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Icons of the Bible: Amel-Marduk (Evil Merodach) of Babylon

Updated: Sep 3, 2023


Icons of the Bible: Amel-Marduk (Evil Merodach) of Babylon
Icons of the Bible: Amel-Marduk (Evil Merodach) of Babylon

The story of Amel-Marduk (Evil Merodach) was bound up in the lives of the Jewish people of that time, especially King Jehoiachin.


Icons of the Bible

Who Was EVIL-MERODACH?

"Son of Nebuchadnezzar, and third ruler of the New Babylonian empire; reigned from 561 to 560 B.C. His name in Babylonian is "Amil-Marduk" or "Avel-Marduk"= "man," or "servant, of Marduk." No personal or historical inscriptions of his reign have been discovered, and there are only two sources of information concerning him—the Hebrew Scriptures and Berosus. According to the Bible (Jer. lii. 31; II Kings xxv. 27 et seq.), he released in the year of his accession, the imprisoned king Jehoiachin, invited him to his table, clothed him with royal raiment, and elevated him above all other captive kings that were in Babylon. Tiele, Cheyne, and Hommel are of the opinion that perhaps Neriglissar, Evil-merodach's brother-in-law, who is praised for his benevolence, was instrumental in the freeing of the Judean king. Grätz, on the other hand, conjectures the influence of the Jewish eunuchs (referring to Jer. xxxix. 7 and Daniel).

Berosus, however, says that Evil-merodach ruled "unjustly and lewdly." Possibly his treatment of the exiled king was held by the priestly, or national, party to have been unlawful; or it may be that the memory of some injury rankled in the mind of the priestly writer, or writers, of his history (Winckler, "Gesch. Babyloniens und Assyriens," p. 314). Evilmerodach was unable to counteract the danger arising from Median immigration. The party opposed to him soon succeeded in dethroning him, and he was assassinated by order of Neriglissar, who succeeded him." from the article: EVIL-MERODACH


Who was King Jehoiachin in the Bible?

King Jehoiachin, also referred to as Jeconiah and Coniah, ruled in Judah for three months and ten days (2 Chronicles 36:9) in 597 BC before he was taken captive to Babylon. He was eighteen years old when he began to rule and did evil in the eyes of the Lord (2 Chronicles 36:9; 2 Kings 24:8–9).

Jehoiachin’s father, Jehoiakim (formerly named Eliakim), was a son of the good king Josiah. Pharaoh Neco had taken Jehoahaz, the son of Josiah who initially succeeded him, captive and placed Eliakim, whose name he changed to Jehoiakim, on the throne instead. Pharaoh Neco also imposed a levy on Judah, which Jehoiakim paid by taxing the people heavily. King Jehoiakim reigned for eleven years and did evil in God’s eyes (2 Kings 24:36–37; 2 Chronicles 36:5). During Jehoiakim’s reign, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon invaded Jerusalem. Jehoiakim became Nebuchadnezzar’s vassal for three years, but then he rebelled. In response, the Babylonians proceeded to attack Judah, and God sent Aramean, Moabite, and Amonite raiders against Judah as well (2 Kings 24:2). Babylon took over, and Egypt stood down (2 Kings 24:7).

Jehoiachin succeeded his father, Jehoiakim, in Jerusalem, but his rule was short-lived as King Nebuchadnezzar laid siege against Jerusalem and the young king along with the queen mother and the royal officials surrendered to Babylon (2 Kings 24:10–12). All this happened in accordance with the things prophesied against Judah due to the sins of Manasseh (2 Kings 24:2–4; 2 Chronicles 36:15–21). In this second deportation of Jews from Jerusalem, Nebuchadnezzar took Jehoiachin prisoner along with his mother, his wives, his officials, and the leading men in Judah (2 Kings 24:16). Nebuchadnezzar also took ten thousand others into exile, leaving only the poorest behind, and he raided the temple (2 Kings 24:13–14; 2 Chronicles 36:10).

