Manasseh (king)

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Root Jesse window in the Saint Martin church in Groslay, King Manasse

King Manasseh ( Hebrew מְנַשֶּׁה, * around 708 BC Chr .; † around 642 or 641 BC BC), about which the Bible reports, ruled between 696/95 and 642/41 BC. The southern kingdom of Judah .


The historical king Manasseh took over in 696 BC. The government at the age of 12. Judah was through the campaign of Sennacherib in the year 701 BC. Completely destroyed and large parts of the Schefela belonged to the philistine neighboring states. Jerusalem was by the events of 720 BC. BC (Samaria) and 701 BC Chr. (Sennacherib) overcrowded with refugees and grown to three times its original population (approx. 60,000) and area (approx. 65 ha).

After the Assyrian conquest of Israel, as a result of the uprising under Hezekiah , the surrounding city-states on the coast and the fertile Shefela, Manasseh as an Assyrian vassal was faced with the task of restructuring Judah, finding new sources of money for the high tribute payments and a new supply of food to organize. He massively promoted the settlement of the southern steppe, the Be'er Scheva valley and the mountainous region, which had to take over the abandonment of the lost granary of Schefela . If Hezekiah was faced with the task of ideologically integrating the Israelites who had fled the north , it was up to Manasseh to concentrate the economy on the central power of the king and his palace bureaucracy. He had fortresses built and agricultural settlements fortified in the Judean Desert , the southern hill country and the eastern Negev . He took on a leading role in the frankincense trade on the southern Jewish trade routes from the Edomite Arava through the Beersheba Valley to Gaza and was considered a loyal vassal of the Assyrian kings Sennacherib, Assurhaddon and Ashurbanipal . He actively supported the military enterprise of Assur against Egypt and was able to recover Judah economically at the end of his reign and hand it over to his son Amon in its old western borders .

Biblical report

Manasse's extremely long reign of 55 years is briefly mentioned in the text of the two biblical accounts in 2 Kings 21: 1–18 and 2 Chronicles 33: 1–20. The account in 2 Kings 21: 1–18, which is part of the Deuteronomistic History , blames Manasse's apostasy for the fall of Judah. The Prayer of Manasseh is a penitential prayer, which is based on the report of 2 Chronicles.

Manasseh's mother was Hefzi-Bah (from another source: Abija Bat-Sacharja). If it were of Manassite origin, Manasse's unusual name would have to be explained.

Archaeological investigations have also shown that Judah and Manasseh participated strongly in Assyria's important trade in Arab products such as frankincense. The discovery of a Hebrew seal from the 7th century, with a South Arabic name, supports the thesis that Manasseh's wife Meschullemet , a daughter of Haruz from Jotba ( 2 Kings 21:19  EU ), was an Arab.


Extra-biblical accounts of Manasseh can be found in the annals of the Assyrian kings:

  • James B. Pritchard (Ed.): Ancient Near Eastern texts, relating to the Old Testament (ANET). Princeton 1969, pp. 291-294.

On the problem of dating Judean kings:

  • Edwin Richard Thiele: The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings. Chicago 1951.
  • Gershon Galil: The Chronology of the Kings of Israel and Judah. Leiden 1996, ISBN 90-04-10611-1 .
  • E. Ben Zwi: Prelude to a Reconstruction of the Historical Manassic Judah. In: Biblical Notes, Current Contributions to the Exegesis of the Bible and its World (BN) 81, 1996, ISSN  0178-2967 , pp. 31–44.
  • N. Naaman: Historical and Chronological Notes on the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah in the Eighth Century BC In: Vetus Testamentum (VT) 36, 1986, ISSN  0042-4935 , pp. 71-92.

At Jerusalem and Judah during Iron II:

  • Israel Finkelstein : The Archeology of the Days of Manasseh. In: Michael D. Coogan, JC Exum, LE Stager (Ed.): Scripture and Other Artifacts. Louisville 1994, ISBN 0-664-22036-3 , pp. 169-187.
  • Israel Finkelstein, Neil A. Silbermann: David and Solomon. Munich 2006, ISBN 3-406-54676-5 , pp. 136ff.

Web links

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predecessor Office successor
Hezekiah King of Judah
696–642 BC Chr.