Fausset's Bible Dictionary


1. Jdg_18:30. Father of Gershom and grandfather of the Levite Jonathan, priest of the Danite graven image taken from Micah. So the Masoretic text but with the Hebrew letter nun (n) of "Ma-n-asseh" suspended above. The true reading is "Moses." The Talmud (Baba Bathr. f. 109 b.) conjecturing says: "because he did the deeds of Manasseh (2 Kings 21), Hezekiah's idolatrous son, who also made the graven image in the temple, Scripture assigns him (Jonathan) to the family of Manasseh though he was a son of Moses."

So Rabbabar bar Channa says: "the sacred author avoided calling Gershom son of Moses because it would have been ignominious to Moses to have had an ungodly son; he calls him son of Manasseh raising the Nun ( נ ) above the line that it might be either inserted or omitted ... to show that he was son of Manasseh in impiety, of Moses by descent." Jonathan was probably grandson (as "son" often means, or descendant) of Gershom, for the son of Gershom was not a "young man" (Jdg_17:7) but old shortly after the death of Joshua, the earliest date of the last five chapters of Judges, which no doubt refer to earlier events than those after which they are placed. (See JUDGES.)

2. Ezr_10:30.

3. Ezr_10:33.

4. The son born to Hezekiah, subsequently to that severe sickness in which the king's bitterest sorrow was that he was likely to die without leaving an heir. His birth was 12 years before Hezekiah's death, 710 B.C. (2Ki_21:1; 2Ki_20:3; in 2Ki_20:18 Isaiah spoke of Hezekiah's children as yet to be born.) His mother Hephzibah was probably a godly woman (compare Isa_62:4-5), daughter of one of the princes at Jerusalem (Josephus, Ant. 10:3, sec. 1). (See HEPHZIBAH.) Isaiah made her name ("my delight is in her") a type of Jerusalem, as Hezekiah was type of Messiah (Isa_32:1). The name "Manasseh" embodied Hezekiah's cherished policy to take advantage of Shalmaneser's overthrow of the rival northern kingdom, and gather round him the remnant left and attach them to the one national divinely sanctioned worship at Jerusalem (2Ch_30:6).

His proclamation had the desired effect upon "divers of Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun" (2Ch_30:18; 2Ch_31:1); they came to the Passover at Jerusalem, and joined in breaking the idols in their own country. The name Manasseh ("forgetting") given to the heir of the throne was a pledge of amnesty of past discords between Israel and Judah, and a bond of union between his crown and the northern people, a leading tribe of whom bore the name. Manasseh's reign was the longest of the reigns of Judah's kings, 55 years (2Ki_21:1-18; 2Ch_33:1-20). Hezekiah had allied himself with Babylon against Assyria, toward the close of his reign, and had displayed his treasures to show his power to the Babylonian ambassadors (2Ki_20:12-19; Isaiah 39; 2Ch_32:31). Manasseh inherited this legacy of ambition and close union with Babylon which Isaiah condemned. Then the idolatry which had been checked, not stifled (Isa_65:3-4), in Hezekiah's reign broke out again.

The abominations of various lands, especially of Babylon, were brought together at Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 33), "altars for Baalim, "groves" (asheerot), and altars for the host of heaven, in the two courts of the Lord's house." "He caused too his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom," the old Moloch worship of Ammon; and in imitation of the Babylonians "observed times, enchantments, witchcraft, and dealt with a familiar spirit and wizards." A religion of sensuous intoxication reigned on all sides. He made a graven image of the Asheerah ("grove", the obscene symbol of the phallic worship), for which women dedicated to impurity wove hangings in Jehovah's house! (2Ki_21:7.) Sodomites' (qedeeshim), "consecrated men") houses stood nigh to Jehovah's house, for the vilest purposes in the name of religion (2Ki_23:7), Jehovah's altar was cast down (2Ch_33:16), the ark was displaced (2Ch_35:3), the sabbath, the weekly witness for God, was ignored (Isa_56:2; Isa_58:13).

