2 Kings 20:12
At that time Berodachbaladan, the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a present to Hezekiah: for he had heard that Hezekiah had been sick.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
THE EMBASSY OP MERODACH-BALADAN

(2Kings 20:12-19).

(12) At that time Berodach-baladan.—As to the name, Berodach is a transcriber’s error for Merodach (Jeremiah 1:2). Some MSS. of Kings, and the LXX., Syriac, and Arabic, as well as Isaiah 39:1, and the Talmud, spell the name with m, a letter easily confused with b in Hebrew. Above all, the cuneiform inscriptions present Marduk (or, Maruduk)-abla-iddina (“Me-rodaeh gave a son”). A king of this name occupied the throne of Chaldea at intervals, during the reigns of the four Assyrian sovereigns Tiglath Pileser, Shalma-neser, Sargon, and Sennacherib. He is called in the inscriptions “son of Yâkin,” an expression which, like “Jehu son of Omri,” is territorial rather than genealogical. Bît- Yâkin was the name of the tribal domain of the “sons of Yâkin,” just as Bît-Humria was that of the territory of which Jehu was king. He is further designated as king of “the land of the sea” (mât tihâmtim), i.e., the country at the head of the Persian Gulf, and of “the land of Chaldea” (mât Kaldi). He did homage to Tiglath Pileser in 731 B.C. In the first year of Sargon, Merodach-baladan established himself as king of Babylon, and was eventually recognised as such by the Assyrian sovereign. He reigned about twelve years contemporaneously with Sargon, who in 710 and 709 B.C. defeated and captured him, and burnt his stronghold Dûr-Yâkin. On the death of Sargon, Merodach-baladan once more gained possession of the throne of Babylon; and perhaps it was at this time (so Schrader) that he sent his famous embassy to seek the alliance of Hezekiah and other western princes. After a brief reign of six months, he was defeated by Sennacherib, and driven back to his old refuge in the morasses of South Chaldea. Belibus was made Assyrian viceroy of Babylon. These events belong to the beginning of Sennacherib’s reign. (He says, ina ris sarrutiya, “in the beginning of my sovereignty.”) There was yet another outbreak before Merodach-bala-dan was finally disheartened; and later still Esarhaddon mentions that he slew Nabu-zir-napisti-sutesir, son of Mardak-abla-iddina, and made his brother Na’id-Maruduk king of “the land of the sea” in his stead.

Son of Baladan.—The name of Merodach-baladan’s father is not mentioned in the cuneiform inscriptions.

He had heard that Hezekiah had been sick.—The ostensible business of the embassy was to congratulate Hezekiah on his recovery, and to inquire about the sign that had been vouchsafed him (sec 2Chronicles 32:31, and Note); but the Assyrian records make it pretty clear that the real object was to ascertain the extent of Hezekiah’s resources, and to secure his alliance against the common enemy.

2 Kings 20:12. Berodach-baladan — He seems to have been the king of Assyria’s viceroy in Babylon; and, upon the terrible slaughter in the Assyrian host, and the death of Sennacherib, and the differences among his sons, to have usurped absolute sovereignty over Babylon: and either himself or his son destroyed the Assyrian monarchy, and translated the empire to Babylon. Sent letters and a present to Hezekiah — Congratulating him on his happy restoration to health, and assuring him of his esteem and friendship. According to 2 Chronicles 32:31, one end he had in view in doing this was, that he might inquire of, or concerning, the wonder done in the land, namely, the shadow going back on the dial of Ahaz. And it is probable another was, that he might obtain assistance from Hezekiah against the king of Assyria, their common enemy.20:12-21 The king of Babylon was at this time independent of the king of Assyria, though shortly after subdued by him. Hezekiah showed his treasures and armour, and other proofs of his wealth and power. This was the effect of pride and ostentation, and departing from simple reliance on God. He also seems to have missed the opportunity of speaking to the Chaldeans, about Him who had wrought the miracles which excited their attention, and of pointing out to them the absurdity and evil of idolatry. What is more common than to show our friends our houses and possessions? But if we do this in the pride of ours hearts, to gain applause from men, not giving praise to God, it becomes sin in us, as it did in Hezekiah. We may expect vexation from every object with which we are unduly pleased. Isaiah, who had often been Hezekiah's comforter, is now is reprover. The blessed Spirit is both, Joh 16:7,8. Ministers must be both, as there is occasion. Hezekiah allowed the justice of the sentence, and God's goodness in the respite. Yet the prospect respecting his family and nation must have given him many painful feelings. Hezekiah was indeed humbled for the pride of his heart. And blessed are the dead who die in the Lord; for they rest from their labours, and their works do follow them.Berodach-baladan - The correct form of this name, Merodach-baladan, is given in Isaiah Isa 39:1. It is a name composed of three elements, Merodach, the well-known Babylonian god Jeremiah 50:2, but (pal) "a son;" and iddin, or iddina, "has given;" or Baladan may be a form of Beliddin. This king of Babylon is mentioned frequently in the Assyrian inscriptions, and he was not unknown to the Greeks. He had two reigns in Babylon. First of all, he seized the throne in the same year in which Sargon became king of Assyria, 721 B.C., and held it for 12 years, from 721 B.C. to 709 B.C., when Sargon defeated him, and took him prisoner. Secondly, on the death of Sargon and the accession of Sennacherib, when troubles once more arose in Babylonia, be returned there, and had another reign, which lasted six months, during a part of the year 703 B.C. As the embassy of Merodach-Baladan followed closely on the illness of Hezekiah, it would probably be in 713 B.C.

