A Lesson In Providence From Evil-Merodach

It is written:

“Now it came to pass in the thirty-seventh year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, that Evil-Merodach king of Babylon, in the year that he began to reign, released Jehoiachin king of Judah from prison. 28  He spoke kindly to him, and gave him a more prominent seat than those of the kings who were with him in Babylon. 29  So Jehoiachin changed from his prison garments, and he ate bread regularly before the king all the days of his life. 30  And as for his provisions, there was a regular ration given him by the king, a portion for each day, all the days of his life.” (2 Kings 25:27-30)

It is amazing how the field of archaeology can shine light on a mystery of the Bible. Such is the case with Evil-Merodach.

The people of Jerusalem were besieged by Babylon in this passage of Scripture. They were taken back to that country as slaves. Earlier (2 Kings 24:17) we see that Jehoiachin had changed his name to Zedekiah. He was treated very badly by Nebuchadnezzar, who ordered that Jehoiachin’s sons be killed in front of him and then for his eyes to put out (2 Kings 25:7). It is hard to imagine the last thing that you would see would be your children killed before you. How horrible!

After this, Jehoiachin was taken as a captive to Babylon.

Nevertheless, something rather mysterious happened: Evil-Merodach took pity on Jehoiachin and showed him much unexpected kindness.

Why?

The answer is found in the archaeological record.

“The appearance of the name Amel-Marduk in tablet BM 34113 = sp 213 is interesting. Amel-Marduk was the eldest son of Nebuchadnezzar and hence the Crown Prince. Undoubtedly, he took over the kingship–the sharrutam–during his father’s inability to rule. He is a fascinating character for other reasons, because he was not of his father’s ilk. He was of an altogether gentler and more reasonable disposition, which did not suit him at all to the wielding of the royal power when he finally succeeded to the throne. Indeed, it is why he was assassinated just two years into his reign. 10 Meanwhile, his appearance in history at this time explains a matter that had long puzzled historians. I mean the release from prison and the subsequent royal treatment of the captive king of Judah, Jehoiachin. It is recorded in the Bible so: “And it came to pass in the seven and thirtieth year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the seven and twentieth day of the month, that Evilmerodach [Amel-Marduk] king of Babylon in the year that he began to reign did lift up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah out of prison; And he spake kindly to him, and set his throne above the throne of the kings that were with him in Babylon; And changed his prison garments: and he did eat bread continually before him all the days of his life. And his allowance was a continual allowance given him of the king, a daily rate for every day, all the days of his life.” (2 Kings 25: 27-30) This decision by Amel-Marduk to release the king of Judah was directly opposed to his late father’s policies regarding the captive kings. It earned him the disdain of Babylon’s historians, and possibly led directly to his murder in 560 BC. But what, we may ask, had led to this extraordinary departure from Nebuchadnezzar’s policies? The answer lies in the person whom Amel-Marduk engaged as his private secretary. The Istanbul Prism tells us that this was none other than Ardi-Nabu, or as we know him from the Bible, Abednego. As the crown prince of Babylon, Amel-Marduk had undoubtedly been present at the Convocation at Dura, and afterwards, when Shadrach, Meshech and Abednego were cast into the fiery furnace. Now curiously, he had been named Nabu-suma-ukin at his birth, yet later we find him with this new name, Amel-Marduk-Man of Marduk. Had he changed his name at the oath-taking ceremony at Dura, to assure his father Nebuchadnezzar that he was a man devoted to his father’s chief ‘god’, Marduk?-and hence devoted to his father’s cause? It is very likely. As crown prince, he would have been under some suspicion of involvement in the rebellion. But whether it was at Dura that he changed his name or no, he was sufficiently impressed by Abednego’s faith and abilities to employ him as his private secretary. 11 This was a post of the utmost confidence and was only ever given to the most trusted of men. This Ardi-Nabu and he had doubtless talked of many things, and Ardi-Nabu would surely have pleaded Jehoiachin’s cause to his master. We know also from the Yale and Florence inscriptions that Daniel was Amel-Marduk’s chief minister–shaqu sharri–who, sensing the difference between this present king and Nebuchadnezzar, doubtless also pleaded Jehoiachin’s cause. 12 Amel-Marduk knew both to be excellent men and specially blessed of their God. It is all a matter of record, of history, and of joining up the dots. 13”. (Bill Cooper, The Authenticity of the Book of Daniel, 722-749 (Kindle Edition))

Amazing!

Abednego (a prisoner who had gone through some of the most traumatic experiences imaginable) had been a willing instrument in the hands of God to help provide comfort in a desperate and heart wrenching situation. Never believe that your circumstances cannot be used for good by the Almighty.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

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