Saturday, December 8, 2012

Sennacherib on Merodach-Baladan

In the ancient world, it was no secret that Sennacherib (Sin-ahhe-eriba) and Merodach-Baladan (Marduk-apil-iddina II) did not like each other. Sennacherib spent most of his second regnal year trying to suppress Merodach-Baladan, only to have the latter vanish, like a Gadianton Robber, into the swamp. Sennacherib's description of Merodach-Baladan, written probably in his third year, is interesting for its vitriol. Sennacherib says that Merodach-Baladan was:
and evil enemy, a rebel with a mind full of lies, and evil-doer whose atrocities were really true (ayyabu lemnu baranu karaš surrati epiš lemmutti ša anzillašu kittu) (Sennacherib 1.6)
We may think that since Sennacherib was a sworn enemy that this is a bit of an exaggeration, but remember that Isaiah told Hezekiah that he should not trust Merodach-Baladan.(Isaiah 39:1-8). Apparently Merodach-Baladan's envoys were real sweet-talkers. Too bad he ended up being such a scoundrel. It would not be the first or the last time that even the righteous trusted a snake.