Winners and Losers: Part 8 - MANASSEH

Manasseh: A King Whose Example of Faith Could Not Overcome His Idolatrous Past

Kathy's Sunday School Lessons Written for Young Boys and Girls by Kathryn Capoccia

© Copyright Kathryn Capoccia 2001. This file may be freely copied, printed out, and distributed as long
as copyright and source statements remain intact, and that it is not sold.

Manasseh has been described as “the wickedest king of Judah”. His sins were responsible for the wrath that God poured out over Judah through the nation of Babylon. Jeremiah 15:2,3 says of Judah, “This is what the LORD says: Those destined for death, to death; those for the sword, to the sword; those for starvation, to starvation; those for captivity, to captivity. ‘I will send four kinds of destroyers against them’, declares the LORD, ‘the sword to kill and dogs to drag away and the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth to devour and destroy. I will make them abhorrent to all the kingdoms of the earth because of what Manasseh son of Hezekiah king of Judah did in Jerusalem.’” During the reign of Manasseh the Assyrian nation dominated Judah. Manasseh was considered a vassal king to Tiglath-pileser III, Esarhaddon (681-669 B.C.), and Ashurbanipal (669-630 B.C.), and paid tribute to them. He also sent Jewish troops to aid their armies when they invaded and plundered the Egyptians. (This information came from “The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible”, Vol. 4, Zondervan Publishing House © 1975, pg.62). But it was not Assyria that would destroy Judah, it was Babylon- the Babylon that Hezekiah had shown all the riches of his kingdom to- but at this time the kings of the Assyrians apparently freely traveled about Babylon, Ashurbanipal’s brother Shamash-shumukin was of Babylon, and Manasseh would be taken to Babylon as an Assyrian prisoner, so the nations had close ties and were almost interchangeable in some ways. However, it was the behavior of Manasseh, not Hezekiah, that brought down God’s wrath upon Judah. How could such an ungodly king have followed such a king of faith? What happened to him at the end of his life? Let’s look at the Scriptures and see if this man was truly a loser or if he can be considered a winner in any sense.

I. Who Was He? (2KI 21:1-18; 2CH 33:1-20).

A. What was his name? Manasseh means “one who causes to forget”.

B. Who were his people?

1. His father was Hezekiah (“strong in the LORD”), the godly reformer/king of Judah who ruled 29 years, from 716/15 B.C. to 687/86 B.C. (2KI 20:21; 2CH 32:33). Hezekiah had been given an extension of life, 15 years, as a result of prayer- during that time Manasseh was conceived and born to Hezekiah and his wife (2KI 20:6).

2. His mother’s name was Hephzibah (“my delight is in her”), the wife of Hezekiah (2KI 21:1).

3. He was a Jew descended from King David.

C. When did he live? Manasseh lived from 708 B.C. to 641 B.C.. He reigned as co-regent with his father from 696/97 B.C. to 687 B.C. and as sole ruler until 641 B.C., a reign of 55 years, the longest in Judah’s history. He ascended the throne when he was 12 years old (2KI 21:1; 2CH 33:1).

D. Where did he live? He lived in Judah.

II. What Did He Do?

A. He was pagan

1. he rebelled against the godly reforms of his father- he did evil like the pagan nations (2KI 21:2; 2CH 33:2).

a. Hezekiah’s reforms

1) he promoted the worship of God

a) he reopened the Temple and repaired the doors (2CH 29:3)

b) he reinstated the priests and Levites (2CH 29:4-6)

c) he rededicated the Temple (2CH 29:16-30)

2) he purged the land of idols (2CH 30:13,14)

b. Manasseh’s response

1) he rebuilt pagan worship sites which Hezekiah had demolished and rebuilt the high places (2KI 21:3).

2) he erected altars for Baal, pillars for Asherah (2KI 21:4; 2CH 33:3).

3) he worshipped “all the host of heaven and served them” (2KI 21:3; 2CH 33:3).

2. he encouraged the spread of gross paganism in Judah- he “seduced Judah to do evil” (2KI 21:9)

a. he desecrated the Temple

1) he built pagan altars in the house of the LORD (2KI 21:4).

2) he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD (2KI 21:5)

b. he practiced public paganism

1) he publicly practiced the Canaanite worship rites

a) he sacrificed his own son in the fire (2KI 21:6) *see 2CH 33:6

b) he practiced sorcery and divination (2KI 21:6)

c) he consulted mediums and spiritists (2KI 21:6)

2) he encouraged paganism by the people by placing an Asherah pole in the Temple (2KI 21:7) .

3. he persecuted the faithful (2KI 24:3,4; JER 2:30)

a. he shed innocent blood (2KI 21:16, 24:4)

b. the prophets were put to the sword (JER 2:30)

c. Rabbinical literature attributes the death of Isaiah to Manasseh; Isaiah supposedly had fled from Manasseh, hidden in a tree, been discovered and then sawn asunder.


1. He made a personal choice not to believe.

2. He was born in the period of time when his father’s “heart was proud” (2CH 32:25) and perhaps Manasseh saw his father as a hypocrite.

3. Hezekiah died when Manasseh was only twelve and perhaps there were no godly counselors to guide the young king after his father’s death.

B. He was penitent

1. He was judged

a. he provoked God to anger because of the evil he committed (2KI 21:6).

b. God pronounced judgment on Manasseh and Judah (2KI 21:10-15).

1) Manasseh ignored the prophets that God sent (2CH 33:10).

2) Manasseh was captured by the Assyrians, bound with chains and taken to Babylon with a hook through his nose (2CH 33:11).

2. He repented of his sins

a. he was in distress in Babylon (2CH 33:12)

b. he humbly entreated God for forgiveness (2CH 33:13)

c. he was restored to his throne and he “knew that the LORD was God” (2CH 33:13)

3. He became zealous for God

a. he began to fortify Jerusalem and arm the fortified cities of Judah (2CH 33:14) .

b. he cleansed Jerusalem of the foreign gods and worship places (2CH 33:15)

c. he set up the altar of the LORD and made sacrifices to God (2CH 33:16)

d. he ordered Judah to serve God (2CH 33:16)


Manasseh could not fully undo what he had done.

1) “The people still sacrificed in the high places, although only to the LORD their God” (2CH 33:17). This was a violation of the Law which said that worship should be conducted in a central sanctuary (DEU 12:5).

2) Manasseh’s sin was not expiated (JER 15:4).

3) Manasseh was buried in his own house, not with the kings of Judah (2CH 33:20).

4) his son Amon, who succeeded him, “did evil in the sight of the LORD as his father Manasseh had done” (2CH 33:22)

III. What Can We Learn From Him?

A. The sins we commit in rebellion towards God carry consequences that can affect others long after we’ve repented of them.

B. Anyone who is a leader bears a tremendous responsibility to lead wisely because people will follow him/her whether for good or evil.

C. God can save anyone under any circumstances and forgive them their sins if they come to Him in humility and faith.

Added to Bible Bulletin Board's "Kathy Capoccia's Sunday School Lessons for Young Adults" by:

Tony Capoccia
Bible Bulletin Board
Box 119
Columbus, New Jersey, USA, 08022
Websites: and
Online since 1986