20:12 Merodach-baladan. Merodach-baladan was king over Babylon from 721 b.c. until forced by the Assyrian King Sargon II into a vassal relationship (710 b.c.). Shortly after Sargon’s death (705 b.c.), Merodach-baladan led his country to a short-lived independence in 704 b.c. before Sennacherib forced him out in 703 b.c. (v. 1 note).
sent . . . letters and a present to Hezekiah. Assyria was the dominant world empire at this time, and it is likely that Merodach-baladan, together with the king of Egypt, was seeking to encourage Hezekiah’s independence from the Assyrians.