Hi, my name is Manasseh, the son of one of Jerusalem's greatest and most devout kings, Hezekiah. But let's just say I didn't exactly follow in my father's footsteps. I was king of Judah from 698-642 BCE, and during my reign I encouraged the worship of other gods, including the Canaanite fertility couple Baal and Asherah. I also sacrificed my own children by fire in Jerusalem's Hinnom Valley.
Unfortunately, you weren't alone in this horrific act, Manasseh. Several biblical kings sacrificed their children there. In fact, the Hebrew word for hell, gehenna, refers to this location (ge means valley, henna refers to Hinnom).
Horrendous! I read in the Hebrew Bible, in 2 Kings 21, if memory serves, that you Manasseh were the worst and most wicked king ever. So with so much negative publicity, how did you come to play a role in the Apocrypha?
Well Methuselah, if you only read about me in 2 Kings 21, you wouldn't know that later in life I repented. My awful sins are also listed in 2 Chronicles 33, but there the text elaborates that before my death in exile I prayed to God for forgiveness. The Prayer of Manasseh in the Apocrypha purports to be the contents of this prayer. In the first 8 verses I praise God's greatness, and then admit that "I have committed more sins than the number of the sand in the sea."
Wooo Manasseh! That's quite a bit of sinning!
Right you are Mike. But after acknowledging my sins, I beg and beseech God for mercy and forgiveness, saying things like "And now I bend the knee of my heart, beseeching Your goodness" (1:11).
So did God ever forgive you, Manasseh?
Well ... neither the Hebrew Bible nor the Apocrypha say. While God's grace isn't subject to democratic principles, I am curious what you the readers think concerning my fate. So before going on to the next section, which is about the fascinating trials and tribulations of a guy nicknamed "The Hammer" and his family, go ahead and vote: