Isaiah 39 – Hezekiah’s Folly and Exile & Sennacherib’s Campaign Against Merodach-Baladan

All of these guys seem to be scary, accept maybe not Merodach-Baladan, but I don’t know.

Ancient Trigonometry Tablet
A 3,700-year-old clay tablet has proven that the Babylonians developed trigonometry 1,500 years before the Greeks and were using a sophisticated method of mathematics which could change how we calculate today.

The tablet, known as Plimpton 332, was discovered in the early 1900s in Southern Iraq by the American archaeologist and diplomat Edgar Banks, who was the inspiration for Indiana Jones.

The true meaning of the tablet has eluded experts until now but new research by the University of New South Wales, Australia, has shown it is the world’s oldest and most accurate trigonometric table, which was probably used by ancient architects to construct temples, palaces and canals.

However unlike today’s trigonometry, Babylonian mathematics used a base 60, or sexagesimal system, rather than the 10 which is used today. Because 60 is far easier to divide by three, experts studying the tablet, found that the calculations are far more accurate.

“Our research reveals that Plimpton 322 describes the shapes of right-angle triangles using a novel kind of trigonometry based on ratios, not angles and circles,” said Dr Daniel Mansfield of the School of Mathematics and Statistics in the UNSW Faculty of Science.

“It is a fascinating mathematical work that demonstrates undoubted genius. The tablet not only contains the world’s oldest trigonometric table; it is also the only completely accurate trigonometric table, because of the very different Babylonian approach to arithmetic and geometry.

All of these guys are powerful, but don’t they know that without faith in You what they have is only temporary? (Heb 11:6 and see v. 11, also see vv. 7-40). Don’t they know that without faith they will end up spending eternity in hell with the devil, President Obama and so many wealthy people and world leaders? (Rev 20:10, 15, 21:8, 22:12-15, 18-19).

I couldn’t have more faith in You then I already have.  I mean, I believe everything about You more than I believe I live in Texas.  But even though I have that much faith, I need to talk to You about it because I know that the definition of “faith” in the  dictionary is correct, but it is not complete.

 1 At that time Merodach-baladan, the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a present to Hezekiah: for he had heard that he had been sick, and was recovered.

“Merodach-baladan” – reigned 721-710 B.C. and again later.

“Sent letters and a present: – Merodach-baladan probably wanted Hezekiah’s support in a campaign against Assyria.  During this career he organized several revolts against his hated neighbors.

2 And Hezekiah was glad of them, and shewed them the house of his precious things, the silver, and the gold, and the spices, and the precious ointment, and all the house of his armor, and all that was found in his treasures: there was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion, that Hezekiah shewed them not.

“Silver…gold…treasures” – Probably Hezekiah was seeking help from the Babylonians against the Assyrian threat.  But the information gained during this ill-advised tour escorted by Hezekiah would be valuable to Merodach-baladan’s powerful successors.

3  Then came Isaiah the prophet unto king Hezekiah, and said unto him, What said these men?  And from whence came they unto thee?  And Hezekiah said, They are come from a far country unto me, even from Babylon.

“Isaiah the prophet” – Earlier God had sent Isaiah tro confront Ahaz (7:3).

4 Then said he, What have they seen in thine house?  And Hezekiah answered, All that is in mine house have they seen: there is nothing among my treasures that I have not shewed them.

5 Then said Isaiah to Hezekiah, Hear the word of the LORD of hosts:

6 Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store until this day, shall be carried to Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the LORD.

“Carried to Bablylon” – the first mention of Babylon as Jerusalem’s conqueror, though 14:3-4 implied the Babylonian captivity.  The wickedness of Hezekiah’s son Manasseh was a major cause of the captitivy.

7 And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.

8 Then said Hezekiah to Isaiah, Good is the word of the LORD which thou hast spoken. He said moreover, For there shall be peace and truth in my days.

Did You see those poems yesterday?  Oh yeah, You see everything.

Sennacherib’s Campaign
Against Merodach-Baladan

Marduk-apla-iddina II
Merodach-Baladan, King of Babylon, enfeoffs (makes a legal agreement with) a vassal.

From the original in the Altes Museum, Berlin Marduk-apla-iddina II (cuneiform spelling ᴰMES.A.SUM-na; in the Bible Merodach-Baladan, also called Marduk-Baladan, Baladan and Berodach-Baladan, lit. Marduk has given me an heir) was a Chaldean prince who usurped the Babylonian throne in 721 BC and reigned in 722 BC–710 BC, and 703 BC–702 BC.

Marduk-apla-iddina II was known as one of the kings who maintained Babylonian independence in the face of Assyrian military supremacy for more than a decade.

Sargon of Assyria repressed the allies of Marduk-apla-iddina II in Elam, Aram and Israel and eventually drove (ca. 710 BC) him from Babylon. After the death of Sargon, Marduk-apla-iddina II briefly recaptured the throne from a native Babylonian nobleman.

He reigned nine months (703 BC – 702 BC). He returned from Elam and ignited rebellion in Babylonia. He was able to enter Babylon and be declared king again. Nine months later he was defeated near Kish by the Assyrians, but managed to flee to Elam. He died in exile a couple of years later.

In the Bible
Merodach-baladan is mentioned as king of Babylon in the days of King Hezekiah, both in 2 Kings 20:12 (here called Berodach-baladan) and in Isaiah 39:1.

In both passages he sends Hezekiah a letter, having heard of his illness and recovery. His messengers who have delivered the letter are lavishly entertained by Hezekiah, leading the prophet Isaiah to criticise Hezekiah for his excessive openness about the wealth he had amassed.

In Isaiah 39:1 Merodach-Baladan (a Hebrew form of his Akkadian name, Marduck-apla-iddina), the king of Babylon, sent envoys to Hezekiah.  Merodach-Baladan, a ruler without the Chaldean tribe of Bit Yakin, spend his career trying to wrest Babylon form Assyrian control.

Although he paid tribute to the Assyrian Emperor Tiglath-Pileser III, Merodach-Baladan rebelled against Sargon II with help from the neighboring Elamites.  By 710 B.C. Sargon II  had defeated Merodach-Baladan and forced him to flee to Elam.

Upon Sargon’s death his son Sennacherib became the Assyrian emperor and once again Merodach-Baladan rebelled.  Perhaps Hezekiah’s aid was sought by Merodach-Baladan at this junction, resulting in an alliance that may have led to the Assyrian siege of Jerusalem. 

To address the sedition of Sennacherib faced Merodach-Baladan at Kish and again forced him into exile.  Although a seemingly loyal puppet name Bel-ibni was installed by Sennacherib over Babylon, Bel-ibni led another revolt, and Merodach-Baladan reasserted his power in the aftermath of the insurrection.

With the demise of Bel-ibni’s mutiny in Babylon and Sennacherib’s control secured yet again, the Assyrian emperor sought a final solution to the troublesome Merodach-Baladan.

In 694 B.C., Sennacherib sent his army to flush his nemesis out of the marshes in southern Babylonian.  But with the Assyrian army so far south, the Elamites exploited this weakness and again seized control of Babylon.

Although Sennacherib was eventually able to oust the Elamite incursion, Merodach-Baladan escaped his grasp and apparently fled to Elam, where he lived out his days.  His brief appearance within Isaiah (and in 2 Kgs 20:12) is appropriate, given the elusive nature of his career.