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MANASSEH

1. the older son of Joseph and Asenath. Joseph explained the name, which means "forget," as helping him forget his sufferings (Genesis 41:51). Jacob was the grandfather of Manasseh and his younger brother Ephraim, and adopted the two boys. This was a common custom because adoption ensured inheritance. When he gave them his blessing before he died, Jacob prophesied that Ephraim would be the ancestor of a great nation. His prophecy proved accurate (Genesis 48:19). Manasseh married a Canaanite and settled in the Jordan Valley. His best-known descendant was Gilead; 2. son of Hezekiah. He succeeded his father as King of Judah and ruled from 687 to 642 B.C., the longest reign in its history. This stability, however, was not due to virtue; Jewish historians have called him the most wicked king in Judah's history, because he introduced shameful religious practices and encouraged idol worship and magic. Often he shed innocent blood and constantly defied Yahweh. His son, Amon, succeeded him but was killed within two years (II Kings 21). The Bible mentions three others named Manasseh: the husband of Judith who died of sunstroke (Judith 8:2-3); the son of Pahath-moab who married a foreign wife (Ezra 10:30); and the son of Hashum who is also rebuked for having married a foreign wife (Ezra 10:33). Both of the last two Manassehs, however, put away their wives and expiated their sin (Ezra 10:44).

All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.

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