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2Ki 21:1 Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign; and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Hephzibah-
"Causing to forget" is a strange name for a child unless the father [like Joseph] had a previous life he wanted to forget. Manasseh was born three years into Hezekiah's final 15 years of life in which he turned away from God. So I suggest that his name reflects Hezekiah's desire to 'forget all that God stuff' and get on with 'enjoying' his last 15 years without God. And this was naturally reflected in the way he raised a son who was one of Israel's most evil rulers.

2Ki 21:2 He did that which was evil in the sight of Yahweh, after the abominations of the nations whom Yahweh cast out before the children of Israel-
We may wonder why God let such an evil man live and reign for 55 years (:1), the longest reigning of any king. Surely if he had been slain for his wickedness, as other men were, then he would have led fewer people astray? I suggest the answer is that God worked for decades towards this evil man's repentance- and it paid off. He did repent in the end. And we can look forward to eternity together with him. We see in this the huge meaning and value God places upon the individual person, and how He will not give up searching for the lost until He finds them. Manasseh would be the parade example of that.

See on :15. Jonah recognized “I am cast out of Your sight” (Jonah 2:4), the very language of condemnation used at this time (1 Kings 9:7; 2 Kings 17:20; 21:2; 23:27; Jer. 7:15).

2Ki 21:3 For he built again the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed; and he reared up altars for Baal, and made an Asherah, as did Ahab king of Israel, and worshiped all the host of the sky, and served them-
This revival of idolatry would not have been possible unless the people generally were eager and willing for it. I suggested previously that Hezekiah's reforms were largely on the cusp of his becoming king. They were partly a psychological reaction against the misery of Ahaz's reign, and the reforms of 2 Chron. 31 were often a result of group psychology rather than personal reformation of the heart. They were all too sudden and spontaneous, at the same moment, to have been the outcome of all the concerned individuals having the same heart response. There was a group psychology there, a going with the crowd. And so it is unsurprising that they all turned away relatively soon afterwards.

2Ki 21:4 He built altars in the house of Yahweh, of which Yahweh said, I will put My name in Jerusalem-
The Name is called upon us; and therefore and thereby we are Yahweh's servants, dominated by His principles and character. Because the Name was called upon the temple, therefore it was simply impossible that those who realized this could worship idols in it (2 Kings 21:4,7); whatever has God's Name called upon it, whatever bears His image, must be devoted to Him alone. The Lord pointed out that this applies to our very bodies, which being in God's image should be given over to Him.

This was precisely the behaviour of his grandfather Ahaz. I suggest that this was only done by persuading themselves that these altars were in fact a form of Yahweh worship. For there is never any specific statement that Judah formally renounced Yahweh. And this continues to be the abiding weakness of God's people; to justify wrongdoing by claiming it is part of worshipping God. Such as justifying luxury homes and goods in the name of needing them to serve God with.

2Ki 21:5 He built altars for all the host of the sky in the two courts of the house of Yahweh-
These were the court of the priests, and the court of the common people (2 Chron. 4:9). The priesthood were surely complicit in this. For when Uzziah had tried to offer incense himself, 80 faithful priests resisted him. But there is no record of any such resistance to Manasseh. The priests in Hezekiah's time had been reticent to devote themselves solely to Yahweh (1 Chron. 29:34). I suggested that this was because they were accustomed to being priests both of Yahweh and of the pagan gods. This means that they took a cut from all the offerings to all the gods. 

2Ki 21:6 He made his son to pass through the fire, and practised sorcery, used enchantments and dealt with those who had familiar spirits and with wizards-
This would have meant that his surviving children would have hated him for slaying their siblings; although passing through the fire may have been a dedication ceremony rather than actually burning them to death. 2 Kings 21:6 has "his son", 2 Chron. 33:6 has "his children". As he had more than one son, we are to infer surely that this focus upon "his son" meant that one of his sons in particular passed through the fire, and that could imply that he sacrificed his son [maybe his firstborn]. Israel should have removed from amongst them a man who did this (Dt. 18:10), and the fact they didn't suggests they therefore passively supported him in his apostacy.

