1-6Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king. He ruled for fifty-five years in Jerusalem. In God’s opinion he was a bad king—an evil king. He reintroduced all the moral rot and spiritual corruption that had been scoured from the country when God dispossessed the pagan nations in favor of the children of Israel. He rebuilt the sex-and-religion shrines that his father Hezekiah had torn down, he built altars and phallic images for the sex god Baal and the sex goddess Asherah and worshiped the cosmic powers, taking orders from the constellations. He built shrines to the cosmic powers and placed them in both courtyards of The Temple of God, the very Jerusalem Temple dedicated exclusively by God’s decree to God’s Name (“in Jerusalem I place my Name”). He burned his own sons in a sacrificial rite in the Valley of Ben Hinnom. He practiced witchcraft and fortunetelling. He held séances and consulted spirits from the underworld. Much evil—in God’s view a career in evil. And God was angry.
7-8As a last straw he placed a carved image of the sex goddess Asherah that he had commissioned in The Temple of God, a flagrant and provocative violation of God’s well-known command to both David and Solomon, “In this Temple and in this city Jerusalem, my choice out of all the tribes of Israel, I place my Name—exclusively and forever.” He had promised, “Never again will I let my people Israel wander off from this land I’ve given to their ancestors. But on this condition, that they keep everything I’ve commanded in the instructions my servant Moses passed on to them.”
9-10But Manasseh led Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem off the beaten path into practices of evil exceeding even the evil of the pagan nations that God had earlier destroyed. When God spoke to Manasseh and his people about this, they ignored him.
11-13Then God directed the leaders of the troops of the king of Assyria to come after Manasseh. They put a hook in his nose, shackles on his feet, and took him off to Babylon. Now that he was in trouble, he went to his knees in prayer asking for help—total repentance before the God of his ancestors. As he prayed, God was touched; God listened and brought him back to Jerusalem as king. That convinced Manasseh that God was in control.
14-17After that Manasseh rebuilt the outside defensive wall of the City of David to the west of the Gihon spring in the valley. It went from the Fish Gate and around the hill of Ophel. He also increased its height. He tightened up the defense system by posting army captains in all the fortress cities of Judah. He also did a good spring cleaning on The Temple, carting out the pagan idols and the goddess statue. He took all the altars he had set up on The Temple hill and throughout Jerusalem and dumped them outside the city. He put the Altar of God back in working order and restored worship, sacrificing Peace-Offerings and Thank-Offerings. He issued orders to the people: “You shall serve and worship God, the God of Israel.” But the people didn’t take him seriously—they used the name “God” but kept on going to the old pagan neighborhood shrines and doing the same old things.
18-19The rest of the history of Manasseh—his prayer to his God, and the sermons the prophets personally delivered by authority of God, the God of Israel—this is all written in The Chronicles of the Kings of Israel. His prayer and how God was touched by his prayer, a list of all his sins and the things he did wrong, the actual places where he built the pagan shrines, the installation of the sex-goddess Asherah sites, and the idolatrous images that he worshiped previous to his conversion—this is all described in the records of the prophets.
20When Manasseh died, they buried him in the palace garden. His son Amon was the next king.
21-23Amon was twenty-two years old when he became king. He was king for two years in Jerusalem. In God’s opinion he lived an evil life, just like his father Manasseh, but he never did repent to God as Manasseh repented. He just kept at it, going from one thing to another.
24-25In the end Amon’s servants revolted and assassinated him—killed the king right in his own palace. The citizens in their turn then killed the king’s assassins. The citizens then crowned Josiah, Amon’s son, as king.