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Israel's Kings

23rd February 2006, sjh

 

3) Reign of Manasseh

There were a whole series of Kings listed in the Books of Samuel, Kings and Chronicles. Their reigns spread over the period from around 1000BC to 600BC. After the rule of David's son, Solomon, The kingdom of Israel was broken into two sections: one retained the name of Israel, and the other went by the name of Judah. Each of these two nations had their own king, and at times there were hostilities between the two, and at other times cooperation.

Some of the kings followed the ways of God and were faithful to him, as David was. However, there were also other kings who were considered evil before God. One of the kings who did evil was Manasseh. He was very young when he received ascendency to the throne, and he not only did evil himself, but led the nation to follow in his footsteps.

2 Chronicles 33

2 Chronicles 33:1: Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign; and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. 2 He did that which was evil in the sight of Yahweh, after the abominations of the nations whom Yahweh cast out before the children of Israel. 3 For he built again the high places which Hezekiah his father had broken down; and he reared up altars for the Baals, and made Asheroth, and worshiped all the host of the sky, and served them. 4 He built altars in the house of Yahweh, whereof Yahweh said, In Jerusalem shall my name be forever. 5 He built altars for all the host of the sky in the two courts of the house of Yahweh.

6 He also made his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom; and he practised sorcery, and used enchantments, and practiced sorcery, and dealt with those who had familiar spirits, and with wizards: he worked much evil in the sight of Yahweh, to provoke him to anger. 7 He set the engraved image of the idol, which he had made, in the house of God, of which God said to David and to Solomon his son, In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, will I put my name forever: 8 neither will I any more remove the foot of Israel from off the land which I have appointed for your fathers, if only they will observe to do all that I have commanded them, even all the law and the statutes and the ordinances given by Moses. 9 Manasseh seduced Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that they did evil more than did the nations whom Yahweh destroyed before the children of Israel. WEB

It's clear that Manasseh was led away from God through the worship of other Gods. He built idols and places of worship for them. These were the very actions that God had said should never be done.

In his depths, he also sacrificed his children in the valley of the son of Hinnom, and human sacrifice was something abhorrent to Yahweh, the God of Israel. The valley of the son of Hinnom, outside Jerusalem, was a place of destruction, and was used as a symbol of it. At the time of Jesus, it was a rubbish dump where fires burned continually, and Jesus used it as a symbol of destruction in his teaching.

In verse 9, the point is made how the leader seduce the nation and led the rest of the people into the evil as well. This is something consistent with the other kings described during this era. When the king as figurehead of the people was righteous, it followed that the people too generally followed God. Conversely, the evil kings drew the people away from God.

Repentance

Eventually God brought punishment against Manasseh and the nation of people who had become evil in God's sight. This punishment was in the form of an invasion by another country, Assyria. Manasseh himself was taken away to Babylon, which is in modern day Iraq. It was there that he realised the importance of God.

2 Chron 33:10: Yahweh spoke to Manasseh, and to his people; but they gave no heed. 11 Therefore Yahweh brought on them the captains of the host of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh in chains, and bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon. 12 When he was in distress, he begged Yahweh his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. 13 He prayed to him; and he was entreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that Yahweh he was God.

14 Now after this he built an outer wall to the city of David, on the west side of Gihon, in the valley, even to the entrance at the fish gate; and he compassed Ophel about with it, and raised it up to a very great height: and he put valiant captains in all the fortified cities of Judah. 15 He took away the foreign gods, and the idol out of the house of Yahweh, and all the altars that he had built in the mountain of the house of Yahweh, and in Jerusalem, and cast them out of the city. 16 He built up the altar of Yahweh, and offered thereon sacrifices of peace-offerings and of thanksgiving, and commanded Judah to serve Yahweh, the God of Israel. 17 Nevertheless the people sacrificed still in the high places, but only to Yahweh their God.

18 Now the rest of the acts of Manasseh, and his prayer to his God, and the words of the seers who spoke to him in the name of Yahweh, the God of Israel, behold, they are written among the acts of the kings of Israel. 19 His prayer also, and how God was entreated of him, and all his sin and his trespass, and the places in which he built high places, and set up the Asherim and the engraved images, before he humbled himself: behold, they are written in the history of Hozai. 20 So Manasseh slept with his fathers, and they buried him in his own house: and Amon his son reigned in his place. WEB

This type of description is quite typical of the episodes in this section of the Bible. They are largely about historical details, with a commentary interspersed about how God related to it.

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