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Nebuchadnezzar II

[neb uh kuhd nez' er] King of Babylon and builder of the Hanging Gardens

Nebuchadnezzar II

Nebuchadnezzar was born around 634 B.C., the oldest son of Nabopolassar, the king who wrested Babylon's independence from Assyria.

Once he had secured Babylonian independence, Nabopolassar began a campaign to extend his influence, beginning with the western provinces of modern-day Syria. To that end, he dispatched his son westward with a large army. In 605 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar's army met and defeated a combined Egyptian and Assyrian army at Carchemish, in what is now southern Turkey, bringing all of Syria and Phoenicia (what is now Lebanon and northern Israel) under the control of Babylon. Nabopolassar died that same year, and Nebuchadnezzar assumed the throne.

After becoming king, Nebuchadnezzar resumed his campaign to extend Babylon's influence. He defeated the Cimmerians, Scythians, and Arameans, and then directed his efforts southward. An attempted invasion of Egypt in 601 B.C. was thwarted, leading to several rebellions in previously captured territories. Nebuchadnezzar dealt with these rebellions quickly, and captured Jerusalem in 597 B.C. In 587 B.C., after more rebellions, he destroyed Jerusalem and its temples and deported a sizable portion of its population to Babylon, beginning what the Old Testament calls the "Period of Babylonian Captivity." He then engaged in a thirteen-year siege of Tyre (circa 586-573 B.C.), which ended with the Tyrians accepting Babylonian authority, after which he again set his sights on Egypt. That kingdom was finally subjugated around 568 B.C.

As he expanded his empire, Nebuchadnezzar used the tolls and taxes he collected to make Babylon one of the most magnificent cities of the ancient world. To that end, he employed an army of slaves to surround the city with walls so thick that chariot races were conducted around the tops and which stretched 56 miles in length, encircling an area of 200 square miles. The Ishtar Gate, one of the entrances into the city, was considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World until being replaced by the Lighthouse at Alexandria. Another of those Wonders were the Hanging Gardens, which Nebuchadnezzar built for his wife, Amytis of Media, who missed the mountains and gardens of her homeland.

Nebuchadnezzar II died in 562 B.C. and was succeeded by his son Amel-Marduk.

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The Robinson Library >> General and Old World History >> Asia >> Iraq

This page was last updated on 09/26/2017.