A Hezekiah/Manasseh Co-regency?

Posted on 30 October 2015


King Manasseh of Judah

 

If you have a copy of Mr. Camping’s little book called The Perfect Harmony of the Numbers of the Hebrew Kings, or his Biblical Calendar of History, or his book Time Has An End, you’ll find that he gives the following dates for the reigns of Hezekiah and Manasseh:

 

Hezekiah:                715 BC – 686 BC

 

Manasseh:               697 BC – 642 BC

 

Manasseh was Hezekiah’s son, and succeeded him as king of Judah. Notice that there is an overlap in their reigns according to the above dates. Mr. Camping believed that from 697 BC until Hezekiah died in 686 BC, Manasseh was a co-regent with Hezekiah. However, when we search the Bible we don’t find any mention of co-regency.

 

It’s important that we understand this subject because Mr. Camping developed a continuous timeline from Creation to 391 BC, and used that timeline to determine the great tribulation’s three dates – with May 21, 2011 being the final date that the Bible reveals. If there are extra years or not enough years in the timeline between Biblically dated events, then his dates for the great tribulation could be wrong.

 

 

The Biblical Evidence

 

Here is what we do find in the Bible. In 2 Kings 20:21, we read:

 

And Hezekiah slept with his fathers: and Manasseh his son reigned in his stead.

 

And in the next verse, 2 Kings 21:1, we read:

 

Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Hephzibah.

 

The information from 2 Kings is confirmed by 2 Chronicles 32:33:

 

And Hezekiah slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the chiefest of the sepulchres of the sons of David: and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem did him honour at his death. And Manasseh his son reigned in his stead.

 

And by the verse that comes right after it – 2 Chronicles 33:1:

 

Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem:

 

There’s a lot more in the Bible about these two kings; but there doesn’t appear to be anything else about the timing of Manasseh’s reign, and there don’t seem to be any clues as to whether or not he was ever co-regent with his father. As a result, some people have questioned not only Mr. Camping’s dates for Manasseh but also the validity of his entire Biblical timeline.

 

An Important Consideration: Archaeology

 

One of the specific objections concerning Mr. Camping’s calendar work is his use of a book by Edwin Thiele. Mr. Camping lists that book (The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings) among the credits at the end of his own book about the Hebrew Kings. Mr. Camping also used a book called Handbook of Biblical Chronology by a man named Jack Finegan. Did Mr. Camping violate his own rule by using sources outside the Bible – sources dealing with archaeology? No, he didn’t.

 

The fact is, it’s impossible to synchronize the Biblical calendar with our modern calendar unless we go to archaeology. The Biblical calendar tells us the number of years that elapsed from Creation until the Biblical year when a given event occurred. So we get numbers such as 6,023 as the date for Noah’s flood, and 9,566 as the date for the Exodus, and 10,416 as the date for Zedekiah’s first year as king of Judah. But how can we relate those dates to our calendar?

 

It’s simply not possible to know when those events happened according to our own calendar unless we can find at least one event that archaeology has accurately dated according to our calendar. And that’s a problem: how can we know that an event has been accurately dated? The problem is solved when we find two or more artifacts assigning secular dates for Biblical events, and having secular dates such that the time interval between them matches the time interval or intervals between those events as dated according to the Biblical calendar.

 

So for example archaeology tells us – based on artifacts that have been discovered and dated – that Ahab’s last year was 853 BC and that Zedekiah’s first year was 597 BC. There is an interval of 256 years between these two dates. This is the same time interval we find between these two events when they are dated according to the Biblical calendar (10,416 for Zedekiah’s first year and 10,160 for Ahab’s last year). Therefore, we have confidence that archaeology has correctly dated those two events, and we can now use either one of those secular dates to determine the secular date for any Biblically dated event. It’s simply a matter of adding or subtracting the required number of years to go back or forward in time.

 

Notice especially that the earlier of the two archaeologically determined dates (Ahab’s last year) occurred before Hezekiah’s reign, and that the later one (for Zedekiah) occurred after Manasseh’s reign. This means that all the years for the reigns of the various kings between them – including those of Hezekiah and Manasseh – have been added together correctly.

 

Reasoning from the Bible’s Numbers

 

There can be places in the Bible where God may guide us to a conclusion, but leave it up to us to figure it out or to fill in some details. For example, we know that Israel was in Egypt for 430 years. God gives us numbers we need to prove it, but He leaves one number out: the number of years Levi lived there. From the Bible, we know that Kohath spent his entire life of 133 years there; Amram spent his entire 137 years there; and that Moses was born there and was 80 years old just before the Exodus. Those numbers add up to 350 years.

 

We also know that Levi lived to be 137 years old. But how old was he when he entered Egypt? The Bible doesn’t tell us, but it’s clear that he must have spent 80 years there in order for the total number of Israel’s years in Egypt to be 430. Therefore he was 57 years old when he entered Egypt.

 

In a similar manner, we can be justified in assuming co-regency in order to attain the total number of years to which the Bible guides us. Also, in the case of Hezekiah and Manasseh there is a very good reason to assume co-regency. Here is the reason. Isaiah 38:1 reveals that Hezekiah suffered a serious illness:

 

In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came unto him, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order: for thou shalt die, and not live.

 

However, the Lord heard Hezekiah’s prayer and sent Isaiah back to tell him that he would be healed. Isaiah 38:5 tells us:

 

Go, and say to Hezekiah, Thus saith the LORD, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will add unto thy days fifteen years.

