Manasseh’s rule as king of Judah

Chapter 21

Manasseh’s rule as king of Judah

v1 Manasseh was 12 years old when he became king. He ruled in Jerusalem for 55 years. His mother’s name was Hephzibah. v2 Manasseh *sinned against the *Lord. The *Lord had forced some nations out of his country when the *Israelites originally came there. Manasseh imitated the acts that those nations did. They were acts that cause disgust. v3 Manasseh’s father Hezekiah had destroyed the places where people *worshipped on the hills. But Manasseh built them again. He set up *altars to give honour to the god called *Baal. Manasseh made an image of the female god Asherah, as King Ahab of *Israel had done. Manasseh also *worshipped the stars. v4 The *Lord had said that he would be present at the *temple in Jerusalem. But Manasseh built *altars in the *Lord’s *temple. v5 These were *altars where people could *worship the stars. Manasseh built them in both the yards in the *Lord’s *temple. v6 Manasseh *sacrificed his son as a *burnt offering. Manasseh practised magic and he tried to know about the future. He tried to get advice from people who pretended to tell about the future. And he tried to get advice from wicked *spirits. Manasseh *sinned greatly against the *Lord and he made the *Lord very angry.

v7 Manasseh put the image of the female god Asherah into the *Lord’s *temple. The *Lord had spoken about that place to David and Solomon (David’s son). The *Lord had said, ‘I have chosen this *temple in Jerusalem out of all the territory called *Israel. I will always be present here. v8 The *Israelites must obey all my commands. They must obey all the law that my servant Moses gave to them. If the *Israelites do that, they will not have to leave their country. I gave this country to their *ancestors.’ v9 But the people did not listen and they did not obey. Manasseh led them to do great *sins. They did more wicked things than the nations that the *Lord had destroyed. The *Lord had forced those nations out of the country when the *Israelites originally came there.

Manasseh began to rule when he was 12 years old. If he began to rule after his father’s death, then Manasseh was born 3 years after his father’s illness. However, some people think that Manasseh ruled together with his father for some years. If they are right, Manasseh was born before his father’s illness. Of course, Manasseh did not rule alone until his father died.

After Hezekiah’s death, Manasseh’s true character became clear. Hezekiah had made great changes in *Judah, but he could not change the attitude of people’s hearts. People could not continue to *worship false gods in public during Hezekiah’s rule. But Manasseh’s rule gave them a new opportunity to establish their evil religions. Probably those people that had opposed Hezekiah’s changes persuaded Manasseh to do wrong things. Manasseh ruled for 55 years. That was longer than any other king ruled in *Judah. Part of that time he was a prisoner in Babylon (2 Chronicles 33:11).

Earlier, Manasseh’s father had destroyed places where people *worshipped. But Manasseh built those places again. He made *altars to give honour to *Baal and *Baal’s wife Asherah. He put the image of Asherah in the *Lord’s *temple. Manasseh also put *altars to *worship the stars there. It was a very terrible *sin to establish these false religions in the *Lord’s holy *temple. Manasseh even *sacrificed his own son. That murder shows how wicked Manasseh’s religion was. He also practised magic. And he went to people that pretended to tell about the future. That too is against God’s law (Deuteronomy 18:10-14). Manasseh did more wicked things than any other king did.

v10 The *Lord spoke by means of his servants, the *prophets. v11 ‘Manasseh, the king of *Judah, has done these things that cause disgust. He has done more wicked things than the *Amorites, who were there before him. He has led *Judah’s people into *sin by means of his *idols. v12 Therefore this is what the *Lord, the God of *Israel, says. I will bring about a great *disaster in Jerusalem and *Judah. Everyone that hears about it will receive a great shock. v13 I will make a judgement about Jerusalem’s people. I will do it by the same standards that I used for Samaria and Ahab’s family. I will remove the people from Jerusalem. Then it will be as empty as a dish that someone has wiped. When you wipe a dish, you turn it round completely. Jerusalem will be like that, because I will destroy it. v14 I will not help the people that are still alive. I will give them to their enemies. Those enemies will *conquer them and the enemies will take all their possessions. v15 I will do that because they have *sinned against me. They have made me angry since the day when their *ancestors came out of Egypt. And they still continue to make me angry today.’

v16 Manasseh killed many innocent people. There were so many murders that the blood seemed to flow through the streets in Jerusalem. Manasseh also made the people in *Judah *worship *idols. So they *sinned against the *Lord.

v17 You can read about the other events during Manasseh’s rule. And you can read about all his deeds, including his *sins. That information is in the book that contains the history of *Judah’s kings. v18Manasseh died. And the people buried him in the garden at the palace. That was Uzza’s garden. Manasseh’s son Amon became king after him.

By means of the *prophets, God warned the people that he would punish them. He would do that in the same manner as he had punished the people in the northern *kingdom. God would remove the inhabitants from Jerusalem. Jerusalem had become like a dirty dish. In order to clean that dish, nothing can remain in it. And so everyone would have to leave Jerusalem. God would allow the people’s enemies to *capture them. The enemies would take all the people’s possessions.

In the end, God had to punish *Judah. The *sins had become too terrible. They were even worse than the *sins of the original inhabitants of the country. God destroyed those nations when he gave their country to the *Israelites. And now the people in *Judah were carrying on the same *sins, and worse *sins too. Their punishment was certain. The Bible says, ‘If we continue to *sin, there is no *sacrifice for *sin. We can only expect punishment from God… The *Lord will be the judge over his people. It is a terrible thing to suffer God’s punishment.’ (Hebrews 10:26-31).

And it was not enough for Manasseh to *sin because of his evil religion. He also became a murderer. In fact, Manasseh killed many innocent people. They probably included those people that opposed his *sins. In the *Jews’ tradition, they say that Manasseh sawed the *prophet Isaiah in half. (Some people think that Hebrews 11:37 is referring to Isaiah’s death.)

In 2 Chronicles 33:11-13, we read that later Manasseh *repented of his *sin. That happened after Assyria’s army had taken him as a prisoner. They took him to Babylon. And because of his troubles, Manasseh became very humble. He prayed to God, who answered his prayer. God allowed Manasseh to return to Jerusalem, and there was a complete change in Manasseh’s attitudes. Manasseh removed the *idols that he had made. He *worshipped the *Lord, and he ordered the people to *worship the *Lord too. Manasseh allowed the people to *worship on the hills, but he would not let them *worship false gods even there. The changes that Manasseh made were astonishing. God can rescue even the most wicked people from their *sins. But they must be completely humble. They must *repent in a sincere manner. And they must invite God into their lives.

In 2 Kings, however, the writer does not mention that Manasseh *repented. The changes that Manasseh made were great. But still, they could not change the *Lord’s judgement against *Judah. Manasseh changed the people’s actions, but he could not change the attitude of their hearts. As soon as Manasseh died, the people began to *worship their *idols again.

People buried Manasseh in the garden of the palace. Perhaps people could not bury him in the royal graves because he had too many *sins for that. The result of Manasseh’s rule was that God punished *Judah.

Amon’s rule as king of *Judah

v19 Amon was 22 years old when he became king. He ruled in Jerusalem for 2 years. His mother’s name was Meshullemeth, daughter of Haruz. She was from Jotbah. v20 Amon *sinned against the *Lord, as his father Manasseh had done. v21 Amon did what his father had done. Amon *worshipped the *idols that his father had *worshipped. Amon bent his body down to show honour to them. v22 He stopped *worshipping the *Lord, his *ancestors’ God. He did not obey the *Lord’s commands.

v23 Amon’s officials plotted against him. They murdered him in the palace. v24 Then, as a punishment, *Judah’s people killed the officials who had murdered King Amon. The people made his son Josiah king.

v25 You can read about the other events during Amon’s rule. And you can read what he did. This information is in the history of *Judah’s kings. v26 The people buried Amon in the grave in Uzza’s garden. Josiah his son became king after him.

Amon was as bad as his father was. But unlike Manasseh, Amon never *repented. We learn that fact from 2 Chronicles 33:23. Manasseh had made things better after he came back from Babylon (2 Chronicles 33:15-16). However, Amon brought back the old ways in which to *worship. He allowed people to *worship *idols again. And he himself *worshipped all those *idols.

After just two years, Amon’s officials murdered him. Then the people in *Judah killed those officials as a punishment. Amon’s son Josiah became king after him. We do not know why the officials plotted against Amon.