Well, the daily office always gives me things to ponder in my life.  Yesterday, we heard about king Manasseh of Israel in the 21st chapter of II Kings.  He ruled from age 12 (I believe the year before he would have reached his majority – but maybe that’s a later tradition).  I wonder if his mother, or others, set the tone for his rule.  In any case, he ruled until he was 67 – quite a respectable age in those days.

His rule was, from the point of view of the book, a disaster.  He rebuilt the “high places” of worship that his father had destroyed.  He erected altars for Baal and made an Asherah.  And he worshiped these idols.  He built altars for the “hosts of heaven” (other gods) in the two courts of the house of the Lord.  He burned his son as an offering to the gods.  And he “shed very much innocent blood, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another.”

Today we read about Josiah, who reigned from age 8 to age 39.  And he was a complete contrast.  He paid for a major restoration of the temple (asking for now accounting of how the money was spent!).  And when they found “the book of the law” the king rent his clothes because of how badly they had disobeyed the Lord.

I’m just amazed at how badly Manasseh transgressed Jewish law.  Sacrificing his own son to idols is about as bad as it can get.  And during his reign, Jewish law seems to have been completely misplaced and forgotten on an official level.  Josiah had to “rediscover” the law.

I’m sure all of this didn’t just affect the elite.  I’m sure it trickled down into the lives of ordinary people.  All of this represents huge changes in people’s lives.  Talk about people not recognizing their own place of worship!

I expect the pace of change is faster in today’s world.  But I’m betting people’s lives were in as much turmoil and transition then as they are today.

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