In 2 Kings, Manasseh is portrayed as Judah’s worst king. In Chronicles we hear of a startling repentance during his exile in Babylon, followed by extensive reforms.
The Chronicler’s portrayal of Manasseh is one of the most interesting in the book. As with several other kings, the reign of Manasseh is divided into two periods. But here, the periods are reversed: Manasseh’s sinful period precedes his pious period. This dramatic reversal is usually explained as the Chronicler’s attempt to account for Manasseh’s fifty-five-year reign (v. 1). Since long reigns are not a sign of blessingBlessing is the asking for or the giving of God's favor. Isaac was tricked into blessing Jacob instead of his firstborn Esau. At the Last Supper Jesus offered a blessing over bread and wine. To be blessed is to be favored by God. More in Chronicles, however, it is preferable to see Manasseh’s reign as a parade example of the Chronicler’s theme of exile and restoration that serves to highlight the efficacy of prayer and repentance.
This is clearly illustrated in the concentric structure of the passage: Manasseh’s surprising prayer of repentance–replete with the vocabulary of Solomon’s paradigmatic prayer (2 Chronicles 7:14)–together with God’s response occupy the heart of the passage (vv. 12-13). On either side we see the contrast between Manasseh’s “exile” in Babylon (vv. 10-11) and his building programs (v. 14). Exile is a sign of judgment in Chronicles (for example, 1 Chronicles 5:25-26; 2 Chronicles 28:5; 36:14-18), and building programs signal God’s blessing (11:5; 14:6-7; 17:12). One can hardly miss the anachronistic use of “Babylon” in verse 11; the Assyrians did not exile people to Babylon. This seems to be strong evidence of the paradigmatic nature of the Chronicler’s report, a report designed to bring home the contemporary significance of Manasseh’s story. The contrast in judgment and reward is matched and surrounded by a second set of contrasts that compare Manasseh’s behavior prior to his repentance (vv. 2-9) and his subsequent religious reforms (vv. 15-17). Typical introductory and closing notices enclose the narrative as a whole (vv. 1; 18-20). Here it should be noted that from now on the Chronicler omits reference to the Queen mother. This has recently been explained as due to the Arabian origin of the mothers of Manasseh, Amon, and JosiahJudean king noted for his reforms of Israel's worship in the time of Jeremiah More. The Chronicler is regularly opposed to foreign influence, whether of a political or religious nature.
Later tradition, curious about this marvelous prayer of repentance, has preserved what purports to be the “Prayer of Manasseh” in the SeptuagintThe Septuagint is a pre-Christian (third to first century BCE) Greek translation of the Jewish Scriptures. It is believed that the term Septuagint derives from the number of scholars-seventy (or seventy-two)-who reputedly did the work of translation. More, as have the Dead Sea Scrolls of Qumran (4Q381), though they are different prayers.