Kanye West premiered his latest opus, titled “Nebuchadnezzar,” at the Hollywood Bowl Nov. 24. The opera is based on the biblical story of the Babylonian king from the Book of Daniel and recounts his transition from “wicked, imperious, self-declared ruler to a true believer who finds salvation in his faith,” according to a press release. In 588 BCE, when the last ruler of the Kingdom of Judah attempted to rebel against Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar retaliated and attacked Jerusalem, besieging the city for years before burning down the First Temple and enslaving the surviving Jews.
It’s one of the bloodiest episodes in Jewish history, remembered each year on the fast day of Tisha b’Av, which also marks the end of a three-week period of mourning tied to the destruction of both the First and Second Temples, as well as other calamities to befall the Jewish people.
JTA reported that West related to Nebuchadnezzar’s story (or at least his interpretation of it), claiming in interviews that Nebuchadnezzar was also bipolar and similarly found his faith following an episode of mental illness.
Some scholars say the Babylonian believed at one point that he had turned into an ox, JTA reported.