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Nebuzaradan was the captain of Nebuchadnezzar’s army. Nebuchadnezzar may have been the one who conquered Jerusalem, but it was Nebuzaradan who actually set fire to the city.
Nebuzaradan and his men were the hands and feet that wrought Nebuchadnezzar’s destruction. He was also responsible for rescuing the prophet Jeremiah from captivity and exile.
Nebuzaradan was commander of the Babylonian military. He led the final assault on Jerusalem in 586 BC, destroying the palace, razing the temple, and burning every important building to the ground.
Once the city was pounded into submission, Nebuzaradan left none but the poorest of the poor, who stayed behind to tend Jerusalem’s vineyards.
The rest of the survivors were carried off into exile.
On Nebuchadnezzar’s orders, Nebuzaradan singled out the two leading priests—as well as Judah’s military commanders and royal advisers— and had them executed. On this ignoble note, the text concludes,
“Judah went into captivity, away from her land” (2 Kings 25:21).
But Nebuzaradan was also responsible for sparing the life of one of Judah’s greatest prophets, Jeremiah. Chained up with the rest of the prisoners from Jerusalem, Jeremiah seemed destined for exile and perhaps death—until Nebuzaradan found him.
Apparently aware of Jeremiah’s prophecies concerning Jerusalem’s destruction and Nebuchadnezzar’s triumph, Nebuzaradan ordered Jeremiah to be set free. He even gave Jeremiah the choice between coming to Babylon where he could live under Nebuzaradan’s protection or returning to his decimated homeland.
Jeremiah chose the latter and remained with the poorest of the poor who were left behind among the charred remnants of Jerusalem. Both Nebuchadnezzar and Nebuzaradan’s names are allusions to the Babylonian god of wisdom, Nebo. Nebuzaradan’s name meant “Nebo has given seed.”