Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem:2 Chronicles 33:1. Manasseh was twelve years old, &c. — This and the following verses, to 2 Chronicles 33:11, are taken out of 2 Kings 21:1, &c., where the reader will find them explained.
But did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, like unto the abominations of the heathen, whom the LORD had 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 Baalim, and made groves, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served them.
Also he built altars in the house of the LORD, whereof the LORD had 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 the LORD.
And he caused his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom: also he observed times, and used enchantments, and used witchcraft, and dealt with a familiar spirit, and with wizards: he wrought much evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger.
And he set a carved image, the idol which he had made, in the house of God, of which God had said to David and to Solomon his son, In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen before all the tribes of Israel, will I put my name for ever:
Neither will I any more remove the foot of Israel from out of the land which I have appointed for your fathers; so that they will take heed to do all that I have commanded them, according to the whole law and the statutes and the ordinances by the hand of Moses.
So Manasseh made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err, and to do worse than the heathen, whom the LORD had destroyed before the children of Israel.
And the LORD spake to Manasseh, and to his people: but they would not hearken.
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.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.
And when he was in affliction, he besought the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers,2 Chronicles 33:12. When he was in affliction he besought the Lord his God — Being “deprived of his authority and liberty, and secluded from his evil counsellors and companions, and from all his pleasures, in chains, and in a prison, without any other prospect than of ending his days in that wretched situation, he had leisure to reflect on what had passed. He then, no doubt, recollected the honour, prosperity, and deliverances with which his father had been favoured; his own good education, with the instruction and warnings of the prophets; and his atrocious, multiplied, and daring crimes: and he remembered that his miseries had been foretold by his faithful monitors. Thus, by the special grace of God, his solitude and affliction brought him to view his own conduct and character in another light than before, and he began to cry for mercy and deliverance, humbling himself greatly before the God of his fathers.” — Scott. Bishop Hall remarks, from this verse, the truth of that saying of the prophet, Affliction giveth understanding. “If the cross bear us not to heaven,” says he, “nothing can. What use were there of the grain, but for the edge of the sickle, wherewith it is cut down; the stroke of the flail, wherewith it is beaten; the weight and attrition of the mill, wherewith it is crushed; the fire of the oven, wherewith it is baked? Say now, Manasseh, with that grand-father of thine, It is good for me that I have been afflicted; thine iron was more precious to thee than thy gold; thy jail was a more happy lodging to thee than thy palace; Babylon was a better school to thee than Jerusalem. How foolish are we to frown upon our afflictions! These, how severe soever, are our best friends: they are not indeed for our pleasure, they are for our profit; their issue makes them worthy of a welcome. What do we care how bitter that potion is which brings us health?”
And prayed unto him: and he was intreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD he was God.2 Chronicles 33:13. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord he was God — He was convinced, by his own experience, of God’s power, justice, and goodness; that Jehovah alone was the true God, and not those idols which he had worshipped, by which he had received great hurt and no good. He might have known this at a less expense, if he would have given due attention and credit to the word written and preached: but it was better to pay thus dear for the knowledge of God, than perish in ignorance and unbelief.
Now after this he built a wall without the city of David, on the west side of Gihon, in the valley, even to the entering in at the fish gate, and compassed about Ophel, and raised it up a very great height, and put captains of war in all the fenced cities of Judah.2 Chronicles 33:14. After this he built a wall without the city of David — He repaired and strengthened that wall which Hezekiah had built, (2 Chronicles 32:5,) and which, possibly, the king of Assyria, or of Babylon rather, when he last took Jerusalem, had caused to be thrown down, either wholly or in part. On the west side of Gihon — On the west side of the city of David, to which Hezekiah had brought the watercourse down, mentioned 2 Chronicles 32:30, into the great pool which he had made to receive it: and possibly this wall was built to secure the free use of it to the citizens, when they should be distressed or besieged by an enemy.
And he took away the strange gods, and the idol out of the house of the LORD, and all the altars that he had built in the mount of the house of the LORD, and in Jerusalem, and cast them out of the city.2 Chronicles 33:15-16. He took away the strange gods — The images of them, and that idol, whatever it was, which he had set up with so much solemnity in the house of the Lord. And all the altars — The idolatrous altars, as detestable things, loathing them as much, it is to be hoped, as ever he had loved them. And he repaired the altar of the Lord — Which had either been abused or broken down by some of the idolatrous priests, or at least neglected, and was therefore gone out of repair. And sacrificed thereon peace-offerings — To implore God’s favour; and thank-offerings — To praise him for his deliverance. And commanded Judah to serve the Lord — Using his power to reform his people, as he had before abused it to corrupt them. Thus he brought forth fruit meet for repentance, and endeavoured, as far as he could, to repair the injuries which he had done to the cause of God by his impious commands, 2 Chronicles 33:9. Observe, reader, those that truly repent of their sins, will not only return to God themselves, but will do all they can to bring those back to him that have, by their example, been seduced and drawn away from him.
