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Manasseh of Judah

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Manasseh</br> (Menasheh ben Hizqiyah)
King of Judah</br> (Melekh Yehudah)
Reign coregency 697-687 BC
sole reign</br>687–643 BC
Born c.709 BC
Birthplace probably Jerusalem
Died c.643 BC
Place of death probably Jerusalem
Predecessor King Hezekiah
Successor Amon
Offspring Amon
Royal House House of David
Father King Hezekiah
Mother Hephzi-bah
Kings of Judah


Manasseh (Hebrew: מְנַשֶּׁה, Modern {{{2}}} Tiberian {{{3}}}; Greek: Μανασσης; Latin: Manasses) was a king of the Kingdom of Judah. He was the only son of Hezekiah with Hephzi-bah. He became king at an age 12 years and reigned for 55 years. (2 Kings 21:1; 2 Chronicles 33:1) Edwin Thiele has concluded that he commenced his reign as co-regent with his father Hezekiah in 697/696 BC, with his sole reign beginning in 687/686 BC and continuing until his death in 643/642 BC.[1] William F. Albright has dated his reign from 687 – 642 BC.

Manasseh was the first king of Judah who would not have had a direct experience of a Kingdom of Israel, which had been destroyed by the Assyrians in c. 720 BC and most of its population deported. He re-instituting pagan worship and reversed the religious reforms made by his father Hezekiah; for which he is condemned. (2 Kings 21:2-16; 2 Chronicles 33:2-19)

He was married to Meshullemeth, daughter of Haruz of Jotbah, and they had a son Amon, who succeeded him as king of Judah upon his death.

After a reign of 55 years (for 10 of which he was co-regent with his father), the longest in the history of Judah, he died in c. 643 BC and was buried in the garden of Uzza, the "garden of his own house" (2 Kings 21:17-18; 2 Chronicles 33:20), and not in the City of David, among his ancestors.

He is also one of the kings mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew.

Relations with Assyria

When Manasseh's reign began, Sennacherib was king of Assyria, who reigned until 681 BC. Manasseh is mentioned in Assyrian records as a contemporary and loyal vassal of Sennacherib's son and successor, Esarhaddon.[2] Assyrian records list Manasseh among twenty-two kings required to provide materials for Esarhaddon's building projects. Esarhaddon died in 669 BC and was succeeded by his son, Ashurbanipal, who also names Manasseh as one of a number of vassals who assisted his campaign against Egypt.[2]

According to 2 Chronicles 33:11-13, Manasseh was on one occasion brought in chains to the Assyrian king, presumably for suspected disloyalty. The verse goes on to indicate that he was later treated well and restored to his throne. However, neither Kings nor Assyrian records mention this incident.[2]

Religious policies

Manasseh reversed the religious traditions restored by his father Hezekiah, reinstating pagan worship in the Temple, for which he is condemned by the author of Kings. (2 Kings 21) He built altars to pagan gods. (2 Chronicles 33:1-10) His reign may be described as reactionary in relation to his father's; and Kings suggests that he may have executed supporters of his father's reforms. (2 Kings 21:16)

A tradition recorded in 2 Chronicles 33:11 tells that Manasseh was taken captive to Babylon by an unnamed king of Assyria (some have proposed that Esarhaddon was this unnamed king). Such captive kings were usually treated with great cruelty. They were brought before the conqueror with a hook or ring passed through their lips or their jaws, having a cord attached to it, by which they were led. (see also 2 Kings 19:28).

The severity of Manasseh's imprisonment brought him to repentance. According to the Biblical account, Manasseh was restored to the throne, (2 Chronicles 33:11-13) and abandoned idolatry, removing foreign idols (2 Chronicles 33:15), and enjoined the people to worship in the traditional Israelite manner. (2 Chronicles 33:16)

Chronological notes

Thiele dates Manasseh's reign back from the dates of the reign of his grandson, Josiah. Josiah died at the hands of Pharaoh Necho II in the summer of 609 BC.[3] By Judean reckoning that began regnal years in the fall month of Tishri, this would be in the year 610/609 BC. Josiah reigned for 31 years (2 Kings 21:19, 22:1) and began to reign after the short two-year reign of Amon. Manasseh's last year, 33 years earlier, would be 643/642 BC.

The length of Manasseh's reign is given as 55 years in 2 Kings 20:21. Assuming non-accession reckoning, as he usually did for coregencies, Thiele determined 54 "actual" years back to 697/696 BC, as the year when the Hezekiah/Manasseh coregency began. Non-accession reckoning means that the first partial year of a king in office was counted twice, once for him and once for his predecessor, so that one year must be subtracted when measuring spans of time. An analysis of the data for Jeroboam II of Israel and Jehoshaphat of Judah, both of whom had coregencies, shows that their years were measured in this way.

Regarding the Hezekiah/Manasseh coregency, Thiele observes Manasseh began his reign when he was 12 years old (2 Kings 21:1), and then comments, "A Hebrew lad when he reached the age of twelve was a "son of the law" and had become gadol. He had then passed from the days of childhood to youth and was considered old enough to concern himself with the serious work of life . . . "it is only to be expected that the king, facing the prospect of the termination of his reign within fifteen years [2 Kings 20:6], would at the earliest moment give the heir-presumptive every advantage of training in leadership."[4]

In other literature

In rabbinic literature he is credited with the death of Isaiah.

The apocryphal Prayer of Manasseh purports to be a penitential prayer spoken by Manasseh.


  1. Edwin Thiele, The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings, (1st ed.; New York: Macmillan, 1951; 2d ed.; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965; 3rd ed.; Grand Rapids: Zondervan/Kregel, 1983). ISBN 082543825X, 9780825438257, 217.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 A History of Israel, John Bright, p. 311, (1980) [1]
  3. D. J. Wiseman, Chronicles of Chaldean Kings (London: Trustees of the British Museum, 1956) 94-95.
  4. Edwin R. Thiele, The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings (2nd ed.; Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1965) 158-159.
Manasseh of Judah
Preceded by
King of Judah
Coregency: 697 – 687 BC
Sole reign: 687 – 643 BC
Succeeded by

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