The valley of Hinnom, Ge Hinnom, was to later be known as Gehenna, and became a symbol used by the Lord for complete destruction (Mt. 5:22). As they burnt their children there, to destruction, so sinners would be burnt to destruction in that same place. Joachim Jeremias explains how the literal valley of Gehenna came to be misinterpreted as a symbol of a ‘hell’ that is supposed to be a place of fire: “[Gehenna]…since ancient times has been the name of the valley west and south of Jerusalem… from the woes pronounced by the prophets on the valley (Jer. 7:32 = 19:6; cf. Is. 31:9; 66:24) because sacrifices to Moloch took place there (2 Kings 16:3; 21:6), there developed in the second century BC the idea that the valley of Hinnom would be the place of a fiery hell (Eth. Enoch 26; 90.26)… it is distinguished from sheol(New Testament Theology, London: SCM, 1972 p. 129). AV "a familiar spirit" is misleading, and many of the modern versions give something like "witch" or [ESV, GNB] "a medium". LXX has "a divining spirit". It doesn't mean she did actually have any such spirit; but that she was considered as having this. Such people were thought to be able to be possessed by the spirit of dead people, and to therefore speak in their name. But the Bible clearly teaches that the "spirit returns to God" (Ps. 146:4; Ecc. 12:7), and that death is unconsciousness. The spirit of dead persons don't enter other people. I would go so far as to say that the record of the witch at Endor, who supposedly had a "familiar spirit", is deconstructing this belief. For Samuel himself appears, and speaks directly to Saul, and not through the "medium". The woman therefore screamed in shock when Samuel actually appeared. He was resurrected, briefly, in order to give God's final message to Saul. The people claiming to have "familiar spirits" lay on the ground and mumbled hard to understand words in a voice seeking to imitate the dead person (Is. 29:4) but Samuel appeared in person and spoke clearly to Saul, directly. We also note that Samuel appeared to Saul standing upright, because Saul bowed before him: "Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he bowed with his face to the ground and showed respect" (1 Sam. 28:14). This was quite different to how the mediums lay on the ground and mumbled words into the dust.

He worked much evil in the sight of Yahweh, to provoke Him to anger-
God can be grieved [s.w. 'provoke to anger']. He has emotions, and His potential foreknowledge doesn't mean that these feelings are not legitimate. They are presented as occurring in human time, as responses to human behaviour. This is the degree to which He has accommodated Himself to human time-space limits, in order to fully enter relationship and experience with us. As He can limit His omnipotence, so God can limit His omniscience, in order to feel and respond along with us. 

2Ki 21:7 He set the engraved image of Asherah that he had made, in the house of which Yahweh said to David and to Solomon his son, In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, will I put My name forever-
Manasseh is criticized for placing an idol in the very place where God's Name of Yahweh was meant to dwell. He replaced the invisible things- the more abstract things of the characteristics of God which the Name speaks of- by something material and visible. We make the same mistake when we turn away from true spirituality and become lost in physical works. If Judah had not forgotten the Name [and this must refer to their lack of appreciation of it rather than forgetting the letters JHVH], then they wouldn’t have served Baal and other gods (Jer. 23:27). It is this particular idol which it seems was returned to the temple just prior to the destruction of the temple (Ez. 8:3), despite Manasseh himself removing it on his repentance.

2Ki 21:8 neither will I cause the feet of Israel to wander any more out of the land which I gave their fathers, if only they will observe to do according to all that I have commanded them, and according to all the law that My servant Moses commanded them-
This is apparently (:7) a quotation from what God said to David and Solomon. But it appears to be an adaptation about the promises to the singular seed, that he must continue in obedience if the promises were to be fulfilled through him. But just as Abraham's seed is both the Lord Jesus and all those in Him, the true Israel of God, so the promises about David's seed also have a collective dimension.

2Ki 21:9 But they didn’t listen: and Manasseh seduced them to do more evil than the nations did whom Yahweh destroyed before the children of Israel-
God's tolerance of Judah in His land was therefore by grace, and in hope of their repentance. Their doing "more evil" than the Gentiles could refer to the fact that as in covenant relationship with God, they were the more responsible for their sins. Or the idea may be that most Gentiles were faithful to their set of gods, only changing them if that was enforced upon them by the military dominance of a neighbour. But Judah went running madly to every god they could, described by Hosea under the figure of sexual addiction.

2Ki 21:10 Yahweh spoke by His servants the prophets saying-
2 Chron. 33:10 Yahweh spoke to Manasseh, and to his people; but they gave no heed". "They gave no heed", or 'did not listen', is a phrase used in the later prophets as they appeal to the exiles (Neh. 9:34; Zech. 1:4). The sins of Manasseh in 'not listening' to God's word are cited as the main reason for the exile. We note that refusing to listen to God's word is the essence of all the sins of idolatry etc. It is the spurning of relationship with God which appears to hurt Him even more than the list of sins which Manasseh was also guilty of.

