2 Kings 21
In this chapter we have a short but sad account of the reigns of two of
the kings of Judah, Manasseh and Amon.
I. Concerning Manasseh, all the account we have of him here is,
1. That he devoted himself to sin, to all manner of wickedness,
idolatry, and murder,
2 Kings 21:1-9,16.
2. That therefore God devoted him, and Jerusalem for his sake, to ruin,
2 Kings 21:10-18.
In the book of Chronicles we have an account of his troubles, and his
II. Concerning Amon we are only told that he lived in sin
(2 Kings 21:19-22),
died quickly by the sword, and left good Josiah his successor,
2 Kings 21:23-26.
By these two reigns Jerusalem was much debauched and much weakened, and
so hastened apace towards its destruction, which slumbered not.
|Manasseh's Impious Reign.
||B. C. 698.|
1 Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and
reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name
2 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD,
after the abominations of the heathen, whom the LORD cast out
before the children of Israel.
3 For he built up again the high places which Hezekiah his
father had destroyed; and he reared up altars for Baal, and made
a grove, as did Ahab king of Israel; and worshipped all the host
of heaven, and served them.
4 And he built altars in the house of the LORD, of which the
LORD said, In Jerusalem will I put my name.
5 And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two
courts of the house of the LORD.
6 And he made his son pass through the fire, and observed
times, and used enchantments, and dealt with familiar spirits and
wizards: he wrought much wickedness in the sight of the LORD, to
provoke him to anger.
7 And he set a graven image of the grove that he had made in
the house, of which the LORD said to David, and to Solomon his
son, In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of
all tribes of Israel, will I put my name for ever:
8 Neither will I make the feet of Israel move any more out of
the land which I gave their fathers; only if 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.
9 But they hearkened not: and Manasseh seduced them to do more
evil than did the nations whom the LORD destroyed before the
children of Israel.
How delightful were our meditations on the last reign! How many
pleasing views had we of Sion in its glory (that is, in its purity and
in its triumphs), of the king in his beauty! (for
refers to Hezekiah), and (as it follows there,
2 Kings 21:20)
Jerusalem was a quiet habitation because a city of
But now we have melancholy work upon our hands, unpleasant ground to
travel, and cannot but drive heavily. How has the gold become dim
and the most fine gold changed! The beauty of Jerusalem is stained,
and all her glory, all her joy, sunk and gone. These verses give such
an account of this reign as make it, in all respects, the reverse of
the last, and, in a manner, the ruin of it.
I. Manasseh began young. He was but twelve years old when he began
(2 Kings 21:1),
born when his father was about forty-two years old, three years after
his sickness. If he had sons before, either they were dead, or set by
as unpromising. As yet they knew of nothing bad in him, and they
hoped he would prove good; but he proved very bad, and perhaps his
coming to the crown so young might help to make it so, which yet will
by no means excuse him, for his grandson Josiah came to it younger than
he and yet acted well. But being young,
1. He was puffed up with his honour and proud of it; and thinking
himself very wise, because he was very great, valued himself upon his
undoing what his father had done. It is too common for novices to be
lifted up with pride, and so to fall into the condemnation of the
2. He was easily wrought upon and drawn aside by seducers, that lay in
wait to deceive. Those that were enemies to Hezekiah's reformation,
and retained an affection for the old idolatries, flattered him, and so
gained his ear, and used his power at their pleasure. Many have been
undone by coming too soon to their honours and estates.
II. He reigned long, longest of any of the kings of Judah, fifty-five
years. This was the only very bad reign that was a long one; Joram's
was but eight years, and Ahaz's sixteen; as for Manasseh's, we hope
that in the beginning of his reign for some time affairs continued to
move in the course that his father left them in, and that in the latter
end of his reign, after his repentance, religion got head again; and,
no doubt, when things were at the worst God had his remnant that kept
their integrity. Though he reigned long, yet some of this time he was
a prisoner in Babylon, which may well be looked upon as a drawback from
these years, though they are reckoned in the number because then he
repented and began to reform.
III. He reigned very ill.
1. In general,
(1.) He did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, and
which, having been well educated, he could not but know was so
(2 Kings 21:2):
He wrought much wickedness in the sight of the Lord, as if on
purpose to provoke him to anger,
2 Kings 21:6.
(2.) He did after the abominations of the heathen
(2 Kings 21:2)
and as did Ahab
(2 Kings 21:3),
not taking warning by the destruction both of the nations of Canaan and
the house of Ahab for their idolatry; nay
(2 Kings 21:9),
he did more evil than did the nations whom the Lord destroyed.
When the holy seed degenerate, they are commonly worse than the worst
of the profane.
2. More particularly,
(1.) He rebuilt the high places which his father had destroyed,
2 Kings 21:3.
Thus did he trample upon the dust, and affront the memory, of his
worthy father, though he knew how much he was favoured of God and
honoured of men. He concurred, it is probable, with Rabshakeh's
(2 Kings 18:22),
that Hezekiah had done ill in destroying those high places, and
pretended the honour of God, and the edification and convenience of the
people, in rebuilding them. This he began with, but proceeded to that
which was much worse; for,
(2.) He set up other gods, Baal and Ashtaroth (which we
translate a grove), and all the host of heaven, the sun and
moon, the other planets, and the constellations; these he worshipped
(2 Kings 21:3),
gave their names to the images he made, and then did homage to them and
prayed for help from them. To these he built altars
(2 Kings 21:5),
and offered sacrifices, no doubt, on these altars.
(3.) He made his son pass through the fire, by which he
dedicated him a votary to Moloch, in contempt of the seal of
circumcision by which he had been dedicated to God.
(4.) He made the devil his oracle, and, in contempt both of urim and
prophecy, he used enchantments and dealt with familiar spirits
(2 Kings 21:6)
like Saul. Conjurers and fortune-tellers (who pretended, by the stars
or the clouds, lucky and unlucky days, good and bad omens, the flight
of birds, or the entrails of beasts, to foretel things to come) were
great men with him, his intimates, his confidants; their arts pleased
his fancy, and gained his belief, and his counsels were under their
(5.) We find afterwards
(2 Kings 21:16)
that he shed innocent blood very much in gratification of his own
passion and revenge; some perhaps were secretly murdered, others taken
off by colour of law. Probably much of the blood he shed was theirs
that opposed idolatry and witnessed against it, that would not bow the
knee to Baal. The blood of the prophets is, in a particular
manner, charged upon Jerusalem, and it is probable that he put to death
many of them. The tradition of the Jews is that he caused the prophet
Isaiah to be sawn asunder; and many think the apostle refers to this in
where he speaks of those that had so suffered.
3. Three things are here mentioned as aggravations of Manasseh's
(1.) That he set up his images and altars in the house of the
(2 Kings 21:4),
in the two courts of the temple
(2 Kings 21:5),
in the very house of which God had said to Solomon, Here will I put
2 Kings 21:7.
Thus he defied God to his face, and impudently affronted him with his
rivals immediately under his eye, as one that was neither afraid of
God's wrath nor ashamed of his own folly and wickedness. Thus he
desecrated what had been consecrated to God, and did, in effect, turn
God out of his own house and put the rebels in possession of it. Thus,
when the faithful worshippers of God came to the place he had appointed
for the performance of their duty to him, they found, to their great
grief and terror, other gods ready to receive their offerings. God had
said that here he would record his name, here he would put it for ever,
and here it was accordingly preserved, while the idolatrous altars were
kept at a distance; but Manasseh, by bringing them into God's house,
did what he could to alter the property, and to make the name of the
God of Israel to be no more in remembrance.
(2.) That hereby he put a great slight upon the word of God, and his
covenant with Israel. Observe the favour he had shown to that people in
putting his name among them,--the kindness he intended them, never to
make them move out of that good land,--and the reasonableness of
his expectations from them, only if they will observe to do
according to all that I have commanded them,
2 Kings 21:7,8.
Upon these good terms did Israel stand with God, and had as fair a
prospect of being happy as any people could have; but they hearkened
2 Kings 21:9.
They would not be kept close to God either by his precepts or by his
promises; both were cast behind their back.
