Jeremiah 21:2 says that King Nebuchadnezzar is attacking Israel. Is this the same Nebuchadnezzar that places Daniel in a high government position? I know that many kings had the same names at that time but it seems odd that the king would simultaneously place an Israelite at the top of his administration and attack his native land.
The simple answer is yes to your question, they are the same. Nebuchadnezzar attacked Jerusalem 3 times and he took captives when he did so. God also promised to keep the captives safe and prosper them. This is Nebuchadnezzar the second who reigned from 605 BC – 562 BC, while Nebuchadnezzar the first reigned from 1126–1103 BC. So there isn't a son with the same name to get confused with. You can see from the references below that it both the attack and captivity happened at the same time.
- The start of Nebuchadnezzar dealing with Jerusalem.
In his days Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up, and Jehoiakim became his servant for three years; then he turned and rebelled against him. 2 The LORD sent against him bands of Chaldeans, bands of Arameans, bands of Moabites, and bands of Ammonites. So He sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the LORD which He had spoken through His servants the prophets. 3 Surely at the command of the LORD it came upon Judah, to remove them from His sight because of the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he had done, 4 and also for the innocent blood which he shed, for he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood; and the LORD would not forgive.
- The first attack, captives taken (including Daniel)
Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem; and his mother’s name was Nehushta the daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem. He did evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father had done. At that time the servants of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon went up to Jerusalem, and the city came under siege. 11 And Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon came to the city, while his servants were besieging it. Jehoiachin the king of Judah went out to the king of Babylon, he and his mother and his servants and his captains and his officials. So the king of Babylon took him captive in the eighth year of his reign. He carried out from there all the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king’s house, and cut in pieces all the vessels of gold which Solomon king of Israel had made in the temple of the LORD, just as the LORD had said. Then he led away into exile all Jerusalem and all the captains and all the mighty men of valor, ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and the smiths. None remained except the poorest people of the land. So he led Jehoiachin away into exile to Babylon; also the king’s mother and the king’s wives and his officials and the leading men of the land, he led away into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. All the men of valor, seven thousand, and the craftsmen and the smiths, one thousand, all strong and fit for war, and these the king of Babylon brought into exile to Babylon.
- The second attack
Now in the ninth year of his reign, on the tenth day of the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came, he and all his army, against Jerusalem, camped against it and built a siege wall all around it. So the city was under siege until the eleventh year of King Zedekiah. On the ninth day of the fourth month the famine was so severe in the city that there was no food for the people of the land. Then the city was broken into, and all the men of war fled by night by way of the gate between the two walls beside the king’s garden, though the Chaldeans were all around the city. And they went by way of the Arabah. But the army of the Chaldeans pursued the king and overtook him in the plains of Jericho and all his army was scattered from him. Then they captured the king and brought him to the king of Babylon at Riblah, and he passed sentence on him. They slaughtered the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, then put out the eyes of Zedekiah and bound him with bronze fetters and brought him to Babylon.
- The third attack, captives taken
Now on the seventh day of the fifth month, which was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard, a servant of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. He burned the house of the LORD, the king’s house, and all the houses of Jerusalem; even every great house he burned with fire. So all the army of the Chaldeans who were with the captain of the guard broke down the walls around Jerusalem. Then the rest of the people who were left in the city and the deserters who had deserted to the king of Babylon and the rest of the people, Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried away into exile. But the captain of the guard left some of the poorest of the land to be vinedressers and plowmen.
Jeremiah was in Jerusalem at the time and was warning them to leave the city. God was using Nebuchadnezzar to pass judgement on Israel.
The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD when King Zedekiah sent to him Pashhur the son of Malchijah, and Zephaniah the priest, the son of Maaseiah, saying, “Please inquire of the LORD on our behalf, for Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon is warring against us; perhaps the LORD will deal with us according to all His wonderful acts, so that the enemy will withdraw from us.” Then Jeremiah said to them, “You shall say to Zedekiah as follows: ‘Thus says the LORD God of Israel, “Behold, I am about to turn back the weapons of war which are in your hands, with which you are warring against the king of Babylon and the Chaldeans who are besieging you outside the wall; and I will gather them into the center of this city. I Myself will war against you with an outstretched hand and a mighty arm, even in anger and wrath and great indignation. I will also strike down the inhabitants of this city, both man and beast; they will die of a great pestilence. Then afterwards,” declares the LORD, “I will give over Zedekiah king of Judah and his servants and the people, even those who survive in this city from the pestilence, the sword and the famine, into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of their foes and into the hand of those who seek their lives; and he will strike them down with the edge of the sword. He will not spare them nor have pity nor compassion.”’ “You shall also say to this people, ‘Thus says the LORD, “Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death. He who dwells in this city will die by the sword and by famine and by pestilence; but he who goes out and falls away to the Chaldeans who are besieging you will live, and he will have his own life as booty. For I have set My face against this city for harm and not for good,” declares the LORD. “It will be given into the hand of the king of Babylon and he will burn it with fire.”’
If you keep reading in Jeremiah you see He says that He will keep the captives safe.
After Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had carried away captive Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, and the officials of Judah with the craftsmen and smiths from Jerusalem and had brought them to Babylon, the LORD showed me: behold, two baskets of figs set before the temple of the LORD! One basket had very good figs, like first-ripe figs, and the other basket had very bad figs which could not be eaten due to rottenness. Then the LORD said to me, “What do you see, Jeremiah?” And I said, “Figs, the good figs, very good; and the bad figs, very bad, which cannot be eaten due to rottenness.” Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Thus says the LORD God of Israel, ‘Like these good figs, so I will regard as good the captives of Judah, whom I have sent out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans. For I will set My eyes on them for good, and I will bring them again to this land; and I will build them up and not overthrow them, and I will plant them and not pluck them up. I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the LORD; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart. ‘But like the bad figs which cannot be eaten due to rottenness--indeed, thus says the LORD--so I will abandon Zedekiah king of Judah and his officials, and the remnant of Jerusalem who remain in this land and the ones who dwell in the land of Egypt. I will make them a terror and an evil for all the kingdoms of the earth, as a reproach and a proverb, a taunt and a curse in all places where I will scatter them. I will send the sword, the famine and the pestilence upon them until they are destroyed from the land which I gave to them and their forefathers.’”
Also in Ezr 5:12
But because our fathers had provoked the God of heaven to wrath, He gave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this temple and deported the people to Babylon.
Nebuchadnezzar did not view captives as we view slaves today. They were to be integrated into his society and become working members. Daniel and his friends were handsome and educated, possibly of notable families. In order to understand the Jews and integrate them, Nebuchadnezzar chose some of them to be advisers. The first chapter of Daniel explains this. That is was indeed Nebuchadnezzar that attacked Jerusalem.
From Dan 1:1-5
In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. The Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the vessels of the house of God; and he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and he brought the vessels into the treasury of his god. Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, the chief of his officials, to bring in some of the sons of Israel, including some of the royal family and of the nobles, youths in whom was no defect, who were good-looking, showing intelligence in every branch of wisdom, endowed with understanding and discerning knowledge, and who had ability for serving in the king’s court; and he ordered him to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans. The king appointed for them a daily ration from the king’s choice food and from the wine which he drank, and appointed that they should be educated three years, at the end of which they were to enter the king’s personal service. 6 Now among them from the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.
In addition to this, God orchestrated it to happen so that He could work His own plans, according to Daniel 9:2.
in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, observed in the books the number of the years which was revealed as the word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet for the completion of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years.
Ezekiel also references Daniel after the captivity in Eze 14.
even though these three men, Noah, Daniel and Job were in its midst, by their own righteousness they could only deliver themselves,” declares the Lord GOD.
They are certainly referring to the same individual.
The name is the same
Briefly addressing this point. The name for 'Nebuchadnezzar' is spelled a variety of ways in Hebrew, sometimes ending with 'rezzar', but even within the book of Jeremiah we find alternate spellings:
- נבוכדראצור: Jeremiah (1)
- נבוכדראצר: Jeremiah (28), and Ezekiel (4)
- נבוכדנאצר: Jeremiah (6), Daniel (1), Esther (1), 2 Kings (2), and 2 Chronicles (4)
- נבכדנאצר: Jeremiah (2), 2 Kings (4), and 2 Chronicles (1)
- נבוכדנצר: Daniel (23), Ezra (4), and Nehemiah (1)
- נבכדנצר: Daniel (5)
The historical context is the same
Nebuchadnezzar began to rule over Babylon about 606-605 BC. The beginning of his rule is mentioned on a Babylonian tablet:
10: . . . in the month of Ululu Nebuchadnezzar returned to Babylon
11: and on 1 Ululu he sat on the royal throne in Babylon.1
Nebuchadnezzar's initial conquest of Judah, described by Jeremiah, is also mentioned later on the tablet, placing it in 'the seventh year' of his rule (c.597 BC). The details described in the tablet are corroborated by the historical narrative in 2 Kings:
11: In the seventh year, the month of Kislimu, the king of Akkad mustered his troops, marched to the Hatti-land, (cf. 2 Kings 24.8-10)
12: and besieged the city [Jerusalem] of Judah and on the second day of the month of Addaru he seized the city and captured the king [Jehoiachin]. (cf. 2 Kings 24.11-16)
13: He appointed there a king [Zedekiah] of his own choice, received its heavy tribute and sent to Babylon. (cf. 2 Kings 24.17)2
This arrest of Jehoiachin included a deportation of Jewish nobility to Babylon (cf. Jeremiah 24.1).
The event is purportedly described in Daniel 1.1, but the book portrays 'Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon' as laying siege to Jerusalem 'in the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah' (c.606-605 BC), with Jehoiakim being taken into exile, rather than his son. When compared to the Babylonian tablet, and the biblical books of Jeremiah and 2 Kings, Daniel 1.1 is anachronistic.
In any case, both Jeremiah and Daniel present Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, as conquering Jerusalem and deporting its king and nobility.
