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Hezekiah was succeeded by his son Manasseh, who was only twelve years old when he became king of Judah. He reigned fifty-five years, but it was not a happy reign ; for Manasseh did evil in the Lord's Sight, and restored the worship of Baal and other gods, building many altars, and undoing the good his father had done. Even in the Lord's own temple Manasseh set up one of his idols; and as idolaters are generally cruel, he shed much innocent blood. In vain the LORD sent warnings by His prophets to Manasseh and to the people. They would not turn from their evil ways; and soon there came the awful sentence of God's judgment : "Behold, I am bringing such evil upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whosoever heareth of it, both his ears shall tingle. And I will forsake the remnant of Mine inheritance, and deliver them into the hand of their enemies; and they shall become a prey and a spoil to all their enemies : because they have done that which was evil in My Sight, and have provoked Me to anger, since the day
their fathers came forth out of Egypt, even unto this day."
Accordingly, the Assyrians came again upon Jerusalem, and this time, the LORD not being with His disobedient people, they fell into their enemies' hands. Manasseh was taken prisoner, and carried in chains to Babylon. He had no reason to regret this tribulation, how
In these chains he broke through the more terrible chains of sin.
" When he was in affliction, he besought the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, and prayed unto Him. And He was intreated of Manasseh, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem, into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord He was God."
After his restoration, the king sought to undo, as far as possible, all the evil he had done. He took away the strange gods, the idols and altars he had set up, and restored the altar of the Lord, worshipping and offering sacrifices there himself, and doing all he could to bring back the people to the only true God.
Whén Manasseh died, his son Amon succeeded him. He only reigned two years, during which he followed his father's early course of
sin, but not his later repentance. He was murdered by his servants. But the people took the part of Amon's young son Josiah : they slew the traitors, and made Josiah king.
KINGS OF JUDAH TO THE BABYLONISH
Josiah was only eight years old when he became king of Judah ; but from his childhood
2 he did right in the sight of the LORD, walking in the ways of David, turning neither to the right hand nor the left. He took great pains to put away all heathen worship from among the people; and when this was done, in the eighteenth year of his reign, he began to restore the Temple and all its services.
During the works that were carried on in the Temple, Hilkiah, the priest, found the Book of the Law given by Moses, which had been neglected and lost. Hilkiah sent this book to the king; and when Josiah read it, he was troubled, and rent his clothes. And the king bade Hilkiah and other of his chief servants inquire of the LORD concerning the words of the book. “For great is the wrath of the
Lord that is kindled against us,” he said, “ because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book."
Hilkiah and his companions went to a holy woman, the prophetess Huldah, on whom God's Spirit was sent, and communed with her. Then Huldah said, “Tell the man that sent you to me, Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, and upon all the inhabitants thereof, even all the words of the book which the king of Judah hath read, because they have forsaken Me.... Therefore My wrath shall be kindled against this place, and shall not be quenched." This awful message,
, however, was made lighter to the good king Josiah, by a special message to him : “Because
“ thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before the LORD, when thou heardest what I spake against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and hast rent thy clothes, and wept before Me: I also have heard thee, saith the LORD. Behold, therefore, I will gather thee unto thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered into thy grave in peace, and thine eyes shall not see all the evil which I will bring upon this place.
Josiah died in battle, after a reign of thirtyone years.
He had gone out against the king of Egypt, and was killed by an arrow. His people gave him a royal burial, and mourned very heartily over him. The prophet Jeremiah, who lived in Josiah's reign, mourned with them, and in his book of Lamentations speaks of King Josiah’s death, saying, “ The breath of our nostrils, the anointed of the LORD, was taken in the enemy's pits, of whom we said, Under his shadow we shall live among the heathen."
The people anointed Josiah's son Jehoahaz for their king, but in three months the king of Egypt carried him captive, and placed his brother Jehoiakim on the throne. This king was a mere slave to Egypt, paying heavy taxes, which almost ruined the land, and adding to the people's oppression by his own wickedness. Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, next came against Judah, and also the Chaldees, the Syrians, and Moabites ; so that the unhappy land was indeed heavily punished for her sins. Jehoiakim's reign lasted eleven years, and then his son Jehoiachin succeeded.
In his reign Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem, and took the king prisoner, with his