About Menahem ben Gadi, King of Israel
Menahem, (Hebrew: מְנַחֵם, Modern Menaẖem Tiberian Menạḥēm, from a Hebrew word meaning "the consoler" or "comforter"; Greek: Manaem in the Septuagint, Manaen in Aquila; Latin: Manahem; full name: Hebrew: מנחם בן גדי, Menahem Ben Gadi [II Kings, 15:17-22]) 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.
Menahem's ten year reign is told in 2 Kings 15:14-22. When Shallum conspired against and murdered Zachariah in Samaria, and set himself upon the throne of the northern kingdom, Menahem refused to recognize the usurper. Menahem marched from Tirzah to Samaria, about six miles westwards, laid siege to Samaria, took it, murdered Shallum a month into his reign (2 Kings 15:13), and set himself upon the throne. (2 Kings 15:14) 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. (2 Kings 15:17) 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. Gideon Galil suggests 749-739 BCE.
He brutally suppressed a revolt at Tiphsah. He destroyed the city, which has not been located, put all its inhabitants to death, and treated even pregnant women in the revolting fashion of the time. (2 Kings 15:16) The Prophet Hosea describes the drunkenness and debauchery implied in the words "he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam." (2 Kings 15:18 and Hosea 7:1-15)
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. The author is apparently synopsizing the "annals of the Kings of Israel", (2 Kings 15:21) and gives scant details of Menahem's reign.
Tributary 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". (2 Kings 15:19) The Assyrians may have been invited into Israel by the Assyrian party. Hosea speaks of the two anti-Israelite parties, the Egyptian and Assyrian. (Hosea 7:11)
To maintain independence, Menahem was forced to pay a tribute of a thousand talents of silver (2 Kings 15:19) - which is about 37 tons (about 34 metric tons) of silver. It is now generally accepted that Pul referred to in 2 Kings 15:19 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 1 1/4 pounds or 0.6 kg - from all the mighty men of wealth of the kingdom. (2 Kings 15:20) 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 tributary 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.