Zechariah, Shallum, and Menahem, Kings of Israel

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, November 21, 2022 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

Just as we encountered previously with kings of Israel Elah, Zimri, Tibni, and Omri, sometimes we get to a section in the nation’s history where there are a few kings who all had relatively short reigns that we don’t know much about, though their stories do intertwine with one another. Today we’ll look at the next 3 kings of Israel – Zechariah, Shallum, and Menahem. The narratives about these three kings are all found in 2 Kings 15:8-22.

While Uzziah was the king of Judah, Zechariah became king after his father King Jeroboam II died. Zechariah only reigned for 6 months! But, in those 6 months, he continued the evil that all previous kings of Israel before him had done. He did not turn away from idolatry, and neither did the people of the nation of Israel.

The only other piece of information that is recorded about King Zechariah is that he was assassinated. His assassin, Shallum, then became the next king. But one other additional item is that when King Zechariah died, God’s promise to King Jehu back in 2 Kings 10:30 was fulfilled: “Because you have done well in accomplishing what is right in my eyes and have done to the house of Ahab all I had in mind to do, your descendants will sit on the throne of Israel to the fourth generation.”

After King Jehu, the first generation was his son King Jehoahaz, then King Jehoash, then King Jeroboam II, then finally King Zechariah – all of those reigns were handed down along biological lines from father to son. King Zechariah was the fourth generation, and he was the last descendent of that family line to sit on the throne, just as God had promised.

So, King Shallum became the next king after assassinating King Zechariah. He was from a different family line, and he was the only one in his family to serve as king. While King Zechariah had a very short reign of only 6 months, King Shallum broke that record – his reign was only one month long! King Shallum was identified as “son of Jabesh,” which may be his family name, or it may be that he was a leader of a group of Gileadites that were protesting the previous line of kings.

There is a note in verse 15 that King Shallum led a conspiracy of some sort, but we do not have any additional details of what that was. There is no reference to Kings Zechariah, Shallum, or Menahem in the book of 2 Chronicles, so wherever that was implied to have been written down has been lost to time.

King Shallum is a great example that what you do to others will be done to you. He assassinated the king before him, and a man named Menahem assassinated King Shallum and then succeeded him as king.

It is believed that Menahem was a military commander under King Zechariah. Menahem and his forces went from Tirzah to Samaria where King Shallum was reigning to perform the assassination. Then, Menahem went on a rampage to the city of Tiphsah. He attacked everyone there and in the surrounding area, and Scripture also records that he “ripped open all the pregnant women” (verse 16).

King Menahem did have longer reigns than both King Zechariah and King Shallum; he reigned for 10 years. But, not surprisingly, “he did evil in the eyes of the Lord” and he did not turn away from the evil that all the kings before him committed (verse 18). Not only did King Menahem continue to disobey God by worshiping idols, but he also sold out to the Assyrians.

King Pul of Assyria invaded Israel. Rather than accepting defeat, King Menahem did some bargaining with the Assyrians to form an alliance. He did not do this out of pride or out of concern for his nation’s welfare, but so that he personally could stay on the throne longer. Israel gave Assyria a thousand talents of silver (which equates to around 38 tons!). Where did that money come from? The king made the people pay up through a tax system; every wealthy person was forced to give what equates to 1.25 pounds of silver.

The king of Assyria was successfully bought by this offer, and they withdrew their troops and did not continue to occupy the land. King Menahem therefore successfully bought more time on the throne for himself, and it kept the nation from being occupied by the Assyrians, at least for now. He bought Israel some time, but this moment is considered by scholars to be the beginning of the end for Israel’s independence as a nation.

King Menahem is believed to have died by natural causes, as there is no record in Scripture of him being killed in any other way. But his legacy lived on in that King Menahem’s name is even recorded in the histories of the Assyrians.

What can we learn from these three kings? First, God’s promises will always come true. We don’t know if King Zechariah remembered the promise from God to King Jehu that he would be the last generation of his family line to reign on the throne, but that is exactly how things always worked out. Whether God’s promises are for good or for ill, they will always come true.

Second, evil is often repaid for evil, such as how King Shallum was the assassin and then was assassinated himself. Any evil deeds that we do deserve evil as punishment. That is why the grace that we receive through the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is so amazing! We all deserve death because of all the ways we disobey God (even if they don’t seem as extreme as physically killing another person). But unlike King Shallum, we do not receive the punishment that we deserve, all because of our faith in Jesus and what He did for us.

Finally, decisions that may seem good at the moment may end up having long-term negative consequences. King Menahem thought he was doing the right thing (though for selfish motives) by paying off the Assyrians, but generations later, that ended up coming back to haunt the nation of Israel when Assyria would invade again and decimate the land, basically destroying Israel as a nation.

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