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Bible Commentaries

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

2 Chronicles 33

Introduction

XXXIII.

THE REIGNS OF MANASSEH AND AMON.

(1-20) The history of Manasseh. Duration and character of the reign. Restoration of idolatry (2 Chronicles 33:1-10). This section is closely parallel with 2 Kings 21:1-10. 2 Chronicles 33:1-2; 2 Chronicles 33:5 are word for word the same in both.

Verse 3

(3) For.And. (See margin.)

Broken down.2 Chronicles 23:17; 2 Chronicles 31:1 (“threw down”). Kings has “destroyed” (‘ibbad).

Baalim.The Baalsi.e., the different images of Baal. Kings has the singular, both here and in the next word, “groves,” or rather Asheras (‘Ashçrôth; Kings, ‘Ashçrah). The latter plural is rhetorical: Manasseh made such things as Asheras. (Comp. also the use of the plural in 2 Chronicles 32:31, and the passages there referred to.) Kings adds: “as Ahab king of Israel made.”

Verse 4

(4) Also he built . . . In Jerusalem.—Literally as Kings. Manasseh built altars in the Temple, as Ahaz had done (2 Kings 16:10, seq.).

Shall my name be for ever.—A heightening of the phrase in Kings, “I will set mv name.”

Verse 6

(6) He.—Emphatic. Not in Kings.

Caused his children . . . fire.—The plural, as in 2 Chronicles 28:3, is rhetorical. Kings, “his son.”

In the valley of the son of Hinnom.—Explanatory addition by the chronicler.

Also he observed times, and used enchantments.And he practised augury and divination. Forbidden, Leviticus 19:26. The first words seem strictly to mean “observed clouds; “the second, “observed serpents.”

And used witchcraft.And muttered spells or charms. This word does not occur in the parallel place, but all the offences here ascribed to Manasseh are forbidden in Deuteronomy 18:10-11.

And dealt with a familiar spirit, and with wizards.And appointed a necromancer and a wizard. Kings has wizards. The source of all these modes of soothsaying was Babylon. Like the first king of Israel, Manasseh appears to have despaired of help or counsel from Jehovah. (Comp. Jeremiah 44:17-18.) The heavy yoke of Assyria again weighed the nation down, and the great deliverance under Hezekiah was almost forgotten. “To all the Palestinian nations the Assyrian crisis had made careless confidence in the help of their national deities a thing impossible. As life was embittered by foreign bondage, the darker aspects of heathenism became dominant. The wrath of the gods seemed more real than their favour; atoning ordinances were multiplied, human sacrifices became more frequent, the terror which hung over all the nations that groaned under the Assyrian yoke found habitual expression in the ordinances of worship; and it was this aspect of heathenism that came to the front in Manasseh’s imitations of foreign religion” (Robertson Smith, The Prophets of Israel, p. 366).

He wrought much evil.—Literally, he multiplied doing the evil. He was worse than his evil predecessors

Verse 7

(7) And he set . . . had made.And he set the carven image of the idol which he had made. “Idol” (sèmel) explains “Asherah,” the term used in Kings. Both “carven image “and “idol” (Authorised Version, figure) occur in Deuteronomy 4:16.

The house of God.—Chronicles has added, of God, by way of explanation. The Temple proper is meant, as distinct from the courts.

Before all.Out of all.

For ever.Le’êlum, a form only found here (equivalent to le’ólâm).

Verse 8

(8) Remove.—Kings has a less common expression, “cause to wander.”

From out of (upon) the land (ground) which I have appointed.—Kings, with which the versions agree, has the certainly original “from the ground which I gave.”

So that.If only.

And the statutes and the ordinances.—An explanatory addition. Kings has, “And according to all the Torah that Moses my servant commanded them.”

By the hand.—By the ministry or instrumentality. The phrase is a characteristic interpretation of what we read in 2 Kings 21:8; for it carefully notes that the authority of the Lawgiver was not primary but derived.

Verse 9

(9) So Manasseh . . . heathen.—Literally, And Manasseh led Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem astray, to do evil more than the nations. Thenius thinks that the words and Manasseh. . . . astray, followed in the primary document immediately upon and he set the graven image in the house; the intermediate words being an addition by the editor of Kings.

Verse 10

(10) And the Lord spake to Manasseh.—“By the hand of his servants the prophets.” See

2 Kings 21:10-15, where the substance of the prophetic message is given; and it is added (2 Chronicles 33:16) that Manasseh also shed very much innocent blood, “till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to the other.” The reaction against the reforms of Hezekiah ended in a bloody struggle, in which the party of reform was fiercely suppressed.

Verse 11

(11) Wherefore.And.

