2 Kings 21

CHAPTER XXI

Manasseh succeeds his father Hezekiah, reigns fifty-five years,

and fills Jerusalem and the whole land with abominable idolatry

and murder, 1-9.

God denounces the heaviest judgments against him and the land,

10-15.

Manasseh's acts and death, 16-18.

Amon his son succeeds him, and reigns two years; is equally

profligate with his father; is slain by his servants, and

buried in the garden of Uzza; and Josiah his son reigns in his

stead, 19-26.

NOTES ON CHAP. XXI

Verse 1. Manasseh was twelve years old] He was born about three

years after his father's miraculous cure; he was carried captive

to Babylon, repented, was restored to his kingdom, put down

idolatry, and died at the age of sixty-seven years. See

2Ch 33:1-20.

Verse 2. After the abominations of the heathen] He exactly

copied the conduct of those nations which God had cast out of that

land.

Verse 3. Made a grove] He made Asherah, the Babylonian Melitta

or Roman Venus. See 2Ki 17:10, and the observations at the end of

that chapter; and see here on 2Ki 21:7.

Worshipped all the host of heaven] All the stars and planets,

but particularly the sun and the moon.

Verse 4. Built altars] He placed idolatrous altars even in the

temple.

Verse 6. Made his son pass through the fire] Consecrated him to

Moloch.

Observed times] veonen; he practiced divination by

the clouds; by observing their course at particular times, their

different kinds, contrary directions, &c., &c.

Used enchantments] venichesh; he used incantations,

spells, and charms.

Dealt with familiar spirits] veasah ob; he was a

necromancer; was a raiser of spirits, whom he endeavoured to press

into his service; he had a Python.

And wizards] veyiddeonim; the knowing ones, the

white witches, and such like; see on Le 19:26-31, where most of

these terms are particularly explained and illustrated.

Verse 7. He set a graven image of the grove that he had made in

the house] Every one may see that Asherah here must signify an

idol, and not a grove; and for the proof of this see the

observations at the end of the chapter. See Clarke on 2Ki 21:26.

Verse 8. Neither will I make the feet of Israel] Had they been

faithful to God's testimonies they never had gone into captivity,

and should even at this day have been in possession of the

promised land.

Verse 9. Seduced them to do more evil] He did all he could to

pervert the national character, and totally destroy the worship of

the true God; and he succeeded.

Verse 10. The Lord spake by-the prophets] The prophets were

Hosea, Joel, Nahum, Habakkuk, and Isaiah. These five following

verses contain the sum of what these prophets spoke. It is said

that Isaiah not only prophesied in those days, but also that he

was put to death by Manasseh, being sawn asunder by a wooden saw.

Verse 12. Both his ears shall tingle.] titstsalnah;

something expressive of the sound in what we call, from the same

sensation, the tingling of the ears. This is the consequence of

having the ears suddenly pierced with a loud and shrill noise; the

ears seem to ring for some time after. The prophets spoke to them

vehemently, so that the sound seemed to be continued even when

they had left off speaking. This was a faithful and solemn

testimony.

Verse 13. The line of Samaria] I will treat Jerusalem as I have

treated Samaria. Samaria was taken, pillaged, ruined, and its

inhabitants led into captivity; Jerusalem shall have the same

measure.

And the plummet of the house of Ahab] The house of Ahab was

totally destroyed, and not a man of his race left to sit upon the

throne of Israel: so shall it be done to the house or royal family

of Judah; they shall be all finally destroyed, and not a man of

their race shall any more sit on the throne of Judah; nor shall

Judah have a throne to sit on. Thus Jerusalem shall have the same

weight as well as the same measure as Samaria, because it has

copied all the abominations which brought that kingdom to total

destruction.

I will wipe Jerusalem as a man wipeth a dish] The Vulgate

translates this clause as follows: Delebo Jerusalem, sicut deleri

solent tabulae; "I will blot out Jerusalem as tablets are wont to

be blotted out." This is a metaphor taken from the ancient method

of writing: they traced their letters with a stile on boards

thinly spread over with wax; for this purpose one end of the stile

was sharp, the other end blunt and smooth, with which they could

rub out what they had written, and so smooth the place and spread

back the wax, as to render it capable of receiving any other word.

Thus the Lord had written down Jerusalem, never intending that its

name or its memorial should be blotted out. It was written down

The Holy City, The City of the Great King; but now God turns the

stile and blots this out; and the Holy Jerusalem, the City of the

Great King, is no longer to be found! This double use of the stile

is pointed out in this ancient enigma:-

De summo planus; sed non ego planus in imo:

Versor utrinque manu, diverso et munere fungor:

Altera pars revocat, quicquid pars altera fecit.

"I am flat at the top, but sharp at the bottom;

I turn either end, and perform a double function:

One end destroys what the other end has made."

But the idea of emptying out and wiping a dish expresses the

same meaning equally well. Jerusalem shall be emptied of all its

wealth, and of all its inhabitants, as truly as a dish turned up

is emptied of all its contents; and it shall be turned upside

down, never to be filled again. This is true from that time to

the present hour. Jerusalem is the dish turned upside down, the

tablet blotted out to the present day! How great are God's

mercies! and how terrible his judgments!

