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John Gill’s Commentary of the Whole Bible: 2 Kings 21

2 Kings 21:1


In this chapter a short history is given of the two wicked reigns of Manasseh and Amon; Manasseh is charged with great idolatry, with enchantments and witchcrafts, and seducing the children of Israel, 2Ki 21:1 and a prophecy is given out of the destruction of Jerusalem for his sins, 2Ki 21:10, and an account is given of his death and burial, 2Ki 21:17, and of his son and successor Amon, and the evils committed by him, 2Ki 21:19 and of the conspiracy against his life, which succeeded, and Josiah his son reigned in his stead, 2Ki 21:23.

Ver. 1. Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign,… So that he was born three years after Hezekiah’s recovery from his sickness, and in the seventeenth year of his reign:

and reigned fifty five years in Jerusalem: among which must be reckoned the time of his captivity in Babylon; his reign was the longest of any of the kings of Judah: and his mother’s name was Hephzibah; the name the church goes by, and signifies, “my delight or pleasure is in her”, Isa 62:4, no doubt she was a good woman, or Hezekiah would not have made choice of her for a wife; it is a tradition of the Jews {a}, that she was the daughter of Isaiah, whose name, they say, is not mentioned, because so wicked a king was unworthy of such a grandfather.

{a} Hieron. Trad. Heb. in lib. Paralipom. fol. 86. F.

2 Kings 21:2

Ver. 2. And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord,… Was guilty of idolatry:

after the abomination of the Heathen, whom the Lord cast out before the children of Israel: the old Canaanites; he committed idolatry in imitation of them, and as the Phoenicians now did before the children of Israel: the old Canaanites; he committed idolatry in imitation of them, and as the Phoenicians now did.

2 Kings 21:3

Ver. 3. For he built up again the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed,… The temples and altars upon them, see

and he reared up altars for Baal; in the high places he rebuilt:

and made a grove, as did Ahab king of Israel: which was either an idol itself, or a shade of trees where idols were placed; or rather Asherah, rendered “a grove”, is the same with Astarte, the goddess of the Zidonians, the figure of which he made and worshipped; for groves were not so soon and easily planted, raised, and made; so the same in

and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served them: the sun, moon, and stars, particularly the planets Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, and Venus.

2 Kings 21:4

Ver. 4. And he built altars in the house of the Lord,… In the holy place, as distinct from the courts in the next verse; and these were sacred to the idols of the Gentiles:

of which the Lord said, in Jerusalem will I put my name; in the temple there, devoted to his service, called by his name, and where his name was called upon, see De 12:5 and to erect altars to idols here must be very abominable to him.

2 Kings 21:5

Ver. 5. And he built altars for all the host of heaven,… Sun, moon, and stars:

in the two courts of the house of the Lord; in the court of the priests, and in the court of the people; and all this must be supposed to be done, not as soon as he began to reign, but when he was grown up to man’s estate, and had children, as the next verse shows; unless it can be thought that those nobles in Judah, who liked not the reformation made by Hezekiah, took the advantage of his youth, and advised him to these idolatries.

2 Kings 21:6

Ver. 6. And he made his son pass through the fire,… To Molech, after the manner of the old Canaanites and Phoenicians; his son Amon, that succeeded him, and other children, as appears from 2Ch 33:6, where mention is made of the place where it was done, the valley of the son of Hinnom:

and observed times; lucky or unlucky, which was judged of by omens, and by the position of the stars:

and used enchantments, and dealt with familiar spirits and wizards; to get knowledge of things to come; all which are forbid and condemned by the law of Moses; see De 18:10,

he wrought much wickedness in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger; in all those evils before mentioned, which were very abominable in the sight of God.

2 Kings 21:7

Ver. 7 And he set a graven image of the grove that he had made in the house,… Which was either an image that had been placed in a grove planted by him, and now removed into the house or temple of the Lord; or, as some think, this was a representation of a grove, a carved grove of gold or silver, in the midst of which an image was placed in the temple; though what Selden observes {b}, seems best of all, that this was an image of Asherah, as in the original text; that is, of Astarte or Ashtoreth, the goddess of the Zidonians, 1Ki 11:5, the same the Phoenicians are said to call Astroarche, and affirm it to be the moon {c}: in 2Ch 33:7 it is called a carved image the idol he had made; and an Arabic writer {d} says, it had four faces, which seems to be a figure of the cherubim; but, according to Suidas {e}, it was the statue of Jupiter, who also says it had four faces:

of which the Lord said to David, and to Solomon his son: that is, of which house or temple:

in this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, will I put my name forever; see 1Ki 8:29

See Gill on “2Ki 21:3”.

