The Word Made Fresh
1Manasseh began his reign at the age of twelve and ruled as king in Jerusalem for fifty-five years. 2The LORD saw the evil practices he copied from the people the LORD had driven out before Israel. 3He rebuilt the hilltop shrines his father had demolished, and built altars to the Baals, made totem poles to the Asheroth, and worshiped the sun, moon, and stars and served their cults. 4He even erected pagan altars in the LORD’s temple, the very temple of which the LORD had said, “My name shall be in Jerusalem forever.” 5He erected altars for the sun, moon, and stars in the two courtyards of the LORD’s house. 6He even made his sons walk through fire in the Hinnom valley and practiced sorcery and fortune-telling and consulted mediums and wizards. His evil practices angered the LORD. 7Manasseh placed a carved copy of an idol he had made in God’s house, the very place of which God had told David and his son Solomon, “In this temple, and in Jerusalem, the place I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will establish my name forever. 8Nor will I ever again remove Israel from the land I set apart for your ancestors if they will be faithful in all I have commanded them – the law, the statutes, the ordinances I gave to them through Moses.”
9Manasseh led Judah and Jerusalem into even more wickedness than what was practiced by the peoples the LORD had destroyed before Israel. 10The LORD continued to speak to Manasseh and the people, but they paid no attention, 11so the LORD brought in the officers of the army of the king of Assyria. They took Manasseh captive, put him in chains and ropes and carried him off to Babylon. 12In his distress he finally turned humbly to the LORD and begged the LORD, the God of his ancestors, to help him. 12The LORD heard his prayer and allowed him to return to Jerusalem and his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew for a certainty that the LORD was God.
14After that he erected a very high outer wall for the city of David on the west of Gihon in the valley, all the way to the Fish Gate, then around Ophel. He placed army commanders in all the fortress cities in Judah. 15He removed the foreign gods and idols from the LORD’s temple, and also removed the altars he had built on the mountain of the LORD’s temple along with others throughout Jerusalem and had them thrown out of the city. 16He restored the LORD’s altar and offered peace offerings and thanksgiving offerings there. He issued a decree for Judah to serve the LORD God of Israel, 17but they still sacrificed at the hilltop shrines, though only to the LORD their God.
18The record of Manasseh’s reign, including his prayer to God and the advice the prophets gave him in the name of the LORD God of Israel, are all written in the Annals of the Kings of Israel. 19His prayer and how God answered it, all his mistakes and faithlessness, a list of all the places on which he had erected altars and totem poles and images before he humbled himself are contained in the prophets’ records.
20Then Manasseh died and joined his ancestors, and they buried him in his palace. He was succeeded by his son Amon.
21Amon was twenty-two when he became king. He reigned in Jerusalem for two years. 22He did evil things in the judgment of the LORD, just as Manasseh his father had done. He sacrificed animals to all the idols his father Manasseh had made and worshiped them. 23He had no humility before the LORD as his father Manasseh had finally displayed, but rather became more and more guilty.
24Then his servants formed a conspiracy and killed him in his own house. 25The people had those servants put to death and made Josiah, Amon’s son, the king in his stead.
1-9: What goes around comes around. Hezekiah’s reforms are not complete, for there are many left in Judah who worship other things as gods. Hezekiah’s young son Manasseh, only 12 years old, assumes the throne and holds it for 55 years, longest of all the reigns of the kings of Judah. But he is not old enough when he comes to power to wield much authority. Apparently, he comes under the influence of some of the very people his father spent a lifetime keeping out of power, and he reinstitutes every pagan religious ritual and rebuilds every shrine his father destroyed, then adds even more.
10-13: The King of Assyria captures Manasseh and carries him off to Babylon. This is not recorded anywhere else in the Bible and is a curious tale since Babylon is not the capital of the Assyrian empire. Ashurbanipal is the Assyrian emperor at the time and has a reputation for leniency toward his conquered leaders, so the story is in keeping with other historical sources in that regard. The chronicler’s interest is in showing how, on the one hand, Manasseh’s sins result in his exile and, on the other hand, how his repentance results in his being returned. This will be Judah’s future, of course.
14-17: Upon his return Manasseh undertakes reforms as had his father Hezekiah. They are not as sweeping, but significant still.
17-20: Manasseh dies at the age of 67 and is buried “in his house.” A summary of his reign is given, focusing on the spiritual highlights of his apostasy and repentance.
21-25: Amon succeeds his father Manasseh and is just as wicked as his father had been in the early years of his reign. His leadership is so bad that he is assassinated, only the second king of Judah to suffer such a fate (the other was Joash – see 24:25). Killing a descendant of David is not looked upon with favor in the land of Judah (it is much more common up in Israel), and his murderers are themselves put to death.
It isn’t rocket science, folks. The formula is simple: obey the LORD and live in peace and prosperity; worship other gods and suffer all kinds of problems. Of course, the worship of other gods seems at first to be exciting and rewarding, but it never lasts. So, pay attention: forewarned is forearmed.