King Nebuchadnezzar: Biography, Facts & Achievements

Instructor: Tommi Waters

TK Waters has a bachelor's degree in literature and religious studies and a master's degree in religious studies and teaches Hebrew Bible at Western Kentucky University.

Nebuchadnezzar II was one of the greatest leaders of the ancient world, but is often only remembered for the Hanging Gardens of Babylon that might not have even existed. Continue reading to learn about Nebuchadnezzar's many accomplishments and his life.

Neo-Babylonian Empire

Perhaps you have heard about the infamous Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. If so, you already know a little about King Nebuchadnezzar II who supposedly built this garden. Nebuchadnezzar II was, by most accounts, the greatest leader of the Neo-Babylonian Empire. The Neo-Babylonian Empire was the revival of the Babylonian Empire which had been overshadowed by the Assyrians for centuries. Under Nabopolassar, Nebuchadnezzar II's father, the Babylonian Empire rose to power again, overtaking the Assyrians and paving the way for Nebuchadnezzar's conquests and power.

Prince Nebuchadnezzar

Before taking over as king, Nebuchadnezzar performed a variety of services and duties for Babylon. He worked in restoring the temple of the god Marduk, one of the major gods of Babylon, Assyria, and other surrounding nations who was believed to be the creator of the universe. He also led armies with Nabopolassar to conquer the Assyrians and Egyptians, forming him into a strong and skilled military leader.

Nebuchadnezzar II, King of Babylon

After becoming king in 605 BCE, Nebuchadnezzar made alliances with other nations to gain some security for Babylon. The best way to form an alliance was through marriage, which Nebuchadnezzar did by marrying Amytis, a princess from Media. The legendary Hanging Gardens of Babylon, a spectacular and illustrious garden, was supposedly built for Amytis to remind her of her homeland. After a 43 year reign, Nebuchadnezzar died around 562 BCE, leaving the kingship of Babylon to his son Awil-Marduk.

Painting of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon
Painting of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon

Conquests and Achievements

During Nebuchadnezzar's life, he expanded his empire tremendously, gaining power and wealth by either conquering or requiring tribute, payment in exchange for protection from an empire and other nations, from other nations. In 586 BCE, he was successful in (and, in Jewish history, famous for) conquering Judah, the homeland of the remaining Jews. When the king of Judah withdrew tribute, Nebuchadnezzar eventually destroyed the Jerusalem Temple and exiled the Jews for the final time.

While Nebuchadnezzar's quick and skillful expansion of Babylon established him as a great king, he also made important changes on the home front. Beyond the supposed Hanging Gardens (which historical records do not confirm existed), Nebuchadnezzar made numerous changes to Babylon, such as building fortifications, or thick stone walls, towers, and other features that provided protection from enemies. He built a moat for the city and temples for Marduk and other gods. He is often remembered for building the Ishtar Gate to the city, a large and ornate gate built with colored bricks and dedicated to the goddess Ishtar.

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