 

Notice that in verse 1 Hezekiah is told to set his house in order. From then on, he must have been thinking of his son who would succeed him. It’s very reasonable to assume that he later made Manasseh co-regent to prepare him for the day when he would rule alone.

 

 

Ezekiel’s Days Lying on His Sides

 

Another objection has to do with a number we find in Ezekiel 4. God commanded Ezekiel to lie on his left side for an incredibly long time: 390 days. We read about that in Ezekiel 4:4-5:

 

Lie thou also upon thy left side, and lay the iniquity of the house of Israel upon it: according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon it thou shalt bear their iniquity. For I have laid upon thee the years of their iniquity, according to the number of the days, three hundred and ninety days: so shalt thou bear the iniquity of the house of Israel.

 

It has been claimed that the 390 days, which represented 390 years, revealed the true length of time from the date Israel was divided into two kingdoms until the date Judah was conquered. This was apparently taught by some theologians hundreds of years ago. But is this a correct understanding of Ezekiel 4?

 

The Bible tells us that in the latter days, God’s elect will have an understanding of time that earlier believers did not have (Daniel 12:8-10). It also reveals that the local congregations would lose truth as time went on (see Revelation 6:5-6). So while it is true that we can get closer to a 390 year total by assuming there are no co-regencies, there is no reason to think that 390 is the correct number. In fact, the Bible indicates that it isn’t.

 

We must also consider the time Ezekiel spent on his right side. This was also part of the sign God provided through Ezekiel. We read about that in Ezekiel 4:6:

 

And when thou hast accomplished them, lie again on thy right side, and thou shalt bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days: I have appointed thee each day for a year.

 

When we add the number of days Ezekiel spent on his left side to the number he spent on his right side, we get 430 days – representing 430 years. Now that is an important number! It’s the same number of years that Israel was in Egypt.

 

The 390 days/years are also significant when we consider the factors involved: 3 x 13 x 10. We know from Mr. Camping’s work that the number three often identifies God’s purpose, and the number ten has to do with the completeness of whatever is in view. What about the number thirteen? Mr. Camping identified it as a reference to the last days, beginning 13,000 years after Creation. So the number 390 should direct our attention to the last days and make us think of Israel’s time in Egypt as a picture of the total length in God’s salvation plan. Of course, the number 40 – the number of days Ezekiel spent on his right side – also has spiritual significance. We often find it used in the Bible to signify a period of testing.

 

There’s something else we can learn from Ezekiel 4. First, read Ezekiel 4:9:

 

Take thou also unto thee wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentiles, and millet, and fitches, and put them in one vessel, and make thee bread thereof, according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon thy side, three hundred and ninety days shalt thou eat thereof.

 

Notice that God’s recipe has six grains. Next, notice how much water Ezekiel is told to drink according to Ezekiel 4:11:

 

Thou shalt drink also water by measure, the sixth part of an hin: from time to time shalt thou drink.

 

Here again we see the number six featured. God is calling our attention to that number. If we multiply the 430 years by six, we get 2,580 years. Next, we should know the year in which Ezekiel was lying on his sides. We find that in Ezekiel 1:2-3:

 

In the fifth day of the month, which was the fifth year of king Jehoiachin’s captivity, The word of the LORD came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of the LORD was there upon him.

 

According to Mr. Camping’s Biblical Calender of History, Jehoiachin’s last year as king was 597 BC. The Babylonians then took him away and put Zedekiah on the throne. If Jehoiachin’s first year of captivity was during 597 BC, then his fifth year was in 593 BC. If we advance the calendar by 2,580 years from that date, what do we get?

 

-593 + 2,580 + 1 = 1988 (we add a “1” because there is no year “0”)

 

Mr. Camping identified the year 1988 as the start of the great tribulation. He also identified 11,013 BC as the date for Creation. When we add 13,000 years to it (recall the “13” featured in the year 390) we come to 1988. And so we see the year 1988 confirmed in a most amazing way.

 

Conclusion

 

Although we cannot prove that Mr. Camping’s Biblical calendar correctly states the exact dates for every reign of every king of both Israel and Judah, we can be confident in its key dates. For example, the year 587 BC has long been accepted as the year the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem. This is the date we arrive at as we proceed through the Biblical calendar. However, we also arrive at it when we apply Daniel’s 1,290 days (understanding that they represent 1,290 years) to the date when Jacob (Israel) entered Egypt.

 

They entered 430 years before 1447 BC, so that would be 1877 BC. When we start at 1877 BC and advance the calendar by 1,290 years, we arrive at 587 BC! And when we double the 1,290 years, we arrive at another familiar date. (Incidentally, God gives us a precedent for this kind of doubling in 1 Kings 6:1. When we double the 480 years mentioned there and count from 967 BC, we come to 7 BC – the year when the Lord Jesus was born.) Doubling the 1,290 years gives us 2,580 years. When we start at 587 BC (the pivotal year in Israel’s 70 years of “desolation”) and advance the calendar by that number, we come to the year 1994 – which was the pivotal year in the great tribulation of our day. And so we see how God has given us ways to confirm that we have correctly understood His incredible calendar and to know the final dates of His salvation plan.





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2 Responses to “A Hezekiah/Manasseh Co-regency?”

  1. Alpha Licciardi says:

    Great Web Site.

  2. Nicodemus says:

    I could not resist commenting. Well written!


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