The Prayer of Manasseh – What is it?
The Prayer of Manasseh is an apocryphal work of 15 verses falsely attributed to King Manasseh of Judah. It may have been composed as early as the second century BC.
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In the Bible, King Manasseh lived as an idolatrous king who was captured by the Assyrians and imprisoned in Babylon (2 Chronicles 33; 2 Kings 21). During his time in Babylon, Manasseh prayed for mercy and repented. Second Chronicles 33:12-13 records, "And when he was in distress, he entreated the favor of the LORD his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. He prayed to him, and God was moved by his entreaty and heard his plea and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD was God."
While Scripture records that Manasseh prayed, we are not told the contents of this prayer. Instead, 2 Chronicles 33:18-19 states that his prayer was recorded elsewhere: "Now the rest of the acts of Manasseh, and his prayer to his God, and the words of the seers who spoke to him in the name of the LORD, the God of Israel, behold, they are in the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel. And his prayer, and how God was moved by his entreaty, and all his sin and his faithlessness, and the sites on which he built high places and set up the Asherim and the images, before he humbled himself, behold, they are written in the Chronicles of the Seers."
Though the Prayer of Manasseh is not considered a work by Manasseh, a fourth century version of the Latin Vulgate added this work to the end of 2 Chronicles. It later also appeared in the 1537 Matthews Bible and Geneva Bible of 1599 as well as in the Apocrypha of the King James Version.
Despite its short length, the Prayer of Manasseh includes some content inconsistent with the Bible. Verse 8 notes some men such as Abraham did not need to repent because they did not sin. Of course, Scripture notes that all people have sinned (Romans 3:10-12).
While the biblical account of Manasseh's prayer was indeed powerful and righteous, the writing called the Prayer of Manasseh is not part of the biblical text and is to be considered a later writing.
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