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Bible Commentaries
2 Kings 21

Dr. Constable's Expository NotesConstable's Expository Notes

Verses 1-18

B. Manasseh’s Evil Reign 21:1-18

Manasseh began reigning as vice-regent with his father Hezekiah when he was 12 years old in 697 B.C. This arrangement continued for 11 years until Hezekiah died in 686 B.C. For a total of 55 years Manasseh was king of Judah. He reigned longer than any Hebrew king, and he was Judah’s worst king spiritually.

"Manasseh was ’the Ahab of Judah’ and the antithesis of the great David." [Note: Wiseman, p. 291.]

Among his other serious sins, Manasseh built idol altars in Yahweh’s temple (2 Kings 21:4). This diminished the reputation of Yahweh considerably, as well as diverting worship from Him. Canaanite idolatry, Ahab’s Baalism, Canaanite astral worship, Ahaz’s human sacrifice, and Saul’s spiritism were all heresies he revived even though the Law of Moses condemned them (Exodus 20:3-5). He did not follow David’s example, he defiled the temple with idolatry, and he rejected the Mosaic Covenant. Thus he not only acted opposite to Hezekiah, but he also scorned the examples of Moses, Joshua, David, and Solomon. In his day the people were more wicked in their religious practices than even the Canaanites had been (2 Kings 21:9).

Isaiah and Micah were two of the prophets that God had used to warn the nation before Manasseh’s reign, and their influence undoubtedly continued after their deaths. According to Jewish tradition, Manasseh sawed Isaiah in two (cf. Hebrews 11:37). The early church father Justin Martyr (ca. A.D. 150) wrote that the Jews sawed him to death with a wooden saw. [Note: See also The Martyrdom of Isaiah , 5:1ff.] However, this tradition is quite late and may be inaccurate. We have no record that any prophets ministered during Manasseh’s reign, with the possible exception of Nahum, whose recorded ministry was against Assyria. Some scholars believe Nahum ministered at about the same time as Jeremiah, Zephaniah, and Habakkuk, namely, after Manasseh’s reign. I think Nahum probably ministered during Manasseh’s reign (ca. 660-650 B.C.).

Not only did Manasseh apostatize himself, he also led the nation in departing from God (2 Kings 21:11). The "line of Samaria" (2 Kings 21:13) refers to the righteous standard God had used to measure Samaria’s fidelity to His will. The "plummet of Ahab’s house" (2 Kings 21:13) was the same plumb line of righteousness by which God had judged Ahab’s family. God would abandon His people temporarily but not permanently (2 Kings 21:14; cf. Deuteronomy 28:63-64).

Manasseh’s murders included those of his own children (2 Kings 21:6) as well as Isaiah, evidently. Manasseh’s many sins stained Judah deeply. Even Josiah’s later reforms could not avert God’s judgment (2 Kings 23:36). His "garden variety" burial reflects the fact that his behavior resulted in his people esteeming him lightly. God had disciplined him personally (cf. 2 Chronicles 33:11-13), and he had become a channel of God’s discipline for Judah.

Perhaps we should view the fact that God allowed such a wicked king to rule his people so long, as an evidence of His longsuffering desire that Manasseh and Judah would repent. The king did repent later in life (2 Chronicles 33:12-19). His long life was not a blessing for faithfulness, as Hezekiah’s had been, but an instrument of chastening for Judah.

Verses 19-26

C. Amon’s Evil Reign 21:19-26

Amon reigned two years (642-640 B.C.). Rather than continuing to follow the Lord, which his father’s repentance encouraged, Amon reverted to the policies of Manasseh’s earlier reign and rebelled against Yahweh completely. This provoked some of his officials to assassinate him (2 Kings 21:23). Again we see that rebellion against God often leads to one’s premature personal destruction (cf. 1 John 5:16). To their credit, the leaders of Judah executed the king’s assassins and so prevented anarchy.

Amon may have been the only king of either Israel or Judah who bore the name of a foreign god. Amon-Re was the sun god of Egypt. His father may have named him in honor of this god. However, the Hebrew word amon means "faithful," so his name may not connect with Amon-Re.

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 2 Kings 21". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/2-kings-21.html. 2012.
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