the city which I have glorified," etc.) accords with Berosus' statement, and nine-tenths of the bricks in situ are stamped with Nebuchadnezzar's name.

Daniel (Dan_4:30) also records his boast, "is not this great Babylon which I have built by the might of my power and for the honour of my majesty?" Sir H. Rawlinson (Inscr. Assyr. and Babyl., 76-77) states that the bricks of 100 different towns about Bagdad all bear the one inscription, "Nebuchadnezzar, son of Nabopolassar, king of Babylon." Abydenus states Nebuchadnezzar made the nahr malcha, "royal river," a branch from the Euphrates, and the Acracanus; also the reservoir above the city Sippara, 90 miles round and 120 ft. deep, with sluices to irrigate the low land; also a quay on the Persian gulf, and the city Teredon on the Arabian border. The network of irrigation by canals between the Tigris and Euphrates, and on the right bank of the Euphrates to the stony desert, was his work; also the canal still traceable from Hit at the Euphrates, framing 400 miles S.E. to the bay of Grane in the Persian gulf. His system of irrigation made Babylonia a garden, enriching at once the people and himself.

The long list of various officers in Dan_3:1-3; Dan_3:27, also of diviners forming a hierarchy (Dan_2:48), shows the extent of the organization of the empire, so that the emblem of so vast a polity is "a tree ... the height reaching unto heaven, and the sight to the end of all the earth ... in which was meat for all, under which the beasts ... had shadow and the fowls dwelt in the boughs and all flesh was fed of it" (Dan_4:10-12). In Dan_2:37 he is called "king of kings," i.e. of the various kingdoms wheresoever he turned his arms, Egypt, Nineveh, Arabia, Phoenicia, Tyre. Isaiah's patriotism was shown in counseling resistance to Assyria; Jeremiah's (Jeremiah 27) in urging submission to Babylon as the only safety; for God promised Judah's deliverance from the former, but "gave all the lands into Nebuchadnezzar's hands, and the beasts of the field also, to serve him and his son and his son's son."

The kingdom originally given to Adam (Gen_1:28; Gen_2:19-20), forfeited by sin, God temporarily delegated to Nebuchadnezzar, the "head of gold," the first of the four great world powers (Daniel 2 and Daniel 7). As Nebuchadnezzar and the other three abused the trust, for self not, for God, the Son of Man, the Fifth, to whom of right it belongs, shall wrest it from them and restore to man his lost inheritance, ruling with the saints for God's glory and man's blessedness (Psa_8:4-6; Rev_11:15-18; Dan_2:34-35; Dan_2:44-45; Dan_7:13-27). Nebuchadnezzar was punished with the form of insanity called lycanthropy (fancying himself to be a beast and living in their haunts) for pride generated by his great conquest and buildings (Daniel 4). When man would be as God, like Adam and Nebuchadnezzar he sinks from lordship over creation to the brute level and loses his true manhood, which is likeness to God (Gen_1:27; Gen_2:19; Gen_3:5; Psa_49:6; Psa_49:10-12; Psa_82:6-7); a key to the symbolism which represents the mighty world kingdoms as "beasts" (Daniel 7).

Angel "watchers" demand that every mortal be humbled whosoever would obscure God's glory. Abydenus (268 B.C.) states: "Nebuchadnezzar having ascended upon his palace roof predicted the Persian conquest of Babylon (which he knew from Dan_2:39), praying that the conqueror might be borne where there is no path of men and where the wild beasts graze"; a corruption of the true story and confirming it. The panorama of the world's glory that overcame Nebuchadnezzar through the lust of the eye, as he stood on his palace roof, Satan tried upon Jesus in vain (Mat_4:8-10). In the standard inscription Nebuchadnezzar says, "for four years in Babylon buildings for the honour of my kingdom I did not lay out. In the worship of Merodach my lord I did not sing his praises, I did not furnish his altar with victims, nor clear out the canals" (Rawlinson, Herodotus, ii. 586). It was "while the word was in the king's mouth there fell a voice from heaven ... thy kingdom is departed from thee" (compare Herod, Act_12:19-20).

His nobles cooperated in his being "driven from men" (Dan_4:33); these same "counselors and lords sought unto him," weary of anarchy after the "seven times," i.e. a complete sacred cycle of time, a week of years, had passed over him, and with the glimmer of reason left he "lifted up his eyes unto heaven," instead of beast like turning his eyes downward (compare Jon_2:1-2; Jon_2:4), and turned to Him that smote him (Isa_9:13), and "honoured Him" whom before he had robbed of His due honour. Psa_116:12; Psa_116:14; Mar_5:15; Mar_5:18-19; compare on the spiritual lesson Job_33:17-18; 1Sa_2:8; Pro_16:18. Messiah's kingdom alone will be the "tree" under whose shadow all nations, and even the dumb creatures, shall dwell in blissful harmony (Eze_17:23; Mat_13:32; Isa_11:6-9). Nitocris was probably his second queen, an Egyptian (for this ancient name was revived about this time, as the Egyptian monuments prove), for he lived 60 years after his marriage to his first queen Amuhia (625 B.C.).

Herodotus ascribes to Nitocris many of the works assigned by Berosus to Nebuchadnezzar. On his recovery, according to the standard inscription, which confirms Scripture, he added "wonders" in old age to those of his earlier reign. He died 561 B.C., 83 or 84 years old, after reigning 43 years. Devotion to the gods, especially Bel Merodach, from whom he named his son and successor Evil Merodach, and the desire to rest his fame on his great works and the arts of peace rather than his warlike deeds, are his favorable characteristics in the monuments. Pride, violence and fury, and cruel sternness, were Nebuchadnezzar's faults (Dan_2:12; Dan_3:19; 2Ki_25:7; 2Ki_24:8). Not to Daniel but to Nebuchadnezzar, the first representative head of the world power who overcame the theocracy, the dreams were given announcing its doom.

The dream was the appropriate form for one outside the kingdom of God, as Nebuchadnezzar and Pharaoh (Genesis 41). But an Israelite must interpret it; and Nebuchadnezzar worshipped Daniel, an earnest of the future prostration of the world power before Christ and the church (Rev_3:9; 1Co_14:25; Phi_2:10; 1Co_6:2; Luk_19:17). The image set up by Nebuchadnezzar represented himself the head of the first world power, of whom Daniel had said "thou art this head of gold." Daniel was regarded by Nebuchadnezzar as divine, and so was not asked to worship it (Dan_2:46). The 60 cubits' height includes together the image, 27 cubits (40 1/2 ft.), and the pedestal, 33 cubits (50 ft.). Herodotus, i. 183, similarly mentions Belus' image in the temple at Babylon as 40 ft. high. Oppert found in the Dura (Dowair) plain the pedestal of what must have been a colossal statue. Nebuchadnezzar is the forerunner of antichrist, to whose "image" whosoever will not offer worship shall be killed (Rev_13:14).


Taken from: Fausset's Bible Dictionary by Andrew Robert Fausset (1821-1910)