Biblical Archaeology Review 22:1, January/February 1996

The Fury of Babylon: Ashkelon and the Archaeology of Destruction

By Lawrence E. Stager

In 586 B.C.E. Nebuchadrezzar (also known as Nebuchadnezzar II), king of Babylon, attacked Jerusalem, destroyed the Temple and burned the city. This of course is the focal point of the Biblical story. For Nebuchadrezzar, however, Jerusalem was only one of many prizes, part of a major military operation in the West extending over many years. The real battle was between two superpowers—the newly ascendant Babylonian Empire in the East (replacing the Assyrians) and Egypt in the West. Hebrew University professor Avraham Malamat has aptly applied the term “bipolar politics” to this contest.1

By the last half of the seventh century B.C.E., Egypt dominated neighboring countries like Philistia and Judah (the northern kingdom of Israel having already been destroyed by the Assyrians in 721 B.C.E.).

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