Nebuchadnezzar - Babylonian King

Profile of King Nebuchadnezzar, a Ruler God Humbled

Nebuchadnezzar
Daniel Interprets King Nebuchadnezzar's Dream. Getty Images

Nebuchadnezzar was one of the most powerful rulers ever to appear on the world stage, yet like all kings, his might was nothing in the face of the One True God.

This Babylonian monarch figured prominently in the Bible books of Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel.  His name means "may Nebo (or Nabu) protect the crown" and is sometimes translated as Nebuchadrezzar.

Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem in 587 BC and transported many of its brightest citizens back to Babylon, including the young Daniel and his three Hebrew friends, who were renamed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

The book of Daniel pulls back the curtain of time to show how God used Nebuchadnezzar to shape world history.  Like many rulers, Nebuchadnezzar reveled in his own superiority, but in reality he was only an instrument in God's plan.

God gave Daniel the ability to interpret Nebuchadnezzar's dreams, but the king did not submit wholly to God.  Daniel explained a dream that predicted the king would go insane for seven years, live in the fields like an animal, with long hair and fingernails, and eat grass.  A year later, as Nebuchadnezzar was boasting to himself, the dream came true.

Archaeologists say a mysterious period does exist during Nebuchadnezzar's 43-year reign in which a queen controlled the country.  Eventually Nebuchadnezzar's sanity returned and he acknowledged the sovereignty of God (Daniel 4:34-37).

Accomplishments of Nebuchadnezzar:

Nebuchadnezzar was a successful conqueror and builder.

  Thousands of bricks have been found in Iraq with his name stamped on them.  He defeated Egypt, expanded the Babylonian empire, and lived to be 84 years old.

Strengths of Nebuchadnezzar:

Nebuchadnezzar followed two wise policies:  He allowed conquered nations to retain their own religion, and he imported the smartest of the conquered peoples to help him govern.

  At times he recognized Jehovah, but his fidelity was short-lived.    

Weaknesses of Nebuchadnezzar:

Pride was Nebuchadnezzar's undoing.  He could be manipulated through flattery and imagined himself on a par with God, deserving worship.

Life Lessons:

Daniel watched kings come and go, including Nebuchadnezzar.  Daniel understood that only God should be worshipped because only God holds ultimate power.  Nebuchadnezzar's life teaches that humility and obedience to God matter more than worldly achievements.

Hometown:

Babylon.

References to Nebuchadnezzar in the Bible:

2 Kings 24, 25; 2 Chronicles 36; Jeremiah 21-52; and Daniel 1-4. 

Occupation:

General, king of the Babylonian empire.

Family Tree:

Father - Nabopolassar
Son - Evilmerodach
Grandson - Belshazzar

Key Verses:

Daniel 3:28
Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God." (NIV)

Daniel 4:31-33
The words were still on his lips when a voice came from heaven, “This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you." Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like cattle. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird.

  (NIV)

Daniel 4:37
Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble. (NIV)

(Sources: Smith's Bible Dictionary, by William Smith; The New Unger's Bible Dictionary, R.K. Harrison, editor; Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Trent C. Butler, general editor, Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Matthew George Easton.)

Jack Zavada, a career writer and contributor for About.com, is host to a Christian website for singles. Never married, Jack feels that the hard-won lessons he has learned may help other Christian singles make sense of their lives. His articles and ebooks offer great hope and encouragement. To contact him or for more information, visit Jack's Bio Page.