Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
1-3. Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign--He must have
been born three years after his father's recovery; and his minority,
spent under the influence of guardians who were hostile to the
religious principles and reforming policy of his father, may account in
part for the anti-theocratic principles of his reign. The work of
religious reformation which Hezekiah had zealously carried on was but
partially accomplished. There was little appearance of its influence on
the heart and manners of the people at large. On the contrary, the true
fear of God had vanished from the mass of the people; corruption and
vice increased, and were openly practised
&c.) by the degenerate leaders, who, having got the young prince
Manasseh into their power, directed his education, trained him up in
their views, and seduced him into the open patronage of idolatry.
Hence, when he became sovereign, he introduced the worship of idols,
the restoration of high places, and the erection of altars or pillars
to Baal, and the placing, in the temple of God itself, a graven image
of Asherah, the sacred or symbolic tree, which represented "all the
host of heaven." This was not idolatry, but pure star-worship, of
Chaldaic and Assyrian origin [KEIL]. The sun, as
among the Persians, had chariots and horses consecrated to it
and incense was offered to the stars on the housetops
and in the temple area with the face turned toward the sunrise
5. the two courts of the house of the Lord--the court of the priests,
and the large court of the people.
6. made his son pass through the
observed times--from an observation of the clouds.
used enchantments--jugglery and spells.
dealt with familiar spirits--Septuagint, "ventriloquists," who
pretended to ask counsel of a familiar spirit and gave the response
received from him to others.
and wizards--wise or knowing ones, who pretended to reveal secrets,
to recover things lost and hidden treasure, and to interpret dreams. A
great influx of these impostors had, at various times, poured from
Chaldea into the land of Israel to pursue their gainful occupations,
especially during the reigns of the latter kings; and Manasseh was not
only their liberal patron, but zealous to appear himself an adept in
the arts. He raised them to be an influential class at his court, as
they were in that of Assyria and Babylon, where nothing was done till
they had ascertained the lucky hour and were promised a happy issue.
7. And he set a graven image--The placing of the Asherah within the
precincts of the temple, which was dedicated to the worship of the true
God, is dwelt upon as the most aggravated outrage of the royal
8. Neither will I make the feet of Israel move . . . out of the land
which I gave their fathers--alluding to the promise
only if they will observe, &c.--This condition was expressed from the
first plantation of Israel in Canaan. But that people not only did not
keep it, but through the pernicious influence of Manasseh, were seduced
into greater excesses of idolatrous corruption than even the original
10-17. And the Lord spake by his servants the prophets--These were
Hosea, Joel, Nahum, Habakkuk, and Isaiah. Their counsels, admonitions,
and prophetic warnings, were put on record in the national chronicles
and now form part of the sacred canon.
12. whosoever heareth of it, both his ears shall tingle--a strong
metaphorical form of announcing an extraordinary and appalling event
13. the line of Samaria, and the plummet of the house of Ahab--Captives
doomed to destruction were sometimes grouped together and marked off by
means of a measuring-line and plummet
so that the line of Samaria means the line drawn for the destruction of
Samaria; the plummet of the house of Ahab, for exterminating his
apostate family; and the import of the threatening declaration here is
that Judah would be utterly destroyed, as Samaria and the dynasty of
Ahab had been.
I will wipe Jerusalem, &c.--The same doom is denounced more strongly
in a figure unmistakably significant.
14. I will forsake the remnant of mine inheritance--The people of
Judah, who of all the chosen people alone remained. The consequence of
the Lord's forsaking them would be their fall into the power of their
16. Moreover Manasseh shed innocent blood--Not content with the
patronage and the practice of idolatrous abomination, he was a cruel
persecutor of all who did not conform. The land was deluged with the
blood of good men; among whom it is traditionally said Isaiah suffered
a horrid death, by being sawn asunder
19-24. Amon was twenty and two years old when he began to reign--This
prince continued the idolatrous policy of his father; and, after an
inglorious reign of two years, he was massacred by some of his own
domestics. The people slew the regicide conspirators and placed his son
Josiah on the throne.