NEBUCHADNEZZAR -- ONE KING OR TWO?
The difficulty of reconciling the various statements of Scripture with themselves and with profane history, has raised the question whether there were two Nebuchadnezzar's or only one. The Duke Of Manchester is a strenuous advocate for the former hypothesis, and his view of the case is worthy of perusal. The first king he supposes to have overthrown Necho's army in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, as we have already stated. He came from the north into Judea, and took the people captive after the overthrow of Assyria. His eleventh year corresponds with the fourth of Zedekiah, while he reigned on the whole about twenty-nine years. He is to be identified with Cyrus, the father of Cambyses, well known in Persian history, so that the second Nebuchadnezzar was Cambyses himself. Although the astronomical Canon of Ptolemy is a formidable adversary, this writer shews much ingenuity in bending it to his purpose. The first king of this name began his reign A.C. 511, while Paulus Orosius determines the taking of Babylon "by Cyrus" about the time of the expulsion of the kings from Rome (A.C. 510.) Thus sixty-nine years elapsed between the overthrow of Necho and the conquest of Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar the second; and in the eighteenth year of the reign of this latter king the golden image was set up.
Having identified the second king with Cambyses, this writer brings forward many testimonies in favor of his being a Persian, and shews that the Chaldeans were not Babylonians but Persians. He treats him as identical with the Persian Jemsheed, the contemporary of Pythagoras and Thales, and the founder of Pasargadæ and Persepolis, and justifies his positions by the authorities of Diocles, Hecataeus, Cedrenus, the Maccabees, Abydenus, and Alexander Polyhistor. "The evidence is deduced from direct testimony, from geographical position, from similarity in language and religion, in manners and customs, in personal character and alliances; from Babylonian bricks and cylinders; as also from historical synchronism's and identity of actions." 1 The statements of Herodotus are fully discussed and compared with the Egyptian sculptures, with the view of shewing that the second Nebuchadnezzar was the Cambyses of Herodotus, the son-in-law of Astyages and the conqueror of Egypt. The story of his madness, after profaning the temple of Apis, is said to apply accurately to this second monarch.
It could not be expected that a theory of this kind could be introduced into the world without severe and searching examination. Accordingly, Birks, in his preface to "The two later Visions of Daniel," writes as follows: "I have examined closely the two difficulties which alone give a seeming strength to his Grace's theory, -- the succession of names in the Persian history, and the two covenants under Zerubbabel and Nehemiah, -- and feel confident I can meet them both with a full and complete answer. It seems to me surprising that a paradox of two Scripture Nebuchadnezzar's, and a Scripture Cyrus, totally unknown to profane history, in the reign of Longimanus, contemporary with Cimon and Pericles, can ever be received by any mind accustomed to pay the least regard to the laws of evidence. Every fresh inquiry has only increased my confidence in the usual chronology derived from the Canon of Ptolemy, and its truth, I believe, may be almost entirely established even by Scripture evidence alone." Vaux, the learned author of "Nineveh and Persepolis," furnishes a clear sketch of Nebuchadnezzar's career, by combining the accounts of Herodotus and the Scriptures. In the thirty-first year of Josiah's reign, Necho fought the battle of Megiddo, in which Josiah was mortally wounded. He then took Cadytis, "the holy city" of the Jews, and at length returned to Egypt with abundance of spoil. After a lapse of three years he invaded the territory of the king of Babylon. The reigning monarch -- Nabopolassar -- was aged and infirm; he gave the command of his army to his son Nebuchadnezzar, who defeated the Egyptians at Carcesium or Carchemish, and drove them out of Asia. He marched to Jerusalem, and reinstated Jehoiakim as its king, in subjection to himself; he spoiled the temple of the chief ornaments and vessels of value, and among the prisoners transmitted to Babylon were Daniel and his three friends. He next carried on war against the Egyptians, till the news of his father's death caused his return. The revolt of Jehoiakim caused a second attack upon the city, and the carrying off of many prisoners, among whom was Ezekiel, to the banks of the distant Chebar. Zedekiah, the brother of Jehoiakim, having been placed on the throne, and having made an alliance with Pharaoh Hophra, the Apries of Herodotus, he is deposed by the King of Babylon, and carried captive in blindness and chains. Thus for the third and last time this conqueror invaded Judea and profaned the temple. After a lapse of four years he besieged Tyre; for thirteen years it resisted his arms, but was at length razed to the ground. He next succeeded in an expedition against Egypt, dethroned Apries, and leaving Amasis as his viceroy, returned to his imperial city. In the language of Jeremiah, "he arrayed himself with the land of Egypt, as a shepherd putteth on his garment." He next occupies himself in beautifying the city, and erecting a palace of extraordinary magnificence, and in constructing those hanging gardens mentioned by Diodoras, Megasthenes, and Arrian. The remainder of his history is easily gathered from the Prophet's narrative. "A careful consideration of the authorities seems to shew that Clinton is right in his supposition that the reign of this prince was about forty-four years in duration, and that he was succeeded after a short interval by Belshazzar." 2 Willet arrives at the same conclusion as to the length of his reign by a different process of reasoning. The following dates are extracted from Prideaux, whose caution and accuracy are most commendable: --
586. Tyre besieged.
570. The death of Apries, coincident with the dream of the tree, (Daniel 4,) after his last return from Egypt.
569. Daniel 4:30. Driven out into the fields.
563. Restored after seven years.
562. Death, after about forty-four years' reign.
Another series of dates has been displayed by the author of "The Times of Daniel," founded on a different chronological basis; we can only extract a few of them from pages 282, et seq.: --
510. Babylon taken by Cyrus, and kings expelled from Rome.
507. Commencement of Jehoiakim's independent reign. Daniel 1:1.
500. Nebuchadnezzar II. appointed; his dream. Daniel 2.
494. Golden Image set up. Daniel 3.
483. Nebuchadnezzar 1. died.
441. Nebuchadnezzar 2. died.
Dr. Wells has the following chronological arrangement of the chief events of Nebuchadnezzar's reign: --
607. He is this year taken by his father "as partner" in the kingdom, falling in with the latter part of the third year of Jehoiakim, (Daniel 1:l.)
606. Jehoiakim carried to Babylon with Daniel and others.
The first of the seventy years' captivity.
605. His father died. Nabopolassar in Ptolemy's Canon, the son's name being Nabocolassor. The Canon allows him forty-three years from this period.
603. Daniel interprets his dream. Daniel 2
588. He re-takes Jerusalem and Zedekiah.
569. Returned to Babylon, is afflicted with insanity. Daniel 4.
562. He dies "a few days" after being restored to reason.
1 Times of Daniel, p. 141.
2 Nineveh and Persep., p. 71, second edition.