PEKAHIAH (pĕk'a-hī'a, Heb. peqahyâh, Jehovah has opened). Israel’s seventeenth king, the son of Menahem. He was a wicked king, following the practices of idolatry formulated by Jeroboam (2Kgs.15.24). Regarding the date of his reign, there are some problems caused by this phrase in 2Kgs.15.23: “in the fiftieth year of Azariah.” By dating the beginning of his reign 735 b.c., most of the date problem dissolves. After a brief reign of only two years, he was brutally murdered by Pekah and the fifty Gileadites associated with him.

PEKAHIAH pĕk’ ə hī’ ə (פְּקַֽחְיָ֨ה, Yahu has opened [the eyes]). King of Israel 741-740 b.c., son and successor of Menahem, who was murdered by Pekah and who usurped the throne. Pekahiah’s dates are established by correlative reckoning with the kings of Judah (see Pekah).

Pekahiah apparently continued his father’s policy of submission to Assyria, which led to his assassination because Pekah allied himself with Rezin of Damascus against Assyria. Rival Assyrian and anti-Assyrian parties existed in Israel; the former had held control for some years while the opposition attempted to find suitable opportunity to gain control.

The character of his reign is declared in 2 Kings 15:24 KJV: “he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam,” i.e., Pekahiah continued the idolatrous worship of the calves of Dan and Bethel, an act of apostasy continued later by Pekah. His deeds were written in the chronicles of the Israelite kings (v. 26), yet in the Biblical Chronicles there is no reference to him or his father, perhaps a mark of strong disapprobation.

During all of Pekahiah’s reign, Pekah was active in Gilead (cf. v. 25), and since he is listed as one of Pekahiah’s higher officers, he had come to terms with Pekahiah, and at the opportune moment, assassinated him in the אַרְמוֹן, H810, citadel of the palace of Samaria. The company of Gileadites with him bespeaks Pekah’s activity in Gilead, presumably indicating that Gilead favored the change.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

pek-a-hi’-a, pe-ka’-ya (peqachyah, "Yah hath opened" (the eyes) (2Ki 15:23-26); Phakesias; Codex Alexandrinus Phakeias):

1. Accession:

Son of Menahem, and 17th king of Israel. He is said to have succeeded his father in the "50th year of Azariah" (or Uzziah), a synchronism not free from difficulty if his accession is placed in 750-749 (see Menahem; Uzziah). Most date lower, after 738, when an Assyrian inscription makes Menahem pay tribute to Tiglath-pileser (compare 2Ki 15:19-21).

2. Regicide in Israel:

Pekahiah came to the throne enveloped in the danger which always accompanies the successor of an exceptionally strong ruler, in a country where there is not a settled law of succession. Within two years of his accession he was murdered in a foul manner--the 7th king of Israel who had met his death by violence (the others were Nadab, Elah, Tibni, Jehoram, Zechariah and Shallum). The chief conspirator was Pekah, son of Remaliah, one of his captains, with whom, as agent in the crime, were associated 50 Gileadites. These penetrated into the palace (the Revised Version (British and American) "castle") of the king’s house, and put Pekahiah to death, his bodyguards, Argob and Arieh, dying with him. The record, in its close adherence to fact, gives no reason for the king’s removal, but it may reasonably be surmised that it was connected with a league which was at this time forming for opposing resistance to the power of Assyria. This league, Pekahiah, preferring his father’s policy of tributary vassalage, may have refused to join. If so, the decision cost him his life. The act of treachery and violence is in accordance with all that Hosea tells us of the internal condition of Israel at this time: "They .... devour their judges; all their kings are fallen" (Ho 7:7).

3. Pekahiah’s Character:

The narrative of Pekahiah’s short reign contains but a brief notice of his personal character. Like his predecessors, Pekahiah did not depart from the system of worship introduced by Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, "who made Israel to sin." Despite the denunciations of the prophets of the Northern Kingdom (Am 5:21-27; Ho 8:1-6), the worship of the calves remained, till the whole was swept away, a few years later, by the fall of the kingdom.

After Pekahiah’s murder, the throne was seized by the regicide Pekah.

W. Shaw Caldecott