Verse 14. I will forsake the remnant of mine inheritance] One

part (the ten tribes) was already forsaken, and carried into

captivity; the remnant (the tribe of Judah) was now about to be

forsaken.

Verse 16. Shed innocent blood very much] Like the deities he

worshipped, he was fierce and cruel; an unprincipled, merciless

tyrant: he slew innocent people and God's prophets.

Verse 17. Now the rest of the acts] In 2Ch 33:11, &c., we read

that the Assyrians took Manasseh, bound him with fetters, and took

him to Babylon; that there he repented, sought God, and was, we

are not told how, restored to his kingdom; that he fortified the

city of David, destroyed idolatry, restored the worship of the

true God, and died in peace.

In 2Ch 33:18, 19,

His prayer unto God is particularly mentioned. What is called

his prayer, is found in the Apocrypha, just before the first book

of the Maccabees. There are some good sentiments in it; but

whether it be that which was made by Manasseh is more than can be

proved. Even the Romish Church have not received it among the

canonical books.

Are they not written] There are several particulars referred to

here, and in 2Ch 33:11-19, which are not found in any chronicles

or books which now remain, and what the books of the seers were,

mentioned in Chronicles, we cannot tell.

Verse 18. In the garden of his own house] It was probably a

burying-place made for his own family, for Amon his son is said to

be buried in the same place, 2Ki 21:26.

Verse 19. He reigned two years in Jerusalem.] The remark of the

rabbins is not wholly without foundation, that the sons of those

kings who were idolaters, and who succeeded their fathers, seldom

reigned more than two years. So Nadab, the son of Jeroboam,

1Ki 15:25;

Elah, the son of Baasha, 1Ki 16:8;

Ahaziah, the son of Ahab, 1Ki 22:51; and

Amon, the son of Manasseh, as mentioned here, 2Ki 21:19.

Verse 23. The servants of Amon conspired] What their reason was

for slaying their king we cannot tell. It does not seem to have

been a popular act, for the people of the land rose up and slew

the regicides. We hear enough of this man when we hear that he was

as bad as his father was in the beginning of his reign, but did

not copy his father's repentance.

Verse 26. The garden of Uzza] The family sepulchre or

burying-place.

IT is said 2Ki 21:3, 7, that "Manasseh made a grove; and he set

a graven image of the grove," &c.

vaiyasem eth pesel haasherah, asher asah: "And he put the graven

image of Asherah, which he had made," into the house.

Asherah, which we translate grove, is undoubtedly the name of an

idol; and probably of one which was carved out of wood.

R. S. Jarchi, on Ge 12:3, says,

"that asherah means a tree which was worshipped by the

Gentiles;" like as the oak was worshipped by the ancient Druids

in Britain.

Castel, in Lex. Hept. sub voce , defines asherah

thus, Simulacrum ligneum Astartae dicatum; "A wooden image

dedicated to Astrate or Venus."

The Septuagint render the words by αλσος; and Flamminius

Nobilis, on 2Ki 23:4, says

Rursus notat Theodoretus τοαλσος esse Astartem et Venerem, et

ab aliis interpretibus dictum Ashatroth; i.e. "Again Theodoret

observes, αλσος is Astarte and Venus; and by other interpreters

called Ashtaroth."

The Targum of Ben Uzziel, on De 7:5,

vaasheyrehem tegaddeun; i.e., "Their groves shall ye cut

down"-translates the place thus, veilaney

sigedeyhon tekatsetsun; "And the oaks of their adoration shall ye

cut down."

From the above it is pretty evident that idols, not groves, are

generally intended where asherah and its derivatives are

used.

Here follow proofs:-

In 2Ki 23:6, it is said that "Josiah brought out the grove from

the house of the Lord." This translation seems very absurd; for

what grove could there be in the temple? There was none planted

there, nor was there room for any. The plain meaning of

vaiyotse eth haasherah mibbeyth Jehovah, is,

"And he brought out the (goddess) Asherah from the house of the

Lord, and burnt it," &c.

That this is the true meaning of the place appears farther from

2Ki 23:7, where it is said, "He broke down the houses of the

sodomites," ( hakkedeshim, of the whoremongers,) "where

the women wove hangings for the grove" ( bottim

laasherah, "houses or shrines for Asherah.") Similar perhaps to

those which the silversmiths made for Diana, Ac 19:24. It is

rather absurd to suppose that the women were employed in making

curtains to encompass a grove.

The Syriac and Arabic versions countenance the interpretation I

have given above. In 2Ki 23:6, the former says, "He cast out the

idol, [Syriac] dechlotho, from the house of the Lord;" and in

2Ki 23:7: "He threw down the houses, [Syriac]

dazoine, of the prostitutes; and the women who wove garments,

[Syriac] ledechlotho, for the idols which were there." The Arabic

is exactly the same.

From the whole it is evident that Asherah was no other than

Venus; the nature of whose worship is plain enough from the

mention of whoremongers and prostitutes.

I deny not that there were groves consecrated to idolatrous

worship among the Gentiles, but I am sure that such are not

intended in the above-cited passages; and the text, in most

places, reads better when understood in this way.

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