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For the Khazar ruler of the same name, see Menahem . For the medieval poet and philologist, see Menahem ben Saruq.


Menahem, ( , from a Hebrew word meaning "the consoler" or "comforter"; Greek: Manaem in the Septuagint, Manaen in Aquila; ) was a king of the northern Israelite Kingdom of Israel. He was the son of Gadi, and the founder of the dynasty known as the House of Gadi or House of Menahem.

The writer of 2 Kings is apparently synopsizing the "annals of the Kings of Israel", ( ) and gives scant details of Menahem's reign.

His ten year reign is told in . According to Josephus, he was a general of the army of Israel. (Ant. 9:11:1)

Menahem became king of Israel in the thirty-ninth year of the reign of Azariah, king of Judah, and reigned for ten years. According to the chronology of Kautsch, he ruled from 743 BC; according to Schrader, from 745 – 736 BC. William F. Albright has dated his reign from 745 – 738 BC, while E. R. Thiele offers the dates 752 – 742 BC.

He came from Tirzah to Samariamarker to kill Shallum, and succeeded him as king. ( ) He brutally suppressed a revolt at Tiphsah, and ripped unborn children from the wombs of their mothers. ( )

When Shallum conspired against and murdered Zacharias in Samariamarker, and set himself upon the throne of the northern kingdom, Menahem refused to recognize the usurper; he marched from Thersa to Samaria, about six miles westwards, laid siege to Samaria, took it, murdered Shallum, and set himself upon the throne. He next destroyed Thapsa, which has not been located, put all its inhabitants to death, and treated even pregnant women in the revolting fashion of the time. The Prophet Hosea describes the drunkenness and debauchery implied in the words "he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam." ( and )

Menahem seems to have died a natural death, and was succeeded by his son Pekahiah. The author of the Book of Kings describes his rule as one of cruelty and oppression.

Tributory of Assyria

Tiglath-Pileser III of Assyria began his reign in 745 BC three years before Menahem became king of Israel.

During Menahem's reign, the Assyrians first entered the kingdom of Israel, and had also invaded Aram Damascus to the north-east: "And Pul, king of the Assyrians, came into the land". ( ) The Assyrians may have been invited into Israel by the Assyrian party. Hosea speaks of the two anti-Israelite parties, the Egyptian and Assyrian. ( )

To maintain independence, Menahem was forced to pay a tribute of a thousand talent of silver ( ) - which is about $1,700,000 in 1900 values. It is now generally accepted that Pul referred to in is Tiglath-Pileser III of the cuneiform inscriptions. Pul was probably his personal name and the one that first reached Israel. Tiglath-Pileser records this tribute in one of his inscriptions.

To pay the tribute, Menahem exacted fifty shekels of silver - about twenty-eight dollars - from all the mighty men of wealth of the kingdom. ( ) To collect this amount, there would have had to be at the time some 60,000 "that were mighty and rich" in the kingdom.

After receiving the tribute, Tiglath-Pileser returned to Assyria. However, from that time the kingdom of Israel was a tributory of Assyria; and when Hoshea some ten years later refused to pay any more tribute, it started a sequence of events which led to the destruction of the kingdom and the deportation of its population.

References

  1. Hist. of O.T. Literature, 185
  2. Edwin Thiele, The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings, (1st ed.; New York: Macmillan, 1951; 2d ed.; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965; 3rd ed.; Grand Rapids: Zondervan/Kregel, 1983). ISBN 082543825X, 9780825438257
  3. Tiphsah is the name in the Masoretic text. Modern commentators and translators prefer the reading Tappuah, following the Lucian recension of the Septuagint


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