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Who was Nebuchadnezzar?

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Nebuchadnezzar was one of the greatest kings of ancient Babylon. Many historians of the ancient world have attributed the construction of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon to his rule. Additionally, Nebuchadnezzar occupies an important role in the biblical narrative, particularly in the Jewish scriptures.

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Nebuchadnezzar is believed to have been born in 634 B.C. and to have risen to the throne of Babylon in 604 B.C., at the age of 30. He engaged in a number of military campaigns aimed at increasing the territorial expanse and power of his empire. Nebuchadnezzar also financed expansive construction projects in his capital of Nineveh, including the building and rebuilding of temples and both an underground tunnel and stone bridge designed to span the Euphrates River.

Nebuchadnezzar is probably best known for his infamous appearance in the Bible. He is the one assumed to have been responsible for the enslavement of the Jews during the Babylonian captivity and for the destruction of the original Jerusalem temple. Additionally, he is said to have tested the faith of the Jewish people through the erection of an enormous idol, which they were then ordered to prostrate before in public. According to the Book of Daniel, when three Jews named Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused, God protected them, rendering the three immune from Nebuchadnezzar's punishing fires. Afterward, the Daniel account depicts Nebuchadnezzar descending into madness and living in the wild for a period of seven years, only to ultimately be healed and brought into obedience with God.

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