A brief history of the Fertile Crescent 3000BCE – 570BCE (10)

Posted: March 29, 2016 in Ancient Near Eastern History, History
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Fertile Crescent (By 92bari (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)

Fertile Crescent (By 92bari (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons)

Nebuchadrezzar was not just a mighty warrior, he was also a patron of cities and a spectacular builder. He rebuilt all of Babylonia’s major cities on a lavish scale. The city of Babylon during his reign covered more than three square miles, surrounded by moats and ringed by a double circuit of walls. The Euphrates flowed through the centre of the city, spanned by a beautiful stone bridge. At the centre of the city rose the giant ziggurat called Etemenanki, “House of the Frontier Between Heaven and Earth,” next to the Temple of Marduk. He is also credited with building the legendary Hanging Gardens of Babylon. According to one legend, he built the Gardens for his Median wife, Queen Amytis, because she missed the green hills and valleys of her homeland. He also built a grand palace that came to be known as ‘The Marvel of the Mankind’.

"Die schwebenden Gärten von Babylon 1726" by Unknown - http://www.bassenge.com/. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Die_schwebenden_G%C3%A4rten_von_Babylon_1726.jpg#/media/File:Die_schwebenden_G%C3%A4rten_von_Babylon_1726.jpg

“Die schwebenden Gärten von Babylon 1726” by Unknown – http://www.bassenge.com/. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons –

In 601 BC, Nebuchadrezzar was involved in a major, but inconclusive battle, against the Egyptians, probably somewhere in the southern Levant. In 599 BC, he invaded Arabia and routed the Arabs at Qedar. In 597 BC, he invaded Judah and captured Jerusalem and deposed its king Jehoiachin. Egypt and Babylon continued to vie with each other for control of the southern Levant throughout much of Nebuchadrezzar’s reign. Egypt’s policy was usually to do this by proxy, by encouraging the Levantine states to rebel and promising them aid. It is not always clear from the accounts whether these promises were actually fulfilled. It was probably these promises, and a civil war in Babylon, which encouraged king Zedekiah of Judah to revolt. It took the Babylonians two years to sort out their problems at home but in 586 the might of the Babylonian army descended into Judah culminating in the siege of Jerusalem. This time the Egyptians did mobilise an army to support the Judaean revolt, but Nebuchadrezzar merely broke off the siege , gave battle, defeated the Egyptian army and then returned to the besieging Jerusalem. After an 18-month siege, Jerusalem was captured, and thousands of Jews were deported to Babylon, and the city, including Solomon’s Temple and Palace was razed to the ground.
By 572 Nebuchadrezzar was in full control of Babylonia, Assyria, Phoenicia, Judah, Israel, Philistia, northern Arabia, and parts of Asia Minor. In 568 BC during the reign of Pharaoh Amasis, he invaded Egypt. A clay tablet, now in the British Museum, states: “In the 37th year of Nebuchaddrezzar, king of the country of Babylon, he went to Mitzraim (Egypt) to wage war. Amasis, king of Mitzraim, collected his army, and marched and spread abroad.” Unfortunately there appears to be no record of the aims or outcome of this campaign, but it does not seem as though the Babylonians were able to establish any territory in Egypt.

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