‘This is one of the proudest days of my life,’ said the King, ‘You come of age, and come into the temple proper for the first time. No more hanging around in the outer areas. I think of the years I spent waiting for a son. To see you take your responsibilities on you for the first time, and to become a full son of the law in such a time, with such reforms afoot. Well, I am prouder than I can say!’

Manasseh looked at his father. A huge mix of emotions churned once again. Love, and also pity for his devotion, his fanaticism. Admiration for the way the old man had played the political game and somehow kept the Kingdom of Judah there, functioning, while Israel had collapsed to the North. Hope and terror for tomorrow.

‘And tomorrow, you will become King along side me, as I became King alongside my Father. Now, don’t look scared. Son, however terrified you are, as King you will always look confident, regal.’

‘Tomorrow we will celebrate with another reform’ proclaimed Hezekiah, ‘Tomorrow we will destroy the brazen serpent. An idol, you know son, really, despite the Moses association, and probably from Egypt. The Assyrians do not like it. Tomorrow we will kill two birds with one stone.’

Later, in the outer court where the serpent lived, Manasseh caressed it one last time. ‘Father means so well,’ he thought, ‘He means so well and he does such damage. Dear old serpent, so beautiful. Mother brought me here when I was so poorly that time. This is one thing the children and women can turn to. He seems to me such a beautiful idea, that by turning to him we can be made whole again. I would rather be like the serpent, really.’

and Hezekiah was the father of Manasseh

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