After defeating the combined armies of Egypt and Assyria at Carchemish in 605 BCE, Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon conquered Jerusalem. Babylon carted way the city’s holy temple treasures and took captive, along with many others, the prophet Daniel and his three friends Mishael, Hananiah and Azariah (better known soon afterward for dancing in a fiery furnace after being renamed Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego). Following his facilitation of the first deportation at Jerusalem, then General Nebuchadnezzar succeeded his father, Nabopollassar, as king. The rest, of course, is history, but little of what has been written is kind to the Neo-Babylonian Empire’s most notorious commander-in-chief. There are, of course, reasons for that.
Read the Book of Daniel and you too will likely consider Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon to have been a savage, narcissist and boor. Of course you would be right, but no one is perfect. In the course of researching my book about the Prophet Daniel’s life in Babylon, For the Sake of His Name, I discovered, along with several factors which help to explain Nebuchadnezzar’s serial brutality toward Jerusalem, ample testimony of his exceptional talents as a statesman, engineer and visionary as well as gifted general and king.
In this, Part One of a two-part study, Defending Nebuchadnezzar, we’ll examine the great king’s singular list of accomplishments. In Part Two, we’ll examine the geopolitical havoc that drove him to madness, obsessing over Egypt and his most impactful move, historically, his decision to put a savage end to the sovereignty of ancient Israel.