The first step in the re-establishment of idolatry seems to have been the restoration of the high places where Yahweh was professedly worshipped 2 Kings 18:22, but with idolatrous rites 1 Kings 14:23. The next was to re-introduce the favorite idolatry of Israel, Baal-worship, which had formerly flourished in Judaea under Athaliah 2 Kings 11:18, and Ahaz 2 Chronicles 28:2. After this, Manasseh seems to have especially affected Sabaism, which had been previously unknown in Judaea (compare 2 Kings 17:16 and note).
Worshipped all the host of heaven - Sabaism, or pure star-worship, without images, and without astrological superstitions, included a reverence for the sun, the moon, the chief stars, and the twelve signs of the Zodiac (2 Kings 23:5 note). The main worship was by altars, on which incense was burned Jeremiah 19:13. These altars were placed either upon the ground 2 Kings 21:5, or upon the house-tops 2 Kings 23:12; Zephaniah 1:5. The sun was worshipped with the face toward the east Ezekiel 8:16; chariots and horses were dedicated to him 2 Kings 23:11. The star-worship of the Jews has far more the character of an Arabian than an Assyrian or Chaldaean cult. It obtained its hold at a time when Assyria and Babylonia had but little communication with Judaea - i. e., during the reign of Manasseh. It crept in probably from the same quarter as the Molech worship, with which it is here (and in 2 Chronicles 33:3-6) conjoined.
The kingdom of Judah, prosperous throughout the times of Hezekiah, was once more brought low during the long years of Manasseh's wicked reign, when paganism was revived, and many of the people were led into idolatry. “Manasseh made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err, and to do worse than the heathen.” 2 Chronicles 33:9. The glorious light of former generations was followed by the darkness of superstition and error. Gross evils sprang up and flourished—tyranny, oppression, hatred of all that is good. Justice was perverted; violence prevailed. PK 381.1
Yet those evil times were not without witnesses for God and the right. The trying experiences through which Judah had safely passed during Hezekiah's reign had developed, in the hearts of many, a sturdiness of character that now served as a bulwark against the prevailing iniquity. Their testimony in behalf of truth and righteousness aroused the anger of Manasseh and his associates in authority, who endeavored to establish themselves in evil-doing by silencing every voice of disapproval. “Manasseh shed innocent blood very much, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another.” 2 Kings 21:16. PK 381.2Read in context »