The son of Baladan - In the inscriptions Merodach-Baladan is repeatedly called the son of Yakin or Yagin. This, however, is a discrepancy which admits of easy explanation. The Assyrians are not accurate in their accounts of the parentage of foreign kings. With them Jehu is "the son of Omri." Yakin was a prince of some repute, to whose dominions Merodach-baladan had succeeded. The Assyrians would call him Yakin's son, though he might have been his son-in-law, or his grandson.

The embassy was not merely one of congratulation. Its chief object was to inquire with respect to the going back of the shadow, an astronomical marvel in which the Chaldaeans of Babylon would feel a keen interest 2 Chronicles 32:31. A political purpose is moreover implied in the next verse. Merodach-baladan was probably desirous of strengthening himself against Assyria by an alliance with Judaea and with Egypt.

12-19. Berodach-baladan—(Isa 39:1), the first king of Babylon mentioned in sacred history; formerly its rulers were viceroys of the Assyrian monarchs. This individual threw off the yoke, and asserting his independence, made with varying success, a long and obstinate resistance [Rawlinson, Outlines]. The message of congratulation to Hezekiah, was, in all likelihood, accompanied with proposals for a defensive alliance against their common Assyrian enemy. The king of Judah, flattered with this honor, showed the ambassadors all his treasures, his armory and warlike stores; and his motive for this was evidently that the Babylonian deputies might be the more induced to prize his friendship. Berodach-baladan, called Merodach-baladan, Isaiah 39:1, whose name Josephus found in that famous Chaldean historian, Berosus. He seems to have been the king of Assyria’s viceroy in Babylon; and upon that terrible slaughter of one hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian host, and the death of Sennacherib, and the differences among his sons, to have usurped an absolute sovereignty over Babylon; and either himself or his son destroyed the Assyrian monarchy, and translated the empire to Babylon.

Sent letters and a present unto Hezekiah; partly for the reasons mentioned 2 Chronicles 32:31; and partly to assure himself of the friendship and assistance of Hezekiah against the Assyrians, their common, and as yet powerful, enemy. At that time Berodachbaladan,.... He is called Merodachbaladan, Isaiah 39:1, so here in the Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions; See Gill on Isaiah 39:1; and by Metasthenes (z) his father is called Merodach, and he Ben Merodach, who reigned twenty one years, and his father fifty two; from hence to the end of 2 Kings 20:12 the same account is given in the same words as in Isaiah 39:1 throughout, except in 2 Kings 20:13, where it is, "hearkened unto them", and there, "glad of them"; heard the letter the ambassadors brought with pleasure; see the notes there. See Gill on Isaiah 39:1 and following.

(z) Ut supra. (De Judicio Temp. fol. 221. 2.)

At that time Berodachbaladan, the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a {i} present unto Hezekiah: for he had heard that Hezekiah had been sick.

(i) Moved by the favour that God showed to Hezekiah, and also because he had declared himself an enemy of Sennacherib who was now destroyed.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
12–21. An embassy to Hezekiah from the king of Babylon. Isaiah’s message to Hezekiah. Death of Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 32:25-33; Isaiah 39:1-8)

12. Berodach-baladan] The first part of the name is given as Merodach in Isaiah. This is the more correct form, but the interchange of the two labials is very easily made.

This king of Babylon is mentioned in the Assyrian inscriptions, as overthrown by Sargon the father of Sennacherib. He is said in the canon to have reigned 12 years, while Polyhistor gives him a brief reign of six months. It seems probable that both are correct. After the defeat by Sargon, at which time he had been king 12 years, he was for some years an exile, but afterwards finding means to recover his kingdom, he kept the power for a very brief space. Whether his embassy to Hezekiah is to be assigned to the longer or the shorter time of his kingship depends upon the date in Hezekiah’s life at which his sickness occurred. If, as some have conjectured, that event was before Sennacherib’s invasion the embassy must have been before Merodach’s expulsion: if Hezekiah’s disease followed after Sennacherib’s invasion, then the Babylonian embassy must be placed in the brief six months’ rule which Merodach had after his return. The date of Merodach’s expulsion is placed b.c. 709, his return to the throne b.c. 702.

and a present] This is in the original, minchah, a present intended to procure alliance and aid.

