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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature


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(Hebrews Merodak', מְרֹדִךְ, apparently a syncopated form of מְראֹדִךְ; Sept. Μαιρωδάχ v. r. Μεωδάχ and Μαιωδάχ ; Vulg. Merodach) occurs in Jeremiah 50:2, in such connection with idols as to leave no doubt that it is the name of a Babylonian god. In conformity with the general character of Babylonian idolatry, Merodach is supposed to be the name of a planet; and, as one of the Tsabian and Arabic names for Mars is Mirrich, "arrow" (the latter of which Gesenius thinks may be for Mirdich, which is very nearly. the same as Merodach), there is some presumption that it may be Mars, but in other respects he more closely resembles Jupiter. As for etymologies of the word, Hitzig has suggested (Comment. on Isaiah 39:1) that it is the Persian mardak, the diminutive of mard, "man," used as a term of endearment; but more probably it is from the Persian and Indo- Germanic mord, or mort (which' means death, and is so far in harmony with the conception of Mars, as the lesser star of evil omen), and the affix och, which is found in many Assyrian names, as Nisroch, etc. (Gesenius, Thes. Hebrews p. 818). The bloody rites with which Mars was worshipped by the ancient Arabs are described in Norberg's Onomast. Codicis Nasar. p. 107. Of the worship of this idol by, the Assyrians and Babylonians, besides the passages in Isaiah 39:1; Jeremiah 1, 2, we have testimony in the proper names of the kings of Assyria and Babylonia, which are often compounded with this name, as Evil-Merodach, and Merodach-Baladan, who is also called BerodachBaladan (see Gesenius, Comment. zu Jesa. 1:281). In the above passage of Jeremiah, "Bel and Merodach are coupled together, and threatened with destruction in the fall of Babylon. It has commonly been concluded from this passage that Bel and Merodach were separate gods; but from the Assyrian and Babylonian inscriptions it appears that this was not exactly the case. Merodach was really identical with the famous Babylonian Bel or Belus, the word being probably at first a mere epithet of the god, which by degrees superseded his proper appellation. Still a certain distinction appears to have been maintained between the names. The golden image in the great temple at Babylon seems to have been worshipped distinctly as Bel rather than Merodach, while other idols of the god may have represented him as Merodach rather than Bel. It is not known what the word Merodach means, or what the special aspect of the god was, when worshipped under that title. In a general way Bel- Merodach may be said to correspond to the Greek Jupiter. He is the old man of the gods; the judge,' and as the gates of heaven under his especial charge. Nebuchadnezzar calls him the great lord, the senior of the gods, the most ancient, and Neriglissar the first-born of the gods, the layer-up of treasures.' In the earlier period of Babylonian history he seems to share with several other deities (as Nebo, Nergal, Bel-Nimrod, Anu, etc.) the worship of the people, but in the later times he is regarded as the source of all power and blessings, and thus concentrates in his own person the greater part of that homage and respect which had previously been divided anong the various gods of the Pantheon." See Rawlinson, Herodotus, 1:267 sq.; Ancient Monarchies, 1:169.

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Merodach'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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