Who was King Manasseh in the Old Testament?

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Historical background

Manasseh was king of the southern kingdom of Judah (2 Kings 21:1–18; 2 Chronicles 32:33–33:20; Jeremiah 15:4). He became king when he was twelve years old and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. He was the son of the godly King Hezekiah. But he did evil in the sight of the Lord and didn’t walk in the steps of his father (2 kings 21:1). In fact, he did much to thwart the good that was done by his good father.

Manasseh’s apostasy

Manasseh brought back to the kingdom the idolatrous, harsh, and superstitious rites which were used among the neighboring nations. King Hezekiah had banned these ceremonies. He also revived paganism and promoted the worship of idols. He paved the way for the worship of Baal which had been practiced under Athaliah (2 kings 11:18) and Ahaz (2 Chron. 28:2). For example, the King displayed the worship of the sun by the sun chariots and horses that he placed at the entrance of the temple of Jehovah (2 Kings 23:11).

Further, Manasseh practiced the cruel abomination of human sacrificing which was mentioned as one of the outstanding offenses in God’s sight (Jer. 7:31, 32; 19:2–6; 32:35; Eze. 16:20; 20:26; 23:37). He also added to his sins the sin of soothsaying, witchcraft, and consulting the spiritists and mediums. These practices were clearly forbidden by God under penalty of death (Lev. 20:27).

In addition to all these vices, Manasseh “shed so much innocent blood that he filled Jerusalem from end to end” (2 Kings 21:16). And he persecuted all those who resolved to remain faithful to God. His leaders, that determined to fight religious and political reforms, martyred the prophet Isaiah, who witnessed for God. Thus, he allowed Judah to go far along the path that was to fill up the measure of the nation’s iniquity.

God’s judgement

For this reason, God Himself declared that Manasseh was more evil than the Amorites whom He kicked out from the land of Canaan (2 Kings 21:11; 2 Chronicles 33:9). These heathen Palestinians were destroyed because of their degrading practices. Sadly, now the people of Israel exceeded the heathens in their corrupt worship. Therefore, the Lord sent the Assyrians to attack King Manasseh as punishment for his apostasy and He took him into exile (2 Chronicles 33:11).

Manasseh’s repentance and restoration

As result, King Manasseh remembered the Lord and, “when he was in affliction, he implored the Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, and prayed to Him; and He received his entreaty, heard his supplication, and brought him back to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord was God” (2 Chronicles 33:12–13). This shows how the Lord is merciful and ready to forgive those who call upon Him in sincerity of heart.

And Manasseh forsook his evil ways in gratitude to God and fortified the cities of Judah (2 Chronicles 33:14). He restored the worship of God and “took away the foreign gods and the idol from the house of the LORD, and all the altars that he had built in the mount of the house of the LORD and in Jerusalem; and he cast them out of the city. He also repaired the altar of the LORD, sacrificed peace offerings and thank offerings on it, and commanded Judah to serve the LORD God of Israel” (2 Chronicles 33:15,16). He built a wall around Jerusalem and raised it to a very great height. And he put military captains in all the fortified cities of Judah (v. 14).

Manasseh’s son

After Manasseh died, his son Amon ruled, but he “did evil in the eyes of the Lord, as his father Manasseh had done. Amon worshiped and offered sacrifices to all the idols Manasseh had made. But unlike his father Manasseh, he did not humble himself before the Lord” (2 Chronicles 33:22–23). Although Manasseh repented of his wickedness and was forgiven by God, the evil fruits of his sins were revealed in the life of his son.

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

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