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Monday, April 4, 2011

Of Babylon

My inspiration comes from everywhere. One of my favorite inpirations will always be the Bible. To give you a little backstory for the newest piece I've written I want to tell you all about a notable character in the Bilbe, the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II.

Nebuchadnezzar II (‎English pronunciation: /nɛbəkədˈnɛzər/ Arabic: نِبُوخَذنِصَّر c 634 – 562 BC) was king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, who reigned c. 605 BC – 562 BC. According to the Bible, he conquered Judah and Jerusalem, and sent the Jews into exile. He is credited with the construction of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and the destruction of the First Temple. He is featured in the Book of Daniel and is also mentioned in several other books of the Bible. The Akkadian name, Nabû-kudurri-uṣur, means "Oh god Nabu, preserve/defend my firstborn son". Nabu is the Babylonian deity of wisdom, and son of the god Marduk. In an inscription, Nebuchadnezzar styles himself as Nabu's “beloved” and “favourite”.

The name is often mistakenly interpreted as "O Nabu, defend my kudurru", in which sense a kudurru is an inscribed stone deed of property. However, when contained in a ruler's title, kudurru approximates to "firstborn son" or "oldest son".[5] The Hebrew form is נְבוּכַדְנֶצַּר (Nəḇūḵaḏneṣṣaror Nevuchadnetsar), but is also found as נְבוּכַדְנֶאצַּר and נְבוּכַדְרֶאצַּר (Nəḇuḵaḏreṣṣar). The Greek form was Ναβουχοδονόσωρ (Naboukhodonósôr). He is also known as Bakhat Nasar, which means "winner of the fate", or literally, "fate winner".

Nebuchadnezzar is most widely known through his portrayal in the Bible, especially the Book of Daniel as נְבוּכַדְנֶאצַּר. The Bible discusses events of his reign and in addition his conquest of Jerusalem.

The second chapter of Daniel relates an account attributed to the second year of his reign, in which Nebuchadnezzar dreams of a huge image made of various materials (gold, silver, bronze, iron and clay). The prophet Daniel tells him God's interpretation, that it stands for the rise and fall of world powers, starting with Nebuchadnezzar's own as the golden head.

In Daniel chapter 3, Nebuchadnezzar erects a large idol made of gold for worship during a public ceremony on the plain of Dura. When three Jews, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (respectively renamed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego by their captors, to facilitate their assimilation into Babylonian culture), refuse to take part, he has them cast into a fiery furnace. They are protected by what Nebuchadnezzar describes as "the son of God" (Daniel 3:25) and emerge unscathed without even the smell of smoke.

Daniel chapter 4 contains an account of another of Nebuchadnezzar's dreams, this time of an immense tree, which Daniel interprets that Nebuchadnezzar will go insane for seven years because of his pride.

While boasting over his achievements, Nebuchadnezzar is humbled by God. The king loses his sanity and lives in the wild like an animal for seven years. After this, his sanity and position are restored and he praises and honors God. There has been some speculation on what the organic cause of this insanity might have been. Some consider it to be an attack of clinical lycanthropy or alternatively porphyria, or an advanced case ofsyphilis.

Some scholars think that Nebuchadnezzar's portrayal by Daniel is a mixture of traditions about Nebuchadnezzar — he was indeed the one who conquered Jerusalem — and about Nabonidus (Nabuna'id). For example, Nabonidus was the natural, or paternal father of Belshazzar, and the seven years of insanity could be related to Nabonidus' sojourn in Tayma in the desert. Fragments from the Dead Sea Scrolls, written from 150 BC to 70 AD state that it was Nabonidus (N-b-n-y) who was smitten by God with a fever for seven years of his reign while his son Belshazzar was regent.

The Book of Jeremiah contains a prophecy about the arising of a "destroyer of nations", commonly regarded as a reference to Nebuchadnezzar (Jer. 4:7), as well as an account of Nebuchadnezzar's siege of Jerusalem and looting and destruction of the temple (Jer. 52).