After defeating the Assyrians, king Nabopolassar of Babylon, attempted to expand his kingdom into an empire. He sent an army under the command of his son Nebuchadnezzar II against Egyptians. Nebuchadnezzar defeated Egyptians and won Syria.
Nebuchadnezzar succeeded his father to the throne and reigned for 40 years. He enlarged the city of Babylon. He built a magnificent new avenue, called the Sacred way, rebuilt a temple to the Babylonian god, Marduk, and raised a palace for himself. The palace was decorated with the famous hanging gardens.
In 586 B.C., after a 16-month siege, Nebuchadnezzar captured the city of Jerusalem, and destroyed the great temple of Solomon. He forced most Jews to travel to Babylonia as slaves. A small number of farmers were left in Palestine to till the land.
This was the first time the Jews were scattered in foreign lands en masse. Much of the Old Testament is filled with words of God to prophets to turn the Jews back to God and be spared from Babylonian captivity, just like they were saved from Assyrians. The people of Israel would not listen, so God brought Nebuchadnezzar to destroy everything that was dear to them.
After that, it was Nebuchadnezzar's turn to listen to God. One day, he was walking through the great city of Babylon he expanded, and said to himself, "Isn't this the great city of Babylon that I have built?" He subdued all the powers of his time and thought he was almighty. Then God reminded him who was really in charge. Nebuchadnezzar has gone mad for 7 years, and roamed the fields like an animal. At the end of 7 years, he looked up to heaven and praised the God of the universe, acknowledging God's supremacy over all empires, and that God gives power to whoever He pleases for a purpose. After that acknowledgement, Nebuchadnezzar's sanity was restored, as well as his former position in Babylon.
Fry, Plantagenet Somerset. The Dorling Kindersley History of the World. London: D. Kindersley, 1994. Print.