II Kings 21

 

                         

                             The Reign of Manasseh (vs. 1-18)

 

Hezekiah’s good and glorious reign was followed by one of exactly the opposite

character. His son and successor, Manasseh, reversed Hezekiah’s entire religious

policy, and returned to the wicked practices of his grandfather Ahaz. In vs. 3-9

and v. 16 his various abominations are enumerated, while in vs. 10-15 God’s

sentence is pronounced upon them. The account of his reign terminates with a

brief summary (vs. 17-18).

 

1  “Manasaeh was twelve years old” - Manasseh was thus not born till three

years after Hezekiah’s dangerous illness, or till the year B.C. 710.  Hezekiah may

have given him the name in the spirit in which Joseph gave it to his firstborn (Genesis

41:51), because God, in at last blessing him with a son, had “made him forget” his

dangerous illness, with the griefs and regrets that accompanied it. “Manasseh” means

“Forgetting” -  “when he began to reign” - in B.C. 698 or 697, the seventh or

eighth year of Sennacherib — “and reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem.”

So in (II Chronicles 33:1) and Josephus (‘Ant. Jud.,’ 10:3. § 2). The reign exceeds

in length that of any other King of Judah or Israel. “And his mother’s name was

Hephzibah.”  Hephzibah” means “My delight is in her.” Isaiah gives it as a name

of honor to the restored Jerusalem (Isaiah 62:4). It has been conjectured that, as

queen-mother, Hephzibah was regent during her son’s minority. But there is no

trace of her regency either in Kings or Chronicles.

 

2   And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord,” - Manasseh was

too young at the death of his father for his character to have been then definitively

formed. (They say that a person’s personality is developed by age 3 and I have

heard that the Catholic Church has said, “Give me a child until he is seven years

old and you can have him” – CY – 2011) He probably fell under the influence of

the “princes of Judah,” who, supported by many of the priests, had maintained

themselves as a party antagonistic to Isaiah during the whole of Hezekiah’s reign.

Hezekiah’s reformation had been carried out against their wishes.  They had always

leaned towards foreign alliances (Isaiah 20:5; 30:1-7) and foreign rites (Ibid.  2:6-9;

65:3). The accession of a boy-king would be joyfully hailed by them, and they would

make every effort to draw him to their side. It would seem that they were successful.

(sounds like modern politics – CY – 2011)  - “after the abominations of the

heathen” - the details which follow in vs. 3-9 sufficiently explain this strong expression

-  whom the Lord cast out before the children of Israel.”  It was solely because

of their abominations that they were east out (see Genesis 15:16; Leviticus 18:25;

20:23; Deuteronomy 9:5; 18:12).

 

3  “For he built up again the high places which Hezekiah his father had

destroyed;” – (ch.18:4, 22). On the high-place worship, see the comment upon

I Kings 14:23. It is quite clear that the people were deeply attached to it, and gladly

saw it restored – “and he reared up altars for Baal;” -  he reintroduced the

Phoenician Baal-worship, the special abomination of the house of Ahab (I Kings

16:31; 22:53; ch. 8:18, 27), which Athaliah had been the first to introduce into

Judah, which Joash had put away (ch. 11:18), but which Ahaz (II Chronicles

28:2) had recalled – “and made a grove;”  literally, an Asherah, or emblem

of Astarte (compare the comment on I Kings 14:23) — as did Ahab King

of Israel (I Kings 16:33) and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served

them.”  The worship the host of heaven, or the entire multitude of the heavenly

bodies, commonly known as Sabaeanism or Sabianism, was an ancient

Babylonian, Arabian, and Syrian practice. It had, perhaps, been introduced

among the Jews by Ahaz (ch. 23:12). At any rate, it was from the

time of Manasseh one of the favorite idolatries of the Jewish people. The

stars were believed to guide the destiny of men, and astrology was

cultivated as a main part, or even as the essence, of religion. Astrological

tracts form an important element in the literature of the Babylonians. The chief

objects of adoration in this worship were the sun and moon, the five planets,

and the signs of the zodiac.