{b} De Dis Syris, Syntagm. 2. c. 2. p. 233. {c} Herodian. l. 5. c. 15. {d} Abulpharag. Hist. Dynast. Dyn. 3. p. 66. {e} In voce manasshva.

2 Kings 21:8

Ver. 8. Neither will I make the feet of Israel move any more out of the land which I gave their fathers,… Or suffer them to be carried captive into another land, as in the times of the judges; that is, on the following condition:

only if they will observe to do according to all the law that my servant Moses commanded them by obedience to which they had the tenure of the land of Canaan, Isa 1:19.

2 Kings 21:9

Ver. 9. But they hearkened not,… To the voice of God in his law by Moses, and were not obedient to it:

and Manasseh seduced them to do more evil than did the nations whom the Lord destroyed before the children of Israel: he set up more idols, and drew the people into more and greater idolatries, than the old Canaanites; and these were the more aggravated by having a law given to them, and prophets sent to instruct them in it, and by the benefits and blessings bestowed upon them by the lawgiver, which laid them under greater obligations to him; see Jer 2:11.

2 Kings 21:10

Ver. 10. And the Lord spake by his servants the prophets,… Who prophesied in the days of Manasseh; and were, according to the Jewish chronology {f}, Joel, Nahum, and Habakkuk:

saying: as follows.

{f} Seder Olam Rabba, c. 20. p. 55.

2 Kings 21:11

Ver. 11. Because Manasseh king of Judah hath done these abominations,… Before named, 2Ki 21:3,

and hath done wickedly above all that the Amorites did that were before him; one of the seven nations of Canaan, a principal of them, and which is put for all the rest:

and hath made Judah also to sin with his idols: the worship of them, as the Targum; which he did both by his edicts, and by his example.

2 Kings 21:12

Ver. 12. Therefore thus saith the Lord God of Israel,… Who, though kind and gracious to Israel as their covenant God, is yet just and righteous, as well as he is a sovereign Being and Lord of all:

behold, I am bringing such evil upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whosoever heareth of it, both his ears shall tingle; it will make such a noise in the world, and be so horrible and terrible; and if, he report of it would be so dreadful as to make a man’s ears tingle, and his heart tremble, what must it be to endure it! Eze 22:14.

2 Kings 21:13

Ver. 13. And I will stretch over Jerusalem the line of Samaria,… The Targum is, the line of destruction; and the sense is, that the same measure should be measured to Jerusalem as was to Samaria; that is, the same lot and portion should befall one as the other, that is, be utterly destroyed:

and the plummet of the house of Ahab; the Targum is, the weight or plummet of tribulation; signifying, that the same calamities should come upon the families of Jerusalem, and especially on the family of Manasseh as came upon the family of Ahab. It is a metaphor from builders that take down as well as raise up buildings by rule and measure, see 2Sa 8:2

and I will wipe Jerusalem, as a man wipeth a dish, wiping it, and turning it upside down; as when one takes a dish or cup that has broth in it, or any liquid, as oil; and the Septuagint render it alabaster, in which ointment used to be put; and wipes it clean, that nothing may appear in it; and then turns it with its mouth downward, that, if any thing should remain, it might drain out; signifying hereby the emptying o Jerusalem of its palaces and houses, wealth and riches and of all its inhabitants; and yet the empty dish being preserved, seems to denote the restoration of Jerusalem after the seventy years’ captivity. According to the Vulgate Latin version, the metaphor is taken from the blotting out of writing tables, and turning and rubbing the style upon them till the writing is no more seen.

2 Kings 21:14

Ver. 14. And I will forsake the remnant of mine inheritance,… The whole land of Canaan was the Lord’s inheritance; ten tribes in it were already removed, only Judah with Benjamin was left, and the Lord threatens to forsake that remnant:

and deliver them into the hands of their enemies, and they shall become a prey and spoil to all their enemies; which was fulfilled in their captivity in Babylon.

2 Kings 21:15

Ver. 15. Because they have done that which was evil in my sight,… Committed idolatry:

and have provoked me to anger, since the day their fathers came forth out of Egypt, even to this day; being always prone to idolatry, so provoking to God, and which they were guilty of quickly after they came out of Egypt, in the worship of the golden calf, and had ever since at times been criminal this way; and now the measure of their iniquity being almost up, would be reckoned for together.

