The Great Empires of Prophecy, from Babylon to the Fall of Rome



The Reign of Nabonadius—Belshazzar’s Household. The World’s Great Kingdoms—The Three Great World Kingdoms—The Coming of Medo-Persia

EVIL-MERODACH was the son and successor of Nebuchadnezzar, and reigned two years—561-560. The history of the empire, both while Nebuchadnezzar reigned and afterward, is vividly sketched in the symbol of Daniel 7:4,—first “a lion which had eagle’s wings;” then “the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man’s heart was given to it.” With Nebuchadnezzar departed the strength, boldness, and swiftness of the lion with eagle’s wings; and with his successors the lion’s heart and attitude were changed to that of a man. GEP 25.1

2. The first thing of importance that Evil-Merodach did was to release Jehoiachin king of Judah out of the prison where he had been kept all the thirty-seven years from the time of his captivity in 599. Evil-Merodach “spake kindly unto him, and set his throne above the throne of the kings that were with him in Babylon, and changed his prison garments: and he did continually eat bread before him all the days of his life. And for his diet, there was a continual diet given him of the king of Babylon, every day a portion until the day of his death, all the days of his life.” 1 GEP 25.2

3. A tradition has been recorded in explanation of this kindness of Evil-Merodach to the captive king Jehoiachin, to the effect that during the time in which Nebuchadnezzar was absent from his throne and kingdom on account of his malady, Evil-Merodach was in charge of the affairs of the empire, and that he conducted himself so badly that when Nebuchadnezzar had recovered, and again took his throne, he imprisoned Evil-Merodach in the same prison where King Jehoiachin was confined. Then when Nebuchadnezzar died and Evil-Merodach succeeded to the actual possession of the throne and kingdom, he remembered his own fellowship with Jehoiachin in prison, and now raised Jehoiachin to fellowship with himself in the throne. 2 GEP 25.3

4. This is not only the first, but indeed the only, important act recorded of the reign of Evil-Merodach; for he proved to be so very profligate and so altogether vicious that his own relations conspired against him, and put him to death at the end of his second year’s reign: his sister’s husband being one of the chief conspirators. GEP 26.1

5. Neriglissar was the name of this brother-in-law to Evil-Merodach. The name is the same as the Nergal-sharezer, the Rabmag, of Jeremiah 39:3; but whether he was the same person is not certainly known, though it is possible that he was. In the first year of his reign, Media revolted, and was joined by Persia. Three years were employed by Neriglissar in forming new alliances and renewing old ones, and making preparations for the inevitable war. In the fourth year the war came; and in the fierce first battle Neriglissar was slain. The following contract concerning the marriage of this king’s daughter is of interest:— GEP 26.2

“Nabu-sum-ukim, priest of Nebo, director of E-zida, son of Siriktum-Marduk, descendant of Isde-ilani-danan, said to Neriglissar, king of Babylon: ‘Give Gigitum, thy virgin daughter, to wifehood, and let her be a wife.’ Neriglissar [said] to Nabu-sum-ukin, priest of Nebo, director of E-zida ... [28 lines illegible, after which is following list of witnesses] GEP 26.3

... son of Nabu-sum-lisir ...... ri, son of Nabu-surra-utsur, the judge (??) Nabu-sum-utsur, the scribe, son of Assur ... Babylon, month Nisan, day 1st, year 1st, [Neriglis]sar king of Babylon. Copy of E-zida.” 3 GEP 26.4

6. Laborosoarchod, the son of Neriglissar, succeeded his father in the throne of Babylon. He “let himself loose in the utmost excess, without any manner of restraint whatsoever, as if the regal office which he was now advanced to were for nothing else but to give him privilege of doing without control all the vile and flagitious things that he pleased.” Therefore even “his own people conspired against him, and slew him, after he had reigned only nine months.”—Prideaux. 4 These nine months all fell in the year 556 B. C., the first three months of which were the beginning of the fourth year of Neriglissar, so that the death of Laborosoarchod occurred about the end of the year. GEP 26.5