2Ki 21:11 Because Manasseh king of Judah has done these abominations, and has done wickedly above all that the Amorites did who were before him, and has made Judah also to sin with his idols-
Making others to sin is a major dimension of human sin, although personal sin is still a significant issue here in the condemnation of Manasseh. The mention of the Amorites is because they were cast out of the land once they had sinned to a certain point, and Israel were treated in the same way (Gen. 15:16).

2Ki 21:12 therefore thus says Yahweh the God of Israel, ‘Behold, I bring such evil on Jerusalem and Judah, that whoever hears of it, both his ears shall tingle-
God is repeatedly presented as the ultimate source of "evil". There is no radical evil in the cosmos outside of His control. There is no cosmic Satan figure; all "evil" is under His control, and performed by His Angelic "armies" manifested through human armies used by them, as the Babylonians were at this time.

2Ki 21:13 I will stretch over Jerusalem the line of Samaria, and the plummet of the house of Ahab-
They would be judged like Israel, because they had sinned in fact worse than Israel, according to Ezekiel's parable of the two adulterous sisters. 

And I will wipe Jerusalem as a man wipes a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down-
The idea is that not one drop would be left. And yet by grace many were left in Judah, and there was even some attempt at worship at the temple site, according to Jeremiah. "Turning it upside down" is ‘to turn it upon its face', as if never to be used again. "Wipe" is s.w. for utter destruction (Gen. 7:4; Ex. 32:33; Num. 5:23). We could render it as 'wiping out'. Yet this was spoken in wrath, and in wrath God remembered mercy. For a set time to remember Zion was yet to come, and He would restore Jerusalem. It is this kind of apparent contradiction within God which Hosea speaks of, as His "repentings" being "kindled together" (Hos. 11:8). See on :14.

2Ki 21:14 I will cast off the remainder of My inheritance and deliver them into the hand of their enemies. They will become a prey and a spoil to all their enemies-
But Israel were not cast off eternally. See on :13, where we can understand the apparent contradiction as the wrath of love, a threat and feeling which was not carried out. Or we can argue that Israel's not being cast off was a result of a reinterpretation and redefinition of God's people. Paul’s positive approach to Israel’s conversion is reflected in his whole reasoning in Romans 11, his classic statement about preaching to Israel. He begins by saying that God has not cast off His people Israel totally, because some, e.g. himself, have turned to Christ. So, seeing that God will not cast off His people Israel in the ultimate sense, it perhaps follows that in every generation some of them will come to Christ as Paul did (Rom. 11:1,2). In some sense, God has cast off His people (2 Kings 21:14 RV; Zech. 10:6); and yet, because a minority of them will always accept Christ, it is not true that God has cast off His people in a total sense (Rom. 11:1 RV). It was only because of this remnant that Israel have not become like Sodom (Rom. 9:29)- even though Old Testament passages such as Ezekiel 16 clearly liken Jerusalem to Sodom. Yet they are not as Sodom ultimately, for the sake of the remnant who will believe.

The Lord Jesus was well aware of the connection between God's refusal to answer prayer and His recognition of sin in the person praying (2 Sam. 22:42 = Ps. 2:2-5). It is emphasized time and again that God will not forsake / cast off those who love Him (e.g. Dt. 4:31; 31:6; 1 Sam. 12:22; 1 Kings 6:13; Ps. 94:14; Is. 41:17; 42:16). Every one of these passages must have been well known to our Lord, the word made flesh. He knew that God forsaking Israel was a punishment for their sin (Jud. 6:13; 2 Kings 21:14; Is. 2:6; Jer. 23:33). God would forsake Israel only if they forsook Him (Dt. 31:16,17; 2 Chron. 15:2). We can therefore conclude that His desperate “Why have You forsaken me?” was because He was so intensely identified with our sins that in the crisis of the cross, He indeed felt forsaken because of sin. He did not sin, but felt like a sinner; He thereby knows how sinners feel.

2Ki 21:15 because they have done that which is evil in My sight, and have provoked Me to anger, since the day their fathers came forth out of Egypt even to this day’-
God can be grieved [s.w. 'provoke to anger']. He has emotions (see on :13), and His potential foreknowledge doesn't mean that these feelings are not legitimate. They are presented as occurring in human time, as responses to human behaviour. This is the degree to which He has accommodated Himself to human time-space limits, in order to fully enter relationship and experience with us. As He can limit His omnipotence, so God can limit His omniscience, in order to feel and respond along with us. 