 

4   “And he built altars in the house of the LORD, of which the LORD

said, In Jerusalem will I put my name.”  Manasseh created altars to other

gods in the very temple of Jehovah (v. 5).  This was a pollution beyond that

either Athaliah or Ahaz had ventured on.

 

5   “And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of

the house of the LORD.”  The temple of Solomon had two courts

only, an inner and an outer. The outer court was for the people, the inner

for the priests and Levites. Manasseh desecrated the temple to the extent

of setting up in each of these two courts an idolatrous altar, dedicated to

the worship of the host of heaven. In the inner court his altar was a rival to

the great brazen altar of Solomon (II Chronicles 4:1), which Ahaz had for

a time removed from its place in front of the porch (ch. 16:14), but which

Hezekiah had most certainly reinstated.

 

6   “And he made his son pass through the fire,” – II Chronicles 33:6

says “his sons;”  but this is, perhaps, rhetorical. It was usually the eldest son,

who, as the most precious possible offering, was sacrificed to Moloch (see

ch. 3:27; 16:3) – The practice of offering children was an intrinsic part of the

worship of the Phoenicians, common to them with the Moabites, Ammonites,

and others.  It was based upon the principle of a man’s offering to God that

which was dearest and most precious to himself, whence the crowning sacrifice

of the kind was a man’s offering of his firstborn son ( Micah 6:7).  “Passing

through the fire”  was no innocent ceremony but involved the death of the

children. The author of Chronicles says, “Ahaz burnt his children in the fire;”

Jeremiah 19:5, “They have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons

with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal; which I commanded not, nor spake

it, neither came it into my mind”-  [Here is the God of the universe,

Our Maker who is Omniscient {knows all things}, saying that

He had not thought of this – How can any abortionist ever face Jehovah on

that Great Day? – CY – 2011] - “Thou hast slain my children, and delivered

them to cause them to pass through the fire.” (Ezekiel 16:21), Josephus declares

of Ahaz that he “made his own son a whole burnt offering (i]dion wjlokau>twse

pai~da).”  Diodorus Sicalus describes the ceremony as it took place at  Carthage,

the Phoenician colony. There was in the great temple there, he  says, an image

of Saturn (Moloch), which was a human figure with a bull’s  head and

outstretched arms. This image of metal was made glowing hot by a fire

kindled within it; and the children, laid in its arms, rolled from thence into

the fiery lap below. If the children cried, the parents stopped their noise by

fondling and kissing them; for the victim ought not to weep, and the sound

of complaint was drowned in the din of flutes and kettle-drums.  Mothers

stood by without tears or sobs; if they wept or sobbed, they lost the honor

of the act, and the children were sacrificed notwithstanding.” The only

doubtful point is whether the children were placed alive in the glowing arms of the

image, or whether they were first killed and afterwards burnt in sacrifice;

but the description of Diodorus seems to imply the more cruel of the two

proceedings – “and observed times” -  If this translation is right, the reference

would be to a superstitious regard for lucky and unlucky days, such as we note in

the accounts left of themselves by the Babylonian kings, who begin their

buildings “in a happy month, on an auspicious day” (see the author’s

‘Herodotus,’ vol. 2. p. 487) – “and used enchantments, and dealt with

familiar spirits and wizards:” - rather, he placed in office necromancers

(literally, a necromancer) and wizards; i.e. he gave such persons official

positions at his court, instead of putting them to death, as the Law (Leviticus

20:27) required — “he wrought much wickedness in the sight of the

Lord, to provoke him to anger.”  Literally, he multiplied to work

wickedness; i.e. he sought out every possible way; he not only restored all

the different kinds of heathen sacrifices and idolatrous customs which had

been in use under Ahaz, but carried his opposition to Jehovah a great deal

further. As Ewald says (‘History of Israel,’ vol. 4. p. 208), “He endeavored

to become acquainted with all the heathen religions he could find and

introduce them into Judah. For this purpose he sent into the most distant

lands where there was any famous cultus, and grudged no pains for his one

object.”

