🔼The name Evil-merodach: Summary
- Fool Of Marduk, Foolishness Of Bitter Oppression
- From (1) the noun אויל (ewil), fool, from the verb אלל ('alal), to be egregious, and (2) the name Marduk, possibly from the verbs מרר (marar), to be bitter, and דכך (dakak), to crush.
🔼The name Evil-merodach in the Bible
The name Evil-merodach (which of course has nothing to do with the English word evil, and would perhaps be more prudently transliterated as Ewil-merodach) is the Biblical version of Amel-marduk who was briefly king of Babylon in the 560's BC. His name occurs twice in the Bible, but in the same passage. We're told how king Evil-merodach released king Jehoiachin of Judah from prison in the year of his ascension (2 Kings 25:27, Jeremiah 52:31).
Jehoiachin had been imprisoned since the beginning of the exile, thirty-seven years earlier (2 Kings 24:14), but was henceforth honored more than the other conquered kings and even had his meals in the presence of the Babylonian king for the rest of his life. It's not clear how extensive that rest was, but Evil-merodach was murdered by his successor Nergal-sharezer two years into his reign.
🔼Etymology of the name Evil-merodach
The name Evil-merodach consists of two elements. The final part of our name is the same as the Hebrew version of the name Marduk, belonging to Babylon's principle deity. The name Marduk can be explained in all kind of creative ways (please see our article on that name for the details), but it seems plausible that a Hebrew audience would also tie it to the following cluster of words, having to do with bitterness:
The verb מרר (marar) means to be strong or bitter and can be used to describe tastes and smells, and hard or difficult situations.
Adjectives מר (mar) and מרירי (meriri) mean bitter. Nouns מרור (maror) and מרורה (merora) refer to any bitter thing, the former specifically to a certain bitter herb, and the latter to gall or poison.
Noun מררה (merera) also means gal. Nouns מרה (morra), מרה (mora), מרירות (merirut), ממר (memer), ממרור (mamror) and תמרור (tamrur) mean bitterness. The latter noun is spelled identical to the noun תמרור (tamrur), meaning marker or sign post, from the root תמר (tamar), meaning to be stiff or erect.
And speaking of such, the nouns מר (mor) and מור (mor) mean myrrh, a bitter and fragrant spice that was originally used to mark the tabernacle, but which came to be used to proclaim, olfactorily, the consummation of marriage. Hence, despite its links to words that mostly describe hardship, myrrh oil was known as the "oil of joy."
Verb מרה (mara) means to be contentious or rebellious, particularly against God. Noun מרי (meri) means rebellion.
The verb מור (mor) means to change. Perhaps the connection between the previous is coincidental but perhaps these words are indeed linked, as change is often reaction to bitterness or opposition. The noun תמורה (temura) means exchange.
And the following cluster of words having to do with crushing and oppressing:
The root דכך (dakak) means to break, crush or pulverize, either literally (of bones) or figuratively (of will or morale). Adjective דך (dak) means crushed or broken.
Verb דכא (daka') also means to crush but emphasizes the effects (i.e. to be crushed). Adjective דכא (dakka') means crushed or contrite. Noun דכא (dakka') means dust or fine rubble.
Verb דכה (daka) is a by-form of the previous and means the same. Noun דכי (doki) means a crushing.
Verb דוך (duk) means to grind down (of manna into paste). Noun מדכה (medoka) describes the result: a paste or mash.
Hebrew authors had the habit of altering historical names to serve the purpose of telling the story of how Truth came to the world. The name Amel-marduk (probably meaning Man Of Marduk in Persian) they changed to Evil-marduk, and the Hebrew word אויל (ewil), meaning foolishness:
The root אלל ('alal) predominantly describes a protruding or sticking out. This may be positive (when one leads a collective), neutral (when one is a tree), or negative (when one fails convention). The latter sense in particular describes foolishness, or at least a failure to live up to cognitive standards or common codes of conduct.
Nouns אלון ('allon), אלה ('alla) and אלה ('elah) refer to oaks or terebinths but note the similarities with the demonstrative pronoun אלה ('elleh), "these," and אלה ('eloah) meaning god or God.
Nouns אליל ('elil) and אלול ('elul) mean worthlessness or a worthless thing (a thing that sticks out of the economy of useful things). Adjectives אויל ('ewil) and אולי ('ewili) mean foolish, and noun אולת ('iwwelet) means foolishness or folly. Noun אול ('ul) may mean belly or leading man.
Nouns אולם ('ulam) and אילם ('elam) mean porch. The former is identical to an adverb that means "however" or "but." Another adverb אולי ('ulay) means "perhaps."
Noun איל ('ayil), "protruder," refers in the Bible to a ram, a pillar, a chief and, yet again, a terebinth. Noun איל ('ayyal) means stag or deer — hence the panting deer of Psalm 42 also describes an ignoramus longing for instruction — and its feminine counterpart אילה ('ayyala) means doe.
The verb יאל (ya'al) means to be foolish, gullible or even simply compliant and pleased to go along in no particularly negative way.
For a meaning of the name Evil-merodach, both BDB Theological Dictionary and NOBSE Study Bible Name List go with the original Persian meaning and read Man Of Marduk. Alfred Jones (Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names) feels that the deliberate change the authors imposed on this name is more important that the original and translates our name with The Fool Of Merodach.
Here at Abarim Publications we guess that our name reflects something similar to what Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1:25, namely that the best of Mardukology was still off par with truth: "The foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of man".