A biblical character
, Manasseh (687-642 B.C.) was the son of the righteous king Hezekiah
, but was himself the most wicked king of Judah
His exploits are detailed in 2 Kings 21:1-17 and again in 2 Chronicles 33:1-20. The two passages agree that he became king at age twelve, reigned for fifty-five years, and did a lot of seriously bad shit in between. They disagree in that the Manasseh from 2 Chronicles repents and gets back into God's good graces, whereas the Manasseh from 2 Kings never repents.
There is also a short Psalm called The Prayer of Manasseh in the Pseudepigrapha (or the Apocrypha, depending on who you ask) in which the Manasseh from 2 Chronicles prays to God for forgiveness.
Also, I'm involved in a Role Playing Game called In Nomine by Steve Jackson Games. I play a demon named Manasseh who, as a Shedite can possess people and make them do evil things. Being many thousands of years old, my character did indeed possess Hezekiah's son way back when, and therefore was the biblical Manasseh.
According to 2 Chronicles I let him go before he died. According to 2 Kings I didn't. Which really happened? Only the Game Master knows for sure.
is taking over countries left and right. Anybody who
stands in its way gets wiped out. Israel
, under Hosea
, is finally
swallowed up in 722. Judea
manages to hold on because they pay off the
Assyrians, and agree to pay a yearly tribute.
Now Hezekiah comes to the throne in Judea, and after a few years he
decides he's not gonna pay the Assyrians any more. He holds a national
religious revival, shakes up the priesthood and in general does a lot of
"yay we're so great" things to get the people ready for war. He fortifies
his cities, digs a tunnel under Jerusalem so they will have water in case
of siege (this has been found), and asks Egypt for help.
Sennacherib of Assyria comes to Judea and captures a bunch of the
fortified cities. Then he sieges Jerusalem. However, he hears of trouble
at home, and decides he needs to make a deal quick so he can get out of
there. He forces Hezekiah to give up a bunch of stuff, and does NOT lower
the tribute -- even though Hezekiah now has a whole lot less cities to
work with. Then he leaves. (In the Bible, this is where all the
Assyrians are slain overnight by the angel of the lord.) Hezekiah is left
on the throne. Sennacherib goes home and is assassinated by two of his
This happens around 701. After a little while, his son Manesseh comes to
the throne at age 12. He is pro-Assyrian, probably because he thinks it's
suicidal not to be. He brings in a lot of Near Eastern religion so he can
show the Assyrians that hey, we're just like you guys! Don't wipe us out!
Among other things, he builds, in the temple, altars for the sun and moon
and stars, as well as Baal and any other gods anybody can think of; makes
it legal to practice divination and soothsaying and necromancy; rebuilds
all the little local shrines outside of Jerusalem so people can sacrifice
there too; and kills a lot of people, who might have been pro-Assyrian, or
might not. He reigned 55 years after all, he had plenty of time. He also
practices the Moloch sacrifice, which is the sacrifice of his first-born
son. Usually this is done to ensure victory in battle, but his battles
are not mentioned.
Manasseh established an Asherah pole -- it's been speculated that Asherah
was supposed to be the wife of YHWH, and that the pole was her
symbol. YHWH himself is never given a statue or a form, but Asherah
was. She's also represented by lions.
Baal, who also got an altar, is a big deal in most places in that time.
The name can be a pun in ancient Hebrew: Baal means "lord" in Hebrew, and
plus he was a thunder god -- he's got fertility stuff connected with him
too. They ate sacred raisin cakes every harvest for him, and built idols
out of precious metals to him. There were lots of different local Baals,
all subsumed into BAAL.
When he finally dies, his son Amon comes to power. This kid is 22, and
only reigns for 2 years before he is assassinated. Why this son?
Manasseh died when he was 67, surely he had older sons...did he sacrifice
them all? Or were they just not right for the throne?
Amon is assassinated, and his son comes to power: Josiah, at the age of
8. By now Assyria is weakening, and Josiah starts to take back lands that
were once part of Judea, and even some of Israel's lost lands. Then one
of his priests, Hilkiah, finds a scroll, and when Josiah reads it, he
rends his garments because the scroll says everybody is going to be
punished unless they straighten up. On the basis of this scroll he
performs religious reforms much like Hezekiah. (It is pretty certain that
the scroll is Deuteronomy, but it is not certain whether Josiah had it
written, or one of the other priests did, or perhaps it was Jeremiah, or,
most unlikely of all, they *did* find an ancient scroll, just by
accident.) It is interesting to note what he clears out of the temple of
YHWH, which was put there by Manasseh, besides the altars to just about
every god available, he clears out male prostitutes (probably female ones
as well), the great golden horses and chariots to the Sun at the gates of
the temple, the necromancers and the diviners and the soothsayers, and he
stops the Moloch sacrifice. It's astounding that most of this stuff was IN the
temple. He also initiates Passover -- this had not been one of the Jewish
festivals before. He was probably trying to raise lots of national
feeling like Hezekiah did, since Assyria is just about gone and he wants
to go to war. But then he goes out and gets himself killed by the Pharoah
Necho, and that is just about the end of Judea. The Babylonians come in
and destroy the temple, and everybody is shipped off to Babylon.