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Bible Commentaries

Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible

2 Kings 21

Verse 2

2 Kings 21:2. He did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord Hezekiah's first care had been to rout all idolatry out of his kingdom, and to restore the service of the temple to its pristine order and splendour. His graceless son, on the contrary, made it his study to banish religion and morality, to revive the old idolatry, and to introduce new and unheard of idols and ceremonies; besides witchcraft, sorceries, and every wicked custom which was used among the heathens far and near. Baal became now the favourite object of his worship. Moloch and the valley of Hinnom were now more frequented than ever; the impious king encouraging his impious subjects to sacrifice their children there, as Ahaz had done before. He did not, however, pass unpunished for these offences: but for the particulars of his punishment, which are not mentioned in this book, we must refer to 2 Chronicles 33:11; 2 Chronicles 33:25.

Verse 3

2 Kings 21:3. A grove Or, Aschera [Astarte].

Verse 7

2 Kings 21:7. Image of the grove, &c,— Image of Aschera, [Astarte] which he had made by the house, &c. Houbigant.

REFLECTIONS.—Like the seven years famine of Egypt, which made the former plenty forgotten, the wickedness of Manasseh blots out all the glorious work that his father had so piously accomplished.

1. Manasseh was young when he began his reign, and continued longest of any of the kings of Judah, reckoning the years of his captivity in Babylon. Whether he was immediately corrupted by those at court, who, amidst their pretended reformation, retained their love for the old abominations, and by flattery gained the ear of the unexperienced king; or whether only after he had children, 2Ki 21:6 he apostatized, is uncertain. Note; It is very dangerous to come too young to the possession of honour and greatness; so many are in wait to flatter such persons to their ruin.

2. His wickedness was beyond that of all his predecessors. Not warned by Israel's punishment, he adopted all their sins with circumstances of peculiar aggravation; despising, or rather as if designing to cast reproach on his father's proceedings, he began with rebuilding the high places that Hezekiah had destroyed. Baal and Ashtoreth once more reared up their hateful heads, and the hosts of heaven were the objects of his worship, instead of that God who made them. To profane God's holy temple, he dared there erect his idol altars, filled the house and courts with these abominations, and there sacrificed to his gods. In the temple itself he placed the image of Ashtoreth, 2Ki 21:7 in opposition and defiance to God, provoking him to cast them off for ever, whom, on their fidelity, he had promised ever to protect and preserve. Madly attached to his idols, he made his son to pass through the fire, in honour to these false deities; and, superstitious as impious, he trusted in charms, and consulted wizards, as if the devil was a better oracle than the God who spoke from between the cherubims. Seduced by their king's example, the people in general followed him, and Judah was filled with idolatry, worse than the very heathen nations around them. Note; (1.) They who have had a religious education, when they give themselves up to evil, usually grow of all others the most profligate. (2.) Irreligion and superstition are nearly allied. They who cast off all fear of God, are often seen to be the greatest slaves to the illusions of the devil. (3.) A bad example is mortally infectious, and especially in kings: how much will they have to answer in the day of God, who are chargeable not only with their own blood, but with the murder of thousands of souls, whom they have seduced and destroyed?

Verse 13

2 Kings 21:13. I will stretch over Jerusalem the line of Samaria, &c.— See 2 Samuel 8:2. The expression, I will wipe Jerusalem, &c. signifies, "I will take away all its inhabitants, as a dish is freed from its contents, by wiping, and turning it upside down."

Verse 16

2 Kings 21:16. Manasseh shed innocent blood Among the rest of the prophets and other innocent persons put to death by Manasseh, Isaiah is generally numbered, who is said to have been sawn asunder with a wooden saw, to which the author of the epistle to the Hebrews is thought to allude, Hebrews 11:37.

Verse 18

2 Kings 21:18. Manasseh—was buried—in the garden of Uzza This garden, as some think, was made in that very spot of ground where Uzziah was struck dead for touching the ark of the Lord, 2 Samuel 6:7. But others imagine, that this was the place where Uzziah, who died a leper, was buried, 2Ch 26:23 and that Manasseh chose to be buried here, as unworthy; the sense of his former miscarriages not suffering him to think himself deserving of a place among his ancestors. It has been remarked by some of the Jewish writers, that two years is the usual term to which the sons of those kings arrived who provoked God to anger by their abominations; as they instance in the present case, in the son of Jeroboam, 1 Kings 15:25., the son of Baasha, chap. 1 Kings 16:8., and the son of Ahab, chap. 1 Kings 22:51.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, We have here,

1. The charge brought against Manasseh. His vile idolatry, his infamous seduction of God's people; and, as the summit of his guilt, the blood of innocents which he shed, and even of God's prophets. This filled the measure of his iniquities to overflowing, and brought down the heavy wrath of a justly offended God. Note; (1.) The greatest kings must stand shortly as the meanest criminals at God's bar. (2.) The persecution of God's people is the crime which soonest fills the measure of a nation's sins.

2. The sentence pronounced upon him. A destruction so terrible, that the neighbour-nations should be astonished at the report. The same judgments should light on Jerusalem as Samaria, and the house of Manasseh be destroyed as the house of Ahab. The country should be thoroughly plundered, ransacked, and made desolate, spoiled of all, as a dish wiped clean, and turned upside down, and all the inhabitants removed into a strange land. Since they had forsaken God, he would forsake them, and, taking now their former sins, from the day they left Egypt, into the account, reckon with them from first to last. Note; (1.) When by our perfidious apostacy we turn from God, old guilt, which had otherwise been cancelled, is recalled, to witness against and condemn us. (2.) They who forsake God must expect to be forsaken by him. (3.) When God visits for sin in the great day, then shall indeed the ears of sinners tingle at the dreadful sentence denounced upon them.

3. Manasseh's death is recorded, and his burial. Probably, on his penitence, see 2 Chronicles 33:0 he judged himself unworthy to lie in the royal sepulchres, and therefore was buried in his own garden, leaving his crown to his son, the heir of his idolatry, as well as his kingdom.

2nd, 1. Amon's reign and life were short, and his end tragical. He returned to those idolatries, which, in his latter days, his penitent father had suppressed, and thus by his wickedness hastened his death. A conspiracy was formed; and, after a reign of but two years, he was slain in his own house. Note; (1.) The evil that we have occasioned to others, we can never repair. When we would wish to undeceive those whom we have seduced, to our grief we find every effort vain. (2.) It is a mercy to a nation, that the career of a wicked king is short.

2. The men of Judah revenged his death on the conspirators, and set up Josiah his son in his stead; who, being an infant, they probably designed to rob of the crown: and they buried Amon with his father, in the garden of Uzza, as unworthy of a tomb among his illustrious predecessors.

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Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 2 Kings 21". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.