 

Halley’s Bible Handbook pp.166-67 says of the Religion of the Canaanites:

 

            In excavations  at  Gezer, Macalister, of the Palestine Exploration

            Fund  (1904-09), found, in the Canaanite stratum, which had

            preceded Israelite occupation, of about 1500 B.C., the ruins of

            a “high place” which had been a temple in which they worshipped

            their god Baal and their goddess Ashtoreth (Astarte).

 

           

            It was an enclosure 150 x 120 feet, surrounded by a wall, open

            to the sky, where the inhabitants held their religious festivals.

            Within the walls were ten rude stone pillars, five to eleven feet

            high, before which the sacrifices were offered.

 

            Under the debris, in this “high place,” Macalister found great

            numbers of jars containing the remains of children who had

            been sacrificed to Baal.  The whole area proved to be a

            cemetery for new-born babies.  Under the rubbish were

            found enormous quantities of images and plagues of

            Ashtoreth with rudely exaggerated sex organs, designed to

            foster sensual feelings.

 

            Another horrible practice was what they called “foundation

            sacrifices.”  When a house was to be built, a child would be

            sacrificed, and its body built into the wall, to bring good luck

            to the rest of the family.  Many of these were found in Gezer.

            They have been found also at Megiddo, Jericho and other

            places.  (I recommend browsing  web sites of archaeological

            excavations at Gezer, Megiddo and Jericho – CY – 2011)

 

            So, Canaanites worshiped, by immoral indulgence, as a

            religious rite, in the presence of their gods; and then, by

            murdering their first-born children, as a sacrifice to these

            same gods.

 

            It seems that, in a large measure, the land of Canaan had

            become a sort of Sodom and Gomorrah on a national scale!

            (I once again recommend arkdiscovery.com and check

            out the section on Sodom and Gomorrah who to this day

            “suffer the vengeance of eternal fire” [Jude 1:7] – CY – 2011)

 

            God’s object, in the command to exterminate the Canaanites,

            besides being a judgment on the Canaanites, was to keep

            Israel from Idolatry and its shameful practices.  God was

            founding the Israelite nation for the one grand specific purpose

            of paving the way for the Coming of Christ, by establishing

            in the world the IDEA that there is One True Living God!

            If Israel fell into idolatry, then there ceased to be a reason

            for its existence as a nation.  As a matter of precaution, it

            was needful to clean the land of the last vestige of Idolatrous

            Worship.  In this matter Joshua gave Israel a good start.

            If only Israel  had kept it up, what a different story there

            would have been to tell!  (Of all the words of tongue or

            pen, the saddest are these, “Oh, what might have been.”

            - origin – unknown – CY – 2011)

 

7   “And he set a graven image of the grove that he had made in the

house, of which the LORD said to David, and to Solomon his son,

In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all

tribes of Israel, will I put my name for ever:”  It was the most extreme

aggravation of Manasseh’s wickedness that he was not content to introduce

his new religions into the land in other places, but brought them to God’s

special city which he had chosen, namely, Jerusalem, and there established them,

not on the opposite hills, as Solomon had done (1 Kings 11:7), or in a rival

temple within the walls, as had been done by Athaliah (ch. 11:18), but within

God’s holy temple itself.  In each of the two courts he placed an idolatrous

altar, whereon the people were invited to deposit their offerings; and

probably in the temple building itself, perhaps in the very holy of holies, he

placed that lust-exciting emblem of Astarte, which was the most horrible

profanation of all true religion, turning the truth and grace of God into

lasciviousness (Jude 1:4). What practical consequences followed on this

profanation, we are not distinctly told; but we may readily surmise,

especially in the light of ch. 23:7.