Then Jehovah spoke by the prophets: "Behold, I am bringing such evil upon Jerusalem and Judah that whosoever heareth it both his ears shall tingle, and I wilt stretch over Jerusalem the line of Samaria and the plummet of the house of Ahab (i.e. I will destroy it as I did Samaria and Ahab), and I will wipe Jerusalem as a man wipeth a dish, turning it upside down," so as not to leave a drop in it: complete destruction. Tradition represents Manasseh as having sawed Isaiah in sunder for his faithful protest (Heb_11:37). Josephus (Ant. 10:3, sec. 1) says Manasseh slew all the righteous and the prophets day by day, so that Jerusalem flowed with blood, Isaiah (Isa_57:1-4, etc.) alludes also to the "mockings" of which the godly "had trial" (Heb_11:36). The innocent blood thus shed was what the Lord would not pardon the nation, though He accepted Manasseh on repentance and honored the godly Josiah (2Ki_23:26; 2Ki_24:4; Jer_15:4). Judgment at last overtook Manasseh; he would not hear the word, he must hear the rod. Babylon, the occasion of his sin, was the scene of his punishment.

The captain of the Assyrian king Esarhaddon's (see Ezr_4:2; Ezr_4:10; 2Ki_17:24) host, having first crushed the revolt of the Babylonian Merodach Baladan, next took his ally Manasseh "among the thorns," chochim, (rather "with hooks"; an image From the ring passed through the noses of wild beasts to subdue and lead them; so 2Ki_19:28; Eze_29:4), and carried him to Babylon. In affliction he besought the Lord his God (compare Psa_119:67; Psa_119:71; Psa_119:75). The monuments mention "Minasi" (Manasseh) the king of Judah among Esarhaddon's tributaries. Other Assyrian kings governed Babylon by viceroys, but he, like his grandfather Sargon, took the title of its "king," and built a palace and held his court there. A Babylonian tablet was discovered dated by the year of his reign. The undesigned coincidence with secular monuments, whereby Scripture records he brought Manasseh to Babylon (where we might have expected Nineveh), confirms its truth.

The omission from 2 Kings 21 of Manasseh's repentance is due to its having no lasting result so far as the kingdom was concerned. His abolition of outward idolatry did not convert the people, and at his death Amen restored it. Esarhaddon's Babylonian reign was 680-667 B.C.; 676 is fixed on as the date of Manasseh's captivity, the 22nd year of his reign. Manasseh "humbled himself greatly (1Pe_5:6) before the God of his fathers and prayed unto Him, and He was intreated of him and brought him again to Jerusalem. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord He is God." This illustrates the exceeding riches of God's grace to the vilest (1Ti_1:15-16). The benefit of sanctified affliction, the efficacy of self abusing suppliant prayer, both these teach experimental knowledge of God (Psa_9:16). Manasseh on his restoration built a wall outside the city of David, W. of Gihon, even to the entering in of "the fish gate" (Zep_1:10 alludes to this), compassing about Ophel.

He took away the strange gods and idol out of Jehovah's house, and all the altars in the mount of the house of Jehovah and in Jerusalem, and repaired Jehovah's altar, and commanded Judah to serve Jehovah. The people still sacrificed in the high places, but to Jehovah. The book of the law was as yet a hidden book (2Ch_34:14). He put captains in Judah's fenced cities to guard against Assyria on one side, Egypt on the other. He was buried in his own house (2Ki_21:18) in the garden of Uzza, as not being counted worthy of burial among the kings of David's house. Isaiah and Habakkuk closed their prophesying in his reign; Jeremiah and Zephaniah were but youths in it. Infidelity resulted from the confused polytheism introduced, and from the cutting off of all the faithful (Zep_1:12).

"His prayer and the words of the seers to him were written in the book of the kings of Israel"; while special accounts of his prayer "and how God was intreated, and all his sins ... before he was humbled ... were written among the sayings of the seers" (the Qeri makes it Hozai a prophet: 2Ch_33:18-19). Amon succeeded Manasseh. "The Prayer of Manasseh" in the Apocrypha was rejected from the canon even by the Council of Trent. His recording his own shame and repentance and God's grace to him (though not preserved to us) evidences the reality and depth of his change of heart (Psa_66:16; Joh_4:29; Mar_5:19).


Taken from: Fausset's Bible Dictionary by Andrew Robert Fausset (1821-1910)