Nebuchadnezzar II (ca. 605-562 B.C.)Nebuchadnezzar II (ca. 605-562 B.C.) - With the fall of the Assyrian Empire, it was now Babylon's turn to assert hegemony over Mesopotamia. And it did so under the leadership of a very powerful king, Nebuchadnezzar II. He began his career as the commander of his father's (Nabopolassar) army. Their empire is known as the Neo-Babylonian Empire to distinguish it from the old Babylonian Empire of Hammurabi. The Neo-Babylonians consisted mostly of Chaldeans who originated from southeast Mesopotamia near the Persian Gulf. Babylon had been so war-torn over the centuries that occupation was relatively easy after Nineveh fell. Nebuchadnezzar was known to have a very long and very prosperous reign. He is renown for many achievements. Under his rule, Babylon became the wealthiest, most powerful city on earth. He built a new temple to Marduk, constructed the Ishtar Gate and is credited with the Hanging Gardens, one of the ancient Wonders of the World. And it was all said to be protected by the most formidable walls ever. Herodotus who may have visited the city in 460 B.C. describes walls of almost mythic proportions. He records a total length of 360 stades (about 41 miles or 66km) and a height of 200 royal cubits (300 ft or 91m). The base was 50 royal cubits (75 ft or 23m) thick, and the top of the walls were 20 royal cubits (30 ft or 9m) thick.

 

Herodotus remarked that the top was paved with a road wide enough for two four-horse drawn chariots to pass each other without touching. It was protected by 250 armed towers and could be accessed through 25 fortified gates. The city was so large it bestrode the Euphrates River. It is with justification that Nebuchadnezzar boasted, "Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?" (Daniel 4:30). He was also a very capable military commander. While still in the service of his father, he won a great victory over the Egyptians at the famous Battle of Carchemish in 605 B.C.. That which he is most famous for, however, is ending the Jewish State of Judah as an independent nation. He besieged the capital of Jerusalem on three different occasions, in 605 at the beginning of his reign, again in 597 and finally in 586, transporting exiles back to Babylon each time and destroying the temple on the third assault. Shortly after this, he also subdued the city of Tyre after a 13-year siege.