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Manasseh of Judah

From Academic Kids

This entry incorporates text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897, with some modernisation.

Manasseh of Judah was the king of Judah and only son and successor of Hezekiah. He was twelve years old when he began to reign (2 Kings 21:1). Albright has dated his reign to 687 - 642 BC, while Thiele offers the dates 687 - 643 BC.

Though he reigned so long, yet comparatively little is known of this king. His reign was a continuation of that of Ahaz, both in religion and national polity. He early fell under the influence of the anti-Yahweh court faction, and his reign was characterized by a relapse into idolatry with all its vices, showing that the reformation under his father had been to a large extent only superficial (Isaiah 7:10; 2 Kings 21:10-15).

A systematic and persistent attempt was made, and all too successfully, to banish the worship of Jehovah out of the land, which was opposed by faithful prophets (Isaiah, Micah). But their fidelity only aroused bitter hatred, and a period of cruel persecution against all the friends of the old religion began. There is an old Jewish tradition that Isaiah was put to death at this time (2 Kings 21:16; 24:3, 4; Jeremiah 2:30), having been sawn asunder in the trunk of a tree. Psalms 49, 73, 77, 140, and 141 seem to express the feelings of the pious amid the fiery trials of this great persecution. Manasseh has been called the "Nero of Palestine."

Esarhaddon, Sennacherib's successor on the Assyrian throne, who had his residence in Babylon for thirteen years (the only Assyrian monarch who ever reigned in Babylon), took Manasseh prisoner (681 BC) to Babylon. (For a suggested modification of their chronologies refer to Esarhaddon and Hezekiah.) Such captive kings were usually treated with great cruelty. They were brought before the conqueror with a hook or ring passed through their lips or their jaws, having a cord attached to it, by which they were led. This is referred to in 2 Chronicles 33:11, where the Authorized Version reads that Esarhaddon "took Manasseh among the thorns;" while the Revised Version renders the words, "took Manasseh in chains;" or literally, as in the margin, "with hooks." (Compare 2 Kings 19:28.)

The severity of Manasseh's imprisonment brought him to repentance. According to the Biblical account, God heard his cry, and he was restored to his kingdom (2 Chr. 33:11-13). He abandoned his idolatrous ways, and enjoined the people to worship Jehovah; but there was no thorough reformation. After a lengthened reign extending through fifty-five years, the longest in the history of Judah, he died, and was buried in the garden of Uzza, the "garden of his own house" (2 Kings 21:17, 18; 2 Chr. 33:20), and not in the city of David, among his ancestors.

Preceded by:
Hezekiah
King of Judah Succeeded by:
Amon
he:מנשה המלך
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