(1) Merodach-baladan.—The name is conspicuous in the Assyrian inscriptions of Sargon (Records of the Past, ix. 13), as having rebelled against him and set up an independent monarchy. He is described in them as son of Yakin, but this is, probably, a dynastic appellative, just as Jehu is described in the Assyrian records (Records of the Past, v. 41) as “the son of Khumri” (i.e., Omri). The mission had two ostensible objects: (1) congratulation on Hezekiah’s recovery; (2) to inquire and report as to the phenomenon of the sun-dial (2 Chronicles 32:31). Really, we may believe the object of Merôdach-baladan was to open negotiations for an alliance with Judah. The “present,” interpreted after the manner of the East, would seem almost like an acknowledgment of Hezekiah’s hegemony, or even suzerainty, in such a confederacy.
The spices, and the precious ointment . . .—The mention of these articles as part of the king’s treasures is characteristic of the commerce and civilisation of the time. “Spices”—probably myrrh, gumbenzoin, cinnamon—had from a very early period been among the gifts offered to princes (Genesis 43:11; 1 Kings 10:10). The “ointment,” or perfumed oil, finds its parallel in the costly unguent of the Gospel history (Matthew 26:7; John 12:3). Esar-haddon’s account of the magnificence of his palace (Records of the Past, iii., 122) supplies a contemporary instance of like ostentation.
Peace and truth.—The latter word is used in the sense of “stability” (so Psalm 54:5). The two words are used in the same way in Jeremiah 14:13, where we find “assured peace” in the text of the Authorised Version, and “peace of truth” in the margin.