II Kings 21:
1 Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Hephzibah. 2 And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to the despicable practices of the nations whom the LORD drove out before the people of Israel. 3 For he rebuilt the high places that Hezekiah his father had destroyed, and he erected altars for Baal and made an Asherah, as Ahab king of Israel had done, and worshiped all the host of heaven and served them. 4 And he built altars in the house of the LORD, of which the LORD had said, “In Jerusalem will I put my name.” 5 And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD. 6 And he burned his son as an offering and used fortune-telling and omens and dealt with mediums and with wizards. He did much evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking him to anger. 7 And the carved image of Asherah that he had made he set in the house of which the LORD said to David and to Solomon his son, “In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put my name forever. 8 And I will not cause the feet of Israel to wander anymore out of the land that I gave to their fathers, if only they will be careful to do according to all that I have commanded them, and according to all the Law that my servant Moses commanded them.” 9 But they did not listen, and Manasseh led them astray to do more evil than the nations had done whom the LORD destroyed before the people of Israel.
Hezekiah’s work, unfortunately, is thus undone by Manasseh – the young king whose mother is ironically called Hephzibah, the symbolical name of Zion, representing the LORD’s delight in Jerusalem (Isaiah 62:4). This heretical king thus built altars in the house of the LORD, building altars for Baal and made an Asherah, burning his son as an offering, using fortune-telling (Deuteronomy 18) and omens and mediums and wizards – this is the same king of Judah who followed in the vein of the practices of the neighbouring countries and failed to walk a life circumcised in the Spirit. The irony that this same image of Asherah is now set in the same house where the LORD promised to both types of Christ, David the man after the LORD’s heart and Solomon the Wisdom of the LORD, that this is where the LORD shall put His name forever (v.4 and 7 repeated; c.f. 1 Samuel 7, 1 Kings 9). Yet, His Name and the throne on which this anointed and prophesied son of David and King of Israel are one and the same – this is the LORD Jesus Christ, the Name of the Father (Exodus 23:21), who shall reign on the throne of Israel forevermore. Thus, the LORD speaks – “In Jerusalem will I put my name”, thus meaning – in Jerusalem will the name of Christ be stamped as the true identity of this rebellious nation.
“But they did not listen” (v.9) – and Manasseh thus successfully led them astray to do more evil than the neighbouring destroyed nations.
10 And the LORD said by his servants the prophets, 11 “Because Manasseh king of Judah has committed these abominations and has done things more evil than all that the Amorites did, who were before him, and has made Judah also to sin with his idols, 12 therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Behold, I am bringing upon Jerusalem and Judah such disaster that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle. 13 And I will stretch over Jerusalem the measuring line of Samaria, and the plumb line of the house of Ahab, and I will wipe Jerusalem as one wipes a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down. 14 And I will forsake the remnant of my heritage and give them into the hand of their enemies, and they shall become a prey and a spoil to all their enemies, 15 because they have done what is evil in my sight and have provoked me to anger, since the day their fathers came out of Egypt, even to this day.”
Thus, the LORD intends to replace the plumb line of the house of Ahab, the measuring line of Samaria (v.13) with the plumb line of righteousness (Isaiah 34:11); but not until Jerusalem is wiped and turned upside down. For the plumb line of Jerusalem is that of the house of Ahab – for the anointed city is walking in sin. It would seem like the promise made to Adam in Genesis 3:15 will come to an end here – and never before has Israel faced such a dire threat; this is truly a dark moment in Israel’s history, far more than the imminent death of Christ (which, by comparison, is but a step towards greater light and hope). Ironic, therefore, that he slept in the garden of strength and his son the builder (Uzza and Amon) reigned in his place, when Manasseh was truly deranged in his abuse of his strength as king of Judah who failed to build Judah up from Hezekiah’s day:
16 Moreover, Manasseh shed very much innocent blood, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another, besides the sin that he made Judah to sin so that they did what was evil in the sight of the LORD.
17 Now the rest of the acts of Manasseh and all that he did, and the sin that he committed, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? 18 And Manasseh slept with his fathers and was buried in the garden of his house, in the garden of Uzza, and Amon his son reigned in his place.
19 Amon was twenty-two years old when he began to reign, and he reigned two years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Meshullemeth the daughter of Haruz of Jotbah. 20 And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, as Manasseh his father had done. 21 He walked in all the way in which his father walked and served the idols that his father served and worshiped them. 22 He abandoned the LORD, the God of his fathers, and did not walk in the way of the LORD. 23 And the servants of Amon conspired against him and put the king to death in his house. 24 But the people of the land struck down all those who had conspired against King Amon, and the people of the land made Josiah his son king in his place. 25 Now the rest of the acts of Amon that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? 26 And he was buried in his tomb in the garden of Uzza, and Josiah his son reigned in his place.
Unsurprisingly, Manasseh did not exhibit Christ-like leadership in his family; Amon is thus led astray, a man who could have re-built Jerusalem but instead led Judah to further downfall. Instead, his life was brought to a short end at 24 years old when the servants of Amon conspired against him and killed him in his own house (typical of the manner of the kingdom of corruption – 1 Kings 15:27, 16:9, 16:16; 2 Kings 9:14, 10:9, 15:10, 15:25, 21:23-24). Would Josiah, the new king brought to the fore by those who struck down the conspirators, bring the lamp back to Jerusalem?
