Nebuchadnezzar II (ruled 604-562 BC), the second king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, most commonly known just as “Nebuchadnezzar” in modern times, is one of the most important but also one of the most misunderstood leaders of the ancient world. Depicted as wantonly cruel in the Old Testament, it is a historical fact that he was responsible for taking the Kingdom of Judah into captivity and destroying the Solomonic Temple. With that said, Nebuchadnezzar II’s leadership style, policies, and tactics differed little from those of other notable kings in the same era. Once one cuts through some of the hyperbole surrounding Nebuchadnezzar II, it quickly becomes evident that he affected the ancient Near East in several, profound ways.
Under Nebuchadnezzar II, Babylon once again became one of the greatest cities in the ancient world. It had languished for centuries under Assyrian rule, but under Nebuchadnezzar II and the other Neo-Babylonian kings it became the center of a new and vibrant empire. Much of how Nebuchadnezzar II brought Babylon back to greatness was through the conquest of other kingdoms, such as Judah, but he also embarked on an ambitious building program that made his city the envy of the ancient world.