Josiah’s Generation

King Josiah was the last righteous king of Judah before the fall of Jerusalem.  He was an important historical figure because of his devotion to God, and I think he sets several examples for this generation that we better pay attention too.  A look at the kings (his father and grandfathers) that came before him will be a good introduction into him.  The second post will be his heirs and the major ministry he fostered as king.

HezekiahHezekiah was a great king who is associated with the prophet Isaiah.  He saw and did many great things: rid the country of idols, cleansed the Temple, celebrated Passover, was saved from a dangerous enemy, and was healed of a serious disease.  2 Chronicles 32: 31 records that these great things were used to test his heart; he did not do well!  At age forty-two he had a son, Manasseh, who became king at the age of twelve.

Manasseh – Manasseh was the worst!  After thinking about his “sins” they must have included the wholesale sacrificing of infants.  2 Kings 24 states that the “Lord was not willing to forgive” his transgressions.  (2 Kings and 2 Chronicles have slightly different stories; they were written by different people for different audiences, but probably from the same written records.).

2 Chronicles 33:12 has the story of extreme distress on the part of Manasseh and how he sought God for forgiveness and restoration.  God did restore him to Jerusalem and his kingship.  I see this as a testament of God’s faithfulness and mercy (to David).  It might be easy to blur lines and concepts here on how God deals with things, but I see a God who is treating a person with a level of kindness while still not accepting the evil done in his life.

Even with Manasseh forsaking God and leading the people into sin, he had learned and remembered the example of his father, Hezekiah.  It is a shame that it took a physical hook in the nose to get his attention.

Amon – This guy did not get the “memo” at all!  It is probable that Amon saw the events of his father’s captivity and restoration and just ignored the lesson.  Amon was twenty-two when he started ruling; he was born to Manasseh when he was forty-five years old so you would think he would have learned something.

There was a disturbing shift here that is seen with the rest of the kings before the fall of Jerusalem.  The kings started ruling early in life and had children very young.  Amon fathered Josiah at sixteen.  Yes, I know factors were different then but still these children were “growing up” very early.

It is possible that Josiah knew the “reformed Manasseh” and possible learned the lesson that Amon choose to ignore.

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Tribes of Israel – Manasseh

Manasseh was the first-born child of Joseph who was put as a “second son” by Jacob. Joseph in naming Manasseh and Ephraim demonstrates that he was perfectly happy with his new life and had no intention of going back. (Genesis 41:51+52) He had the power to send a message back to his family but he did not.

I wonder how these two acted around the rest of the family? They were children of the ruler of the country they lived in and because of being Egyptian possibly had more privileges. From Genesis 48:1 I would wonder if Joseph even allowed them to live around his brothers? Joseph may have had them marry within the family but Manasseh definitely owned slaves and even had a foreign concubine.

1 Chronicles 7:14+15 talks about Manasseh’s two notable descendents: Gilead and Zelophehad.  In Numbers 36 Zelophehad dies in the exodus and leaves only daughters, these girls stand up for themselves and their father’s lineage. The daughters go to Moses and plead their case before God; this leads to a new decree to acknowledge women as heirs. It may not sound like much but that was groundbreaking territory when women were viewed much of the time as second-class people or property.   The other descendent was Gilead who was to lend his name to the area of the east bank of the Jordan River that wasTwelveTribesofIsraelebible the inheritance of the tribes of Manasseh, Rueben and Gad. This is a contrast to Zelophehad’s daughters; Gilead comes from an Aramean concubine and a group of people who were not Israelites (Huppites and Shuppites). Just like Bilhah and Zilpah this concubine was a slave that Manasseh used and was so elevated to a slightly better status in the household. You get the feeling that the children were valued but not the mother (Sarah and Hagar).

In 1 Chronicles 5: 18 -26 it gives two contrasting stories; one of faith and trust in God and the other of unfaithfulness to Him. In verse 20 the East Bank tribes cry out to God for help in the middle of a battle and are helped and overcome their enemies. In verse 25 it tells of the unfaithfulness that gets them taken away by Tiglath-Pileser.habor_river

Actually, Manasseh’s descendents were on par with the other tribes; they did their part in taking the Promise Land and showed up at all the right times and were active during the life time of Saul and David. Lo Debar is in the allotment of land given to Manasseh and it was this area that David went to when he ran from Absalom.

Map from http://www.biblestudytools.com/resources/maps/twelve-tribes-of-israel-map.html and eBibleTeacher.com.

http://bibleatlas.org/full/habor_river.htm  large map,

Hezekiah

The meaning of Hezekiah is “strengthened of Jah.” Jah or iah is a short form of Jehovah; many names in the Bible end in iah.

His life story is found in 2 Kings 18-20, 2 Chronicles 29-32 and Isaiah 36-39 (see The Life of Hezekiah, I put all three together) but there are other books that have not been found that also contains records of historical events of Judah and Israel, they are mentioned in the Bible. (see Samuel & Chronicles) I think everyone has noticed how closely the books of Kings and Chronicles are related; a reason for this is that the two writers, possibly Ezra and Baruch (Jeremiah’s scribe), used a common source and tailored the books for specific readers. He lived approximately 250 years after Solomon’s son Rehoboam and witnessed the fall of the Northern Kingdom.

Hezekiah’s reign lasted twenty-nine years and there are four major components of his time as king that are reported in our Bible.

  1. The restoration of the worship to the Temple.
  2. The attack of Sennacherib king of Assyria.
  3. His healing and its conformation.
  4. The visit of envoys from Babylon.

I tend to read the stories about the kings individually but with Hezekiah you must start with his father, Ahaz. His father did the things he undid in 2 Chronicles; Ahaz stopped Temple worship and put pagan altars there and around Jerusalem. The story in Chronicles covers cleaning and restoration of the Temple while 2 Kings covers the attack of Sennacherib.  Isaiah’s story of Hezekiah mirrors what is found in 2 Kings except for Is.38: 9-20. His illness is in Isaiah and 2 Kings while the visit from Babylon is told in all three.

The amazing thing to me is not the fact that one king was good and one was bad but that the people are not objecting to the change. Can you image what a person who was alive during Ahaz and his leaving Jehovah to then have his son Hezekiah push for reform to have his son Manasseh be the worst of all the kings of Judah must have thought? That is reflected in the story of Elijah at first the people said nothing but voiced approval when Elijah gave the challenge of fire. (1 Kings 18:21-24)

The timeline is my own. It is an Excel document and covers the time from Solomon to the 70 years of Exile. But I only can screen shot short pieces of it.