Sanhedrin 96 - Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuzaradan, and the Temple
When king Chizkiah was ill and then recovered, the sun reversed its course . The king of Assyria sent him a letter, "Greeting to Chizkiah, greetings to Jerusalem, greetings to the great God!" Nebuchadnezzar was the king's secretary, and he ran after the messenger in order to rewrite this letter in the correct order of greetings. He made three steps and was rewarded with the opportunity to destroy Jerusalem. People now make three steps at the end of prayer, asking to restore Jerusalem.
The general who came to destroy Jerusalem was Nebuzaradan . He had three hundred mule-loads of axes that cut iron, but one gate of Jerusalem swallowed them all. Nebuzaradan wanted to retreat, but the Heavenly voice told him, "You always wanted to destroy Jerusalem, now is your chance." With the wooden handle of a hatchet he then destroyed all gates, conquered Jerusalem and burned the Temple.
Nebuzaradan saw the blood of Zechariah, seething on the floor of the Temple. He asked, "What is it?" They told him, "Blood of offerings that spilled." He brought offerings, but it did not look the same. He then threatened torture, and they told him the truth: Zechariah prophesied about the destruction of the Temple, and they killed him, a Kohen and a prophet. Nebuzaradan then brought the Sages and slew them over the blood, but it did not rest. He killed schoolchildren and Kohanim, and kept killing until the count came to 940,000. He then called to Zechariah, "Do you want me to kill everyone?" - and the blood rested.
Nebuzaradan then reasoned, "If for killing one person God punished them so, what will He do to that man (meaning himself)?" He then sent a will to his household and converted to Judaism.
Art: BLAKE William - Nebuchadnezzar