The captains of the host of the king of Assyria.—The generals of Esarhaddon, or rather, perhaps, of Assurbanipal. The former, who reigned from 681-668 B.C. , has recorded the fact that Manasseh was his vassal. He says: “And I assembled the kings of the land of Hatti, and the marge of the sea, Baal king of Tyre, Me-na-si-e (or Mi-in-si-e) king of Ya-u-di (i.e., Judah), Qa-us-gabri, king of Edom,” &c. “Altogether, twenty-two kings of the land of Hatti [Syria], the coast of the sea, and the middle of the sea, all of them, I caused to hasten,” &c. Assurbanipal has left a list which is identical with that of Esarhaddon, except that it gives different names for the kings of Arvad and Ammon. It thus appears that Manasseh paid tribute to him as well as to his father. Schrader (K.A.T., p. 367, seq.) thinks that Manasseh was at least suspected of being implicated along with the other princes of Phoenicia-Palestine in the revolt of Assurbanipars brother Samar-sum-ukin (circ. 648-647 B.C. ) in which Elam, Gutium, and Meroë also participated; and that he was carried to Babylon, to clear himself of suspicion, and to give assurances of his fidelity to the great king.

Which took Manasseh among the thorns.And they took Manasseh prisoner with the hooks (ba-ḫôḫîm). The hooks might be such as the Assyrian kings were wont to pass through the nostrils and lips of their more distinguished prisoners. Comp. Isaiah 37:29, “I will put my hook in thy nose, and my bridle in thy lips;” and comp. Amos 4:2, “He will take you away with hooks, and your posterity with fish-hooks.” Comp. also Job 41:2, “Canst thou bore his jaw with a hook?” [The LXX., Vulg., Targ. render the word “chains.” Syriac confuses the word with chayyîm, “life,” and renders “took Manasseh in his life.”] Perhaps, however, the meaning is, and they took Manasseh prisoner at Hohim. There is no reason why Hohim should not be a local name, as well as Coz (1 Chronicles 4:8).

And bound him with fetters.With the double chain of bronze, as the Philistines bound Samson (Judges 16:21). So Sennacherib relates: “Suzubu king of Babylon, in the battle alive their hands took him; in fetters of bronze they put him, and to my presence brought him. In the great gate in the midst of the city of Nineveh I bound him fast.” This happened in 695 B.C., only a few years before the similar captivity of Manasseh.

And carried him.Caused him to go, or led him away.

To Babylon.—Where Assurbanipal was holding his court at the time, as he appears to have done after achieving the overthrow of his brother the rebellious viceroy, and assuming the title of king of Babylon himself.

Verses 11-17

MANASSEH’S CAPTIVITY AND REPENTANCE—HIS RESTORATION AND REFORMS (2 Chronicles 33:11-17).

This section is peculiar to the Chronicle, and none has excited more scepticism among modern critics. The progress of cuneiform research, however, has proved the perfect possibility of the facts most disputed, viz., the captivity and subsequent restoration of Manasseh.

Verse 12

(12) When he was in affliction.—See this phrase in 2 Chronicles 28:22.

He besought.—Literally, stroked the face, a curious realistic phrase occurring in Exodus 32:11.

The God of his fathers.—Whom he had forsaken for the gods of aliens. Some MSS., and the Syriac, Targum, and Arabic insert “Jehovah” before this phrase.

Verse 13

(13) He was intreated of him.1 Chronicles 5:20.

And brought him again to Jerusalem.—The Assyrian monarch after a time saw fit to restore Manasseh to his throne as a vassal king. The case is exactly parallel to that of the Egyptian king Nikû (Necho I.), who was bound hand and foot, and sent to Nineveh; after which Assurbanipal extended his clemency to his captive, and restored him to his former state in his own country. (See Schrader, p. 371.)

Then.—And.

That the Lord he was God.That Jehovah was the true God. (Comp. 1 Kings 18:39, where the same Hebrew words occur twice over.)

Verse 14

(14) Now after this . . . valley.—Rather, And afterwards he built an outer wall to the city of David westward unto Gihon in the ravine. Manasseh completed the wall begun by Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 32:5). This highly circumstantial account of the public works undertaken by Manasseh after his restoration, is utterly unlike fiction, and almost compels the assumption of a real historical source, no longer extant, from which the whole section has been derived.

Even to the entering in of the fish gate.—The fish-gate lay near the north-east corner of the lower city (Nehemiah 3:3). The direction of the outer wall is described first westward, and then eastward.

And compassed about Ophel.And surrounded the Ophel (mound); seil., with the wall, which he carried on from the north-east to the south-east. Uzziah and Jotham had already worked upon these fortifications (2 Chronicles 26:9; 2 Chronicles 27:3). Manasseh now finished them, “raising them up to a very great height.”

Raised iti.e., the outer wall.

And put captains of war.—(Comp. 2 Chronicles 17:2; 2 Chronicles 32:6.) Literally, captains of an army ( sârê chayil).

