2 Kings 21:6
And he made his son pass through the fire, and observed times, and used enchantments, and dealt with familiar spirits and wizards: he worked much wickedness in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(6) And he made his son . . .—The LXX. has his sons; so Chronicles.

Dealt with familiar spirits . . .—made a necro-mancer—i.e., formally appointed such a person as a court official (1Kings 12:31). (See the Notes on chaps. 16:3, 17:17, and especially 2Chronicles 33:6.)

“In the time from Manasseh onwards, Moloch-worship and worship of the Queen of Heaven appear as prominent new features of Judah’s idolatry. It is also probable that the local high places took on their restoration a more markedly heathenish character than before” (Prof. Robertson Smith).

2 Kings 21:6. He made his son pass through the fire — By which he dedicated him to Moloch, in contempt of the seal of circumcision by which he had been dedicated to God: see notes on Leviticus 18:21-22. And observed times — Lucky or unlucky days, according to the superstitious practice of the heathen.21:1-9 Young persons generally desire to become their own masters, and to have early possession of riches and power. But this, for the most part, ruins their future comfort, and causes mischief to others. It is much happier when young persons are sheltered under the care of parents or guardians, till age gives experience and discretion. Though such young persons are less indulged, they will afterwards be thankful. Manasseh wrought much wickedness in the sight of the Lord, as if on purpose to provoke him to anger; he did more evil than the nations whom the Lord destroyed. Manasseh went on from bad to worse, till carried captive to Babylon. The people were ready to comply with his wishes, to obtain his favour and because it suited their depraved inclinations. In the reformation of large bodies, numbers are mere time-servers, and in temptation fall away.On the meaning of the phrase "passing through the fire," see 2 Kings 16:3, and Leviticus 20:2-5.

To "observe times" was forbidden in the Law (marginal references), and was no doubt among the modes of divination practiced by the Canaanite nations. It has been explained as,

(1) Predicting from the state of the clouds and atmosphere;

(2) Fascination with the eye;

(3) Watching and catching at chance words as ominous.

Dealt with familiar spirits - This practice was forbidden by Moses Leviticus 19:31 under the penalty of death Leviticus 20:27. Its nature is best learned from Saul's visit to the witch of Endor (1 Samuel 28:7, etc.).

Wizards - "Wizards" - literally, "wise men" - are always joined with those who have familiar spirits. Probably they were a sort of necromancers.

6. made his son pass through the fire—(See on [351]2Ki 16:3).

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.

Made his son pass through the fire; of which See Poole "Leviticus 18:21 2 Kings 16:3".

Observed times, i.e. lucky or unlucky days or seasons for the despatch of businesses, according to the superstitious practice of the heathens. See Esther 3:7: see also Leviticus 19:26 Deu 18:10,11. And he made his son pass through the fire,.... To Molech, after the manner of the old Canaanites and Phoenicians; his son Amon, that succeeded him, and other children, as appears from 2 Chronicles 33:6, where mention is made of the place where it was done, the valley of the son of Hinnom:

and observed times; lucky or unlucky, which was judged of by omens, and by the position of the stars:

and used enchantments, and dealt with familiar spirits and wizards; to get knowledge of things to come; all which are forbid and condemned by the law of Moses; see Deuteronomy 18:10,

he wrought much wickedness in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger; in all those evils before mentioned, which were very abominable in the sight of God.

And he made his son {a} 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.

(a) Read 2Ki 16:3.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
6. And he made his son] The LXX. represents ‘sons’ here, and the Chronicler has the plural in the parallel passage, ‘He caused his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom’. Probably the expression in Chronicles only means that he practised this Moloch-worship, and the plural number need not be literally pressed.

pass through the fire] See note on 2 Kings 16:3. ‘The valley of the son of Hinnom’ mentioned by the Chronicler was a ravine on the south and west of Jerusalem, the south-east extremity of which had the name of Tophet. Because of the horrors which had been perpetrated there, the place was defiled, and converted into a receptacle of all that was foul and offensive, for the destruction of which constant fires were kept burning. For this reason the name Ge Hinnom, modified into Gehenna, came to be employed to designate the region of eternal torment.

and observed times] R.V. practised augury. The rendering of A.V. is from the Vulgate, but that version in other places represents the sense as being ‘to use augury’. (See Vulg. of Isaiah 2:6; Isaiah 57:3.) In the LXX. the renderings express the gathering of omens, either from sounds heard or from the flight of birds. The Jewish interpreters say it means one who decides by certain signs what days are good for trade, and which to travel on, &c. This is the idea in observing times, but the R.V. appears to embrace the whole of the senses given to the word.

used enchantments] The word is that which is used Numbers 24:1 of Balaam going ‘to seek for enchantments’. It refers to gathering of signs as the superstitious are wont to do, from this or that, whether they are to do or leave undone any undertaking they contemplate.

dealt with [R.V. with them that had] familiar spirits] The Hebrew word Ob, usually translated ‘one that hath a familiar spirit’, means originally ‘a bottle’. It is applied first of all to the spirit supposed to reside within the persons so possessed; then to the person himself. After that because the answers were supposed to be derived from the spirits of the dead, it was applied to one called up from the dead. So 1 Samuel 28:8 Saul asks at Endor ‘Divine unto me by the familiar spirit’. The second use of the word is exemplified in the verse before us, where those that deal with the spirit are called Ob, and the third sense is found in Isaiah 29:4 where the voice of an Ob is said to come out of the ground and to whisper out of the dust. The LXX. renders the word by ἐγγαστρίμυθος, ventriloquist, probably because the utterances of ventriloquists seem to come from within the speaker without motion of the lips.

The verb rendered ‘deal with’ is literally ‘made’. Hence it has been thought that Manasseh gave offices to such persons as are here spoken of, and appointed (see R.V. marg.) them as official diviners.

wizards] The Hebrew word is connected with the verb ‘to know’. Hence wizard, which implies one who is supposed to be preternaturally wise well represents the word.Verse 6. - And he made his son pass through the fire. The author of Chronicles says, "his sons" (2 Chronicles 33:6); but this is, perhaps, rhetorical. It was usually the eldest son, who, as the most precious possible offering, was sacrificed to Moloch (see 2 Kings 3:27; 2 Kings 16:3; and, for the true nature of the sacrifice, see the comment on this latter passage). And observed times. If this translation is right, the reference would be to a superstitious regard for lucky and unlucky days, such as we note in the accounts left of themselves by the Baby-Ionian kings, who begin their buildings "in a happy month, on an auspicious day" (see the author's 'Herodotus,' vol. 2. p. 487). But probably the true meaning is, "he exercised βασκανία," or, "had regard to the evil eye," a common superstition in the East. And used enchantments. A use of spoils is perhaps intended, such as those by which serpents (נֶחָשִׁים) were charmed (see the comment on Isaiah 47:9). And dealt with familiar spirits and wizards - rather, he placed in office necromancers (literally, a necromancer) and wizards; i.e. he gave such persons official positions at his court, instead of putting them to death, as the Law (Leviticus 20:27) required - he wrought much wickedness in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger; literally, he multiplied to work wickedness; i.e. he sought out every possible way; he not only restored all the different kinds of heathen sacrifices and idolatrous customs which had been in use under Ahaz, but carried his opposition to Jehovah a great deal further. As Ewald says ('History of Israel,' vol. 4. p. 208), "He endeavored to become acquainted with all the heathen religions he could find and introduce them into Judah. For this purpose he sent into the most distant lands where there was any famous cultus, and grudged no pains for his one object." Close of Hezekiah's reign. - On the basin (בּרכח) and the aqueduct constructed by him, see at 2 Kings 18:17.
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