The name Manasseh in the Bible
There are five men and a territory named Manasseh in the Bible:
- The most famous Manasseh is the eldest son of Joseph, son of Jacob, and his Egyptian wife Asenath (Genesis 41:51). The territory of the descendants of Manasseh (the מנשי, Manassites; Deuteronomy 4:43) was situated in the north of Canaan and stretched diagonally across the Sea of Galilee, from south-west to north-east. Even though Manasseh formed a half-tribe (the other half-tribe came from his brother Ephraim), John the Revelator lists his tribe as one of the twelve of Israel (spelled Μανασσης Manasses; Revelation 7:6).
- Another famous Manasseh is the son and successor of king Hezekiah (2 Kings 21:1). Since he is an ancestor of Christ in the genealogy of Matthew through king David's son Solomon, this Manasses is mentioned too in the New Testament (Matthew 1:10).
- A son of Pahath-moab, who had married and was to divorce his foreign wife in the purge of Ezra the Reformer (Ezra 10:30).
- A son of Hashum, who also married and divorced his foreign wife (Ezra 10:33).
- The grandfather of a man named Jonathan, who became the patriarch of a family of idolatrous priests who served the Danites of Laish (Judges 18:30).
Etymology of the name Manasseh
The name Manasseh is generally seen as derived from the verb נשה (nasha) basically meaning forget:
The name Manasseh is probably due to a grammatical form in Hebrew that is comparable to the English present continuous. It fixes the letter מ (mem) to the root. That would give the name Manasseh the meaning of Forgetting. Another reason why a mem may occur in front of a root is when it comes from a particle that means "from". Hence the name Manasseh may also mean From A Debt. This is significant because Manasseh's brother is named Ephraim, a name with a distinctly bitter secondary meaning. Perhaps Joseph named his son From A Debt, because he figured that besides his gratitude for being rescued, he felt that either God or his family owed him a debt for tearing him away from his father.
For a meaning of the name Manasseh, Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads Forgetting, Forgetfulness. NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Making To Forget.