Royalty and Ruin


Manasseh and Josiah: the Worst and the Best

The kingdom of Judah was brought low once more during Manasseh’s wicked reign. Paganism had revived, and many were led into idolatry. “Manasseh seduced Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to do more evil than the nations whom the Lord had destroyed before the children of Israel.” 2 Chronicles 33:9. Gross evils sprang up and flourished—tyranny, oppression, hatred of all that is good. Justice was perverted, and violence prevailed. RR 137.1

Yet the trying experiences that Judah had safely passed through during Hezekiah’s reign had developed in many a strength of character that now served as a barrier against iniquity. They spoke up for truth, and this sparked the anger of Manasseh, who tried to silence every voice of disapproval. “Manasseh shed very much innocent blood, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another.” 2 Kings 21:16. RR 137.2

One of the first to fall was Isaiah, who had stood for more than half a century as the appointed messenger of Jehovah. “Others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword.” Hebrews 11:36, 37. RR 137.3

Some who suffered persecution during Manasseh’s reign had brought special messages of reproof from God. The prophets declared that the king of Judah “has acted more wickedly than all ... who were before him.” 2 Kings 21:11. Because of this, the inhabitants of the land were to be carried captive to Babylon, there to become “victims of plunder to all their enemies.” Verse 14. But those who in a strange land would put their trust wholly in the Lord would find a sure refuge. RR 137.4

Faithfully the prophets spoke to Manasseh and his people, but backsliding Judah paid no attention. As an example of what would happen to the people if they continued unrepentant, the Lord permitted their king to be captured by Assyrian soldiers who “bound him with bronze fetters, and carried him off to Babylon.” 2 Chronicles 33:11. This affliction brought the king to his senses. He “humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, and ... He received his entreaty, heard his supplication, and brought him back to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord was God.” Verses 12, 13. But this repentance came too late to save the kingdom from the influence of years of idol worship. RR 137.5

Among those whose life had been shaped beyond recall was Manasseh’s own son, who came to the throne at the age of twenty-two. King Amon “walked in all the ways that his father had walked.” “He forsook the Lord God of his fathers.” 2 Kings 21:21, 22. The wicked king was not permitted to reign long. Only two years from the time he came to the throne, his own servants killed him in the palace, and “the people of the land made his son Josiah king in his place.” 2 Chronicles 33:25. RR 138.1