Hephzibah

The meaning of Hephzibah is “my delight is in her.” She was the wife of King Hezekiah, the thirteenth reigning monarch of Judah, and the mother of Manasseh. Hephzibah's son would assume the throne when he was only twelve, and would reign for fifty-five years (2 Kings 21:1). So Hephzibah was to remain in the royal household for a very long time, guiding her son and, perhaps, her grandchildren.

Archeological evidence supports the historicity of the reign of Hephzibah's husband Hezekiah. The evidence consists of storage-jar handle seals unearthed in modern Israel. Scholars call them LMLK (pronounced lamelekh, “belonging to the king”) seals. The jar handles with seals were excavated in a layer of earth, or strata, associated with the destruction of Judah by Sennacherib, King of Assyria, during Hezekiah's twenty-nine-year reign (2 Kings 18:13).

Some sources assert that Manasseh, the teenager, may have coreigned with Hezekiah for some years. During his solo rule, however, Manasseh did many things that went against the beliefs and policies of his father. While Hezekiah was considered a good and fair king who instituted many religious reforms, including stamping out idolatry, his son undid much accomplished during his father's reign. Manasseh built altars for the worship of Baal (just as Ahab, king of Israel, had done before him), and Manasseh dealt with familiar spirits (a euphemistic phrase meaning he used necromancers and wizards to call forth the dead). His many evil actions angered the Lord (2 Kings 21:2–9).

Hephzibah's husband is one of the kings mentioned in the New Testament Gospel of Matthew in relation to the genealogy of Jesus. The name in that gospel, however, is spelled “Ezekias” (Matthew 1:10). Hezekah instituted many reforms during his reign: He destroyed the shrines used for idol worship, including the bronze serpent associated with Moses, since the Israelites were worshipping it (2 Kings 18:4); he consolidated the worship and veneration of God (Yahweh) in Jerusalem, while censoring such worship at the many shrines outside of Jerusalem and elsewhere in Judea (2 Kings 18:22); and he invited all of the tribes of Israel, wherever they were scattered, to undertake an annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem to observe the traditional Passover celebration (2 Chronicles 30:5, 13).

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