Interesting Bible Factoid. My evening readings are from the OT and I am currently in Ezekiel. This weekend I was in chapter 26, the prophecy about Tyre, and came across Nebuchadnezzar’s name as “Nebuchadrezzar”.
The KJV and a few other translations have Nebuchadrezzar which is more in line with the Hebrew but most translations just put Nebuchadnezzar so it matches the usual form of the name throughout the Bible.
That is unfortunate since the Hebrew intends a play on words here.
Apparently Nebuchadrezzar is the proper form of the name and means, “May Nabu protect the eldest son/ heir” (Nabu was the important Assyro-Babylonian god of wisdom and writing). So Nabopolassar (Nebbie’s dad- note he is named after Nabu as well) named his heir with a name intended to extend the dynasty.
When the Hebrew has Nebuchadnezzar, however, the meaning of the name changes. This form of the name means, “May Nabu protect the mule”. Mules are sterile creatures so this pun on the name is intended to call the destroyer of Jerusalem and the Temple a dumb beast (where is Nabu’s wisdom now?) and to wish an end to his lineage (mules are sterile creatures).
Usually in the Bible the put-down form of the name appears because Nebbie is the bad guy, but here is Ezekiel 26 Yahweh is using him to bring judgement to the Tyrians so he catches a break and his real name is used.
It is very interesting to read the Bible with an awareness of background information like this. I very much recommend this set of commentaries for anyone interested in having this kind of info at your fingertips for a broader view of Scripture as you read. Both the OT and NT sets are incredible.