As A Biblical Villain

Daniel Interpreting Nebuchadnezzar's Dream

' King Nebuchadnezzar 'II was the Ruler of Babylon in the Biblical Times. He took the citizens as slaves. He was rumoured to have built a golden image of himself and he possibly threw the three Hebrew boys Shadrach, Meshach, and Abendego into the fiery furnace. However, the story says that they did not burn and that Nebuchadnezzar had commented that he saw four men walking in the flames and one looked like a son of God. He then supposedly made a decree that stated that eveyone must worship and obey the Hebrew boys' God. In Daniel 4, it describes how he took credit for something that belonged to God, and was driven to a feral state. According to it, he then acknowledged the God of Heaven, and then worshipped Him and turned good.

As A Historical Figure

However, in actual history, Nebuchadnezzar II was also a somewhat positive figure, and the claims made in the Bible must be viewed with skepticism. Nebuchadnezzar first served under his father, King Nabopolassar, and helped his father liberate the city of Babylon from the control of the Assyrians by travelling west and defeating Pharoah Necho II, a puppet of the Assyrians who wanted to keep Babylon under Assyrian rule. Nebuchadnezzar managed to drive off the Egyptian and Assyrian armies, but Napopolassar died soon after, and Nebuchadnezzar returned to Babylon to ascend to the throne. Like many other leaders of his time, Nebuchadnezzar attempted to expand his empire, waging battles against the Egyptians once again, as well as several Phoenican and Caananite states, which no doubt is where he gets his biblical infamy, exaggerating a man who committted admittedly evil acts, but not the worst acts leaders in his time period had committed, into a monstrous, Hitler-esque figure. This demonization served another purpose, as Babylon was often used in the Bible as an allegory for Rome, and by exaggerating some of Nebuchadnezzar's actions, it was possible to satirize and undermine the authority of the Emporer without necessarily committing an illegal act. It is unlikely that Nebuchadnezzar converted to Judaism.

The city of Babylon had been devestated due to Assyrian occupation, and after his violent military campaigns, Nebuchadnezzar turned his focus to more peaceful endeavors. He repaired his father's palace, created many new monuments to the gods of the Babylonian pantheon, and lined the city with walls, constructing the famed Ishtar Gate as one of the ways to enter the city through the walls. He also repaired the Etemenanki  Ziggurut, a seven story building that would have towered over ancient Babylon. The previous destruction of the Etemenanki Ziggurut (before Nebuchadnezzar repaired it), while nowhere near the height described in the Bible, is most likely the inspiration for the Tower of Babel. Nebuchadnezzar is also is rumoured to have built the Hanging Gardens of Babylon to remind his homesick wife of her mountainous homeland, though that claim is shrouded in rumour and it is possible that the Hanging Gardens were actually built by the Assyrians, in their capital, Ninevah. If it wasn't for Nebuchadnezzar's restorations, Babylon's wonders and buildings might not be around today at all, even as ruins, and scientists and archeologists studying the ruins of Babylon have him to thank.