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(2 CHRONICLES XXXIII. 11.) MANASSEH, son of Hezekiah, king of Judah, began his reign B.C. 696. At his exaltation to the throne he was only twelve years old. This was a dangerous period of life to be placed in such an exalted station; for the thoughts of man are evil from his youth. The rank seeds of vice, which are in the heart by nature, are nourished by worldly grandeur. Manasseh was, therefore, beset by dangers from within and without. Nor was it from a corrupt nature and worldly grandeur alone that this young monarch had cause for fear. He was surrounded by evil counsellors, which, combined with innate corruption and the splendours of a court, proved too strong for his youth. He became so corrupted, that it seemed the special object of his reign to overthrow all the good which his pious father had wrought in Judah.

The crimes of the former kings of Judah, indeed, though great, were surpassed by those which disgraced the early reign of Manasseh. He revived all the abominations that Hezekiah had destroyed; he built altars for all the host of heaven, in the very courts of the Temple of Jehovah; he erected an idol in the house of God; he sacrificed his children to Moloch in the valley of Hinnom; he used enchantments and witchcraft, and made divination by Ob;* he maintained numerous necromancers, astronomers, and soothsayers; he planted a grove for idolatry in the precincts of the Temple; and he made Judah and Jerusalem to do worse than the heathen whom the Lord had destroyed before the children of Israel. Wickedness reigned dominant, and righteousness and truth were, consequently, so persecuted, that, in the emphatic language of the sacred historian, “ innocent blood filled Jerusalem from one end to another.”

God, therefore, threatened the wicked monarch that he would bring manifold miseries upon him and his people. His denunciation reads thus :—“Behold, I am bringing such evil upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whosoever heareth of it, both his ears shall tingle. And I will stretch over Jerusalem the line of Samaria, and the plummet of the house of Ahab: and I will wipe Jerusalem as a man wipeth a dish,

* The worship of the serpent, which is to be traced through all heathen antiquity, and was, in fact, the worship of Satan.

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