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The Access Bible New Revised Standard Bible, written and edited with first-time Bible readers in mind.

The Prayer of Manasseh - Introduction

After a hymnic address that culminates with a celebration of God's mercy (v. 6 ; see merciful and mercies in vv. 6–7 , as well as several synonyms), the prayer continues with a confession of sin and a plea for God to forgive (vv. 8–13d ). It concludes with a celebration of God's mercy and a promise to praise God continually (vv. 8–15 ). It is similar in content and movement to Psalm 51 , a prayer of confession attributed to King David.

The prayer is attributed to Manasseh, King of Judah from 687–642 BCE. Considered in some circles the worst of Judah's kings (2 Kings 21.9–18 ), Manasseh appears in a quite different light in 2 Chr 33.10–13 . When exiled to Babylon by the Assyrians, he “humbled himself greatly” and “prayed” (2 Chr 33.12–13 ). Second Chronicles does not include the prayer. The Prayer of Manasseh purports to be this missing prayer, although it was probably written in Greek during the first century CE, 700 years after the time of Manasseh.

Since, according to 2 Kings 21.12 , Manasseh was directly responsible for the destruction of Jerusalem that occurred in 587 BCE, the Prayer of Manasseh may have been meant as encouragement to Jews in the first century CE after the destruction of the Second Temple * in 70 CE. This is not certain, however, because the date of the work is disputed.

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