Of Judah.—Heb., in Judah. Some MSS. and the Vulgale read as the Authorised Version.

Verse 15

(15) Took away the strange gods.—Comp. 2 Chronicles 33:3-7. For the phrase “strange gods” (ĕlôhê nçkâr), see Genesis 35:2.

The idol.—That is, the Asherah (2 Chronicles 33:3; 2 Chronicles 33:7; 2 Kings 21:7; 2 Kings 17:16).

In the mount of the house.—The temple hill. Thenius says: the courts with the altars in them (2 Kings xxi 4, 5).

Cast them out.—Comp. 2 Chronicles 29:16; 2 Chronicles 30:14 Manasseh’s reform was hardly complete, for some of his altars remained for Josiah to pull down (2 Kings 23:12).

Verse 16

(16) Repaired.—Heb., built, i.e., rebuilt. Ewald concludes from this that Manasseh had removed the altar of burnt offering; and from Jeremiah 3:16 that he destroyed the ark of the covenant. (Some Hebrew MSS., and many editions read prepared instead of built; but the Syriac and Arabic have the latter word, which is doubtless right.)

Verse 18

CONCLUSION OF THE REIGN (2 Chronicles 33:18-20).

(18) His prayer unto his God.—This prayer may or may not have been the basis of the Apocryphal Prayer of Manasses, preserved in the LXX.

The words of the seers that spake to him.—See Note on 2 Chronicles 33:10, supr. These “words of the seers” were incorporated in the great history of the kings, which is mentioned at the end of the verse, and which was one of the chronicler’s principal authorities.

Written.—This word, though wanting in our present Hebrew text, is read in some MSS., and in the Syriac, Targum, and Arabic.

The book.The history, literally, words. 2 Kings 21:17 refers, as usual, to the “Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah.”

Verse 19

(19) His prayer also . . . of him.And his prayer, and the hearing him. Literally, and the being propitious to him (the same verb as in 2 Chronicles 33:13 and Genesis 25:21).

All his sins, and his trespass.All his sin and his unfaithfulness. 2 Kings 21:17 has, “And his sin that he sinned.” The chronicler, as usual, heightens the expression.

Groves.The Ashçrim. (See Note on 2 Chronicles 33:3.)

Among the sayings of the seers.In the history of Hozai. This work was, therefore, the source from which the chronicler derived his additional information about the reign of Manasseh. (See Introduction.) The LXX. has “the seers;” but the Vulg., “in sermonibus Hozai,” and the Syriac, “in the story of Hanan the prophet.” It is pretty clear that Hozai is simply a mutilated form of ha-hôzîm, “the seers,” a term which occurred in 2 Chronicles 33:17.

Verse 20

(20) In his own house.2 Kings 21:18, “and he was buried in the garden of his house, in the garden of Uzza.” The words, in the garden of, seem to have fallen out of our text. So LXX., ἐν παραδείσῳ οἴκου αὐτοῦ; Syriac, “in his house, in the garden of treasure.”

Verse 21

THE REIGN OF AMON (2 Chronicles 33:21-25. Comp. 2 Kings 21:19-26).

(21) Amon was two and twenty years old.—So 2 Kings 21:19, which adds his mother’s name and parentage.

Verse 22

(22) For Amon sacrificed.—Literally, and to all the carven images which Manasseh his father had made did Amon sacrifice. (Comp. 2 Kings 21:21, “and he walked in all the way wherein his father had walked, and served the idols which his father had served, and worshipped them.” Idols in the above passage is gillulîm, “dunglings,” a term nowhere used by the chronicler.) The statement of our text seems to imply that the “carven images” made by Manasseh had not been destroyed, but only cast aside. (See Note on 2 Chronicles 33:15.) It argues a defect of judgment to say with Reuss that the reforms of Manasseh are rendered doubtful by it. The whole history is a succession of reforms followed by relapses; and the words of the sacred writer need not be supposed to mean that the images which Amon worshipped were the very ones which his penitent father had discarded, but only images of the same imaginary gods.

Verse 23

(23) And humbled not himself . . . more and more.—This verse is added by the chronicler.

But Amon trespassed more and more.—Literally, for he, Amon, multiplied trespass.

Verse 25

(25) Slew.Smote. The verse is identical with 2 Kings 21:24, save that it has “smote” plural instead of singular, which latter is more correct. It may be that the facts thus briefly recorded represent a fierce conflict between the party of religious reform and that of religious reaction, in which the latter was for the time worsted and reduced to a state of suspended activity.

The chronicler has omitted the remarks usual at the end of a reign. See 2 Kings 21:25-26 for a reference to sources, and Anion’s burial place (“the garden of Uzza”).

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Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 33". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ebc/2-chronicles-33.html. 1905.