Daily Archives: February 12, 2012

Nabonidus, the last king of Babylon — 556–539 B.C.

Evil-Merodach (562-560 B.C.) was assassinated by Nergal-Sharezer, who ruled as king of Babylon for four years. Nothing about his reign is recorded in the Bible, but he is mentioned in Jeremiah 39:3 and 13 from the time of the destruction of Jerusalem (587 B.C.). At that time he served as one of the officials of Nebuchadnezzar.

After four years on the throne, Nergal-Sharezer was followed by his son, Labaši-Marduk, who ruled only 9 months.

Nabonidus, who is not named in the Bible, came to the throne in 556 B.C. According to Wiseman the king,

… campaigned in Syria and N Arabia, where he lived at Tema for 10 years while his son BELSHAZZAR acted as co-regent in Babylon. About 544 his people and the kings of Arabia, Egypt and the Medes being favourably disposed, Nabonidus returned to his capital…, but by this time the country was weak and divided. (New Bible Dictionary (3rd ed.), 115).

The mother of Nabonidus was made a high priestess in the temple of Sin at Harran. Our first photo shows the top of a stela from Harran. Nabonidus is portrayed standing before symbols of the principle gods he served. Incidentally, the museum at Sanliurfa, Turkey, has a nice collection of archaeological artifacts tastefully displayed.

Nabonidus Stela in Sanliurfa Museum, Turkey. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Nabonidus Stela in Sanliurfa Museum, Turkey, near Harran. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The next photo shows a terracotta foundation cylinder of Nabonidus. The sign accompanying the cylinder in the British Museum tells us that “this document records the reconstruction of temples to the Moon-god at Harran and to the Sun-god and the goddess Amunitum at Sippar.”

Nabonidus Cylinder in British Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Nabonidus Cylinder in British Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

In a future post we plan to comment on the relationship of Nabonidus and Belshazzar.