2 Kings 21:16

Ver. 16. Moreover, Manasseh shed innocent blood very much,… Putting to death the prophets that reproved him and his people for their idolatries, and such who would not comply therewith; and it is commonly said, both by Jewish and Christian writers, that Isaiah was slain, and even sawn asunder by him, See Gill on “Heb 11:37”,

till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another; a metaphor taken from filling a vessel brimful:

beside his sin wherewith he made Judah to sin, in doing that which was evil in the sight of the Lord; the sin of idolatry he drew them into, and even obliged them to commit.

2 Kings 21:17

Ver. 17. Now the rest of the acts of Manasseh and all that he did,… Both good and bad, for he repented, and was humbled, and did many good things afterwards, though not recorded in this book:

and his sin that he sinned; his idolatry:

are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? in which were recorded the most memorable events of their reigns; and in the canonical book of Chronicles are many things concerning Manasseh, which are not written here; see 2Ch 33:11.

2 Kings 21:18

Ver. 18. And Manasseh slept with his fathers,…] Or died, after a reign of fifty five years, and a life of sixty seven:

and was buried in the garden of his own house, in the garden of Uzza; whether the burial of him here was his own choice, judging himself unworthy to lie with the kings of Judah, who had been guilty of such great sins, or whether the will of others, on the same account, is not certain; and as much at a loss are we for the reason of this garden being called the garden of Uzza, whether from Uzzah that died for touching the ark, 2Sa 6:6 or from King Uzziah, 2Ki 15:7. The Jews buried in gardens in the times of Christ, who himself was buried in one, Joh 19:41. The Romans had sometimes sepulchres in their gardens {g}, Galba the emperor was buried in his gardens {h}; and so had other nations. Cyrus king of Persia was buried in a garden {i}:

and Amon his son reigned in his stead; of whom we have the following account.

{g} Vid. Kirchman. de Funer. Romas. l. 2. c. 22. p. 274. {h} Eutrop. Hist. Roman. l. 7. Sueton. Vit. Galb. c. 20. Tacit. Hist. l. 1. c. 49. {i} Strabo. Geograph l. 15. p. 502.

2 Kings 21:19

Ver. 19. And Amon was twenty two years old when he began to reign,… Being born in the forty fifth of his father’s life, and in the thirty third of his reign:

and he reigned two years in Jerusalem; which, as Abarbinel observes, was the usual time the sons of wicked kings reigned, and instances in the son of Jeroboam, Baasha, and Ahab, 1Ki 15:25. An Arabic writer {k} says, he reigned twelve years, but according to the Jews only two:

and his mother’s name was Meshullemeth, the daughter of Haruz of Jotbah; there was a place called Jotbath, which was one of the stations of the children of Israel in the wilderness, Nu 33:33 but it can scarcely be thought to be the same place.

{k} Abulpharag. Hist. Dynast. Dyn. 3. p. 67.

2 Kings 21:20

Ver. 20. And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord,… Committed idolatry:

as his father Manasseh did: he imitated him in that, but not in his repentance and humiliation, 2Ch 33:23.

2 Kings 21:21

Ver. 21. And he walked in all the ways that his father walked in,… In his wicked way, his idolatry, witchcraft, and murders;

and served the idols that his father served, and worshipped them; Baal, Ashtoreth, and all the host of heaven, and all the carved images his father made, which it seems he only removed, but did not break in pieces, 2Ch 33:22.

2 Kings 21:22

Ver. 22. And he forsook the Lord God of his fathers,… Of David, Solomon, &c.

and walked not in the way of the Lord; prescribed by him in his law for the worship of him.

2 Kings 21:23

Ver. 23. And the servants of Amon conspired against him,… Some of his domestic servants, and perhaps his courtiers, not on account of his idolatry, but for some ill usage of them:

and slew the king in his own house: which they had an opportunity to do, being his servants.

2 Kings 21:24

Ver. 24. And the people of the land slew all them that had conspired against King Amon,… On occasion of his death, there seems to have been an insurrection of the people in a body, to avenge the death of their king, who might be beloved on account of his idolatry, so depraved was the nation; or it may be only to avenge his death because he was their king, whose life these men ought not to have taken away: and the rather this may be thought to be the reason by what follows,

and the people of the land made Josiah his son king in his stead; who had been prophesied of by name above three hundred years before, see

2 Kings 21:25

Ver. 25. Now the rest of the acts of Amon which he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?]

See Gill on “2Ki 21:17”.

2 Kings 21:26

Ver. 26. And he was buried in his sepulchre, in the garden of Uzza,… Where his father Manasseh was buried, 2Ki 21:18,

and Josiah his son reigned in his stead; of whom many things are said in the two following chapters.