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2 Kings 21:1 . Manasseh was twelve years old. He was the sixteenth king of Judah, ruined in his education, it would seem, by some apostate priests. These tutors ruined the church also, and ruined their country, as well as their prince, and ultimately they ruined themselves. There was now no illustrious priest, like Zachariah and his brothers, to die as martyrs sooner than outlive the purity of their religion. This young man followed therefore the way of Ahab, and of Ahaz, to ruin. Isaiah, now old and feeble, if we may follow Jerome in his comment on this prophet, chap. 6., did make resistance, and on that account was sawn asunder with a wooden saw. His enemies, the apostates, alleged against him a charge of blasphemy for saying, “I saw the Lord;” Moses having recorded the divine declaration, “No man can see my face and live.” Exodus 32:0. The objection against this tradition is, that Isaiah could not live to the commencement of this reign. It is replied that Jotham reigned twenty five years, Ahaz only sixteen, and Hezekiah twenty nine; in all seventy years. Therefore Isaiah might be little more than ninety when Manasseh began to reign. We find him in the full exercise of his ministry fourteen years before the death of Hezekiah. St. Paul also refers to some illustrious person who was sawn asunder. Hebrews 11:37. For this and other crimes, Esarhaddon carried Manasseh captive to Babylon, and shut him up seven or eight years in prison, where he is said to have repented, and composed his penitentiary prayer, and to have reigned well after his restoration. See the Jewish book, Seder-Olam, ch. 24. Also 2 Chronicles 33:0., where this history is more largely given.
2 Kings 21:7 . A graven image of the grove, of Astartè or Venus. Selden, on the gods of Syria, contends, and justly too, that the Hebrew word should be so rendered.
2 Kings 21:16 . Manasseh shed innocent blood. He had probably taken away the life of Isaiah the prophet, as already intimated, and also the life of other good men, who opposed the iniquity of his apostate court. By getting rid of so many faithful men, they thought to enjoy their wickedness in peace, but the Lord brought the Chaldeans on a cowardly king and army, and Manasseh fled to hide himself among the thorns of the desert. See the Notes and Reflections on 2 Chronicles 33:0.
REFLECTIONS. On reading the history of the Israelites in their passage through the wilderness, we are astonished at their unbelief and hardness of heart, amidst such a profusion of miracles and of mercies, and wonder how they could presume to tempt the Lord and to grieve his Holy Spirit in the manner they did, for the space of forty years; yet it seems that these provocations were only a specimen of their general character, and served the purpose of illustrating the great goodness and longsuffering of God towards them. With some few exceptions in the early part of their national history, during the reign of David and Solomon, and some others, we observe the same incorrigible spirit of unbelief and of rebellion against God, with encreasing proofs of the awful depravity and corruption of human nature, down to the latest period of their social existence.
Jehoiakim, the son of good king Josiah, whose untimely death all Judah lamented, was a most profligate and unprincipled tyrant, guilty of every species of oppression towards the people, and of impiety towards God. His odious reign of eleven years had filled the nation with such abhorrence, that the common rites of sepulture were denied him at his death; his carcase was cast out of the city like so much dung, and left apparently to rot above-ground, the greatest indignity that could be offered to human nature. Jeremiah 22:13-19.
The son of this degraded prince was Jehoiachin, sometimes called Jeconiah, and by way of contempt Coniah, Jeremiah 22:24; but in the evangelical genealogy he is called Jechonias. Matthew 1:11. Incapable of moral improvement, this Jehoiachin took no warning whatever from the example of his father, whose memory was shaded with the deepest infamy, but abandoned himself to vice and profligacy. After a short reign of little more than three months, he was dethroned by Nebuchadnezzar, and carried into Babylon, where he died in captivity, an awful monument of divine displeasure. In the former siege of Jerusalem, during the reign of Jehoiakim his father, Nebuchadnezzar carried away upwards of three thousand of the principal people, and the more valuable part of the vessels of the sanctuary. In the present instance the Chaldean monarch made more than ten thousand captives, and carried off what still remained in the temple. Thus the day of Jerusalem’s destruction, so long and frequently foretold, was now rapidly approaching, and the time of the Lord’s anger was hastening on.
Mattaniah, brother of Jehoiachin, was nominated to the vacant throne by Nebuchadnezzar, being merely his viceroy, the dominion having in effect passed into the hands of the king of Babylon. This Mattaniah, whose name the conqueror changed to Zedekiah, was the last of the kings of Judah; with him the kingdom of the two tribes totally ceased, and all went into captivity. This deputy king exhibited the same inveterate depravity as his predecessors, took no warning from their fearful example, but set at defiance the denunciations of the prophets, and even dared the vengeance of heaven. Having filled up the measure of his iniquity, after a turbulent reign of eight years, and violating his covenant with Nebuchadnezzar, he was hurled from this throne, was summoned into the presence of Nebuchadnezzar at his camp in Riblah, where his eyes were ordered to be put out; and he was then consigned to the dungeons of Babylon. In this third and last siege Jerusalem was utterly destroyed by the Chaldeans, all that remained in the temple was carried away, with numerous of the inhabitants; and thus terminated the awful catastrophe, the particulars of which are enumerated in the following chapter.
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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Kings 21". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent