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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature

Manasseh Persons

Manasseh, 1

Manasseh (who makes forget, see ), the elder of the two sons of Joseph, born in Egypt (; ), whom Jacob adopted as his own ()—by which act each became the head of a tribe in Israel. The act of adoption was however accompanied by a clear intimation from Jacob, that the descendants of Manasseh, although the elder, would be far less numerous and powerful than those of the younger Ephraim. The result corresponded remarkably with this intimation [EPHRAIM].

Manasseh, 2

Manasseh, fourteenth king of Judah, son and successor of Hezekiah, who began to reign in B.C. 699, at the early age of twelve years, and reigned fifty-five years. It appears that the secret enemies of the vigorous reforms of Hezekiah reappeared, and managed to gain much influence at court during the youth of Manasseh; and he was prevailed upon to re-establish all the idolatries and abominations which it had taken his excellent father so much pains to subvert. This bent having been unhappily given to the mind of one old enough to listen to evil counsels, but too young to see their danger, the king followed it with all the reckless ardor of youth, and without any of the prudent reservations which older sovereigns, more discreet in evincing the same inclinations, had maintained. Idolatry in its worst forms, and all the abominations connected with its observances, were practiced without stint and without shame, not only in the face of the temple, but in its very courts, where altars to the heavenly bodies were set up, and rites of idolatrous worship performed. Under this altered state of things, the Judahites, with the sanction of the king's example, rushed into all the more odious observances of Syrian idolatry, with all the ardor which usually attends the outbreak of a restrained propensity, till they became far 'worse than the heathen, whom the Lord destroyed before the children of Israel.' In vain did the prophets raise their voice against these iniquities, and threaten Manasseh and his kingdom with awful tokens of Divine indignation. Instead of profiting by these warnings, the king vented his rage against those by whom they were uttered, and in this, and other ways, filled Jerusalem with innocent blood beyond any king who reigned before him (; ).

At length the wrath of God burst over the guilty king and nation. At this time there was constant war between Assyria and Egypt, and it would seem that Manasseh adhered to the policy of his father in making common cause with the latter power. This or some other cause not stated by the sacred historian, brought into Judea an Assyrian army, under the generals of Esarhaddon, which carried all before it. The miserable king attempted flight, but was discovered in a thorn-break in which he had hidden himself, was laden with chains, and sent away as a captive to Babylon, which was then subject to the Assyrians, where he was cast into prison (B.C. 677). Here, at last, Manasseh had ample opportunity and leisure for cool reflection; and the hard lessons of adversity were not lost upon him. He saw and deplored the evils of his reign, he became as a new man, he humbly besought pardon from God, and implored that he might be enabled to evince the sincerity of his contrition, by being restored to a position for undoing all that it had been the business of his life to effect. His prayer was heard. His captivity is supposed to have lasted a year, and he was then restored to his kingdom under certain obligations of tribute and allegiance to the king of Assyria, which, although not expressed in the account of this transaction, are alluded to in the history of his successors ().

On his return to Jerusalem, Manasseh exerted himself to the utmost in correcting the errors of his early reign, and in establishing the worship of Jehovah in its former purity and splendor. The good conduct of his latter reign was rewarded with such prosperity as enabled him to do much for the improvement and strengthening of his capital and kingdom. He thoroughly repaired the old walls of Jerusalem, and added a new wall on the side towards Gihon; he surrounded and fortified by a separate wall the hill or ridge on the east of Zion, which bore the name of Ophel, and he strengthened, garrisoned, and provisioned 'the fenced cities of Judah' (). He died in peace (B.C. 664), at the age of sixty-eight, after having reigned longer than any other king of Judah, and was buried in a sepulcher which he had prepared for himself in his own garden ().





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Bibliography Information
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Manasseh Persons'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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