Nebuchadnezzar (on the Babylonian monuments, Nabu-kuduri-uzur), a Chaldean king of Babylon, born about 645 B. C, died in 561. He was the son of Nabopolassar, who toward the close of his reign sent him to repel the invasion of the Egyptian king Necho. He routed the Egyptians, and pursued them through Judea, which he reduced to a Babylonian dependency, but was recalled to Babylon by the death of his father (604), whom he succeeded as king. He brought back a multitude of captives, and employed them as slaves in the construction of gigantic works, the remains of which are still visible. He rebuilt all the cities of upper Babylonia upon a magnificent scale, and embellished them with temples, palaces, aqueducts, and other public works. The ruins of more than 100 towns and cities contain inscriptions of his name. (See Babylon, and Babylonia.) Early in his reign the Jews and Phoenicians rebelled. Nebuchadnezzar took Jerusalem, carried many of its chief people away captive, including Jehoiachin the king, and made Zede-kiah king as his vassal; and when several years later he rebelled, being aided by Egypt, Nebuchadnezzar again besieged Jerusalem, and after defeating the Egyptian king Apries (the Pharaoh-Hophra of Scripture), who came to its relief, compelled it to surrender. (See Hebrews, vol. viii., p. 589.) During these wars his armies invested Tyre, and took it after a siege of 13 years.
Four years later he marched through Palestine into Egypt, which he ravaged, but did not completely subjugate. He elevated Daniel and other Hebrew captives to high office in Babylon. (See Daniel.) The book of Daniel relates how he fell under the divine judgment on account of his pride, lost his reason, was deprived of his kingdom, and lived the life of a beast; and how he was restored to health and power, and acknowledged the judgment of God. It has been thought that his malady was a form of the madness called lycanthropy, in which the patient imagines himself a beast.