Appointment of a conquered foreigner
Between the spelling of the name, and the historical context, it is absolutely certain Jeremiah and Daniel were writing about the same person, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon during the early sixth century BC. But would Nebuchadnezzar exile members of the Jewish nobility, only to provide food rations, education, and even government positions to some of them? (In other words, is Daniel's account realistic?)
We see comparable examples in other books from the same period: Jehoiachin was treated with respect by his conquerors (2 Kings 25.27-30), and Ezra and Nehemiah each worked in the Persian government. Conversely, when Babylon first conquered Judah, they appointed a Jewish governor (2 Kings 25.22; Jeremiah 40.5-6), rather than installing a Babylonian governor as we might have expected.
Snell writes 'Nationalism is not a natural sentiment', so that
It does not seem that the Mesopotamian people knew this kind of nationalist feeling and above all did not feel racial contempt for the Aramaeans, Hebrews, or others.3
He later writes
. . . in the Ur III period they [the Sumerians] appointed some foreigners to the civil service and the army, if we may judge by their foreign names. Dahish-atal, who was of Hurrian origin, was an important official (Sigrist 1992; 31); many Hurrian slave women were working as weavers, and many Amorites were policemen.4
Dandamaev and Lukonin write that
The Achaemenid empire could not exist without the extensive utilization of the cultural, legal and administrative traditions of the conquered peoples, and the Persian administration often employed the services of representatives of these people in state administration. In Babylonia, Egypt, Asia Minor and other countries the judges, managers of chancellories, governors of towns, nomarchs, managers of state arsenals, tax collectors and leaders of the royal construction projects were usually Babylonians, Egyptians, Jews, Aramaeans, Elamites, Greeks and so forth . . . Sometimes the most fortunate foreigners could achieve high positions: for instance, the Carian Datames became the ruler of Caria; the Hyrcanian Artabanos became the chief of the bodyguards of Xerxes; the Egyptian Tamos became the deputy of Cilicia (at the beginning of the fourth century B.C.); and the Jew Nehemiah was a confidant of Artaxerxes I, occupying the important post of royal cup-bearer in the civil service hierarchy.5
Culturally speaking, the appointment of Daniel to a high rank in the Babylonian government would not have been unrealistic, even if Babylon was in fact his conqueror.
Historically speaking, however, critical scholarship suggests the portrayal in the book of Daniel is a highly idealized version of this sort of thing, and may not have actually happened (at least, not to such an idealized extent). The stories in Daniel 1-6 may come from a 'Daniel cycle', a series of fictional stories about an idealized Jewish hero living in a foreign land:
According to a widely-shared opinion "Daniel is not a historical person but a figure of legend," and the book that bears his name is a product that reached its present form in the 2nd century BCE. The Babylonian background would thus belong to the realm of fiction.6
1 The Jerusalem Chronicle, obverse, lines 10-11.
2 Ibid., reverse, lines 11-12.
3 Daniel C. Snell, A Companion to the Ancient Near East (2005), p.378.
4 Ibid., p.380. (The Ur III period mentioned in this passage was over a thousand years earlier than the present question regarding Nebuchadnezzar, but there were cultural similarities even across that large temporal gap that are worth considering.)
5 Muhammad A. Dandamaev, Vladimir G. Lukonin, The Culture and Social Institutions of Ancient Iran (2004), p.116.
6 Karel Van Der Toorn, edited by John J. Collins, Peter W. Flint, The Book of Daniel: Composition and Reception, Volume 1 (2002), p.37.
Nebuchadnezzar was the king of Babylon, who attacked and defeated Jerusalem. He brought some of the Hebrews back to Babylon, including Daniel. This is the setting of the book of Daniel, told in Daniel 1:1-7. This alone may help to answer
it seems odd that the king would simultaneously place an Israelite at the top of his >administration and attack his native land.
The setting for the book of Jeremiah is in Jerusalem at the time of the Babylonian captivity, so it looks like it is the same person.
I don’t believe this is the same person. Beyond the point you made, some Bibles show two different names while others show the same.
For example, the KJV has two different names.
Jeremiah 21:2 (KJV)
Enquire, I pray thee, of the Lord for us; for Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon maketh war against us; if so be that the Lord will deal with us according to all his wondrous works, that he may go up from us.
Daniel 2:46-48 (KJV)
Then the king Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face, and worshipped Daniel, and commanded that they should offer an oblation and sweet odours unto him. 47 The king answered unto Daniel, and said, Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldest reveal this secret. 48 Then the king made Daniel a great man, and gave him many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon.
The YLT Bible has the same spellings as the KJV.
However, other Bibles, such as the NASB, show only “Nebuchadnezzar”.
Jeremiah 21:2 (NASB)
Please inquire of the Lord on our behalf, for Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon is warring against us; perhaps the Lord will deal with us according to all His [a]wonderful acts, so that the enemy will withdraw from us.”
Daniel 2:46-48 (NASB)
Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell on his face and did homage to Daniel, and gave orders to present to him an offering and [a]fragrant incense. 47 The king answered Daniel and said, “Surely your God is a God of gods and a Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, since you have been able to reveal this mystery.” 48 Then the king [b]promoted Daniel and gave him many great gifts, and he made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief [c]prefect over all the wise men of Babylon.