MANASSEH'S WICKED REIGN
Manasseh was 12 years old when he began to reign, therefore he was born three years after Hezekiah's sickness and recovery. But in contrast to his father, he was the most wicked king to ever reign over Judah. We may well wonder what his mother Hephzibah was like. His reign was a long one, - 55 years, - but he followed the example of the ungodly nations whom the Lord had dispossessed to give Israel the land (v.2). He rebuilt the high places that his father had destroyed, he made a wooden image and worshiped all the constellations of the heavens, the sun, moon and stars. He also built idolatrous altars in the house of the Lord and in the two courts of the house (vv.4-5).
Besides this, he made his son pass through the fire (offering him to the god Molech), practised soothsaying and witchcraft and consulted with spiritists and mediums. Thus he committed himself wholly to the gross wickedness of the idolatry of the nations, even setting a carved image of Asherah in the house of the Lord, the house which the Lord had chosen as His centre in Israel. In doing this his desire was to keep Israel from wandering from the Lord and being scattered (v.8)! How foolish an attitude, for Israel's preservation was dependent on their being careful to obey the commandments of the Lord as given through Moses.
But Manasseh showed utter contempt for God in the way he treated God's temple. He so seduced the people that they paid no attention to God's commands, but practised worse evil than the ungodly nations whom God had destroyed so that Israel could take the land (v.9).
The Lord therefore spoke by the prophets (not only by one prophet), declaring with awful solemnity that because Manasseh had engaged in greater wickedness than the Amorites and had caused Judah to sin with his idols, therefore the Lord would bring such calamity on Jerusalem and Judah that the ears of all who heard of it would tingle. This judgment of Jerusalem would be no less severe than that of Samaria and the house of Ahab, Jerusalem being wiped clean as a dish when wiped and turned upside down. Supposing Manasseh did reign for 55 years (v.1), that made no difference to the certainty of God's judgment. God's patience is too often mistaken for indulgence or indifference, but the longer He shows patience, the more awesome and terrible we can expect His judgment to be.
What contrast would this be to the preserving, protecting care of God over Hezekiah when he was attacked! God would forsake the remnant of His inheritance, the small number who had first proven faithful to Him but had turned away in foolish subjugation to the folly of their wilful king (v.14). Their enemies would defeat and plunder them because of their evil in provoking God to anger from the time of their deliverance from Egypt and throughout their history.
Added to this guilt in the case of Manasseh was his cruelty in shedding much innocent blood. Thus, violence accompanied his corruption. It is usually true that when one becomes corrupt in his attitude toward God, he will become violent toward others.
This book of Kings says nothing about the repentance of Manasseh, which 1 Chronicles 33:12-13 records, for Kings deals mainly with the matter of responsibility, while Chronicles emphasises the grace of God. There we learn that Manasseh was taken captive by Assyria and imprisoned in Babylon. In his affliction he humbled himself and turned to the Lord, so that his character was changed for the last short time of his life. It is amazing that one so wicked would be brought to genuine repentance, but the grace of God is able to save the most guilty. Sad to say, however, it is an exceptional case, for one who has lived a totally wicked life has so hardened himself against God that he will not give up his rebellion. No doubt, however, Manasseh owed a great deal to the godliness of his father, and though it took long to break him down, yet the training of earliest years eventually had its effect.
When his 55 year reign was finished, he died and was buried in the garden of his own house, and his son Amon became king. How sad that a long reign of 55 years produced really nothing but evil, so that though Manasseh will be in heaven, nearly all of his life's work wilt be burned up.
AMON'S SHORT REIGN
Amon was 22 years old when taking the throne of Judah, and reigned only for two years, in sharp contrast to the 55 years of his father's reign. He followed his father's example of wickedness, but with no repentance such as his father showed (vv.20-21). He did have the advantage of knowing of his father's repentance, but this had no effect on him. The Lord evidently knew that two years was sufficient for Amon to repent. But nothing is said of him to his credit. He walked in cold refusal of the ways of God, choosing idols instead, and his own servants conspired against him and killed him in his own house (vv.22-23). How sad an end for one who had a godly grandfather!
However, Amon's servants were not able to take control of the government. The people of the land intervened and executed the servants responsible for Amon's death. This appears to be the energy of faith, for they made sure that one of the true line of David took the throne (v.24), even though he (Josiah) was only eight years old.
Other acts of Amon were evidently written in a book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah, but not in the scriptural book of Chronicles, for nothing more is said there than in this book of Kings. But his burial was honourable, for he was of the line of David.
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Grant, L. M. "Commentary on 2 Kings 21". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany