Sunday, December 13, 2009

Text of BM34113 British Museum, No. BM 34113 (sp 213)

“Unfortunately, it is merely a fragment, and the surviving text is not as clear as we would like it to be. But the lines that may refer to the king’s illness are exciting nevertheless:

2 [Nebu]chadnezzar considered […..]
3 His life appeared of no value to [him...]
5 And Babylonian speaks bad counsel to Evil-merodach […..]
6 Then he gave an entirely different order but [………]
7 He does not heed the word from his lips, the cour[tiers……]
11 He does not show love to son and daughter […..]
12 …family and clan do not exist [………]
14 His attention was not directed towards promoting the welfare of Esagil [and Babylon]
16 He prays to the Lord of lords, he raised [his hands in supplication….]
17 He weeps bitterly to Marduk, the g[reat] god [……]
18 His prayer go forth, to [………]

Let's attempt to decipher the text, Brackets [...] indicate which words or letters are broken from the original....

Evil-merodach of line 5 was the eldest son of Nebuchadnezzar and his successor on the throne. He is mentioned in the Bible as having released King Jehoiachin of Judah from Prison after his ascension to the throne (2kings 25:27-30; Jer. 52:31-34) Esagil in line 14 is the name of the principal temple complex of Babylon, in which the ziggurat a 300 foot high temple tower, stood. The temple was dedicated to the chief god, Marduk, mentioned in line 17.…......

If read in the light of Daniel 4, which relates Nebuchadnezzar’s seven-year period of mental derangement, lines 3,6,7,11,12,14 refer to strange behavior by Nebuchadnezzar, which has been brought to the attention of Evil merodach by state officials. Life had lost all value to Nebuchadnezzar, who gave contradictory orders, refused to accept the counsel of his courtiers, showed love neither to son nor daughter, neglected his family and no longer performed his duties as head of state with regard to the Babylonian state religion and its principal temple.

Line 5, then, can refer to officials who, bewildered by the kings’ behavior, counselled Evil-merdach to assume responsibility for the affairs of state...

Lines 6, and on would then be a description of Nebuchadnezzar's behavior as described to Evil-merodach.

Since Nebuchadnezzar later recovered, the counsel of the kings’ courtiers to Evil-merodach may later have been considered “bad” (line 5) though at the time it seemed the best way out of a national crises.

Since Daniel records that Nebuchadnezzar was "driven from men" (Dan. 4:33) but later reinstated as king by his officials (vs. 36) Evil merodach, Nebuchadnezzar's eldest son, may have served as regent during his father's incapacity. Official records, howver, show Nebuchadnezzar as king during his lifetime.


Lines 17 and 18 are curious. Was Nebuchadnezzar first appealing to his pagan gods for restoration? If, for seven years, he was crying out to his own gods, before He turned to the true God it makes the account even clearer THAT THERE IS ONLY ONE GOD Who is truly God.

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