During the second half of the first millennium BCE, innovative portrayals of Nebuchadnezzar began to emerge within Jewish circles that reshaped and reimagined his role in their history. Such reconstruals were part and parcel of the lively negotiations among Babylonian and Hellenistic scribes over the representation of bygone Mesopotamian monarchs. In this essay, I examine the reimagination of Nebuchadnezzar in the court tales of Dan 2–6 as a unique example of how scribes sought to reshape the haunting memory of Nebuchadnezzar. By comparing Nebuchadnezzar’s narrative portrait with various texts from Jewish prophetic traditions, I argue that the redactor of the court tales constructed a counter-memory of Nebuchadnezzar in which the traumatic experience of Judah’s humiliation, deportation, and restoration was creatively mapped onto Nebuchadnezzar. In order to construct this counter-memory, the redactor drew upon and repurposed specific language, imagery, and motifs borrowed from these textual traditions.
The literary development of the book of Kings continues to occasion much debate, including the long narrative of Solomon’s temple dedication in 1 Kings 8. The quest for clarity may be aided by the textual witness of the Old Greek (OG). This study analyzes the textual relation between MT-1 Kgs 8:1–11 and OG-3 Kgdms 8:1–11 to discern the literary development of MT in light of the shorter version preserved in OG. I argue that the OG translator is not the source of the textual discrepancy; rather the MT reflects an expanded version of the OG Hebrew Vorlage. As the additional material evinces the influence of both Priestly and Deuteronomistic style, I suggest the literary growth exhibited in 1 Kgs 8:1–11 occurred during the Persian period when a Deuteronomistic-Priestly school sought to combine the Deuteronomistic History with Genesis–Numbers.