597 BC: Nebuchadnezzar captures Jerusalem. The Babylonian Chronicles are stone tablets recording major events in Babylonian history and were written from the reign of Nabonassar up to the Parthian Period (747 BC – 247 BC) or a period of about 500 years. Using these historical records, the date for the capture of Jerusalem was given as 2 Adar, making it March 16. Nebuchadnezzar was the oldest son and successor to Nabopolassar who was the ruler who managed to extricate Babylon from 300 years of servitude to Assyria. His armies along with those of the Medes, Persians, Scythians, and Cimmerians were able to overtake Nineveh. Nabopolassar wanted to control Aram, land belong to Necho II, under Assyrian rule. In 605 BC, he was able to defeat both the Egyptian and Assyrian armies and take control of all Babylon. He died in August and his son, Nebuchadnezzar, became ruler.
Nebuchadnezzar began to conquer lands westward and married the daughter of the Median king to assure peace on that front. He still waged wars/battles in order to bring more lands under his reign. He quashed rebellions and moved into the Levant. On this day he was finally able to take Jerusalem and deposed King Jehoiakim. Zedekiah was installed as the local ruler of Jerusalem shortly after the capture. This worked well for a time, but ten years later there was more rebellion in the region. Nebuchadnezzar returned and destroyed Jerusalem, taking many of the prominent Jews back to Babylon.
Babylon was a major city lying in the Fertile Crescent, the lands between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. It was first settled around 2300 BC and grew in importance with the First Amorite Babylonian Dynasty beginning in 1894 BC. It was one of the holy cities in the region and became even more powerful when Hammurabi created the first Babylonian Empire. For over a thousand years, it was of less importance until the Neo-Babylonian Empire (609-539 BC) when the Hanging Gardens of Babylon grew for Nebuchadnezzar to impress his Median Queen. Or maybe this wonder of the world was always a mythic idealization of eastern gardens.
Whether or not he built great gardens, Nebuchadnezzar did carry out many great building projects to bring back Babylon’s to previous days of glory. He restored old temples and built new one to the many gods of the Babylonian pantheon. He built an underground passage beneath the Euphrates to connect his palace on one side of the mighty river to the buildings on the other. He also bridged the river to create a walking path over it, also connecting the two parts of the city. He built a triple line of walls around Babylon to protect it from attack. All of these building projects took manpower, which was made up of the captured people from his many raids and wars.
While I pride myself on trying to be creative in all areas of my life, I have occasionally gone overboard, like the time I decided to bring to a party a salad that I constructed, on a huge rattan platter, to look like a miniature scale model of the Gardens of Babylon. – Gregory Maguire
Our earliest evidence of government, in the ruins of Babylon and Egypt, shows nothing but ziggurats and pyramids of wasted taxpayer money, the TARP funds and shovel-ready stimulus programs of their day. – P. J. O’Rourke
What has history said of eminence without honor, wealth without wisdom, power and possessions without principle? The answer is reiterated in the overthrow of the mightiest empires of ancient times. Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome! The four successive, universal powers of the past. What and where are they? – Orson F. Whitney
The collapse of the Tower of Babel is perhaps the central urban myth. It is certainly the most disquieting. In Babylon, the great city that fascinated and horrified the Biblical writers, people of different races and languages, drawn together in pursuit of wealth, tried for the first time to live together – and failed. – Neil MacGregor