 

8   “Neither will I make the feet of Israel move any more out of the

land which I gave their fathers;” - The writer’s argument is that Manasseh,

by these impieties, annulled God’s promises, brought about the destruction of the

temple and of Jerusalem, and caused the entire people to be carried off into

captivity. The promises of permanence to the city and temple, and of the continued

possession of the land by the people, were, he notes, conditional; and Manasseh,

by breaking through the conditions, forfeited them - “only if they will observe to

do according to all that I have commanded them, and according to all

the law that my servant Moses commanded them.”  This latter clause is

a general summary of Old Testament teaching.

 

9   “But they hearkened not:” - The people, and not Manasseh alone, were

disobedient. Had they remained faithful, Manasseh’s sin would not have affected

their future - “and Manasseh seduced them”  The influence of a young and

lively king, always great, is in the East immense. When such a king succeeds one

of strict and rigid principles, he easily carries away the multitude with him, and

leads them on to any excess of profligacy and irreligion.  The beginnings of sin are

delightful, and the votaries of pleasure, readily beguiled into evil courses, know not

where to stop. Manasseh seduced them, we are told, “to do more evil than did

the nations whom the LORD destroyed before the children of Israel.”- that is,

than the Hivites, Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Gergashites, and

Jebusites (Deuteronomy 7:1). The sin of Israel exceeded that of the Canaanitish

nations, not so much in any outward and tangible features, as in the fact that it was

committed against light, in spite of the Law, and against all the warnings

 and denunciations of the prophets.   (ch. 17:13-23)  II Chronicles 36:16 tells

us that the situation had “no remedy”.

 

 

10   “And the LORD spake by his servants the prophets, saying,” –

Isaiah, Habakkuk, Nahum and Zephaniah seem to belong to part of Manasseh’s

reign.  11 “Because Manasseh king of Judah hath done these abominations,

and hath done wickedly above all that the Amorites did, which were before

him, and hath made Judah also to sin with his idols:  12  Therefore thus

saith the LORD God of Israel, Behold, I am bringing such evil upon

Jerusalem and Judah, that whosoever heareth of it, both his ears shall

tingle.”  As a sharp discordant note, pains one’s ears, so the news of this harsh

punishment shall give pain to all who hear of it. The phrase is one never uttered

by any other lips than those of Jehovah  (I Samuel 3:11; Jeremiah 19:3). It denotes

such a judgment as has never been heard of before, and excites alarm and horror.

Not the Jews only, but the other neighboring nations, when they heard of the sufferings

endured in the siege (ch. 25:7-11), and the severities exercised upon the king, the city

and. the inhabitants, would have a thrill of pain go through them at the hearing, partly

unselfish, partly perhaps selfish, since the treatment that was dealt out to others might

also be reserved for them.  (For the ideal, take the open hand and box yourself

simultaneously, in the ears – CY – 2011)

 

13   And I will stretch over Jerusalem the line of Samaria,” - “I will do to

Jerusalem as I have done to Samaria; I will execute upon it a similar judgment.”

God applies His measuring-line, a perfectly uniform standard, to all

 nations, as to all individuals, and metes out to them an equal measure of

 justice. Jerusalem will be presently treated as Samaria has been recently treated;

and a similar destruction will overtake it. God’s judgment will be with as much

care as cities are built with as much precision as measuring line and plummet -

“nd the plummet of the house of Ahab:” -  The justice meted out to the

house of Ahab shall be meted out also to the house of David. The ways of

God are equal (Ezekiel 18:25), and He is no “respecter of persons.” He

has one law for all; and, as the house of David has sinned in the same way,

and to the same extent, as the house of Ahab had sinned, one and the same

punishment will fall upon both of them – “and I will wipe Jerusalem as a

man wipeth a dish, wiping it, and turning it upside down. Jerusalem

will be emptied, as a man empties his dish of the refuse scraps remaining

 on it, and will be then put away, as done with. The metaphor expresses

contempt as well as condemnation.

