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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Merodach-Baladan

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(Hebrews Merodak'-Baladan', מְראֹדִךְ בִּלְאֲדָן, Mars [or Jupiter] is his lord, (See MERODACH); Bohen less well compares the Persian mardak balaudaun, honored man; Sept. Μαρωδὰχ Βαλαδάν v. r. Μαιωδὰχ Ἀλαδάν,Vulg. Merodach Baladan), a king of Babylonia, the son of Baladan, and contemporary of Hezekiah (BC. 711), with whom he cherished friendly relations (Isaiah 39:1; 2 Kings 20:12; 2 Chronicles 32:31; in two of which passages the name is written BERODACH-BALADAN, by an interchange of letters). He is unquestionably the Mardokempad (Μαδοκέμπαδος ) of Ptolemy's Canon (comp. Ewald, Isr. Gesch. 3:344), who reigned at Babylon for twelve years, BC. 721-709. Josephus (Ant. 10:2, 2) calls him simply Baladas (Βαλάδας), apparently identifying his name with that of his father. He is usually identified (Gesenius, Comment. on Isaiah ad loc.) with the Merodach-Baladan mentioned by Berosus (in Eusebius, Chron. Armen. 1:42, ed. Aucher) as a viceroy of the king of Assyria, who rebelled and seized the kingdom of Babylon for himself (see Knobel, Comment. on Isaiah p. 282); but this person is probably one who fell in a part of the two years' interregnum some years later (BC. 702-699), since he is said to have been slain by Elibus (the Belibus of Ptolemy's Canon) after a reign of only six months (see Hitzig, Comment. on Isaiah p. 450). Merodach Baladan is mentioned in the Assyrian inscriptions at Khorsabad, deciphered by Dr. Hincks and Colossians Rawlinson, according to which he was conquered by Sennacherib in the first year of the latter's reign. Merodach Baladan is there called king of Kar-Duniyas, a city and country frequently mentioned in the Assyrian inscriptions, and comprising the southernmost part of Mesopotamia, near the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates, together with the districts watered by these two rivers, to the borders of Susiana.

This king, with the help of his Susianian allies, had recently recovered Babylon, from which Sargon, Sennacherib's father, had expelled him in the twelfth year of his reign. The battle seems to have been fought considerably to the north of that city. The result was that Semnacherib totally defeated Merodach-Baladan, who fled to save his life, leaving behind him all his military equipments. In the cuneiform annals of the fourth year of Sennacherib's reign, Merodach-Baladan is further mentioned as having escaped to an island, where himself and all his family were finally captured by Sennacherib (Layard's Nineveh and Babylon,.p. 140, 145). The dates of these notices would seem to identify the Merodach-Baladan of the monuments with the temporary usurper of the same name alluded to by Berosus, rather than with the one of Scripture; possibly future investigations may show that they were all three identical, as also the Mardokempadus of the Canon, since the records of the inscriptions appear to speak of an occupancy of Babylon by him at two distinct periods, the first during the reign of Sargon (being probably that referred to in the Scriptures and the Canon), and the second for a shorter space and after a considerable interval, in the first of Sennacherib (being that alluded to by Berosus). A different but analogous solution of the above difficulty is to suppose two kings of the same name at the two periods in question. (See HEZEKIAH)

"Putting all our notices together, it becomes apparent that Merodach- Baladan was the head of the popular party, which resisted the Assyrian monarchs, and strove to maintain the independence of the country. It is uncertain whether he was self-raised or was the son of a former king. In the second book of Kings be is styled the son of Baladan;' but the inscriptions call him the son of Yagin;' whence it is to be presumed that Baladan was a more remote ancestor. Yagin, the real father of Merodach- Baladan, is possibly represented in Ptolemy's Canon by the name Jugeuss- which in some copies replaces the name Elulaeus, as the appellation of the immediate predecessor of Merodach-Baladan. At any rate, from the time of Sargon, Merodach Baladan and his family were the champions of Babylonian independence, and fought with spirit the losing battle of their country. The king of whom we are here treating sustained two contests with the power of Assyria, was twice defeated, and twice compelled to fly his country. His sons, supported by the king of Elam, or Susiana, continued the struggle, and are found among the adversaries of Esar Haddon, Sennacherib's son and successor. His grandsons contended against Asshur- bani-pal, the son of EsarHaddon. It is not till the fourth generation that the family seems to become extinct, and the Babylonians, having no champion to maintain their cause, contentedly acquiesce in the yoke of the stranger. The increasing power of Assyria was at this period causing alarm to her neighbors, and the circumstances of the time were such as would tend to draw Judaea and Babylonia together, and to give rise to negotiation's between them. The astronomical marvel, whatever it was, which accompanied the recovery of Hezekiah, would doubtless have attracted the attention of the Babylonians; but it was probably rather the pretext than the motive for the formal embassy which the Chaldaean king despatched to Jerusalem on the occasion. The real object of the mission was most likely to effect a league between Babylon, Judaea, and Egypt (Isaiah 20:5-6), in order to check the growing power of the Assyrians. Hezekiah's exhibition of all his precious things' (2 Kings 20:13) would thus have been, not a mere display, but a mode of satisfying the Babylonian ambassadors of his ability to support the expenses of a war. The league, however, though designed, does not seem to have taken effect. Sargon, acquainted probably with the intentions of his adversaries, anticipated them. He sent expeditions both into Syria and Babylonia-seized the stronghold of Ashdod in the one, and completely defeated Merodach- Baladan in the other. That monarch sought safety in flight, and lived for eight years in exile. At last he found an opportunity to return. In BC. 703 or 7.02 Babylonia was plunged in anarchy-the Assyrian yoke was thrown off, and various native leaders struggled for the mastery. Under these circumstances the exiled monarch seems to have returned, and recovered his throne. His adversary, Sargon, was dead or dying, and a new and untried prince was about to rule over the Assyrians. He might hope that the reins of government would be held by a weaker hand, and that he might stand his ground against the son, though he had been forced to yield to the father. In this hope, however, he was disappointed. Sennacherib had scarcely established himself on the throne when he proceeded to engage his people in wars, and it seems that his very first step was to invade the kingdom of Babylon. Merodach-Baladan had obtained a body of troops from his ally, the king of Susiana; but Sennacherib defeated the combined army in a pitched battle; after which he ravaged the entire country, destroying 79 walled cities and 820 towns and villages, and carrying vast numbers of the people into captivity. Merodach-Baladan fled to the islands at the mouth of the Euphrates' (Fox Talbot's Assyrian Texts, p. 1)-tracts probably now joined to the continent-and succeeded in eluding the search which the Assyrians made for him. If we may believe Polyhistor, however, this escape availed him little. That writer relates (ap. Euseb. Chron. Song of Solomon 1:5) that he was soon after put to death by Elibus, or Belibus, the viceroy whom Sennacherib appointed to represent him at Babylon. At any rate, he lost his recovered crown after wearing it for about six months, and spent the remainder of his days in exile and obscurity."' (See BABYLONIA).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Merodach-Baladan'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/m/merodach-baladan.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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