Amon of Judah[lower-alpha 1] was the fifteenth King of Judah who, according to the biblical account, succeeded his father Manasseh of Judah. Amon is most remembered for his idolatrous practices during his short two-year reign, which led to a revolt against him and eventually to his assassination in c. 641 BC.
Amon was the son of King Manasseh of Judah and Meshullemeth, a daughter of Haruz of Jotbah. Although the date is unknown, the Hebrew Bible records that he married Jedidah, the daughter of Adaiah of Bozkath. Following Manasseh’s death, Amon began his reign of Judah at the age of 22, and reigned for two years. The Jerusalem Bible describes Manasseh and Amon as “two wicked kings”. Biblical scholar and archeologist William F. Albright has dated his reign to 642–640, while professor E. R. Thiele offers the dates 643/642 – 641/640. Thiele’s dates are tied to the reign of Amon’s son Josiah, whose death at the hands of Pharaoh Necho II occurred in the summer of 609. The battle in which Josiah is said to have died, which is independently confirmed in Egyptian history, places the end of Amon’s reign, 31 years earlier, in 641 or 640 and the beginning of his rule in 643 or 642.
The Hebrew Bible records that Amon continued his father Manasseh’s practice of idolatry and set up pagan images as his father had done.II Kings states that Amon “did that which was evil in the sight of Yahweh, as did Manasseh his father. And he walked in all the way that his father walked in, and served the idols that his father served, and worshipped them.” Similarly, II Chronicles records that “…he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, as did Manasseh his father; and Amon sacrificed unto all the graven images which Manasseh his father had made, and served them.” The Talmudic tradition recounts that “Amon burnt the Torah, and allowed spider webs to cover the altar [through complete disuse] … Amon sinned very much.” Like other textual sources, Flavius Josephus too criticizes the reign of Amon, describing his reign in similar terms to the biblical accounts.
After reigning two years, Amon was assassinated by his servants or officials, who conspired against him, and he was succeeded by his son Josiah, who at the time was eight years old. After Amon’s assassination his murderers became unpopular with the “people of the land”, and they were ultimately killed. It was the people of the land who proclaimed Josiah as his successor; it is not clear what succession would have been anticipated by the officials who assassinated Amon. Some scholars, such as Abraham Malamat, assert that Amon was assassinated because people disliked the heavy influence that Assyria, an age-old enemy of Judah responsible for the destruction of the Kingdom of Israel, had upon him.