This excerpt “Manasseh’s Unknown Plea” is a literal translation of the “Prayer of Manasseh”, an example of a beautiful and poetic Jewish liturgy authored between first century BCE and first century CE. The original language of the prayer was probably Hebrew or Aramaic, though only the Greek text survived to our day. Note the way this writer asks God for forgiveness. He knows that the LORD’s forgiveness comes only through mercy and grace and not through sacrifice. He does not rely on anything but God’s merciful character for salvation.
1* O Lord, God of our fathers,
God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, and of their righteous offspring;
2* He who made the heaven and the earth
with all their embellishment…
7a* Because you are the Lord,
long-suffering, and merciful, and greatly compassionate;
and you feel sorry over the evils of men.
7b* You, O Lord, according to the sweetness of your grace,
promised forgiveness to those who repent of their sins,
and in the multitude of your mercies
appointed repentance as the salvation for sinners.
8 You, therefore, O Lord, God of the righteous ones,
did not appoint grace for the righteous ones,
such as Abraham, and Isaac and Jacob,
those who did not sin against you;
but you appointed grace for me, (I) who am a sinner.
9a Because my sins multiplied in number more than the sand of the sea,
and on account of the multitude of my iniquities,
I have no strength so that I can lift up my eyes.
9b* And now, O Lord, I am justly afflicted,
and as I deserve I am harassed;
for already I am ensnared…
11* And now behold I am bending the knees of my heart before you;
and I am beseeching your kindness.
12* I have sinned, O Lord, I have sinned;
and certainly, I know my sins.
13* I make supplication before you;
forgive me, O Lord, forgive me!
and do not destroy me with my transgressions;
and do not be angry against me forever;
and do not remember my evils;
and do not condemn me and banish me to the depths of the earth!
For you are God of the repenters.
14 And in me you will manifest all your grace;
and although I am not worthy,
you will save me according to the multitude of your mercies.
15* Because of this (salvation) 3 I shall praise you continually
through all the days of my life;
because all the hosts of heaven praise you,
and sing to you forever and ever. (Prayer of Manasseh)