II Kings 22:
1 Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jedidah the daughter of Adaiah of Bozkath. 2 And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and walked in all the way of David his father, and he did not turn aside to the right or to the left.
Now we come to the life of Josiah (healed / supported by Jehovah), the young king and son of the one beloved by Jehovah (Jedidah), the daughter of Adaiah (adorned by Jehovah) of Bozkath (a city of Judah in the lowlands). This is a man lifted up by the LORD in his reign over Jerusalem for 31 years, walking in all the way of David, the type of Christ. He is surrounded by men like Shaphan, the son of he who is near the LORD (Azaliah), son of Meshullam (befriended) – the secretary to the house of the LORD. At the tender age of 26, he immediately restarts the restoration of the Temple by directing the portion of Jehovah, Hilkiah, trusting that the carpenters, builders and masons deal honestly:
3 In the eighteenth year of King Josiah, the king sent Shaphan the son of Azaliah, son of Meshullam, the secretary, to the house of the LORD, saying, 4 “Go up to Hilkiah the high priest, that he may count the money that has been brought into the house of the LORD, which the keepers of the threshold have collected from the people. 5 And let it be given into the hand of the workmen who have the oversight of the house of the LORD, and let them give it to the workmen who are at the house of the LORD, repairing the house 6 (that is, to the carpenters, and to the builders, and to the masons), and let them use it for buying timber and quarried stone to repair the house. 7 But no accounting shall be asked from them for the money that is delivered into their hand, for they deal honestly.”
8 And Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the LORD.” And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it. 9 And Shaphan the secretary came to the king, and reported to the king, “Your servants have emptied out the money that was found in the house and have delivered it into the hand of the workmen who have the oversight of the house of the LORD.” 10 Then Shaphan the secretary told the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read it before the king.
This is a stark contrast to Manasseh and Amon’s lives – the first recorded instance of Josiah’s kingship is the restoration of the house of the LORD. This cleansing is coupled with the description in 2 Chronicles 34:1-7:
“1 Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem. 2 And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, and walked in the ways of David his father; and he did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. 3 For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet a boy, he began to seek the God of David his father, and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high places, the Asherim, and the carved and the metal images. 4 And they chopped down the altars of the Baals in his presence, and he cut down the incense altars that stood above them. And he broke in pieces the Asherim and the carved and the metal images, and he made dust of them and scattered it over the graves of those who had sacrificed to them. 5 He also burned the bones of the priests on their altars and cleansed Judah and Jerusalem. 6 And in the cities of Manasseh, Ephraim, and Simeon, and as far as Naphtali, in their ruins all around, 7 he broke down the altars and beat the Asherim and the images into powder and cut down all the incense altars throughout all the land of Israel. Then he returned to Jerusalem.”
However, his task is far greater than that of mere physical restoration; the LORD planned for a spiritual reformation through the young king Josiah – restoring the true meaning of what the house of the LORD was for. It is befitting of such a king from an ancestry in Judah to tear his clothes in his utter disappointment that the LORD had been disobeyed by His anointed nation for so many years – and it is indeed a fitting commentary for the entire books of 1 and 2 Kings, that the fathers of the kings of Israel have not obeyed the words of the Torah.
11 When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes. 12 And the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Achbor the son of Micaiah, and Shaphan the secretary, and Asaiah the king’s servant, saying, 13 “Go, inquire of the LORD for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found. For great is the wrath of the LORD that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.”
Immediately, Josiah’s trusted men (Ahikam, Achbor / Abdon (c.f. 2 Chronicles 34:20), Shaphan and Asaiah, bearing names indicating their faithful servant-heart to the LORD their God) go to the prophetess of the LORD, Huldah , the wife of Shallum (whose name indicates retribution, as it is the LORD’s retribution against Israel v.16-17 for their faithlessness). However, the hope is to stay with Judah – Josiah, whose heart was “penitent”, who “humbled [himself] before the LORD, when [he] heard how [the LORD] spoke against this place and against its inhabitants, that they should become a desolation and a curse (in fulfillment of Deuteronomy 28:37)”. Just like Hezekiah (c.f. 2 Kings 20:19), Josiah also will not see the imminent disaster, despite the penitence and faithfulness of these kings of Judah – for the LORD’s destruction shall come to bring true refining in the fiery furnace to usher the dawn of reformation where Christ shall fulfill all the shadows which the nation Israel should have always been pointing to.
14 So Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam, and Achbor, and Shaphan, and Asaiah went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe (now she lived in Jerusalem in the Second Quarter), and they talked with her. 15 And she said to them, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: ‘Tell the man who sent you to me, 16 Thus says the LORD, behold, I will bring disaster upon this place and upon its inhabitants, all the words of the book that the king of Judah has read. 17 Because they have forsaken me and have made offerings to other gods, that they might provoke me to anger with all the work of their hands, therefore my wrath will be kindled against this place, and it will not be quenched. 18 But to the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the LORD, thus shall you say to him, Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Regarding the words that you have heard, 19 because your heart was penitent, and you humbled yourself before the LORD, when you heard how I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and you have torn your clothes and wept before me, I also have heard you, declares the LORD. 20 Therefore, behold, I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace, and your eyes shall not see all the disaster that I will bring upon this place.’” And they brought back word to the king.