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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

2 Chronicles 33

Verse 1

Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem:

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 2

But did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, like unto the abominations of the heathen, whom the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel.

Did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord - (see the notes at 2 Kings 21:1-16.)

Verses 3-10

For he built again the high places which Hezekiah his father had broken down, and he reared up altars for Baalim, and made groves, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served them.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 11

Wherefore the LORD brought upon them the captains of the host of the king of Assyria, which took Manasseh among the thorns, and bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon.

The captains of the host of the king of Assyria. This king was Esarhaddon (Rawlinson's 'Ancient Monarchies,' 2:, p. 466; 'Nineveh and Babylon,' p. 621), who, after having devoted the first years of his reign to the consolidation of his government at home, turned his attention to repair the loss of the tributary provinces west of the Euphrates, which, on the disaster and death of Sennacherib, had taken the opportunity of shaking off the Assyrian yoke. Having overrun Palestine and removed the remnant that were left in the kingdom of Israel, he despatched his generals, the chief of whom was Tartan (Isaiah 20:1), with a portion of his army, for the reduction of Judah also. In a successful attack upon Jerusalem, they took multitudes of captives, and got a great prize, including the king himself among the prisoners.

Took Manasseh among the thorns. This may mean, as is commonly supposed, that he had hid himself among a thicket of briars and brambles; and we know that the Hebrews sometimes took refuge from their enemies in thickets (1 Samuel 13:6). But instead of "among the thorns" [ bachowchiym (H2336)], some versions read [bªchaayyim], 'among the living;' and so the passage would be, 'took him alive.'

Bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon. The Hebrew word rendered fetters, denotes properly two chains of brass. The humiliating state in which Manasseh appeared before the Assyrian monarch may be judged of by a picture on a tablet in the Khorsabad palace, representing prisoners led bound into the king's presence. 'The captives represented appear to be inhabitants of Palestine. Behind the prisoners stand four persons with inscriptions on the lower part of their tunics. The first two are bearded, and seem to be accusers; the remaining two are nearly defaced; but behind the last appears the eunuch, whose office it seems to be to usher into the presence of the king those who are permitted to appear before him. He is followed by another person of the same race as those under punishment. His hands are manacled, and on his ankles are strong rings fastened together by a heavy bar' ('Nineveh and its Palaces').

No name is given, and therefore no conclusion can be drawn that the figure represents Manasseh; but the people appear to be Hebrews; and this pictorial scene will enable us to imagine the manner in which the royal captive from Judah was received into the court of Babylon. Esarhaddon had established his residence there; for though, from the many revolts that followed the death of his father, he succeeded at first only to the throne of Assyria, yet having sometime previous to his conquest of Judah recovered possession of Babylon, this enterprising king had united under his sway the two empires of Babylon and Chaldea, and transferred the seat of his government to Babylon. The Assyrian inscriptions show that Esarhaddon built a palace in Babylon, and resided much in that capital (Havernick's 'Introduction,' 2:, 1; Rawlinson's 'Herodotus,' 1:, 482; Winer, 'Realworterbuch,' 'Manasse').

Verse 12

And when he was in affliction, he besought the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers,

When he was in affliction, he besought the Lord his God. In the solitude of exile or imprisonment, Manasseh had leisure for reflection. The calamities forced upon him a review of his past life, under a conviction that the miseries of his dethronement and captive condition were owing to his awful and unprecedented apostasy (2 Chronicles 33:7) from the God of his fathers. He humbled himself, repented, and prayed for an opportunity of bringing forth the fruits of repentance. His prayer was heard; because his conqueror not only released him, but, after two years' exile, restored him with honour and the full exercise of royal power, to a tributary and dependent kingdom.

Some political motive, doubtless, prompted the Assyrian king to restore Manasseh, and that was most probably to have the kingdom of Judah as a barrier between Egypt and his Assyrian dominions. But God overruled this measure for higher purposes. Manasseh now showed himself, by the influence of sanctified affliction, a new and better man: for he made a complete reversal of his former policy, by not only destroying all the idolatrous statues and altars be had formerly erected in Jerusalem, but displaying the most ardent zeal in restoring and encouraging the worship of God.

Verse 13

And prayed unto him: and he was intreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD he was God.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 14

Now after this he built a wall without the city of David, on the west side of Gihon, in the valley, even to the entering in at the fish gate, and compassed about Ophel, and raised it up a very great height, and put captains of war in all the fenced cities of Judah.

He built a wall without the city ... on the west side of Gihon ... even to the entering in at the fish gate.

'The well-ascertained position of the Fish Gate shows that the Valley of Gihon could be no other than that leading northwest of Damascus Gate, and gently descending southward, uniting with the Tyropoeon at the northeast corner of mount Zion, where the latter turns at right angles and runs toward Siloam. The wall thus built by Manasseh, on the west side of the valley of Gihon, would extend from the vicinity of the northeast corner of the wall of Zion in a northerly direction, until it crossed over the valley to form a junction with the outer wall at the Trench of Antonia, precisely in the quarter where the temple would be most easily assailed' outer wall at the Trench of Antonia, precisely in the quarter where the temple would be most easily assailed' (Barclay).

The necessity for Manasseh's raising this fortification was this: Psammeticus having established himself on the throne of Egypt, seven years after Manasseh's restoration, proceeded to extend his conquests, and having laid siege to Ashdod, which lasted twenty-nine years, war ensued between the Egyptians and the Assyrians. In consequence of this, Manasseh, as vassal and lieutenant of the Assyrian sovereign, was obliged to increase the fortifications of Jerusalem.

Verses 15-16

And he took away the strange gods, and the idol out of 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 cast them out of the city.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 17

Nevertheless the people did sacrifice still in the high places, yet unto the LORD their God only.

The people did sacrifice still in the high places, yet unto the Lord their God only. Here it appears that the worship upon high places, though it originated in a great measure from the practice of paganism, and too often led to it, did not necessarily imply idolatry, but was meant to celebrate the local adoration of the true God-a violation of God's will, after a central sanctuary had been established.

Verses 18-19

Now the rest of the acts of Manasseh, and his prayer unto his God, and the words of the seers that spake to him in the name of the LORD God of Israel, behold, they are written in the book of the kings of Israel.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 20

So Manasseh slept with his fathers, and they buried him in his own house: and Amon his son reigned in his stead.

Manasseh slept with his fathers ...

Verse 21

Amon was two and twenty years old when he began to reign, and reigned two years in Jerusalem.

Amon ... began to reign - (see the notes at 2 Kings 21:17-26.)

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 33". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/2-chronicles-33.html. 1871-8.