Nabopolassar

NABOPOLASSAR (năb'ō-pō-lăs'âr). First ruler of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, 626-605 b.c. Allied with Medes and Scythians, he overthrew the Assyrian Empire, destroying Nineveh in 612, as prophesied by Nah.2.1-Nah.3.9 and Zeph.2.13-Zeph.2.15. The destruction earlier prophesied by Jonah was averted by Nineveh’s repentance (Jonah.3.1-Jonah.3.10). When Pharaoh Neco came to aid the Assyrians, Josiah (king of Judah) opposed him and was killed at Megiddo (2Kgs.23.29; 2Chr.35.20-2Chr.35.27). Nabopolassar died in Babylon about the time his son Nebuchadnezzar II was engaged in the battle of Carchemish.


NABOPOLASSAR năb’ ə pə lăs’ ər (Nabu protect the son!). Nabopolassar, king of Babylon (626-605 b.c.), was the first king of the Chaldean Dynasty, and the father of Nebuchadnezzar II. He was originally a petty Chaldean chieftain in southern Babylonia, but at the death of King Ashurbanipal of Assyria in 626 b.c., Nabopolassar became king of Babylon, and quickly thereafter seized Nippur and Uruk from Sin-šar-iškun of Assyria. In a few years he had control of all Babylonia and made a significant alliance with Cyaxares, king of the Medes.

In 615 b.c. he failed to seize Assur, but when it fell in 614 b.c. to the Medes he shared the spoils. To bind a treaty made between Nabopolassar and Cyaxares, king of the Medes, the latter gave his daughter Amytis in marriage to Nabopolassar’s son, Nebuchadnezzar. After this treaty with Cyaxares, there was no fear of the mountain tribes, and Nabopolassar was able to compel the former vassals of Assyria, as far as Pal. and Cilicia, to pay tribute to him. His army was well-trained in Assyrian methods of fighting, and eventually, in 612 b.c. he and his ally took Nineveh. This conquest meant that the Assyrian empire was divided with the southern part falling to Nabopolassar. In 609 b.c. Harran, the last Assyrian stronghold, fell to the Babylonians.

In 606 b.c. he took up the Euphrates front, where the Egyp. hold on Carchemish posed a threat to the entire western part of his newly won empire. Pharaoh Necho II of Egypt had invaded Palestine and Syria in order to get his share of the fallen Assyrian empire, and it was Nebuchadnezzar, the crown prince, acting for his ailing father, who achieved the conquest of Carchemish and drove the Egyp. army back home in 605 b.c. King Nabopolassar had returned to Babylon in the spring of the same year, and died there on 15 August 605 b.c.

Nabopolassar represented himself as a pious man who rose from humble origin to kingship, but he referred with great pride to his victory over Assyria. He started various constructions at Babylon and elsewhere which were completed by his son Nebuchadnezzar. These included improvement of the irrigation around Babylon, as well as beautifying the city itself.

Although Nabopolassar is not mentioned in the Bible, Josiah of Judah may have been friendly with him (as Hezekiah had been an ally of the Babylonians), for Josiah lost his life at Megiddo in a futile attempt to stop Pharaoh Necho II from going to the aid of the Assyrians.

Bibliography

D. J. Wiseman, Chronicles of the Chaldean Kings (1956), 5-21; G. Roux, Ancient Iraq (1964), 312-314.