Manasseh, King of Judah

King Manasseh Rebuilt the High Places of Idolotry Before Returning to Worship the One True God

After 29 years, Hezekiah's good reign came to an end, leaving 12-year-old Manasseh as king of Judah. Remarkably, he reigned 55 years in Jerusalem. But his life and leadership was far different than his father. Manasseh rebuilt the high places of idolatry that his father had destroyed, built altars for Baal worship, made wooden images, and worshipped the sun, moon and stars. He also polluted the temple by building altars for other gods. He sacrificed his own sons, burning them to death in worship of the idol Molech.

As if that wasn't enough, Manasseh experimented with foretelling the future, using witchcraft and sorcery, and consulted spiritualists -- all things considered abominable by God. “So Manasseh made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err, and to do worse than the heathen.” (KJV)

God sent a prophet to speak in His name. “Because Manasseh king of Judah has done these abominations (he has acted more wickedly than all the Amorites who were before him, and has also made Judah sin with his idols), therefore thus says the Lord God of Israel: Behold, I am bringing such calamity upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whoever hears of it, both his ears will tingle. I will wipe Jerusalem as one wipes a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down. So I will forsake the remnant of My inheritance and deliver them into the hand of their enemies; and they shall become victims of plunder to all their enemies, because they have done evil in My sight, and have provoked Me to anger since the day their fathers came out of Egypt, even to this day.”

Still, Manasseh and the people of Judah would not listen. Manasseh was out of control, and eradicated anyone who disagreed with him or displeased him. He murdered so many of his own people with innocent blood “till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another.”

The king of Assyria brought his armies against Manasseh, and took him bound in shackles as a captive to Babylon. Finally, Manasseh prayed to the true God, genuinely humbling himself. God in His mercy heard Manasseh's appeal, and he was returned to Jerusalem. “Then Manasseh knew that the Lord was God.”

Upon his return, Manasseh began a series of actions attempting to undo the spiritual devastation he had caused. He began building projects, constructing a huge wall outside Jerusalem. He assigned officers to all the fortified cities of Judah. Then he removed all the idols from the temple, and demolished altars on the hills around the city. He repaired the altar of the Lord and appointed priests to offer sacrifices, including offerings of peace and thanksgiving. Manasseh commanded the people to return to worshipping the one true God. The people cooperated to some degree, but still sacrificed at the high places, except instead of offering to idols, they sacrificed to the Lord.

But the damage had been done. Years later, Judah was attacked by Chaldeans, Syrians, Moabites and Ammonites, and ultimately taken captive by the Babylonians. The blame was squarely placed on Manasseh. “He sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the Lord which He had spoken by His servants the prophets. Surely at the commandment of the Lord this came upon Judah, to remove them from His sight because of the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he had done, and also because of the innocent blood that he had shed; for he had filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, which the Lord would not pardon.” (2 Kings 24:2-4)

“I will hand them over to trouble, to all kingdoms of the earth, because of Manasseh the son of Hezekiah, king of Judah, for what he did in Jerusalem.” (Jeremiah 15:4)

Manasseh died, and his son, Amon reigned as the next king of Judah. (2 Kings 21:1-18; 2 Chronicles 33:1-20)

Written by: Pete Miller