 

14   “And I will forsake the remnant of mine inheritance, and deliver

them into the hand of their enemies;” God had forsaken the ten tribes when

Assyria took and destroyed Samaria (ch. 17:18, 23).  The two tribes of

Judah and Benjamin had remained.  Now they also would be forsaken and

the last remnant of God’s inheritance cast out.  (For what a tragedy this

was/is I recommend:  Deuteronomy ch 32 v 9 – God’s Inheritance by

Arthur Pink – this web site – CY – 2011) – “and they shall become a prey

and a spoil to all their enemies;”  - (comp. Jeremiah 41:2-10; 48:27;

Obadiah 1:10-14; Zephaniah 2:8). The years which immediately followed the

Captivity were years of terrible suffering to the remnant whom

Nebuchadnezzar left in the land (ch. 25:12). Every petty power in

the neighborhood felt itself at liberty to make incursions with Judaea at its

pleasure to plunder and ravage them in cold blood, or commit, any other atrocity.

Some regard the description of Isaiah in 42:22-25 as prophetic of these sufferings.

(Compare Revelation 16:8-9)

 

15   “Because they have done that which was evil in my sight,” - The chief

sins of the people were the following:

 

  • Altars for the worship of the host of heaven were erected upon almost

      every roof (Jeremiah 19:13; Zephaniah 1:5);

  • Offerings of cakes were made in the very streets to Astarte (Jeremiah 7:18);
  • The fire of Tophet — a huge furnace in the valley of Hinnom — was kept

      constantly burning,  he sacrifice of innocent children to the bloody sun-god,

      Moloch, was perpetual (Jeremiah 7:31; Ezekiel 23:37);

  • It was as common to swear by the name of Moloch as by that of Jehovah

      (Zephaniah 1:5).

  • Lascivious rites were practiced. Close by the temple the unchaste

      priestesses of Venus had their habitations, and their wretched male

      attendants, the Galli of the classical writers, plied their trade (ch.23. 7).

  • Cruelty and oppression increased among the upper classes (Zephaniah

      3:1-3);

  • The prophets were “light and treacherous persons;” the priests

      “polluted the sanctuary, and did violence to the Law” (Zephaniah

      Ibid. vs. 4-5).

  • “Spoiling and violence,” “strife and contention;” were rife throughout

      the city (Habakkuk 1:3).

 

Ewald sums up the state of things as follows:  The atmosphere of the age was

poisoned by the leaders of the people of every class, whose moral  decline

had already become a subject of lament in the preceding century, sank into

an almost incredible degeneracy.  The prophets, who ought to have been

ever the most loyal guardians of the truth, were for the most part like dumb

and greedy dogs; many of the priests allowed themselves to be seduced into

offering heathen sacrifices; the judges and nobles paid little heed to the

eternal right. Equivocation and hypocrisy spread among those who ought to have

ministered most austerely to public truthfulness of life; while those who were

engaged in commerce and trade sank into the harshest indifference to every

higher aim, and thought only of the acquisition and enjoyment of wealth. So

terrible was the demoralization which set in under Manasseh, that those

who remained faithful to the ancient religion were either scoffed at as

fools, or allowed to perish in cold contempt without any effort being

made to save them, and were even derided after their death.” “and have

provoked me to anger, since the day their fathers came forth out of

Egypt, even unto this day.”  The moral and spiritual depravity of Judah,

though it only came to a head in the time of Manasseh, had its roots in a

long-distant past. As Stephen pointed out to the Sanhedrin (Acts 7:39-43),

it began in the wilderness with the worship of the golden calf, and went on to the

worship of the host of heaven, of Moloch, and of Remphan; it was shown

markedly in the terrible sin of Peor (Numbers 25:1-3); it stinted God’s hand

when the nations had to be driven out from Canaan (Judges 2:1-5); it provoked

God’s anger greatly during the whole period of the Judges (Judges 2:11-19);

checked under David and Solomon, it broke out afresh on the accession of

Rehoboam (1 Kings 14:22-24), and showed itself, more or less, under every

subsequent king, culminating at last in that fearful condition of things

which has been described above.