7. Nabonadius, or Nabonidos, was raised to the sovereignty over Babylon, at the beginning of 555. B. C., by the conspirators who accomplished the death of Laborosoarchod. He was a man of rank, for in one of his own inscriptions he relates that his father had held the important office of Rab-mag. Even in his first year he was invited by the king of Lydia to an alliance with that power, which was then on the eve of a war with the rapidly rising power of Media and Persia. He accepted the invitation; but the king of Lydia rashly began the war without waiting for the forces of Babylon, and was defeated. His kingdom was overrun, and he himself was captured by the forces of Media and Persia, before Nabonadius really had any opportunity of fulfilling his part in the alliance. Yet that which he had done in consenting to the alliance was, of course, held as a cause of war against him, though the war, in fact, did not occur till fourteen years later. GEP 27.1

8. An inscription left by Nabonadius, touching the time from his seventh to his eleventh year, runs as follows:— GEP 27.2

“The 7th year the king (was) in Teva; 5 the king’s son, the nobles, and his soldiers (were) in the country of Akkad. [The king in the month Nisan] did not go to Babylon. Nebo did not go to Babylon; Bel came not forth; the [new year’s] festival [took place]; sacrifices in E-Saggil and E-Zida (to) the gods of Babylon and Borsippa as [peace-offerings] they offered. The priest inspected the painted work (?) of the temple. The 8th year. 6 The 9th year Nabonidos the king (was in) Teva. The king’s son, the nobles and the soldiers (were) in the country of Akkad. The king in the month Nisan to Babylon did not go. Nebo did not go to Babylon; Bel came not forth; the new year’s festival took place. Sacrifices in E-Saggil and E-Zida (to) the gods of (Babylon) and Borsippa as peace-offerings they offered. The 5th day of the month Nisan the mother of the king who was in the fortress of the camp (on) the Euphrates above Sippara died. The king’s son and his soldiers mourned for three days. There was lamentation. In the month Sivan in the country of Akkad there was lamentation over the mother of the king. * * * * * * * GEP 27.3

The 10th year the king (was) in Teva; the king’s son, the nobles and his soldiers (were) in the country of Akkad; the king in the month [Nisan did not go to Babylon]. Nebo did not go to Babylon; Bel came not forth. The new year’s festival took place. Sacrifices in E-[Saggil and E-Zida] (to) the gods of Babylon and Borsippa as peace-offerings they offered. On the 21st day of the month Sivan ... of the country of Elam, in the country of Akkad ... a governor in the city of Erech ... The 11th, year the king was in Teva; the king’s son, the nobles and his soldiers (were) in the country of Akkad; [in the month Nisan the king did not go to Babylon].” GEP 28.1

9. The following inscription of Nabonadius is of interest, because of its mention of some of the most ancient kings, and also of Belshazzar, his eldest son, who is named in the Scriptures:—“Nabo-imduk king Babylon restorer of Bit-Saggathu and Bit-Zida, worshiper of the great gods, I am he. The building of King Ram-sidi, called the Tower of the temple of ‘the great tree,’ which is in the city of Ur, which Urukh, a King who lived long ago, had begun, but had not completed, but Ilgi his son 7 had completed the superstructure: in the inscriptions of Urukh and Ilgi his son I read that this tower Urukh had begun to build, but had not completed it, and Ilgi its superstructure completed. In my days that tower had disappeared entirely. Upon the old timin, which Urukh and Ilgi his son had made of that tower, like unto the ancient one in bitumen and brick a restoration I made. * * * * * GEP 28.2

[Column 2.] * * * * * Myself, Nabo-nid, King of Babylon, in the fear of thy great divinity preserve me! My life unto distant days abundantly prolong! and of Bel-sar-ussur, my eldest son, the offspring of my body, the awe of thy great divinity fix thou firmly in his heart, that he may never fall into sin, and that his glory may endure!” 8 GEP 29.1

10. The three following documents are also important, because of what they tell of Belshazzar. The first one is a contract concerning the renting of a house for three years to Belshazzar’s secretary, the second is a contract concerning the sale of wool belonging to Belshazzar himself; and the third is a contract concerning the loaning of money and taking security for it, by the steward of the house of Belshazzar:— GEP 29.2