(3.) That hereby he seduced the people of God, debauched them, and drew
them into idolatry,
2 Kings 21:9.
He caused Judah to sin
(2 Kings 21:11),
as Jeroboam had caused Israel to sin. His very example was
enough to corrupt the generality of unthinking people, who would do as
their king did, right or wrong. All that aimed at preferment would do
as the court did; and others thought it safest to comply, for fear of
making their king their enemy. Thus, one way or other, the holy city
became a harlot, and Manasseh made her so. Those will have a great deal
to answer for that not only are wicked themselves, but help to make
|Manasseh's Ruin Foretold.
||B. C. 643.|
10 And the LORD spake by his servants the prophets, saying,
11 Because Manasseh king of Judah hath done these abominations,
and hath done wickedly above all that the Amorites did, which
were before him, and hath made Judah also to sin with his
12 Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Behold, I am
bringing such evil upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whosoever
heareth of it, both his ears shall tingle.
13 And I will stretch over Jerusalem the line of Samaria, and
the plummet of the house of Ahab: and I will wipe Jerusalem as a
man wipeth a dish, wiping it, and turning it upside down.
14 And I will forsake the remnant of mine inheritance, and
deliver them into the hand of their enemies; and they shall
become a prey and a spoil to all their enemies;
15 Because they have done that which was evil in my sight,
and have provoked me to anger, since the day their fathers came
forth out of Egypt, even unto this day.
16 Moreover Manasseh shed innocent blood very much, till he had
filled Jerusalem from one end to another; beside his sin
wherewith he made Judah to sin, in doing that which was evil in
the sight of the LORD.
17 Now the rest of the acts of Manasseh, and all that he did,
and his sin that he sinned, are they not written in the book of
the chronicles of the kings of Judah?
18 And 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 stead.
Here is the doom of Judah and Jerusalem read, and it is heavy doom. The
prophets were sent, in the first place, to teach them the knowledge of
God, to remind them of their duty and direct them in it. If they
succeeded not in that, their next work was to reprove them for their
sins, and to set them in view before them, that they might repent and
reform, and return to their duty. If in this they prevailed not, but
sinners went on frowardly, their next work was to foretel the judgments
of God, that the terror of them might awaken those to repentance who
would not be made sensible of the obligations of his love, or else that
the execution of them, in their season, might be a demonstration of the
divine mission of the prophets that foretold them. The prophets were
deputed judges to those that would not hear and receive them as
teachers. We have here,
I. A recital of the crime. The indictment is read upon which the
judgment is grounded,
2 Kings 21:11.
Manasseh had done wickedly himself, though he knew better things, had
even justified the Amorites, whose copy he wrote after, by outdoing
them in impieties, and debauched the people of God, whom he had taught
to sin and forced to sin; and besides that (though that was bad enough)
he had filled Jerusalem with innocent blood
(2 Kings 21:16),
had multiplied his murders in every corner of the city, and filled the
measure of Jerusalem's blood-guiltiness
up to the brim, and all this against the crown and dignity of the King
of kings, the peace of his kingdom, and the statutes in these cases
made and provided.
II. A prediction of the judgment God would bring upon them for this:
They have done that which was evil, and therefore I am
bringing evil upon them
(2 Kings 21:12);
it will come and it is not far off. The judgment should be,
1. Very terrible and amazing; the very report of it should make
men's ears to tingle
(2 Kings 21:12),
that is, their hearts to tremble. It should make a great noise in the
world and occasion many speculations.
2. It should be copied out (as the sins of Jerusalem had been) from
Samaria and the house of Ahab,
2 Kings 21:13.
When God lays righteousness to the line it shall be the line of
Samaria, measuring out to Jerusalem that which had been the lot of
Samaria; when he lays judgment to the plummet it shall be the
plummet of the house of Ahab, marking out for the same ruin to
which that wretched family was devoted. See
Note, Those who resemble and imitate others in their sins must expect
to fare as they fared.
3. That it should be an utter destruction: I will wipe it as a man
wipes a dish. This intimates,
(1.) That every thing should be put into disorder, and their state
subverted; they should be turned upside down, and all their foundations
put out of course.
(2.) That the city should be emptied of its inhabitants, which had been
the filth of it, as a dish is emptied when it is wiped: "They shall all
be carried captive, the land shall enjoy her sabbaths, and be
laid by as a dish when it is wiped." See the comparison of the boiled
pot, not much unlike this,
(3.) That yet this should be in order to the purifying, not the
destroying, of Jerusalem. The dish shall not be dropped, not broken to
pieces, or melted down, but only wiped. This shall be the fruit, the
taking away of the sinners first, and then of the sin.
