MENAHEM (mĕn'a-hēm, Heb. menahēm, comforted). Son of Gadi and king of Israel (
MENAHEM mĕn’ ə hĕm (֠מְנַחֵם, LXX Μαναημ, comforting, perhaps for the death of an earlier child); name found in various epigraphical sources, see Noth, Israelitische Personennamen, p. 222; Sennacherib mentions a Menahem of Samsimuruna in Pal. (Taylor Prism, ANET 287); one of the last kings of Israel (
Menahem is called “son of Gad”; this might mean simply “a Gadite,” but the use of a patronymic generally denotes some status. We know nothing else of his antecedents. He was at Tirzah when Shallum assassinated Zechariah, the last of Jehu’s dynasty; a month later, he in turn killed Shallum and assumed the kingship. Unger suggests that he was an army commander who, like Omri, avenged his master. The Book of Kings records: (1) Shallum’s death, and the scandal of Menahem’s sack of “Tiphsaht”; (2) the formal notice (
The synchronisms in
Tiglath-pileser became king of Assyria in 745 b.c. and king of Babylon, under the name Pulu, in 727, the year before his death; this is proved by a correlation of the Babylonian Chronicle with a Babylonian king list. Correctly interpreted,
Consistently with the above, Thiele (pp. 87ff.) derives the dates 752/1-742/1 (for the basic problems see Uzziah). Albright follows a different method, avoiding Thiele’s extended co-regency of Amaziah and Uzziah; Uzziah is dated 783-742, and Menahem 745-738. This involves rejecting a synchronism in
A very abrupt statement (
Relations with Assyria.
If Menahem became king in 752/1, there was a recession of Assyrian power during his early years, and he paid tribute to Tiglath-pileser toward the end of his reign; or if Albright’s chronology is followed, a principal argument for it would be the interpretation of the Assyrian record as referring to Menahem’s last year, 738 b.c. A figure of 1,000 talents is mentioned in Kings, representing fifty shekels a head (
The question arises whether this tribute was altogether imposed; Kings implies that Menahem was bargaining for special protection “to confirm his hold of the royal power.” This has led some authorities to date the event to Menahem’s early years; but, apart from the chronological problems of such a view, taxation at the end of the reign would help explain Pekah’s revolt and successful instigation of an anti-Assyrian policy. Menahem may have been facing internal disaffection, or he may have sought, in view of the resurgence of Assyria, to secure himself by vassalage rather than take his chance with the states of Aram and Phoenicia. Hosea (5:13;
K. Galling, Biblische Reallexikon (1937), s.v. Gewicht; F-M Abel, Géographie II (1938), 485f.; W. F. Albright, BASOR 100 (1945), 16-22; J. Montgomery, Kings, ICC (1951); J. B. Pritchard, ANET2 (1955), 272, 283f.; M. Unger, Israel and the Aramaeans (1957), 97ff.; D. W. Thomas (ed.), Documents of OT Times (1958), 53-57; W. Hallo, BA 23 (1960), 47f.; H. Tadmor, Studies in the Bible (1961), 248-266; IEJ 12 (1962), 114ff.; C. Schedl, VetTest 12 (1962), 101ff.; V. Pavlovsky, E. Vogt, Biblica 45 (1964), 333ff.; J. Gray, Kings (1964), 60, 562-565; E. Thiele, Mysterious Numbers2 (1965), 87-117.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
(menachem, "one who comforts"; Manaem;
1. Accession and Reign:
Son of Gadi and 16th king of Israel. He reigned 10 years. Menahem was probably the officer in charge of the royal troops in Tirzah, one of the king’s residences, at the time of the murder of Zechariah by Shallum. Hearing of the deed, he brought up his troops and avenged the death of his master by putting Shallum to death in Samaria. He then seized the vacant throne. His first full year may have been 758 BC (others, as seen below, put later).
2. Early Acts:
The country at this time, as depicted by Hosea and Amos, was in a deplorable condition of anarchy and lawlessness. Menahem, with a strong hand, enforced his occupation of the throne. One town only seems to have refused to acknowledge him. This was Tiphsah, a place 6 miles Southwest of Shechem, now the ruined village of Khurbet Tafsah. As Menahem is said to have attacked this enclosed city from Tirzah, lying to its North, it is probable that he took it on the way to Samaria, before proceeding to do battle with Shallum. If this was so, it is some explanation of the cruelty with which he treated its inhabitants (
3. Menahem and Assyria:
But there was another source of disquiet. Assyria, under Pul, had resumed her advance to the West and threatened the kingdoms of Palestine. Menahem resolved on a policy of diplomacy, and, rather than risk a war with the conqueror of the East, agreed to the payment of a heavy tribute of 1,000 talents of silver. To raise this sum he had to assess his wealthier subjects to the extent of 50 shekels each. As there are 3,000 shekels in a talent of silver, it is obvious that some 60,000 persons, "mighty men of wealth," must have been laid under contribution in this levy--an indication at once of the enormity of the tribute, and of the prosperity of the country at the time. However short-sighted the policy, its immediate purpose was attained, which was that the hand of the Assyrian king "might be with him to confirm the kingdom in his hand" (
4. A Conflict of Dates:
A difficulty attaches to the dates of this period. The Pul of
5. Proposed Solutions:
The chronological difficulty which thus arises may be met in one of two ways. Either the inscription, like that on the black obelisk of Kurkh (see Jehu), was written some years after the events to which it refers and contains records of operations in which Tiglath-pileser took part before he became king; or Pekah--who was on the throne of Israel in 738 (?)--is spoken of under the dynastic name Menahem, though he was not of his family. The former of these hypotheses is that which the present writer is inclined to adopt. (By others the dates of Menahem are lowered in conformity with the inscription.)
Menahem attempted no reformation in the national religion, but, like all his predecessors, adhered to the worship of the golden calves. On this account, like them, he incurs the heavy censure of the historian.
W. Shaw Caldecott