for he had heard that Hezekiah had been sick] And probably had heard also of the wondrous sign which attended on his recovery. Whether the announcement of such a marvel would create special interest in Babylon the land of star-worship and star-study we can only conjecture. No doubt the congratulation on Hezekiah’s recovery was only used as a pretext for an embassy which should gain over Judah, if possible, to the side of Babylon.Verses 12-19. - The embassy of Merodach-Baladan. Soon after his recovery, Hezekiah received an embassy from a new quarter. Hitherto Babylon and Judaea had been isolated from one another, and had perhaps scarcely known of each other's existence. Assyria had stood between them, and Babylonia had been for the most part an Assyrian dependency. But recently Babylonia had asserted herself. In B.C. 722, on the death of Shalmaneser, a native Chaldean named Meredach-Baladan had made himself king of the country, and maintained his independence against all the efforts of Sargon to reduce him. His position, however, was precarious, and it was probably in the hope of concluding an alliance with Hezekiah also an enemy of Sargon's (see the comment on ver. 6) - that he sent his embassy. He had two excuses for it. A neighboring king might well congratulate his brother monarch on his recovery; and a Chaldean prince might well inquire into an astronomical marvel (2 Chronicles 33:31). The date of the embassy appears to have been B.C. 712, the year following on Hezekiah's illness. Verse 12. - At that time Berodach-Baladan. Isaiah gives the name more correctly as "Merodach-Baladan" (Isaiah 39:1). The native form is Marduk-pal-iddin, i.e. "Mere-dacha son has given." This king makes his first appearance in an inscription of Tiglath-pileser's, where he is one of many chieftains among whom Babylonia is divided. Subsequently he is mentioned as revolting from Sargon in the latter's first year, B.C. 722 ('Records of the Past,' vol. 7. p. 29), and holding the throne of Babylon for twelve years (ibid., p. 41), when Sargon conquered him, deposed him, and took the kingdom (ibid., p. 48). This twelve-years' reign is acknowledged by Ptolemy in his Canon, but the name of the king is given as Mardoc-Empadus. On the death of Sargon, in B.C. 705, Merodach-Baladan again revolted, and reigned for six months, when he was driven out of the country by Sennacherib, B.C. 704. He continued, however, to give trouble even after this ('Records of the Past,' vol. 7. p. 63); and his sons and grandsons were pretenders to the Babylonian throne in the reigns of Esar-haddon and his successor, Asshur-bani-pal (see 'Ancient Monarchias,' vol. 2. pp. 469 and 490). The son of Baladan. In the Assyrian inscriptions Merodach-Baladan is always called "the son of Yakin" ('Records of the Past,' vol. 7. p. 40; vol. 9. p. 13, etc.). Yakin, however, may have been his grandfather, as Nimshi was the grandfather of Jehu, and Baladan (Bel-dash?) his father. King of Babylon, sent letters and a present unto Hezekiah. Thus opening diplomatic communication. It has been almost universally felt that the object of the embassy must have been to conclude, or at any rate to pave the way for, an alliance. So Josephus ('Ant. Jud.,' 10:2. § 2), Ewald, Von Gerlach, Thenius, Keil, Bahr, and others. Assyria menaced both countries, and the common danger produced naturally a mutual attraction. But it was prudent to disguise this motive. For he had heard that Hezekiah had been sick. Assyria could not take umbrage at an embassy of congratulation, nor at one for scientific purposes (2 Chronicles 33:31). So these two objects were paraded. This prayer of the godly king was answered immediately. Isaiah had not gone out of the midst of the city, when the word of the Lord came to him to return to the king, and tell him that the Lord would cure him in three days and add fifteen years to his life, and that He would also deliver him from the power of the Assyrians and defend Jerusalem. התּיּכנה העיר, the middle city, i.e., the central portion of the city, namely, the Zion city, in which the royal citadel stood. The Keri הת חצר, the central court, not of the temple, but of the royal citadel, which is adopted in all the ancient versions, is nothing more than an interpretation of the עיר as denoting the royal castle, after the analogy of 2 Kings 10:25. The distinct assurance added to the promise "I will heal thee," viz., "on the third day thou wilt go into the house of the Lord," was intended as a pledge to the king of the promised cure. The announcement that God would add fifteen years to his life is not put into the prophet's mouth ex eventu (Knobel and others); for the opinion that distinct statements as to time are at variance with the nature of prophecy is merely based upon an a priori denial of the supernatural character of prophecy. The words, "and I will deliver thee out of the hand of the Assyrians," imply most distinctly that the Assyrian had only occupied the land and threatened Jerusalem, and had not yet withdrawn. The explanation given by Vitringa and others, that the words contain simply a promise of deliverance out of the hand of the oppressor for the next fifteen years, puts a meaning into them which they do not contain, as is clearly shown by Isaiah 37:20, where this thought is expressed in a totally different manner. וגו על־העיר וגנּותי ע: as in 2 Kings 19:34, where the prophet repeated this divine promise in consequence of the attempt of Sennacherib to get Jerusalem into his power.
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