Jeremiah: Historical Background Part Four
It was a time of total religious decay, and one that posed an immense threat to the integrity of Israel’s faith. No widespread and conscious abandonment of the national religion had taken place. It was, rather, that the essential distinction between God and paganism had become so blurred in the minds of so many people that they were able to practice pagan rites alongside Torah, and perhaps even dedicate those rights to God, without any awareness that they were guilty of apostasy in doing so.
It must be remembered that popular belief had regarded the heavenly bodies as members of God’s heavenly assembly, that host of angelic beings who did His bidding; introduction of the Colts of astral deities would naturally encourage people to think of these beings as gods, and to worship them as such. The inevitable result was a widespread disregard of Torah law with attendant incidents of violence and injustice (Zephaniah 1:9, 3:1–7). The gravity of the situation can scarcely be exaggerated. Yet those who ventured to protest were dealt with severely (II Kings 21:16).
Menashe is branded as the worst King Judah ever had, whose sin was alone enough to explain the destruction of the nation (II Kings 21:9–15).