 

16   “Moreover Manasseh shed innocent blood very much,” - We

must not understand this of his own offerings to Moloch, for these have

been already put on record against him (v. 6), and this is something

additional (note the strong expression, μg"w]), nor even of the multitudinous

sacrifices of the same kind which were the result of his influence on the

people. Some culminating horror is required, something not touched upon

before, and something specially attaching to the monarch himself. These

conditions are answered by supposing a bloody persecution of the faithful

to be intended. Josephus declares positively that Manasseh “cruelly put to

death all the righteous among the Hebrews, and did not even spare the

prophets” (‘Ant. Jud.,’ 10:3. § 1).  [“sawn asunder”  - Hebrews 11:37]

A tradition, very widely received, declared Isaiah to have been one of the

victims (‘Gemara Jebam.,’ 4:13; ‘Sanhedr.,’ f. 103; Tertullian, ‘De Patientia,’

§ 14; Augustine, ‘De Cir. Dei,’ 18:24, etc.). Stanley says, “A reign of terror

commenced against all who ventured to resist the reaction. Day by day a fresh

batch of the prophetic order were ordered for execution. It seemed as if a

devouring lion were let loose against them. From end to end of Jerusalem were

to be seen traces of their blood. The nobles who took their part were thrown

headlong from the rocky cliffs of Jerusalem” (‘Lectures on the Jewish Church,’

pt. 2. p. 492) - “till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another;

(see ch. 24:4) beside  his sin wherewith he made Judah to sin, in doing

that which was evil in the sight of the LORD.”

 

17   “Now the rest of the acts of Manasseh,” Important additions to the history

of Manasseh are made by the writer of Chronicles. From him we learn that, after

prophetical warnings had been in vain addressed to him and to his people

(II Chronicles 33:10), he was visited with a Divine judgment, an Assyrian army

under “captains” being sent against him, who took him prisoner, and carried him

to Babylon — the city where Esarheddon, the successor of Sennacherib, and

contemporary of Manasseh, ordinarily held his court. Here he remained for some

considerable time “in affliction” (Ibid. v. 12), and, becoming convinced of sin

and deeply penitent for his manifold transgressions, he turned to God in sincerity

and truth, and being restored by the Assyrians to his kingdom, he put away the

idolatrous practices and emblems which he had previously introduced, “repaired

the altar of the Lord” which had gone to decay, and re-established, so far as he

could, the worship of Jehovah (v. 16). A special prophet, Hosai, (margin) seems to

have chronicled his sins and his repentance in a work which survived the Captivity,

and is twice quoted by the compiler of the Books of Chronicles (vs.18-19) – “and

all that he did, and his sin that he sinned, are they not written in the book of

the chronicles of the kings of Judah?”  The “sin which he sinned” is probably

his persecution, which was viewed as his worst sin (v. 16; and compare ch. 24:4)

 

18   “And Manasseh slept with his fathers, and was buried in the garden

of his own house,”  - it is believed that the catacomb of David was full and that

Hezekiah was buried outside it.  Manasseh seems to have made a new family

tomb in a garden belonging to his house (v. 26 and ch. 23:30) -  “in the garden

of Uzza: and Amon his son reigned in his stead.” “Amon” in Hebrew means

“Nursling,” or “Darling,” and it is quite possible that Manasseh gave his son the

name in this sense. But it is also the ordinary Hebrew form of the term (“Amen,”

or “Amun”) by which the Egyptians designated the great god of Thebes, whom

the Greeks and Romans called “Ammon.” It has therefore been thought by many

that it was given by Manasseh to his son “in an idolatrous spirit.”

 

 

                                    The Reign of Amon (vs. 19-26)

 

The short reign of Amon, the son and successor of Manasseh, was distinguished by

only two events:

 

  • his restoration of all the idolatrous and wicked practices which his

            father had upheld during the earlier portion of his reign; and

 

  • his untimely death, in consequence of a conspiracy which was formed

            against him among the officers of his court. The writer of Kings is

            therefore able to dispatch his history in eight verses.

