Who was Nebuchadnezzar?

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Nebuchadnezzar was a powerful ruler, the king of Babylonia in what is modern-day Iraq and Syria.

In the Book of Daniel in the Old Testament, he is portrayed as a ruthless, bloody tyrant and enemy of the Jewish people, responsible for the destruction of the holy city of Jerusalem. Although the portrayal of Nebuchadnezzar in the Book of Jeremiah is much less negative, he is still given to us as a violent man, albeit an instrument in the hands of God.

What is particularly interesting about Nebuchadnezzar is that he acknowledges the Jewish God as the true God, and yet he still remains a violent man, threatening to destroy anyone he deems to speak ill of God.

As this suggests, Nebuchadnezzar's main sin is pride. However, God brings low the Babylonian king as punishment for what the ancient Greeks called hubris. We can observe God's punishment of Nebuchadnezzar in action when God makes one of Nebuchadnezzar's nightmares come true.

When Nebuchadnezzar brings back the young Hebrew prophet Daniel to Babylon from Jerusalem, he gives Daniel the right to interpret his dreams. One such dream is interpreted by Daniel as meaning that Nebuchadnezzar will go out of his mind for seven years and live like an animal in the fields.

A year later, the dream comes true, and God turns the mighty Nebuchadnezzar into a wild beast. He is driven away from the people and eats grass like an ox. For good measure, his hair grows like the feathers of an eagle, and his nails start to resemble a bird's claws.

Ultimately, a repentant Nebuchadnezzar raises his eyes to heaven and his sanity is restored, as well as the glory of his kingdom. In thanks to God, the king praises, exalts, and glorifies Him, humbling himself before the King of Heaven.

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