Myths and Legends of Babylonia and Assyria
Page: 15[Pg 39] of Nebuchadrezzar in the direction of the God of Israel. A second dream which he had, he begged Daniel to interpret. He said he had seen a tree in the midst of the earth of more than natural height, which flourished and was exceedingly strong, so that it reached to heaven. So abundant was the fruit of this tree that it provided meat for the whole earth, and so ample its foliage that the beasts of the field had shadow under it, and the fowls of the air dwelt in its midst. A spirit descended from heaven and called aloud, demanding that the tree should be cut down and its leaves and fruit scattered, but that its roots should be left in the earth surrounded by a band of iron and brass. Then, ordering that the tree should be treated as if it were a man, the voice of the spirit continued to ask that it should be wet with the dew of heaven, and that its portion should be with the beasts in the grass of the earth. "Let his heart be changed from a man's," said the voice, "and let a beast's heart be given him; and let seven times pass over him."
Then was Daniel greatly troubled. He kept silence for a space until the King begged him to take heart and speak. The tree, he announced, represented Nebuchadrezzar himself, and what had happened to it in the vision would come to pass regarding the great King of Babylon. He would be driven from among men and his dwelling would be with the beasts of the field. He would be made to eat grass as oxen and be wet with the dew of heaven, and seven times would pass over him, till he knew and recognized that the Most High ruled in the kingdom of man and gave it to whomsoever he desired.
Twelve months after this Nebuchadrezzar was in the midst of his palace at Babylon, boasting of what he had accomplished during his reign, when a voice from heaven spake, saying: "O King Nebuchadrezzar, to thee it is spoken, the kingdom is departed from thee," and straightway was Nebuchadrezzar driven from man and he did eat grass as an ox and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hair was grown like eagle's feathers and his nails like bird's claws.
At the termination of his time of trial Nebuchadrezzar lifted his eyes to heaven, and praising the Most High admitted his domination over the whole earth. Thus was the punishment of the boaster completed.
It has been stated with some show of probability that the judgment upon Nebuchadrezzar was connected with that weird disease known as lycanthropy, from the Greek words lukos, a wolf, and anthropos, a man. It develops as a kind of hysteria and is characterized by a belief on the part of the victim that he has become an animal. There are, too, cravings for strange food, and the afflicted person runs about on all fours. Among primitive peoples such a seizure is ascribed to supernatural agency, and garlic or onion—the common scourge of vampires—is held to the nostrils.
Grant of Privileges to Ritti-Marduk, a famous Babylonian Captain, by Nebuchadrezzar I.—Photo W. A. Mansell and Co.