King Nebuchadnezzar’s Madness Confirmed By Archaeology

It is written:

While the word was still in the king’s mouth, a voice fell from heaven: “King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: the kingdom has departed from you! 32  And they shall drive you from men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. They shall make you eat grass like oxen; and seven times shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses.” 33  That very hour the word was fulfilled concerning Nebuchadnezzar; he was driven from men and ate grass like oxen; his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair had grown like eagles’ feathers and his nails like birds’ claws. (Daniel 4:31-33)

The great king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, learned that there is only one true God Who reigns in the kingdoms of men.

However, he had to learn these facts the hard way.

The Lord brought upon the king a terrible madness, where he became like a wild animal. At the end of this time, he was restored to his kingship and he became a worshipper of the one true God.

Daniel 4:37-Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to put down.

Many read of this account and mock the Bible, claiming that this is a grand fairy-tale that has no basis in reality.

However, archaeology confirms in stunning detail what the Prophet Daniel recorded!

“This passage would be but a remarkable piece of theatre, were it not for the fact that it is historically verified. Nebuchadnezzar did lose his mind at some time after the Convocation at Dura, and its effects were noticeable to say the least. 1 The Babylonians themselves–and a Greek!–tell us about it. But in spite of this, the historicity of Daniel 4 is universally denied–not to say deplored-by critics, who see nothing in it but fiction, a fairy tale, and the wishful thinking on the part of a Jew who fantasises about a great king being converted by him to the true faith. Not a word of it actually happened. However…. The fourth chapter of the Book of Daniel, like the rest of this astonishing book, is not without its witnesses and their written depositions. We shall consider them in a moment. Meanwhile, one objection from the critics needs to be dealt with. It is the notion that what came to be known as the ‘madness’ of Nebuchadnezzar lasted for seven years. There are those who say there is no room in the records for that long a period of incapacity on the part of the king. Well, there is room, and plenty of it. Nebuchadnezzar reigned for a total of 43 years, the first eleven of which are reasonably well documented. But then, there is a very long and unusual hiatus, leaving some 32 years pretty much unaccounted for. 2 But that is not all. The Book of Daniel doesn’t necessarily say that he would endure this madness for seven years. Daniel 4: 25 uses the word iddan, which means an appointed time or season. Now the Babylonians counted just two seasons in the year, summer and winter, each of six months duration. Therefore, seven seasons would have equalled three and a half years. Interestingly, an account of Nebuchadnezzar’s incapacity, the East India House Inscription, begins by stating that it occurred during a four-year period (see below), which fits exactly within the timeframe spoken of in the Book of Daniel. It is also not true to say that there is nothing in those records which refers to Nebuchadnezzar’s time of incapacity. There are references to it indeed, one of which was translated by Grayson in 1975, and is a fragmentary clay tablet held at the British Museum (BM 34113 = sp 213). After Grayson, it says this (square parentheses [] mine): “Nebuchadrezzar pondered… his life was of no value to him [napishtush la iqer maharshu]… he was angry (or stood) and a favourable path (he took… and) Babylonia (…). To Amel-Marduk [his son and successor, and doubtless the regent during his madness] he speaks what was not… he then gives a different order but… he does not heed the mention of his name (or pronouncement), a courtier… He changed but did not make any obstacle, before… Concerning the fortunes of Esagil [the temple of Marduk] and Babylon and… the cult-centres of the great gods they considered… He does not have in mind (any concern) for son or daughter, for him there is no family and clan does not exist… In his heart for everything that was abunda( nt..) [dushshu[ pat]–sweet]. His attention [uznushshu–in his ears] was not set to promoting the welfare of Esagil (and Babylon). With ears pricked up (eagerly?) [turusha uznati geshtushu–a term used only for animals] he went in through the Holy Gate… he prays to the lord of lords, his hands raised (in supplication). He weeps bitterly to his god [ilishu], the great gods… His prayers go forth to….” 3 Now this is no chronicle. It is written in the present tense and bears all the hallmarks of an official report on the state of the king’s health and behaviour by an ashipu-a court ‘psychiatrist’ (we would say exorcist)-who has observed the king at close quarters. The government would need to know of such things in detail. We shall consider these observations shortly, but of profound interest to us right now, in the light of Daniel 4, is Nebuchadnezzar’s otherwise inexplicable and complete loss of interest in the gods of Babylon. He was famed throughout the then known world for his temple-building, and for his utter devotion to the ‘gods.’ Yet here the report notes that all this has fallen away. He shows no further interest in the ‘gods’ or their temples. And yet this is no sudden lapse into atheism. There in the second-to-last line is what is perhaps the most intriguing, not to say heart warming, statement in the entire inscription, “He weeps bitterly to his god.” What is of interest here is the word that is used–ilishu. The first element, il-, is simply the Babylonian cognate of the Hebrew name for God, El. The second element is the third person possessive pronoun, his. This is not one of the gods of Babylon, for then he would have been named and specified–Marduk, Bel, Nebo, or what have you. But no. This is specifically his, that is Nebuchadnezzar’s, God-a God unknown to the reporter, but whom Nebuchadnezzar called El, and who had become personal to the king himself. And who can this God be but the God of Daniel, the God of Israel?” (Bill Cooper, The Authenticity of the Book of Daniel, 622-659 (Kindle Edition))

Archaeology continues to confirm in remarkable detail the accuracy of the Bible.

Nebuchadnezzar had to learn the hard way that there is only one true God, and that other so-called “gods” and “goddesses” are imposters (cf. 1 Corinthians 8:4-6). However, he repented and turned to the Lord and he found grace and forgiveness.

Will you follow his example and turn to the Lord today?

Acts 2:38-Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.

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