And he repaired the altar of the LORD, and sacrificed thereon peace offerings and thank offerings, and commanded Judah to serve the LORD God of Israel.
Nevertheless the people did sacrifice still in the high places, yet unto the LORD their God only.2 Chronicles 33:17. Nevertheless, the people did sacrifice still, &c. — “Rabbi Kimchi observes very well here, that though Manasseh’s repentance might be sincere, yet it was attended with a melancholy circumstance, which ought to sound in the ear of every one invested with power, His example and authority easily seduced his people to idolatry; but his royal mandate was unable to reclaim them.” — Dodd. He could not carry the reformation so far as he had carried the corruption. It is an easy thing to debauch men’s manners; but not so easy to reform them again.
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 the LORD God of Israel, behold, they are written in the book of the kings of Israel.2 Chronicles 33:18. The words of the seers that spake to him in the name of the Lord — The reproofs they gave him for his sin, and their exhortations to repentance. Let sinners consider, that how little notice soever they take of them, an account is kept of the words of the seers, that speak to them from God, to admonish them of their sins, and warn them of their danger, and call them to their duty, which words will be produced against them in the great day. They are written in the books of the kings of Israel — Of Judah, often called Israel. He speaks not of the books of Kings, for these things are not mentioned there, but of their public records, whence the most important things were taken by the prophets, and put into those canonical books.
His prayer also, and how God was intreated of him, and all his sin, and his trespass, and the places wherein he built high places, and set up groves and graven images, before he was humbled: behold, they are written among the sayings of the seers.2 Chronicles 33:19. His prayer also — Which is twice mentioned as remarkable. We have a prayer which, it is pretended, he made in prison. The church does not receive it as canonical; but it has a place among the apocryphal pieces, and, in our collection, stands before the books of Maccabees. The Greek church has received it into its book of prayers, and it is there sometimes used as a devout form, and which contains nothing in it deserving censure. And how God was entreated of him — Which was written for the generations to come, that the people that should be created might praise the Lord, for his readiness to receive returning prodigals. They are written among the sayings of the seers — To those seers that spake to him, (2 Chronicles 33:18,) to reprove him for his sin, he sent his confession, when he repented, to be inserted in their memoirs, as a token of his gratitude to them for their kindness in reproving him. Thus it becomes penitents to take shame to themselves, and to give thanks to their reprovers, and warning to others.
So Manasseh slept with his fathers, and they buried him in his own house: and Amon his son reigned in his stead.2 Chronicles 33:20. And they buried him in his own house — Not in the sepulchres of the kings. He was buried privately, and nothing of that honour was done him, at his death, that was done to his father. Penitents may recover their comfort sooner than their credit.
Amon was two and twenty years old when he began to reign, and reigned two years in Jerusalem.
But he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, as did Manasseh his father: for Amon sacrificed unto all the carved images which Manasseh his father had made, and served them;2 Chronicles 33:22. He did that which was evil, as did Manasseh his father — That is, as Manasseh had done in the days of his apostacy. They who think the wickedness of Amon an evidence that Manasseh did not truly repent, forget how many good kings had wicked sons. Manasseh, however, seems to have been very deficient in this after his repentance, that when he cast out the images, he did not utterly deface and destroy them, according to the law, which required them to burn the images with fire, Deuteronomy 7:5. How necessary that law was, this instance shows; for the carved images being only thrown by, and not burned, Amon, knowing where to find them, soon set them up, and sacrificed to them.
And humbled not himself before the LORD, as Manasseh his father had humbled himself; but Amon trespassed more and more.2 Chronicles 33:23. And humbled not himself &c. — He fell, like his father, but did not rise again like him. It is not so much sin, as impenitence in sin, that ruins men; not so much that they have offended, as that they do not humble themselves for, and forsake their offences; not the disease, but the neglect of the remedy. But Amon trespassed more and more — Increased in wickedness of every kind, and especially in his attachment to various and abominable idolatries. They that were joined to idols, generally grew more and more mad upon them.
And his servants conspired against him, and slew him in his own house.2 Chronicles 33:24. His servants conspired against him — He rebelled against God, and his own servants rebelled against him, and that when he had reigned but two years. Thus, though they were wicked, God was righteous. Perhaps when he sinned, as his father did, in the beginning of his days, he promised himself that he would repent, as his father had done, in the latter end of his days. But if so, he was wretchedly mistaken, being cut off when he was young. And his case shows what madness it is to presume upon repenting and turning to God when we are old. Reader, behold, now is the accepted time! let it be to thee the day of salvation! remember, thou knowest not what a day may bring forth. To-day, then, hear his voice, and harden not thy heart.
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.