‘So Manasseh slept with his fathers, and they buried him in his own house: and Amon his son reigned in his stead’, 2 Chr. 33. 20.
So begins the reign of the southern kingdom of Judah’s fifteenth king, at the age of twenty-two, in 642 BC. He was the son of the previous king, Manasseh, and his wife Meshullemeth, who was the daughter of Haruz of Jotbah.1 Thankfully, he reigned for only two years.2 Without giving Amon any kind of credit, he came to the throne of Judah at a difficult time in Israel’s history. From almost the very first moment the nation steps into Canaan, the graph of their godliness is largely a downward slope. As early as chapter 2 of Judges, we read in verse 2, ‘Ye shall throw down their altars: but ye have not obeyed my voice: why have ye done this?’ Then, the first of seven castigations by God of the idolatry of the nation.3 By the time of Amon, the divided kingdom of Judah has had thirteen kings and one queen, five of whom were bad,4 and two who could be described as very bad.5 Of Rehoboam, it is said that he, ‘Forsook the law of the Lord’, 2 Chr. 12. 1, of Abijam, ‘He walked in all the sins of his father’, 1 Kgs. 15. 3. Following the good king Jehoshaphat, Jehoram ‘did evil in the sight of the Lord’, 2 Kgs. 8. 18, and much the same is said of Ahaziah, and queen Athaliah.
King Amon, did not have a great start in life. His father, king Manasseh, who ruled for fifty-five years, was, apart from Amon himself, considered one of the worst kings of Judah. God had always wanted to bless the nation. In Deuteronomy chapter 28, Jehovah explained to the nation that the blessings for obedience to His word would be abundant. However, God is not slow to tell them what will befall them if they ‘will not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God’, Deut. 28. 14. Amon’s father, king Manasseh, failed to heed the warnings and worked his evil in the nation for years. Sadly, king Amon learned nothing from his godly grandfather and everything from his ungodly father.
Although individuals in the nation were responsible to Jehovah as to how they worshipped Him, it was the king who ruled who seemed to have considerable influence upon how, and to whom, that worship was given. It is with great regret that the work of Hezekiah in the restoration of the worship of Jehovah had no effect on either Manasseh or Amon. We know from Second Chronicles chapter 33 verse 6, that Manasseh had other sons,6 but it seems that they may well have been sacrificed to the idol Molech. This was one of a list of evil things that Manasseh did, leaving Amon as his only surviving son.
However, when Manasseh was carried away to Babylon and ‘he was in affliction’,7 God heard his cry of repentance and brought him again to Jerusalem. After a long life of idolatry and evil practices, Manasseh saw the error of his ways. Sadly, though he had seen his father change at the end of his life, Amon did not do the same. We read that Amon was the most evil of all the kings of Judah.8 It is not without significance that he lived a very short life, and divine justice brought him to a speedy end. Some of his own servants must have recognized his evil ways and a conspiracy brought an end of both his reign and his life. There is nothing God hates more than idolatry. The more idol worship took place the less the people honoured God. Cammaerts once wrote, ‘When men choose not to believe in God, they do not thereafter believe in nothing, they then become capable of believing in anything’.9
Are there any lessons that we can learn today from the actions of the evil king Amon? First, despite his godly reign, Hezekiah had no perceivable influence on either his son or his grandson. In that we need to appreciate that godliness, unlike sin, is not genetic, and doesn’t run in families! Second, king Amon’s short reign seems to indicate that, ‘My Spirit shall not always strive with man’, Gen. 6. 3, and the time came when God put an end to Amon’s rule through the agency of his own officials. The nation of Judah was slow to learn, even after many warnings, that the time comes when a holy but merciful, and gracious God nevertheless puts an end to the breaking of His commandments. One wonders how long God is prepared to put up with a nation like ours that violates God’s morality so blatantly. Surely the dear Lord’s coming cannot be too distant. ‘Even so come Lord Jesus’.
Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book X chapter 3 Section 2.2.
2 Chr. 33. 21.
n verse 11 of chapter 2 of Judges, ‘And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord and served Baalim’.
Rehoboam, Abijam, Jehoram, Ahaziah, and queen Athaliah.
Ahaz and Manasseh.
See Newberry Bible margin.
2 Chr. 33. 12.
2 Chr. 33. 22-23. See also Michel Distefano, The Inner Midrashic Introduction, DeGruyter.
Émile Cammaerts, The Laughing Prophet: The Seven Virtues and G. K. Chesterton, Folcroft Library Editions, 1979.