 

19   “Amon was twenty and two years old when he began to reign, and

he reigned two years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was

Meshullemeth, the daughter of Haruz of Jotbah.  20  And he did that

which was evil in the sight of the LORD, as his father Manasseh did.

21  And he walked in all the way that his father walked in,” - There was not

a single one among the early wickednesses of Manasseh which Amen did not imitate.

The details of Josiah’s reformation (ch. 23:4-24) show that under Amon:

 

  • the Asherah or “grove” maintained its place in the temple building;

 

  • the two idolatrous altars stood in the two courts;

 

  • the temple was the scene of the worship of Baal, Ashtoreth, and the

            host of heaven;

 

  • the unchaste priestesses of the Syrian goddess, with the male partners

            in their guilt, were lodged in houses close by the house of the Lord;

 

  • chariots and horses dedicated to the sun were maintained at one of the

            temple gates;

 

  • the fire of Tophet burnt continually in the valley of Hinnom, and

            children were there “passed through the fire to Moloch;”

 

  • an idolatrous worship held possession of all the high places all over

            Judaea and Samaria, and idolatrous priests, deriving their appointment

            from the king, burnt incense in the high places to Baal, to the sun, the

            moon, the planets, and all the host of heaven; and

 

  • magic and necromancy were practiced openly under royal sanction

            throughout the length and breadth of the land.

 

“and served the idols that his father served” - as Baal, Ashtoreth, Moloch,

the Asherah, and others – “and worshipped them.”

 

22  And he forsook the Lord God of his fathers,” -  Other kings, as

Ahaz, had made a sort of compromise between the worship of Jehovah and

idolatry (16:10-15). Manasseh and Amon forsook the worship of Jehovah

altogether – “and walked not in the way of the Lord.”  i.e. did not even

maintain an outward observance of the Law of Moses, but set it wholly aside.

 

23   “And the servants of Amon conspired against him, and slew the

king in his own house.” That is, his attendants, his officers of the court –

Conspiracies in the palace, frequent in Israel (see I Kings 16:9; chps. 9:32-37;

10:10,25,30), were not unknown in Judah (see ch.12:21). They naturally arose

from various causes, as insults, injuries, hopes of advantage, ambition, etc. Where,

as in the present case, no clue is given, it is idle to conjecture the motives by which

the conspirators were actuated. Religious motives can scarcely have come into play.

 

24   “And the people of the land slew all them that had conspired against

king Amon;” - We certainly, therefore, cannot attribute Amon’s murder to a

popular reaction against his idolatries. Everything unites to prove that the foreign

worships were in favor with the people at this period, and that the kings who

patronized them were more generally popular than those who pursued the opposite

course – “and the people of the land made Josiah his son king in his stead.”

The prestige of the house of David was still strong. The conspirators may have

intended a change of dynasty; but the mass of the people could not contemplate with

equanimity the occupation of the throne by a stranger — one not of David’s house.

They there, in a tumultuary manner, having punished the conspirators with death,

sought out the true heir, and, having found him, though he was a boy of but eight

years of age, placed him upon his father’s throne (II Chronicles 33:25).

 

25   “Now the rest of the acts of Amon which he did, are they not written

in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?”  No other acts of Amon

have come down to us. He was probably, during his short reign of two years, a

submissive tributary of Asshur-bani-pal.  26  “And he was buried in his sepulcher

in the garden of Uzza: and Josiah his son reigned in his stead.”

 

 

                                    ADDITIONAL NOTES

 

                              The Lesson of Manasseh’s Life,

                  It is Far Easier to Do than to Undo Evil (vs. 1-18)


 
“It is much easier to lead your children into Sodom than to bring them out!”

