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2 Kings 21:1-26 . Reigns of Manasseh and Amon.— The fact that the reformation begun by Hezekiah was so thoroughly undone at his death, and that his son was able to reign undisturbed for fifty-five years, proves that his reforms were only superficial and could not have been popular. The thoroughly Deuteronomic tone of this chapter is very noticeable. The idolatry of Manasseh is specially condemned in Deuteronomy 4:19; Deuteronomy 17:13; Deuteronomy 18:10 f. He is the only king of Judah who is compared to Ahab ( 2 Kings 21:3 and 2 Kings 21:13). According to 2 Chronicles 33:1-20, Manasseh repented when he was in captivity in Baby Ion, was restored to his kingdom, and on his return reformed Jerusalem and the Temple, very little being said of their purification by Josiah. The progress of the reforms in Judah, as described in Kings, is comparable to the swing of the pendulum during our Reformation. Hezekiah removed the high places and destroyed some of the idolatrous objects in the Temple. Manasseh and his son reverted to the older practices, and for seventy-five years nothing was done. Then came the drastic reformation under Josiah; but after his death, to judge from Jeremiah, things drifted into their ancient condition till the fall of the city. The kings of Assyria in Manasseh’ s reign were perhaps Sennacherib (705– 681), Esarhaddon (681– 668), and Assur-bani-pal (668– 626). Manasseh, in one case as king of the city of Judah, appears in Assyrian inscriptions by Esarhaddon (677 B.C.) and Assur-bani-pal (668 B.C.).
3. the host of heaven: the worship of the heavenly bodies is forbidden in Dt., but there are no allusions to it till we reach the times of the Assyrian invasions. It is (if we except Amos 5:26) first mentioned in connexion with Manasseh, and after his time it was the form of idolatry most prevalent in Judah. G. A. Smith ( Jerusalem, vol. ii. pp. 181ff.) says that Jerusalem stands in a position peculiarly fitted for observing the rise of the heavenly bodies. The worship was conducted on roofs, where altars were placed, and in private houses. See Deuteronomy 4:19, Jeremiah 7:18; Jeremiah 44:17 ff. (worship of the queen of heaven), Zephaniah 1:5, Ezekiel 8:16 (worship of the sun). Esarhaddon formally established his own religion in Zidon, and possibly Manasseh became a worshipper of the host of heaven to please his master.
2 Kings 21:5 . the two courts: this is supposed to be a post-exilic gloss, as there was but one court in the older Temple. But there was both an inner ( 1 Kings 6:36) and an outer court there, and G. A. Smith ( Jerusalem, vol. ii. p. 181, note) does not consider the post-exilic theory necessary.
2 Kings 21:13 . the line . . . plummet: cf. Amos 7:8 *, Isaiah 34:11 *, Lamentations 2:8. In all of these passages the metaphor is destruction. But it is hard to see why the line and plummet, which are used for construction, should have this meaning. Perhaps they are used as tests or standards, and here Jerusalem and Ahaz are to be submitted to the same crucial moral test and punishment as Samaria and the house of Ahab. (See HDB, “ Plummet.” )
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Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on 2 Kings 21". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Sunday after Epiphany