Darby's Bible Synopsis
Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem:
The following commentary covers Chapters 33 through 36.
Manasseh, his son, who gave himself up to iniquity in spite of the warnings of the prophets, brought desolation and ruin upon himself and afterwards upon Israel. Guilty of sins which God could not forget, his personal repentance in his captivity procured him personal restoration and peace through the mercy of God; and after his return to Jerusalem he acted faithfully and was jealous for the glory of God; for the time of Judah's judgment was not yet come. His son Amon followed him in his iniquity, but not in his repentance, and he dies by the hand of his own servants. We find in Josiah a tender heart, subject to the word, and a conscience that respected the mind and will of God: only at last he had too much confidence in the effect of this to secure blessing from God, without the possession of that faith which gives intelligence in His ways to understand the position of God's people. God however makes use of this confidence to take Josiah away from the evil He was preparing in the judgments which were to fall upon Judah, the knowledge of which should have made Josiah walk more humbly. At the age of sixteen he began by the grace of God to seek Jehovah; and at twenty he had acquired the moral strength necessary for acting with energy against idolatry, which he destroyed even unto Naphtali. We see here how sovereign grace came in; for both Hezekiah and Josiah were the sons of extremely wicked fathers.
Having cleansed the land from idolatry, Josiah begins to repair the temple; and there the book of the law was found. The king's conscience, and his heart also, are bowed under the authority of the word of his God. He seeks for the prophetic testimony of God with respect to the state in which he sees Israel to be, and God makes known to him by Huldah the judgment about to fall upon Israel; but tells him at the same time that his eyes shall not see the evil. It was this communication which should have made him act with less precipitation, and with a more exercised heart than he manifested when he went up against the king of Egypt. The knowledge that their well-deserved judgment was soon to overwhelm Israel, and that there was no remedy for their sins (although Josiah himself was spared), ought to have prevented his going up against Pharaoh, when the latter did not attack him, and even warned him to forbear; but he would not hearken, and was lost through a hardihood which was not of God.
His death opened the sluices to the affliction of Judah and Jerusalem, which had been blessed through his means; for they had followed Jehovah all the days of Josiah, and had therefore been blessed; they had also mourned for his death. Jeremiah (that is to say, the Spirit of God by the prophet), in lamenting over the last king who would maintain the relations of God with His people, wept for the ruin and desolation which sin would bring upon the flock which Jehovah lovedthe vineyard that He had planted with the choicest vine.
However faithful Josiah had been, this had not changed the heart of the people (compare Jeremiah 3:10). Josiah's faith was in action, and overruled this state of things; and, as we have constantly seen, blessing depended on the conduct of the king, although the undercurrent was always tending to the ruin and rejection of the people.
It remains for us to notice the passover. Everything is set in order according to the ordinances of Moses and David, and that in a remarkable manner. It appears that even the ark had been removed from its place (2 Chronicles 35:3); but now, the ark being restored to its rest, the Levites occupy themselves diligently with their service, and even make ready for the priests, that they might keep the feast. They were all in their places according to the blessing of Israel in the rest they enjoyed under Solomon. Those who taught all Israel no longer bore the ark, but they ministered to God and to His people. The singers were there also, according to their order, so that there had not been such a passover since the days of Samuel. It was like the last glimmering of the lamp which God had lighted among His people in the house of David. It was soon extinguished in the darkness of the nation which knew not God, and those who had been His people came under the judgment expressed by the word Lo-ammi (Not-my-people); but this was only to give occasion afterwards to the manifestation of His infinite grace towards the one, and His unchangeable faithfulness to the others. Ezekiel dates his prophecy from the year of this passover, when he says "the thirtieth year." Why so, I cannot tell. Was it the year of the jubilee? or did the passover itself form an epoch?
Little need be said of the succeeding reigns. The king of Egypt took possession of the land, and the iniquity of Jehoiakim, whom he made king in Jerusalem, was far from leading to restoration on God's part. One more powerful than the king of Egypt, a king by whom God would commence the dominion of the Gentiles, comes up against Jerusalem, and binds Jehoiakim in fetters, yet leaves him after all to end his reign and his life at Jerusalem. Three years after he carried away his son to Babylon.
Zedekiah, whom this king had made to swear by Jehovahthus acknowledging the authority of that Name over his conscience,more sinful in this respect than Nebuchadnezzar, despises his oath and the name of Jehovah; and, after an interval of fruitless resistance, in which he perseveres in spite of Jeremiah's testimony, he falls into the hands of the king of Babylon, who utterly destroys the city and the sanctuary. For both people and priests were thoroughly corrupted; they dishonored Jehovah, and despised His prophets, till there was no remedy, and the land enjoyed her sabbaths.
Sad and solemn lesson of the sin and iniquity of man, and of the just judgment of God!
"You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities." But in His judgments God remembers mercy; and in the counsels of His grace He had already prepared, and even proclaimed by His prophets (and that by name), an instrument to give His people some respite.
After the seventy years which Jeremiah had announced as the period of Judah's captivity, Jehovah put it into the heart of Cyrus to proclaim publicly that it was Jehovah the God of heaven, who had given him all the kingdoms of the earth, and that He had charged him to build Him a house at Jerusalem. He invites the people of God to go thither, assuring them that Jehovah their God will be with them.
Thus it is by mercy, but by a mercy which recognises that power has passed into the hands of the Gentiles that the history of Israel's downfall concludes; the downfall of a people placed in the most favorable circumstances, so that God could say to them, "What could have been done more to my vineyard that I have not done in it?" of a people that had already been pardoned once; and who, after having allowed the ark of Jehovah to fall into the enemy's hands, and after God had forsaken Shiloh, habitation, had been re-established in blessing, but re-established in vain. The long-suffering of God, the restoration He had granted them, the establishment of the house of David in grace, all was fruitless. The vineyard (for they were men) brought forth wild grapes. Its walls were broken down; it had been laid waste. Jerusalem had ceased for the present to be the throne of Jehovah, and government and power in the earth have been entrusted to the Gentiles.
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.
And when he was in affliction, he besought the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers,
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
So Manasseh slept with his fathers, and they buried him in his own house: and Amon his son reigned in his stead.
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;
And humbled not himself before the LORD, as Manasseh his father had humbled himself; but Amon trespassed more and more.
And his servants conspired against him, and slew him in his own house.
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.