Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament2 CHRONICLES 33
THE WICKED REIGNS OF MANASSEH AND ANTON
XIII. MANASSEH (687-642 B.C.)
All of the material in this chapter is parallel with Second Kings 21, except 2 Chr. 33:11-17 which relate the conversion of Manasseh. Our comments on this chapter are found in the parallel passages in our commentary on Second Kings. Here we shall focus attention upon the material peculiar to this chapter.
A SUMMARY OF MANASSEH'S EVIL RULE OVER JUDAH
Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign; and he reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem. And he did that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah, after the abominations of the nations whom Jehovah cast out before the children of Israel. For he built again the high places which Hezekiah his father had broken down; and he reared up altars for the Baalim, and made Asheroth, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served them. And he built altars in the house of Jehovah, whereof Jehovah said, In Jerusalem shall my name be for ever. And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of Jehovah. He also made his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom; and he practised augury, and used enchantments, and practised sorcery, and dealt with them that had familiar spirits, and with wizards: he wrought much evil in the sight of Jehovah, to provoke him to anger. And he set the graven image of the idol, which he had made, in the house of God, of which God 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 for ever: neither will I any more remove the foot of Israel from off the land which I have appointed for your fathers, if only they will observe to do all that I have commanded them, even all the law and the statutes and the ordinances [given] by Moses. And Manasseh seduced Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that they did evil more than did the nations whom Jehovah destroyed before the children of Israel. And Jehovah spake to Manasseh, and to his people; but they gave no heed.
The date for Manasseh's reign given above indicates that a part of the fifty-five year reign mentioned in the text was probably as a co-regency under his father. We have often noted the difficulties in the chronology of Israel's kings.
THE CAPTIVITY OF MANASSEH IN BABYLON BY ASSYRIAN KINGS
Wherefore Jehovah brought upon them the captains of the host of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh in chains, and bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon. And when he was in distress, he besought Jehovah his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. And he prayed unto him; and he was entreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that Jehovah he was God.
This, of course, is information found nowhere else in the Bible; and it was was once common among critics to reject this episode as unhistorical. Fortunately, wiser scholars now accept what is recorded here as authentic history. The Chronicler does not give us the date in Manasseh's reign when this happened; but Ellison placed the event very late in Manasseh's reign. "This explains why Manasseh's repentance and reformation (2 Chronicles 33:12-17) are not mentioned in Kings, and why they left no lasting impression."F1 This also explains why the altars of the host of heaven were apparently not removed by Manasseh. He was a vassal of Assyria and would have been afraid to remove them. Such subservience of Manasseh to the Assyrian overlords has been proved by the Babylonian inscriptions.F2
In the light of all the facts, there is no reason whatever to doubt a single word of what is recorded here. Jacob M. Myers also found nothing at all improbable about what is written here.F3 "It may be taken for granted that vassal kings were allowed to return to their countries after being put under the threat of divine retribution with its terrible consequences."F4
J Barton Payne in Wycliffe Bible Commentary also dated this period of Manasseh's conversion during the last six years of his reign. "It was perhaps in 648 B.C., when Ashurbanipal overcame a four-year revolt led by his brother in Babylon. Egypt took that opportunity to throw off the Assyrian yoke, and Manasseh might have attempted the same thing with less success. It was in that affliction that Manasseh humbled himself. God sometimes has to drive men to their conversion."F5
MANASSEH'S INEFFECTIVE REFORMS
Now after this he built an outer wall to the city of David, on the west side of Gihon, in the valley, even to the entrance at the fish gate; and he compassed Ophel about [with it], and raised it up to a very great height: and he put valiant captains in all the fortified cities of Judah. And he took away the foreign gods, and the idol out of the house of Jehovah, and all the altars that he had built in the mount of the house of Jehovah, and in Jerusalem, and cast them out of the city. And he built up the altar of Jehovah, and offered thereon sacrifices of peace-offerings and of thanksgiving, and commanded Judah to serve Jehovah, the God of Israel. Nevertheless the people sacrificed still in the high places, but only unto Jehovah their God.
The people sacrificed in the high places, but only unto Jehovah their God (2 Chronicles 33:17). "This was still contrary to the Mosaic Law and actually accomplished little more than apply a new name to the old Baal worship."F6
These reforms in Manasseh's reign came far too late to have much effect; and besides that, his reign probably was concluded before he had finished all that he planned to do.
CONCLUSION OF MANASSEH'S REIGN
Now the rest of the acts of Manasseh, and his prayer unto his God, and the words of the seers that spake to him in the name of Jehovah, the God of Israel, behold, they are written among the acts of the kings of Israel. His prayer also, and how [God] was entreated of him, and all his sin and his trespass, and the places wherein he built high places, and set up the Asherim and the graven images, before he humbled himself: behold, they are written in the history of Hozai. So Manasseh slept with his fathers, and they buried him in his own house: and Amon his son reigned in his stead.
XIV. AMON (642-640 B.C.)
THE SHORT AND EVIL REIGN OF AMON
Amon was twenty and two years old when he began to reign; and he reigned two years in Jerusalem. And he did that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah, as did Manasseh his father; and Amon sacrificed unto all the graven images which Manasseh his father had made, and served them. And he humbled not himself before Jehovah, as Manasseh his father had humbled himself; but this same Amon trespassed more and more. And his servants conspired against him, and put him to death in his own house. But the people of the land slew all them that had conspired against king Amon; and the people of the land made Josiah his son king in his stead.
As Ellison remarked, "There are only minor variations here from the parallel in 2 Kings. No motivation for the assassination is given. Amon may have been the vicious son of a bad father, or it may have been out of disgust for his following a discredited policy."F7
"Amon was the unhappy product of his father's pagan life, not of his pious death."F8
Footnotes for 2 Chronicles 33
1: The New Bible Commentary, Revised, p. 32.
2: Archeology and the Old Testament, p. 280
3: The Anchor Bible, Chronicles, p. 198.
4: Ibid., p. 199.
5: Wycliffe Old Testament Commentary, p. 417.
7: The New Bible Commentary, Revised, p. 393.
8: Wycliffe Old Testament Commentary, p. 417.