Friday, January 14, 2022
Bible & Archaeology (University of Iowa)

The name of Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II inspires fear, not only in the hearts of ancient Judahites as the ruler who destroyed the Jerusalem temple in 586 BCE, but in the minds of students everywhere trying to spell his lengthy name. The name Nebuchadnezzar comes to us from the Akkadian words Nabû-kudurri-uṣur, which means "Nabu, protect my heir." It is a theophoric name containing the name of the deity Nabu, a Mesopotamian god of writing, scribes, and general wisdom. The word kudurri was once thought to mean "boundary" or "border," but as it also means "heir" or "eldest son," most modern scholars translate the name as the latter today. The word uṣur is the imperative form of the Akkadian verb naṣāru meaning "to protect." The name was Hebraized in the Bible as נְבוּכַדְנֶאצֲּר (Nebukhadneʾtzzar), which gave us Nebuchadnezzar.