II Chronicles – Chapter 33

Menashe Does a 180

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

Menashe was only 12 years old when he became king. As kings go, he was among the worst. He restored all the sources of idolatry that his father had worked so hard to eliminate. He worshipped asheira trees and heavenly bodies, and he even put idols in the Temple! He passed his children through fire (one of the worst forms of idolatry conceivable!) and he practiced sorcery and necromancy. He provoked G-d in countless ways, not the least of which was his Temple idols. In short, Menashe was a very poor leader and role model, leading his people astray. G-d sent prophets to straighten the people out, but they wouldn’t listen.

Finally, G-d sent the Assyrians, who captured Menashe and brought him to Babylonia. This was big enough trouble to make him actually pray to G-d for help. G-d heard his prayer and returned Menashe to Jerusalem and the throne. After that, Menashe was a changed man. He built up the city and fortified its defenses. He removed his idols, especially those in the Temple, and discarded them outside the city. He improved the Temple altar and actually used it to serve G-d. Not only that, he encouraged the people of Judah to join him in the service of G-d! They did, though they continued to use their private altars.

Menashe was succeeded by his son, Amon. Amon emulated his father’s evil ways, serving idols. But Amon was worse, because he never humbled himself before G-d. His own staff conspired and assassinated him. The people executed the assassins and installed Amon’s son Yoshiyahu (Josiah) as king.

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