2Ki 21:16 Moreover Manasseh shed very much innocent blood, until he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another; besides his sin with which he made Judah to sin, in doing that which was evil in the sight of Yahweh-
osephus claims many prophets were slain at this time. Jewish tradition has it that Isaiah was slain by being "sawn asunder", and that apparently is alluded to in Heb. 11:37.

2Ki 21:17 Now the rest of the acts of Manasseh and all that he did, and his sin that he sinned, aren’t they written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?-
We wonder why Kings says nothing of Manasseh’s repentance, which is recorded in detail in Chronicles and was one of the most amazing examples of human repentance (2 Chron. 33:12-19). Perhaps it is because the record wishes to provide a relatively uninterrupted record of the sins of God's people. For the Babylonian destruction was not because of the sins of the kings so much as for those of the people.

2Ki 21:18 Manasseh slept with his fathers, and was buried in the garden of his own house, in the garden of Uzza; and Amon his son reigned in his place-
The description of death as sleeping with fathers is clear evidence that death is seen as a sleep, unconsciousness, and not as the start of an immortal soul going to heaven or 'hell'. Good and bad, David and Solomon, are gathered together in death. The division between them will only therefore come at the resurrection of the dead, and the granting of immortality at the judgment seat of the Lord Jesus.

2Ki 21:19 Amon was twenty-two years old when he began to reign; and he reigned two years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Meshullemeth the daughter of Haruz of Jotbah-
He had been raised in the spirit of his father's apostacy, and was apparently unimpressed by Manasseh's amazing repentance.

2Ki 21:20 He did that which was evil in the sight of Yahweh, as Manasseh his father did-
2 Chron. 33:22 adds: "He did that which was evil in the sight of Yahweh, as did Manasseh his father; and Amon sacrificed to all the engraved images which Manasseh his father had made, and served them". Manasseh had removed the images, but not apparently destroyed them. The history of the kings abounds with such references to idolatry being reformed, and then so quickly revived. The speed of its revival reflects the fact that the heart of the people generally was with the idols. And we must assess our own episodes of apparent repentance in this light. Manasseh had repaired the temple (2 Chron. 33:16), but by Josiah's time it needed repairing again; so it could be that Amon also desecrated and damaged the temple yet further.


2Ki 21:21 He walked in all the way that his father walked in, and served the idols that his father served, and worshipped them-
See on :20. He revived the idols his father had destroyed on his repentance.

2Ki 21:22 and he forsook Yahweh the God of his fathers-
We get the impression Amon was never "with" Yahweh, so his forsaking Yahweh may refer to how there is a conscience toward God in every man, however latent, but he had forsaken this.

And didn’t walk in the way of Yahweh-
Think through the implications of Lk. 3:4, where we read that John’s preaching was in order to make [s.w. ‘to bring forth fruit’] His [the Lord’s] paths straight- but the ways of the Lord are “right” [s.w. “straight”] anyway (Acts 13:10). So how could John’s preaching make the Lord’s ways straight / right, when they already are? God is so associated with His people that their straightness or crookedness reflects upon Him; for they are His witnesses in this world. His ways are their ways. This is the N.T. equivalent of the O.T. concept of keeping / walking in the way of the Lord (Gen. 18:19; 2 Kings 21:22). Perhaps this is the thought behind the exhortation of Heb. 12:13 to make straight paths for our own feet. We are to bring our ways into harmony with the Lord’s ways; for He is to be us, His ways our ways.

2Ki 21:23 The servants of Amon conspired against him and put the king to death in his own house-
There seems a special stigma and shame attached to being murdered in ones' own home, rather than on a battlefield or dying from old age.

2Ki 21:24 But the people of the land killed all those who had conspired against king Amon; and the people of the land made Josiah his son king in his place-
The final part of Judah's history, like that of Israel's, involves division between brethren, conspiracy and politics. Those who indulge in such things are really living out their own condemnation, as well as sounding the death toll for their own communities of God's people (see on Gal. 5:15).

2Ki 21:25 Now the rest of the acts of Amon which he did, aren’t they written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?-
This may not necessarily be the books of Chronicles which we have in our Bibles.

2Ki 21:26 He was buried in his tomb in the garden of Uzza; and Josiah his son reigned in his place
Josiah means 'foundation of Yah'. It's unlikely this was the name Amon gave him, although a repentant Manasseh may have influenced it. However, at no point did even kings like Amon and Manasseh formally deny Yahweh. They worshipped Him, so they thought, through worshipping idols. So it is not impossible that indeed this was Josiah's birth name. And from that we can take yet another warning, to serve Yahweh with our whole hearts; and not assume that our service of the flesh is serving Him.