With Jehoiachin imprisoned in Babylon, King Nebuchadnezzar installed Jehoiachin’s uncle, Zedekiah, on the throne. Zedekiah was rebellious against God and against King Nebuchadnezzar (2 Chronicles 36:12–13). After eleven years of Zedekiah’s rule, Jerusalem fully fell to Nebuchadnezzar. More exiles were carried off, and the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem’s walls and burned the temple and the palaces (2 Kings 25:9–10; 2 Chronicles 36:19; Jeremiah 52:13–14). Jerusalem was destroyed.

Thirty-seven years after his deportation, Jehoiachin was given some freedom in Babylon. Evil-Merodach had become king of Babylon (2 Kings 25:27; Jeremiah 52:31), and he “spoke kindly” to Jehoiachin and gave the imprisoned king a seat of honor at his table and a daily allowance (2 Kings 25:28–30; Jeremiah 52:32–34). “So Jehoiachin put aside his prison clothes and for the rest of his life ate regularly at the king’s table” (2 Kings 25:29).

The tragedy that befell Jehoiachin was predicted by the prophet Jeremiah. God said that Jehoiachin would be removed from the throne (Jeremiah 22:24) and be taken to Babylon, where he would die (verses 26–27). But the curse upon Jehoiachin went deeper than just his deposition and exile: “This is what the Lord says: ‘Record this man as if childless, a man who will not prosper in his lifetime, for none of his offspring will prosper, none will sit on the throne of David or rule anymore in Judah’” (Jeremiah 22:30). Thus, the line of kings from David’s family ended with Jehoiachin—a fact that had ramifications for the Messiah, who was to be the Son of David (2 Samuel 7:12–16).

Jehoiachin’s is a strange tale—son of a puppet king of Egypt, imprisoned by the king of Babylon to make room for another puppet king, taken in the second wave of exiles, yet released from prison and given a gracious end to his life. Jehoiachin seems to be a man stuck in the middle of history. We do not know what happened during his years in prison or why Evil-Merodach was so kind to him. What is evident in the story of Jehoiachin is God’s righteous judgment as well as His merciful grace." from the article: Who was King Jehoiachin in the Bible?



A Tablet, a King and His Rations

"In excavations carried out in Babylon between 1899 and 1917, German archaeologist Robert Koldewey and his crew uncovered what are known as Jeconiah’s Rations Tablets. These tablets prove the existence and fate of this king, recorded in the biblical account.

When Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar went through the kingdom of Judah in 598 b.c.e., he sought to stamp out the Jews’ rebellion.


Jeconiah’s Rations Tablets
Jeconiah’s Rations Tablets

Jeconiah had reigned for only three months when Nebuchadnezzar’s soldiers besieged Jerusalem. They deposed the evil king and took him along with 10,000 captives back to Babylon, leaving behind only the “poorest sort of the people of the land” (2 Kings 24:14). Jeconiah was imprisoned in the palace of Babylon, receiving only basic rations.

In 562 b.c.e., nearly 25 years after the fall of Judah to Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar died. His son and successor, Evil-merodach or Amel-Marduk, “did lift up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah out of prison” (2 Kings 25:27).

Not only did the Babylonian king free him, he raised Jeconiah’s status to be above the kings who were with him in Babylon and appointed a daily ration to be given to him for the rest of his life (verses 28-30).

Evil-merodach is referenced on various artifacts, including a building’s dedication inscription (known as the brick inscription B1), multiple vases from Babylon and Susa, and a paving stone. He is said to have reigned for only one year somewhere between 562 and 560 b.c.e.

The tablets Koldewey found in Babylon are administrative lists of food and oil rations delivered to prominent people. These tablets date to the middle-to-late years of King Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, some correlating right to the end of his life. Jeconiah is referred to on four separate tablets, which are today housed in Berlin.

The following is a translation of one of the tablets.

10 sila of oil to … [Ia]-’-kin, king of Ia-[a-hu-du] 2½ sila of oil to the [five so]ns of the king of Ia-a-hu-du 4 sila to eight men from Ia-a-hu-da-a-a … from the article: A Tablet, a King and His Rations


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