Why the LORD brought on them the captains of the host of the king of Assyria, which took Manasseh among the thorns, and bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)MANASSEH’S CAPTIVITY AND REPENTANCE—HIS RESTORATION AND REFORMS (2Chronicles 33:11-17).
This section is peculiar to the Chronicle, and none has excited more scepticism among modern critics. The progress of cuneiform research, however, has proved the perfect possibility of the facts most disputed, viz., the captivity and subsequent restoration of Manasseh.
The captains of the host of the king of Assyria.—The generals of Esarhaddon, or rather, perhaps, of Assurbanipal. The former, who reigned from 681-668 B.C. , has recorded the fact that Manasseh was his vassal. He says: “And I assembled the kings of the land of Hatti, and the marge of the sea, Baal king of Tyre, Me-na-si-e (or Mi-in-si-e) king of Ya-u-di (i.e., Judah), Qa-us-gabri, king of Edom,” &c. “Altogether, twenty-two kings of the land of Hatti [Syria], the coast of the sea, and the middle of the sea, all of them, I caused to hasten,” &c. Assurbanipal has left a list which is identical with that of Esarhaddon, except that it gives different names for the kings of Arvad and Ammon. It thus appears that Manasseh paid tribute to him as well as to his father. Schrader (K.A.T., p. 367, seq.) thinks that Manasseh was at least suspected of being implicated along with the other princes of Phoenicia-Palestine in the revolt of Assurbanipars brother Samar-sum-ukin (circ. 648-647 B.C. ) in which Elam, Gutium, and Meroë also participated; and that he was carried to Babylon, to clear himself of suspicion, and to give assurances of his fidelity to the great king.
Which took Manasseh among the thorns.—And they took Manasseh prisoner with the hooks (ba-ḫôḫîm). The hooks might be such as the Assyrian kings were wont to pass through the nostrils and lips of their more distinguished prisoners. Comp. Isaiah 37:29, “I will put my hook in thy nose, and my bridle in thy lips;” and comp. Amos 4:2, “He will take you away with hooks, and your posterity with fish-hooks.” Comp. also Job 41:2, “Canst thou bore his jaw with a hook?” [The LXX., Vulg., Targ. render the word “chains.” Syriac confuses the word with chayyîm, “life,” and renders “took Manasseh in his life.”] Perhaps, however, the meaning is, and they took Manasseh prisoner at Hohim. There is no reason why Hohim should not be a local name, as well as Coz (1Chronicles 4:8).
And bound him with fetters.—With the double chain of bronze, as the Philistines bound Samson (Judges 16:21). So Sennacherib relates: “Suzubu king of Babylon, in the battle alive their hands took him; in fetters of bronze they put him, and to my presence brought him. In the great gate in the midst of the city of Nineveh I bound him fast.” This happened in 695 B.C., only a few years before the similar captivity of Manasseh.
And carried him.—Caused him to go, or led him away.
To Babylon.—Where Assurbanipal was holding his court at the time, as he appears to have done after achieving the overthrow of his brother the rebellious viceroy, and assuming the title of king of Babylon himself.2 Chronicles 33:11. The Lord brought upon them the captains of the host of the king of Assyria — Some suppose that Esar-haddon, the successor of Sennacherib, king of Assyria, is here meant, and that, in consequence of the royal family failing in Babylon, he found means to bring that kingdom under his yoke again; or that, by force of arms, or some other means, he recovered it from Merodach-Baladan. They say that he held it thirteen years, and that it was during this time that Manasseh was taken and carried captive to Babylon. Others think it more probable that the king of Babylon is here called the king of Assyria, because he had added Assyria to his empire, and that having been informed by his ambassadors of the great riches which were in Hezekiah’s treasures at Jerusalem, and being assured of Manasseh’s degeneracy from the piety of his father, and from that God whose power alone made Hezekiah formidable, he thought this a fit season to invade Manasseh’s kingdom, which the Jews say he did, in the twenty- second year of his reign. Which took Manasseh among the thorns — In some thicket where he thought to have hid himself from the Assyrians till he could make an escape: or, as the Hebrew בחוחים, bachochim, may be rendered, with hooks, metaphorically speaking; or, in his forts, that is, in one of them.2 Kings 19:37 note), who reigned at least thirteen years. Esarhaddon mentions Manasseh among his tributaries; and he was the only king of Assyria who, from time to time, held his court at Babylon.
Among the thorns - Translate - " with rings;" and see 2 Kings 19:28 note.
11. the captains of the host of the king of Assyria—This king was Esar-haddon. After having devoted the first years of his reign to the consolidation of his government at home, he turned his attention to repair the loss of the tributary provinces west of the Euphrates, which, on the disaster and death of Sennacherib, had taken the opportunity of shaking off the Assyrian yoke. Having overrun Palestine and removed the remnant that were left in the kingdom of Israel, he despatched his generals, the chief of whom was Tartan (Isa 20:1), with a portion of his army for the reduction of Judah also. In a successful attack upon Jerusalem, they took multitudes of captives, and got a great prize, including the king himself, among the prisoners.
took Manasseh among the thorns—This may mean, as is commonly supposed, that he had hid himself among a thicket of briers and brambles. We know that the Hebrews sometimes took refuge from their enemies in thickets (1Sa 13:6). But, instead of the Hebrew, Bacochim, "among the thorns", some versions read Bechayim, "among the living", and so the passage would be "took him alive."
bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon—The Hebrew word rendered "fetters" denotes properly two chains of brass. The humiliating state in which Manasseh appeared before the Assyrian monarch may be judged of by a picture on a tablet in the Khorsabad palace, representing prisoners led bound into the king's presence. "The captives represented appear to be inhabitants of Palestine. Behind the prisoners stand four persons with inscriptions on the lower part of their tunics; the first two are bearded, and seem to be accusers; the remaining two are nearly defaced; but behind the last appears the eunuch, whose office it seems to be to usher into the presence of the king those who are permitted to appear before him. He is followed by another person of the same race as those under punishment; his hands are manacled, and on his ankles are strong rings fastened together by a heavy bar" [Nineveh and Its Palaces]. No name is given, and, therefore, no conclusion can be drawn that the figure represents Manasseh. But the people appear to be Hebrews, and this pictorial scene will enable us to imagine the manner in which the royal captive from Judah was received in the court of Babylon. Esar-haddon had established his residence there; for though from the many revolts that followed the death of his father, he succeeded at first only to the throne of Assyria, yet having some time previous to his conquest of Judah, recovered possession of Babylon, this enterprising king had united under his sway the two empires of Babylon and Chaldea and transferred the seat of his government to Babylon.Among the thorns; in some thicket where he thought to hide himself from the Assyrians till he could make an escape, as the Israelites formerly used to do, 1 Samuel 13:6. Or, with hooks; a metaphorical expression. Or, in his forts, i.e. in one of them.
Carried him to Babylon; either therefore Esar-haddon, Sennacherib’s successor, had recovered Babylon from Merodach-baladan; or rather, the king of Babylon is here called
the king of Assyria, because at this time he had added Assyria to his empire; who having been informed by his ambassadors of the great riches which were in Hezekiah’s treasures at Jerusalem, which he was desirous to enjoy; and withal, being assured of Manasseh’s degeneracy from the piety and virtue of his father, and from that God whose power alone made Hezekiah formidable, he thought this a fit season to invade Manasseh’s kingdom; which he did with success.
which took Manasseh among the thorns; in a thicket of briers and thorns, where, upon his defeat, he had hid himself; a fit emblem of the afflictions and troubles his sins brought him into:
and bound him with fetters; hands and feet; with chains of brass, as the Targum, such as Zedekiah was bound with, 2 Kings 25:7, not chains of gold, with which Mark Antony bound a king of Armenia, for the sake of honour (g):
and carried him to Babylon; for now the king of Assyria was become master of that city, and added it to his monarchy, and made it the seat of his residence; at least some times that and sometimes Nineveh, Merodachbaladan being dead, or conquered; though, according to Suidas (h), it was he that took Manasseh; and by an Arabic writer (i), he is said to be carried to Nineveh.Wherefore the LORD brought upon them the captains of the host of the king of Assyria, which took Manasseh among the thorns, and bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)11. Assyria] No Assyrian inscription at present known speaks of the captivity of Manasseh, but we have monumental evidence that there was a great insurrection against Asshur-bani-pal, the grandson of Sennacherib, in which Western Asia (and perhaps Manasseh) was involved. The restoration of Manasseh after this to his kingdom is not incredible, for Neco I. of Egypt was first put in fetters and afterwards sent back to Egypt. (Schrader, Keilinschriften und das AT., pp. 366 ff.)
among the thorns] R.V., in chains, but better, with hooks (as R.V. mg.); cp. 2 Kings 19:28 (= Isaiah 37:29). Assyrian kings sometimes thrust a book into the nostrils of their captives and so led them about. The practice is illustrated on many Assyrian reliefs in the British Museum. The same mistranslation (“thorn” for “hook”) occurs in Job 41:2 [40:26, Heb.], cp. R.V.
to Babylon] Nineveh, not Babylon, was the capital of Assyria, but as Asshur-bani-pal at times resided in Babylon, there is nothing improbable in any important prisoner of his being carried thither.
11–13 (not in 2 Kin.). The Punishment of Manasseh, and his Repentance
For a discussion of the historical probabilities of this account see the Introduction, § 8.Verse 11. - The contents of this and the following six verses (to the seventeenth) are not in the parallel, though their place there is plain. That parallel, however, supplies in its ver. 16 a very forcible narration of the evil conduct of Manasseh in Jerusalem itself, so that he "filled" it with "innocent blood" from "one end to another." The King of Assyria; i.e. either Esarhaddon, B.C. 680, or (though it is not probable) his son, Assur-banipal, B.C. 667-647. Among the thorns; i.e. with hooks or rings (so 2 Kings 19:28, where the same word is used; as also in Exodus 35:22; Isaiah 37:29; Ezekiel 19:4, 9; Ezekiel 29:4; Ezekiel 38:4). 2 Kings 21:1-18. - The characteristics of this king's reign, and of the idolatry which he again introduced, and increased in a measure surpassing all his predecessors (2 Chronicles 33:1-9), agrees almost verbally with 2 Kings 21:1-9. Here and there an expression is rhetorically generalized and intensified, e.g., by the plurals לבּעלים and אשׁרות (2 Chronicles 33:3) instead of the sing. לבּעל and אשׁרה (Kings), and בּנין (2 Chronicles 33:6) instead of בּנו (see on 2 Chronicles 28:3); by the addition of וכשּׁף to ונחשׁ עונן, and of the name the Vale of Hinnom, 2 Chronicles 33:6 (see on Joshua 15:18, גּי for גּיא); by heaping up words for the law and its commandments (2 Chronicles 33:8); and other small deviations, of which הסּמל פּסל (2 Chronicles 33:7) instead of האשׁרה פּסל (Kings) is the most important. The word סמל, sculpture or statue, is derived from Deuteronomy 4:16, but has perhaps been taken by the author of the Chronicle from Ezekiel 8:3, where סמל probably denotes the statue of Asherah. The form עילום for עולם (2 Chronicles 33:7) is not elsewhere met with.
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