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MERODACH-BALADAN (mē-rō'dăk-băl'a-dăn, Marduk has given a son). A king of Babylon called Merodach-Baladan in some versions of 2Kgs.20.12. He was a strong, courageous leader, known outside the OT as Marduk-apla-iddina II. He was by far the most successful rebel against the then dominant power of Assyria. In spite of Assyrian counterattack, he maintained his kingship in Babylon from 721 b.c., when he captured the city from Assyria, until 720 when Sargon first subdued the Elamites and then entered Babylon without meeting resistance. On the death of Sargon in 705, Merodach-Baladan supposed that he was released from any duty he owed to Assyria and worked again for an independent Babylonian kingdom. He enjoyed a brief, final reign in Babylon until defeated and driven out by Sennacherib in 703.

It is understandable that Hezekiah, in his tiny and far-off kingdom of Judah, should be flattered and indeed lose his head when he was the recipient of a special delegation from this front runner among the anti-Assyrian rebels (Isa.39.1-Isa.39.8). It would be at some point in his second bid for power (705 b.c.) that Merodach-Baladan tried to encourage diversionary rebellions in western Palestine. Isaiah’s prophecy prevented Hezekiah’s revolt. However, it could not annul the divine edict of eventual captivity, and it may well have contributed to the weakening of the cause of Merodach-Baladan and therefore to his failure to establish his Babylonian kingdom. We do need to realize, however, in order to keep a correct perspective on the ancient world, that, politically speaking, Assyrian dominance was in the balance. Merodach-Baladan was no minor threat; he could have brought about, there and then, the end of the Assyrian Empire. It was part of the political reality of the time that, within Isaiah’s lifetime, Judah could have gone into captivity to Babylon, though, in divine mercy, the date of the disaster was postponed.

Bibliography: S. Elandsson, The Burden of Babylon, 1970, pp. 86-92.——JAM

MERODACH-BALADAN mĭ rō’ dăk băl’ ə dən (מְרֹדַ֣כְ ֠בַּלְאֲדָן, “Marduk has given a son”).

A Babylonian king called Berodach-baladan in the KJV and ASV (2 Kings 20:12). He reigned from 721-710 b.c. and also for about nine months in 703 b.c. He sent an embassy to Hezekiah (2 Kings 20:12; Isa 39:1), ostensibly to bear a present to the sick king, but prob. the real reason was to encourage revolt against Assyria. The prophet Isaiah opposed and frustrated this plan, and the Babylonians themselves forestalled this plot by setting up Marduk-zākiršumi in 703 b.c.

He claimed descent from Eriba-Marduk, king of Babylon c. 800 b.c. and was first mentioned in the inscrs. of Tiglath-pileser III. When this king entered Babylon in 731 b.c., Merodach-baladan brought gifts to him and supported the Assyrians. Under the rule of the Assyrian king Sargon II, Merodach-baladan entered Babylon and succeeded in making himself king of Babylon. Although the Assyrians reacted, Merodach-baladan stayed on the throne until 710 b.c. when Sargon entered Babylon unopposed. Even then, he remained as local ruler and did not oppose Sargon during the rest of his reign. After the death of Sargon, Merodach-baladan again revolted, and when Sennacherib seized Babylon, he retreated to his homeland. Sennacherib defeated the rebels and entered Babylon where he placed Bel-ibni on the throne. Eventually this throne was occupied by Sennacherib’s son Ashur-nadin-shumi. When Sennacherib attacked the coastal cities of Elam, where Merodach-baladan had fled, no mention was made of him, but his son Nabushumishkun was taken prisoner by Sennacherib in the battle of Halulê. Merodach-baladan died in Elam before Sennacherib entered the area in 694 b.c. This Babylonian king is remembered as a clever and ambitious ruler who bitterly opposed the influence of Assyria in Babylon.


G. Roux, Ancient Iraq (1964), 258-266.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

me-ro’-dak-bal’-a-dan, mer’-o-dak-b. (mero’dhakh bal’adhan; Marodach Baladan): The son of Baladan, is mentioned in Isa 39:1, as a king of Babylon who sent an embassy to Hezekiah, king of Judah, apparently shortly after the latter’s illness, in order to congratulate him on his recovery of health, and to make with him an offensive and defensive alliance. This Merodach-baladan was a king of the Chaldeans of the house of Yakin, and was the most dangerous and inveterate foe of Sargon and his son Sennacherib, kings of Assyria, with whom he long and bitterly contested the possession of Babylon and the surrounding provinces. Merodach-Baladan seems to have seized Babylon immediately after the death of Shalmaneser in 721 BC; and it was not till the 12th year of his reign that Sargon succeeded in ousting him. From that time down to the 8th campaign of Sennacherib, Sargon and his son pursued with relentless animosity Merodach-Baladan and his family until at last his son Nabushumishkun was captured and the whole family of Merodach-Baladan was apparently destroyed. According to the monuments, therefore, it was from a worldly point of view good politics for Hezekiah and his western allies to come to an understanding with Merodach-Baladan and the Arameans, Elamites, and others, who were confederated with him. From a strategical point of view, the weakness of the allied powers consisted in the fact that the Arabian desert lay between the eastern and western members of the confederacy, so that the Assyrian kings were able to attack their enemies when they pleased and to defeat them in detail.

R. Dick Wilson