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2 Chronicles 33:3 . Made groves. This word should generally be rendered idols. Manasseh made images of Astartè, or Ashtaroth, and of all the idols of Ahaz. His ministers were idolaters, but concealed it during Hezekiah’s reign. Host of heaven. He worshipped the animals in the signs of the Zodiac, and all the planets, as Jerome states on the tradition of the Jews: but others say Jove, Mars, Venus, Apollo, Latona, &c.
2 Chronicles 33:11 . The Lord brought upon them the host of the king of Assyria and carried him to Babylon. It would appear from the text that the king of Assyria had now conquered Babylon, and transferred thither the seat of empire. Calmet, and our Prideaux, think that this king was Asar-haddon, who striving to recover his father’s conquests in Palestine, sent his Tartan to Samaria, and to Jerusalem. Professor Strauchius, following this passage, has adopted the same opinion.
2 Chronicles 33:12 . Humbled himself. This prince was a coward in war, and very deficient, it would seem, in his repentance. His prayer used to be placed at the end of this book.
2 Chronicles 33:18 . Manasseh, and his prayer, which will be found in the Apocrypha. This prayer was much used in Jewish confessions.
What a loss is a good king to the nation, and to the church. The change of monarchs at this period was as the changes of day and night; one all luminous, another all darkness. Hezekiah, the good Hezekiah, is taken away from a people not worthy of so good a king. In one year all the glory of his reformation is as a neglected garden. The bitter weeds of idolatry and vice instantaneously spring up, and more than in the calamitous reign of that wicked Ahaz. The princes of Judah, who had secretly opposed every reformation, took their advantage to empoison the minority of Manasseh. The nobility, biassed by dissipation to idolatry, and averse to the temple by the payment of tithes, were ever prone to apostasy, and the enchantments of idol-worship. So, triumphing in success, they in a short time filled Jerusalem and all Judea with the idols which Hezekiah had destroyed. They had as many gods as cities, Jeremiah 11:13; nor were they content with this, but wanton with wickedness and infidel pride, they set up once more a carved image, or the abomination which maketh desolate in the temple of the Lord. The king, emulous to distinguish himself in this way, caused his own son to pass through the fire to Moloch. Oh that the great ones of the earth would be warned by the errors of past ages! Past ages, did I say; nay but by the errors of our own times. The nobility of France patronized the learned infidels, because they employed their wit in flattering vice, and in railing at revelation. Presently these nobility, as well as those of Judah who corrupted Manasseh from his good education, felt the bitter consequences of their crimes. Oh that they were wise; that they understood this; that they would consider their latter end, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever.
The indiscretions and errors of youth, when seduced by the more aged, have a first claim to divine compassion. The Lord therefore sent to warn Manasseh, and to declare that the line and plummet of vengeance which had befallen Samaria should befal Jerusalem. And what were the effects of this gracious warning? The king, hardened by his nobles, instead of repenting, ordered the prophet Isaiah, if we may follow Jerome, to be sawn asunder. Hebrews 11:37. How Hosea, Nahum, Joel, and Habakkuk escaped, we know not; but much innocent blood was shed in Jerusalem; for the truly faithful would not bow to idols.
When the wicked have unsheathed the sword against the church, it is God’s turn next to unsheath his sword against the wicked. The Lord sent the bloody generals of Babylon to display their banners around Jerusalem: and now there was no Hezekiah to weep, and no Isaiah to comfort. The good men who had then saved the city were either martyred or dead. Judah was then in covenant with God; now they were nearly all out of his covenant. So there was now no destroying angel to enter the Assyrian camp, no victory given of the Lord. The wicked princes were confounded, the new gods could not save, and JEHOVAH laughed at their calamity, and mocked at their fears. So Jerusalem was ruined, and poor Manasseh led in chains to Babylon, to enjoy his tears in solitude; for God, it appears from his prayer in the Apocrypha, gave him deep and bitter repentance; and in a most unexpected manner restored him to his throne in Jerusalem, as viceroy to the king of Babylon. Hence we learn, that although sinners are sometimes hardened to blaspheme the more because of judgments; others, neither so old nor so hardened, are humbled under the mighty hand of God. Oh what calamities did a few years of sin bring on the country: and oh, what ruin, sinner, may a few years of folly bring on thy soul, and for ever. Manasseh, on restoration to his throne, endeavoured to repair his fault by the destruction of idols. But he could only check the evil; the moment he died it all shot up again in the short reign of Amon his son; and it was a mercy to Israel that Amon’s reign was short. It made way for a prince of Hezekiah’s temper and faith. Hence we conclude that the calamities of nations are often the defence of piety; and that the true church is irradiated, as the bush of Moses, and not consumed by the flame.
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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 33". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://studylight.org/
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