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Bible Commentaries
2 Kings 21

Ellicott's Commentary for English ReadersEllicott's Commentary



(1-18) THE REIGN OF MANASSEH IN JUDAH. (Comp. 2 Chronicles 33:0)

Verse 1

(1) Manasseh.—This king was a tributary to Esar-haddon and Assurbanipal successively. (See Schrader, Keilinschr., pp. 354-357, who says: M The conclusion is imperative that during the last period of the reign of Esarhaddon and Assurbanipal, certainly during the first period of the latter, Manasseh was tributary to the great king of Assyria.” (See the Notes on 2 Chronicles 33:11.) His name, like that of his successor Amon, suggests Egyptian influence. We know that combinations with Egypt against Assyria were popular during this epoch.

Twelve years old.—This early accession to power may help to explain his deviation from the religious policy of his father. It is not necessary to assume (with Thenius) that the queen-mother swayed the government until he reached a riper age. Manasseh may have been older than his years. According to the datum of the text, he was born a year or two after the Assyrian invasion. Whether he was Hezekiah’s firstborn son or not cannot be ascertained.

Hephzi-bah.Isaiah 62:4, as a title of Mount Zion. It means “my delight is in her.”

Verse 2

(2) And he did that which was evil.—Perhaps under the pernicious influence of his courtiers. (Comp. the case of Rehoboam.)

After the abominations.—Comp. Deuteronomy 29:17; 1 Kings 11:5.

The heathen . . . cast.—The nations . . . dispossessedi.e., the peoples of Canaan (2 Kings 17:8).

Verse 3

(3) For he built up again.—The LXX. and Vulg. imitate the Hebrew idiom, and he returned and built—i.e., and he rebuilt.

The high places . . . altars for Baal . . . a grove (an Ashçrah).—“The idols, the sun-pillars, the ashçrim, the sacred trees, and all the other pagan or half-pagan symbols, so plainly inconsistent with the prophetic faith, were of the very substance of Israel’s worship in the popular sanctuaries” (Prof. Robertson Smith).

As did Ahab.—See 1 Kings 16:32-33.

Worshipped all the host of heaven.—See Notes on 2 Kings 17:16, and comp. 2 Kings 23:12. The Babylonian star-worship and astrology, with concomitant superstitions, had been introduced under Ahaz.

Verse 4

(4) He built altarsi.e., idolatrous altars (2 Kings 21:5).

In the house of the Lordi.e., in the two courts of it. This verse contains the general statement of what is particularised in 2 Kings 21:5.

In Jerusalem will I put my name.—See 1 Kings 14:21.

Verse 5

(5) In the two courts.—Even in the inner and more sacred court, where the sacrifices were offered to Jehovah.

Verse 6

(6) And he made his son . . .—The LXX. has his sons; so Chronicles.

Dealt with familiar spirits . . .—made a necro-mancer—i.e., formally appointed such a person as a court official (1 Kings 12:31). (See the Notes on chaps. 16:3, 17:17, and especially 2 Chronicles 33:6.)

“In the time from Manasseh onwards, Moloch-worship and worship of the Queen of Heaven appear as prominent new features of Judah’s idolatry. It is also probable that the local high places took on their restoration a more markedly heathenish character than before” (Prof. Robertson Smith).

Verse 7

(7) A graven image of the grove.The graven image of the Ashçrah (2 Kings 21:3).

In the house of which the Lord said . . .—See 1 Kings 8:16; 1 Kings 9:3. It is meant that the Asherah was erected within the Temple itself, probably in the holy place—an act which was the climax of Manasseh’s impiety. (Comp. 23:4; Ezekiel 43:7; Jeremiah 7:30 seq.)

Verse 8

(8) Neither will I make the feet (foot) of Israel move (wander) . . .—Comp. the promise in 2 Samuel 7:10. The reference is to the migration to Egypt; and the thought is that the permanent possession of the Promised Land depends on the permanent adherence of the nation to Jehovah only.

Only if.If only.

According to all.—Chronicles rightly has simply (to do) all; and so LXX., Syriac, Vulg., Arabic here.

And according to all the law.—Omit and, with Chronicles and the Vatican LXX.

Verse 9

(9) Seduced them.Led them astray. Chronicles renders the same verb made them to err.

To do more evil.—To do the evil more . . . The LXX. adds: “in the eyes of Jehovah.” The idolatry of Judah was worse than that of the Canaanites, because they worshipped only their national gods, whereas Judah forsook its own God and was ready to adopt almost any foreign cultus with which it was brought into contact (Jeremiah 2:11).

Verse 10

(10) By His servants the prophets . . .—This general expression is used because the historian found no name assigned in his source. It is possible that Isaiah was still living under Manasseh, and protested in the manner here described against his apostacy. More probably, however, the protests in question were those of that great prophet’s disciples: the style is not Isaiah’s. 2 Chronicles 33:18 refers to the history of the kings of Israel for “the words of the seers who spake to Manasseh; “and the originality of the language in 2 Kings 21:13 might be held to favour the view that we have in 2 Kings 21:11-15, an extract from that work embodying the authentic oracle of a contemporary prophet. (So Ewald.) But it appears much more likely that the passage before us is a sort of résumé of the substance of many such prophetic addresses.

Verse 11

(11) And hath done.—The and is not in the Hebrew, though the Syriac and Arabic supply it. It is not wanted, for the sense is, namely, because he hath done wickedly, &c.