                                                                                                                Dwight Moody

 

Manasseh, carried away by the impetuosity of youth, and under the advice

of evil counselors, threw himself into a movement the direct opposite of

that instituted by his father, and in a short time completely changed in all

respects the whole religion of the kingdom. His idea, so far as we can trace

it, seems to have been a welcoming of heathen and idolatrous creeds and

rites of all kinds and from all quarters, together with a stern repression of

the religion of Jehovah. The bloody rites of Moloch, the licentious orgies

of the Syrian goddess, the Phoenician Baal-worship, the Arabian astrology,

the magic and necromancy of Babylon, were all regarded as equally worthy

of his patronage, all given a home in his capitol; one single cult was

disallowed, and its exercise punished with death — the worship of “the

Holy One of Israel.” (They must have had an active ACLU in those days also –

CY – 2011)   In all these respects Manasseh found it easy enough to

work his will; no one resisted him; the awful child-sacrifices suited well

with one side of the national temperament, the wild sensualism of Syrian

and Phoenician orgies harmonized with another. Manasseh easily

“seduced” the mass of the people to do as he would have them; and, when

he met with recalcitrants, had a “short and easy method” with them — the

method of instant execution. All went smoothly and satisfactorily with him,

probably for near thirty years of his reign, when by some act — we know

not what, he displeased his Assyrian suzerain, was carried captive to

Babylon, and there, in the bitterness of confinement, brought to see the

error of his ways. Restored to his throne, he thought to undo his evil work

as easily and completely as he had done it. Again, outwardly no one

resisted his will. The external changes were made. “The strange gods”

were “put away” (II Chronicles 33:15); the idols cleared out of the

house of the Lord; the idolatrous altars banished; the formal worship of

Jehovah reintroduced; the brazen altar of Solomon “repaired” (II Chronicles

33:16) and used for sacrifice; Judah commanded to serve Jehovah, the God

of Israel. But the spirit of true and pure religion could not be brought back.

Thirty years of idolatry had debauched the heart of the nation. Jehovah’s

faithful followers had been martyred. The rest of the people could only give to

Jehovah a lip-service. And thus no sooner was Manasseh dead than everything

reverted into its former condition. The idols were restored — the altars to the

host of heaven replaced in the temple courts — the flames of Tophet relighted —

the filthy rites of the Dea Syria re-established. When Josiah came to the throne,

the state of things was as bad as it had ever been, even in the worst years

of Manasseh.  Baal was the god chiefly worshipped in Jerusalem (Zephaniah 1:4);

altars to the host of heaven covered the housetops; men commonly swore by

Moloch; the whole nation had “turned back from Jehovah” (Zephaniah 1:6),

and the city was filled with “violence and deceit” (Zephaniah 1:9). Not even

could all Josiah’s efforts remedy the evil which Manasseh had brought about.

The corruption was too deep-seated; and it was Manasseh’s evil-doing,

which he could not undo, that caused the final destruction of the kingdom

(ch. 23:26-27; 24:3-4).  II Chronicles 36:16 puts it this way “there was

no remedy.”

 

 

 

                                    Amon’s Wicked Reign (vs, 19-26)

 

We have here more than one instructive lesson.

 

  • THE POWER OF EVIL OFTEN COUNTERACTS THE GOOD.

            Manasseh had humbled himself before God. He obtained pardon.

            But he could not undo the guilty past. He could not undo the effects

            of his evil example and influence. We see how his sins were imitated

            and continued by his son Amon. How careful we should be what influence

            we exercise, what an example we leave behind us! Many a penitent sinner

            would give worlds if he could undo the consequences to others of his

            own past sins.

 

  • THE LAW OF RETRIBUTION ONCE MORE. “With what measure

            ye mete, it shall be measured to you again” (Matthew 7:2).  Every case

            of disobedience against God on the part of Israel and her kings brought its

            corresponding penalty. Amon was very defiant in his sin. “He humbled

            not himself before the Lord... but trespassed more and more”

            (II Chronicles 33:23). He cast off the authority of God. The day came

            when his own servants rose in rebellion against his authority, and

            conspired against him, and slew him.  The conspirators also met with

            their punishment. “The people of the land slew all them that had

             conspired against King Amon” (v. 24). Amid all its corruptions, the

            nation had not yet utterly lost the sense of justice.  “Whatsoever a man

            soweth, that shall he also reap.” (Galatians 6:7)

 

 

 

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