Daily Archives: February 3, 2012

The Kings of Babylon and Bible History

It is important as we study the Bible that we have some understanding of the historical background and setting of the events described. There is no place where this is more obvious than in the Book of Daniel.

Daniel and his friends were taken to Babylon by the new king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, Nebuchadnezzar. It was during the early reign of Nebuchadnezzar that Daniel’s friends were thrown into the fiery furnace (Daniel 3).

Daniel was cast into the den of lions during the reign of the king Darius the Mede, who gained control of Babylon in 539 B.C. Thus, at least 66 years pass from the time Daniel was taken to Babylon until he was put in the den of lions.

To put this is practical terms for modern readers, the events mentioned above are as far apart as events during the presidency of Harry S.  (1945-1953) and Barack Obama (2009–).

The Neo-Babylonian Empire came to power in 626 B.C., and fell in 539 B.C. Perhaps this list of the kings of Babylon will be helpful in your study. The rulers mentioned in the Bible are listed in bold type.

  • Nabopolassar — 626-605 B.C.
  • Nebuchadnezzaar — 605-562 B.C.
    • 2 Kings 24; Daniel 1-5; et al.
  • Evil Merodach — 562-560 B.C.
    • 2 Kings 25:27; Jeremiah 52:31.
  • Nergal-Sharezer — 560-556 B.C.
    • Jeremiah 39:3, 13, when he was an official of Nebuchadnezzar.
  • Labaši-Marduk — 556 B.C. (ruled only 9 months)
  • Nabonidus — 556-539 B.C. Not named in the Bible. His son, Belshazzar, served as co-regent the last ten years of the reign.
    • Daniel 5-8.

The names and dates above have been summarized from the article by the late D. J. Wiseman in The New Bible Dictionary (3rd edition).

Map of world showing Babylon in the center. British Museum. Photo: Ferrell Jenkins.

Map of world showing Babylon in the center. British Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Perhaps later we will be able to describe in more detail the Biblical events during the Neo-Babylonian Empire.