The Amorites.—A general designation of the native races of Canaan, just as in Homer Achaeans. Danaans, &c., in turn represent the Greeks. (See Amos 2:9,’ Ezekiel 16:3; and comp. 1 Kings 21:26.)

Verse 12

(12) Whosoever heareth of it.—Literally, his hearers. Many MSS. And the Heb. margin read her (i.e., its) hearer.

Both his ears shall tingle.—The dreadful news shall affect him like a sharp piercing sound. (See the same metaphor in 1 Samuel 3:11; Jeremiah 19:3.)

Verse 13

(13) And I will stretch over Jerusalem . . .—Comp. Amos 7:7-9; Isaiah 34:11; Lamentations 2:8. The sense is, I will deal with Jerusalem by the same rigorous rule of judgment as I have dealt already with Samaria. The figure of the measuring line and plummet suggests the idea that Jerusalem should be levelled and “laid even with the ground.”

As a man wipeth a (the) dish . . .—The wiping of the dish represents the destruction of the people, the turning it upside down, the overthrow of the city itself. Or perhaps, as Thenius says, the two acts together represent the single notion of making an end.

Wiping it and turning it . . .—This implies a different pointing of the text (infinitives instead of perfects, which is probably right).

Verse 14

(14) Forsake.—Or, cast off; LXX., ἀπώσομαι. Judges 6:13.

The remnant of mine inheritance.—The Northern Kingdom had already been depopulated.

A prey and a spoil.Isaiah 42:22.; Jeremiah 30:16.

Verse 15

(15) Have provoked me.Have been provoking; i.e., continually.

Their fathers came forth.—The LXX. has probably preserved the original reading: I brought forth their fathers.

Verse 16

(16) Moreover Manasseh shed innocent blood . . .—The narrative is taken up again from 2 Kings 21:9. The “innocent blood” shed by Manasseh was that of the prophets of Jehovah and their followers. “As the nation fell back into the grooves of its old existence, ancient customs began to reassert their sway. The worship which the prophets condemned, and which Hezekiah had proscribed, was too deeply interwoven with all parts of life to be uprooted by royal decree, and the old prejudice of the country folk against the capital, so clearly apparent in (the pages of the prophet) Micah, must have co-operated with superstition to bring about the strong revulsion against the new reforms which took place under Hezekiah’s son, Manasseh. A bloody struggle ensued between the conservative party and the followers of the prophets, and the new king was on the side of the reaction (Robertson Smith). Talmudic tradition relates that Isaiah himself was sawn asunder in the trunk of a cedar tree in which he had taken refuge. (Comp. Hebrews 11:37. This is, perhaps, not impossible, but hardly probable. Ewald considers that Jeremiah 2:30, Psalms 141:7, and Isaiah 53:0, allude to the persecution of the prophets by Manasseh.

Verse 17

(17) Now the rest of the acts of Manasseh . . .—See 2 Chronicles 33:11-19 for the story of his captivity, repentance, and restoration, which is now allowed by the best critics to be genuine history, though at one time it was the fashion to consider it an edifying fiction of the chronicler’s.

Verse 18

(18) In the garden of his own house, in the garden of Uzza.—His house was apparently not the royal palace built by Solomon, but another which Manasseh had built for himself. Thenius argues that the garden of Uzza lay in the Tyropœon, at the foot of the spur of Ophel. (Comp. 2 Samuel 6:8; 1 Chronicles 8:7; Ezra 2:49; Nehemiah 7:51).

Verse 19

THE REIGN OF AMON (2 Kings 21:19-26).

(19) Amon.—The Vatican LXX. reads Αμώς, Amos (So Josephus Άμωσός). The name is perhaps that of the Egyptian sun-god Amen (Greek Αμμών), as Anion’s father was an idolater.

Meshullemeth.—Feminine form of Meshullam, “friend” i.e. of God; Isaiah 42:19. Ewald compares the Latin Pius, Pia, as a proper name.

Jotbah.—Thenius imitates the name with Gutstadi. St. Jerome says it was in Judah. A similar name occurs in Numbers 33:33; Deuteronomy 10:7

Verse 22

(22) And he forsook the Lord . . .—And he forsook Jehovah, the God of his fathers; abandoned his worship altogether, and gave himself up to foreign superstitions which his father had introduced. It is noteworthy that the long reign of Manasseh-Amon is described by the sacred historian simply on the side of its relation to the religion of Israel. The astonishing corruption of worship which broke out during this period; the perverted hankering after foreign rites, which appears to have been only intensified by the restraints endured under Hezekiah; the bloody persecution of those who maintained the ancient faith; the prophetic menaces of coming retribution—such are the main points of the brief but impressive story. As usual, moral and religious license went hand in hand. The prophet Zephaniah denounces all the ruling classes of “the rebellious and polluted city;” princes and judges, prophets and priests, are involved in the same condemnation (Zephaniah 1:4-5; Zephaniah 3:1-4; comp. Micah 6:10 seq., Micah 7:2-6).

Verse 23

(23) The servants of Amoni.e., according to the common use of the phrase, his courtiers or palace officials. Nothing further is known of the circumstances of the murder. For a conjecture, see 2 Chronicles 33:25.

Verse 24

(24)The people of the land.—Thenius thinks these are the militia, as in 2 Kings 11:14; but in neither case does his opinion appear likely.

Verse 26

(26) In his sepulchre . . .—Which he had caused to be prepared near his father’s (2 Kings 21:16).

Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 21". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ebc/2-kings-21.html. 1905.
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