Crossing the line

King Hezekiah’s son Manasseh had the longest reign of any king of Judah. It says in 2 Kings 21:1, “Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem.” The first ten years of Manasseh’s reign were a co-regency with his father Hezekiah. This occurred during the extended period of Hezekiah’s life after God healed him of his sickness. Manasseh’s character was the complete opposite of his father Hezekiah’s during the early years of his reign. It says of Manasseh in 2 Kings 21:2, “he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, after the abominations of the heathen, whom the LORD cast out before the children of Israel.”

One explanation for Manasseh’s evil behavior was the attitude of Hezekiah after God healed him. The visit from Berodach-baladan showed that Hezekiah had become filled with pride and may have hardened his heart toward God after he was judged for his bad behavior. Another possibility was the influence of Manasseh’s mother. Her name, Hephzi-bah means my desire is in her (2657). Perhaps Manasseh was concerned with pleasing his mother and wanted to impress her with his outrageous behavior. Regardless of the source, it is clear that Manasseh’s behavior was the worst of any king of Judah.

The word used to describe Manasseh’s actions, abominations, is derived from the Hebrew word tâ‘ab (taw – ab´) which means to loathe (8681). Abominations refers to something morally disgusting, that which is detestable to God  because it is contrary to his nature. In a nutshell, Manasseh was a dangerous, sinister, and repulsive man. He crossed the line between moral and immoral behavior and did everything he could to break up what was good and desirable in Jerusalem. With regards to the people, it says in 2 Kings 21:9, “Manasseh seduced them to do more evil than did the nations whom the LORD destroyed before the children of Israel.” In other words, Manasseh intentionally led the people astray and caused them to sin against God.

In God’s economy, you reap what you sow. God’s response to Manasseh’s behavior is recorded in 2 Kings 21:11-15. This section of scripture begins with the statement, “Because Manasseh king of Judah hath done” (2 Kings 21:11) and concluded with the statement, “because they have done” (2 Kings 21:15) indicating God would hold the people accountable for their behavior also. The severity of God’s punishment is captured in 2 Kings 21:12. It says, “Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Behold, I  am bringing such evil upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whosoever heareth it, both of his ears shall tingle.”

The phrase used in this verse, “both of his ears shall tingle” (2 Kings 21:12) refers to receiving shocking news. Each time it is used in the Bible, it is associated with destruction of a dramatic nature. In the case of Manasseh, it marked the end of God’s deliverance of his people. From that point forward, God would no longer defend Jerusalem from its enemies. In fact, God intended to do the opposite, deliver his people into the hands of their enemies. It says of the LORD in 2 Kings 21:14-15, “And I will forsake the remnant of mine inheritance, and deliver them into the hands of their enemies; and they shall become a prey and a spoil to all their enemies; because they have done that which is evil in my sight, and have provoked me to anger, since the day their fathers came forth out of Egypt, even unto this day.”


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