4. That therefore they should be destroyed, because they should
(2 Kings 21:14):
I will forsake the remnant of my inheritance. Justly are those
that forsake God forsaken of him; nor does he ever leave any till they
have first left him: but, when God has forsaken a people, their defence
has departed, and they become a prey, an easy prey, to all their
enemies. Sin is spoken of here as the alpha and omega of their
(1.) Old guilt came in remembrance, as that which began to fill the
(2 Kings 21:15):
"They have provoked me to anger from their conception and birth
as a people, since the day their fathers came out of Egypt." The
men of this generation, treading in their fathers' steps, are justly
reckoned with for their fathers' sins.
(2.) The guilt of blood was that which filled the measure,
2 Kings 21:16.
Nothing has a louder cry, nor brings a sorer vengeance, than that.
This is all we have here of Manasseh; he stands convicted and
condemned; but we hope in the book of Chronicles to hear of his
repentance, and acceptance with God. Meantime, we must be content, in
this place, to have only one intimation of his repentance (for so we
are willing to take it), that he was buried, it is likely by his own
order, in the garden of his own house
(2 Kings 21:18);
for, being truly humbled for his sins, he judged himself no more
worthy to be called a son, a son of David, and therefore not worthy
to have even his dead body buried in the sepulchres of his
fathers. True penitents take shame to themselves, not honour; yet,
having lost the credit of an innocent, the credit of a penitent was the
next best he was capable of. And better it is, and more honourable,
for a sinner to die repenting, and be buried in a garden, than to die
impenitent, and be buried in the abbey.
|Amon's Reign and Death.
||B. C. 643.|
19 Amon was twenty and two years old when he began to reign,
and he reigned two years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name
was Meshullemeth, the daughter of Haruz of Jotbah.
20 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD,
as his father Manasseh did.
21 And he walked in all the way that his father walked in, and
served the idols that his father served, and worshipped them:
22 And he forsook the LORD God of his fathers, and walked not
in the way of the LORD.
23 And the servants of Amon conspired against him, and slew the
king in his own house.
24 And 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.
25 Now the rest of the acts of Amon which he did, are they
not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?
26 And he was buried in his sepulchre in the garden of Uzza:
and Josiah his son reigned in his stead.
Here is a short account of the short and inglorious reign of Amon, the
son of Manasseh. Whether Manasseh, in his blind and brutish zeal for
his idols, had sacrificed his other sons--or whether, having been
dedicated to his idols, they were refused by the people--so it was that
his successor was a son not born till he was forty-five years old. And
of him we are here told,
1. That his reign was very wicked: He forsook the God of his
(2 Kings 21:22),
disobeyed the commands given to his fathers, and disclaimed the
covenant made with his fathers, and walked not in the way of the
Lord, but in all the way which his father walked in,
2 Kings 21:20,21.
He trod in the steps of his father's idolatry, and revived that which
he, in the latter end of his days, had put down. Note, Those who set
bad examples, though they may repent themselves, yet cannot be sure
that those whom they have drawn into sin by their example will repent;
it is often otherwise.
2. That his end was very tragical. He having rebelled against God, his
own servants conspired against him and slew him, probably upon
some personal disgust, when he had reigned but two years,
2 Kings 21:23.
His servants, who should have guarded him, murdered him; his own house,
that should have been his castle of defence, was the place of his
execution. He had profaned God's house with his idols, and now God
suffered his own house to be polluted with his blood. How unrighteous
soever those were that did it, God was righteous who suffered it to be
done. Two things the people of the land did, by their representatives,
(1.) They did justice on the traitors that had slain the king, and put
them to death; for, though he was a bad king, he was
their king, and it was a part of their allegiance to him to
avenge his death. Thus they cleared themselves from having any hand in
the crime, and did what was incumbent on them to deter others from the
like villainous practices.
(2.) They did a kindness to themselves in making Josiah his son king
in his stead, whom probably the conspirators had a design to put
by, but the people stood by him and settled him in the throne,
encouraged, it may be, by the indications he gave, even in his early
days, of a good disposition. Now they made a happy change from one of
the worst to one of the best of all the kings of Judah. "Once more,"
says God, "they shall be tried with a reformation; and, if that
succeed, well; if not, then after that I will cut them down." Amon was
buried in the same garden where his father was,
2 Kings 21:26.
If his father put himself under that humiliation, the people will put
him under it.