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Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon
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Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon

Nebuchadnezzar's palace
Nebuchadnezzar (or Nebudchadrezzar) II (ca. 630 BC - ca. 561 BC), perhaps the best known ruler of Babylon in the Neo-Babylonian Dynasty. Nebuchadnezzar is (in)famous for his conquests of Judah and Jerusalem, in addition to his monumental building within his capital of Babylon.

His name, in the Babylonian orthography Nabu-kudur-uzur, means "Nebo, protect the crown!" or the "frontiers" or the "heirs". In an inscription he styles himself "Nebo's favourite."

(Hebrew נבוכדנאצר Nəbhûkhadhnệşşar, Nevuchadnetzar, N'vuchadnetzar: Akkadian origin Nabû-kudurri-uṣur "Nabu, defend my boundary marker.")

Nebuchadnezzar was the oldest son and successor of Nabopolassar, who delivered Babylon from its dependence on Assyria and laid Nineveh in ruins. He married the daughter of Cyaxares, and thus the Median and Babylonian dynasties were united.

Necho II, the king of Egypt, had gained a victory over the Assyrians at Carchemish. This secured Egypt the possession of Levantine provinces of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, including parts of Palestine. The remaining Assyrian provinces were divided between Babylonia and Media. Nabopolassar was intent on reconquering from Necho the western provinces of Syria, however, and to this end dispatched his son with a powerful army westward. In the ensuing Battle of Carchemish in 606 BC, the Egyptian army was defeated and driven back, and Syria and Phoenicia were brought under the sway of Babylon. Nabopolassar died in 605 BC and Nebuchadnezzar returned to Babylon to ascend to the throne.

Nebuchadnezzar subsequently engaged in several military campaigns designed to increase Babylonian influence in Syria and Judah, capturing Jerusalem in 597 BC, bringing King Jehoiachin to Babylon. Another siege of Jerusalem occurred in 586 BC, ending in the destruction of both the city and the Temple and the deportation of many prominent citizens to Babylon. These events are described in the Bible.

A clay tablet, now in the British Museum, bears the following inscription referring to his wars: "In the thirty-seventh year of Nebuchadnezzar, king of the country of Babylon, he went to Mitzraim (Egypt) to make war. Amasis, king of Egypt, collected [his army], and marched and spread abroad." Having completed the subjugation of Phoenicia, and inflicted chastisement on Egypt, Nebuchadnezzar now set himself to rebuild and adorn the city of Babylon, and constructed canals, aqueducts and reservoirs.

After his death ca. 561 BC, in the eighty-third or eighty-fourth year of his age, after a reign of forty-three years, he was succeeded by his son Evil-merodach, who, after a reign of two years, was succeeded by Neriglissar (559 - 555), who was succeeded by Nabonidus (555 - 538), at the close of whose reign (less than a quarter of a century after the death of Nebuchadnezzar) Babylon fell under Cyrus at the head of the combined armies of Media and Persia.

Initial text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897 -- Please update as needed