Pekahiah and Pekah, Kings of Israel

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, December 5, 2022 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

Though there are still a bunch of kings of Judah, we’re almost at the end of the kings of Israel! Today, we’ll look at two kings for whom there is not much recorded, then next week we’ll look at the last king of Israel before the nation fell to the Assyrians.

What we do know about Kings Pekahiah and Pekah is written in 2 Kings 15:23-31. Not surprisingly, Pekahiah was an evil king who did not obey God but instead worshiped idols. As is the pattern describing the kings, King Pekahiah was said to have committed the same sins as Jeroboam, and he did not turn away from them.

King Pekahiah was the son of King Menahem, and he only reigned for 2 years. One of his chief officers was Pekah, who wanted to be king himself, so he plotted against King Pekahiah and then assassinated him. Scholars believe that Pekah was King Pekahiah’s closest bodyguard, which would give him plenty of opportunity to plot against the king.

Pekah was apparently influential among the Gileadites, so he was able to get 50 of them to help with his plot to kill the king. King Pekahiah had two other bodyguards, Argob and Arieh, who likely remained loyal to the king rather than joining in Pekah’s coup. Hence, they were murdered along with the king.

There was a lot of political drama going on at this time that is likely related to who was in power. While King Pekahiah’s father King Menahem was on the throne, Israel essentially bought off Assyria to hold them back from invading Israel. While King Menahem was building this temporary alliance with the Assyrians, there was a group within Israel that was against it. This anti-Assyrian movement was gaining strength during the short reign of King Pekahiah. It is believed that Pekah was part of this anti-Assyrian group, which was why King Pekahiah appointed him as his chief bodyguard, to try and bring unity back to the nation of Israel.

But, after he assassinated King Pekahiah, Pekah became the king of Israel. There is debate among scholars as to what year King Pekah took the throne. The timeline of the kings of both Israel and Judah in this time frame does not add up among the various accounts of who became king when and how long they reigned. So while 2 Kings 15:27 records that King Pekah reigned for 20 years and became king during King Uzziah of Judah’s reign (also known as King Azariah), that may or may not be true. It is possible that the southern kingdom of Judah gave Pekah credit for being king right after King Zechariah because of the politics of the day, thus not recognizing the short reign of King Shallum and then King Menahem.

But the details of the timeline are less important than the king’s actions and attitude. As with King Pekahiah and all the kings of Israel before, King Pekah “ did evil in the eyes of the LORD. He did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit” (verse 28).

During King Pekah’s reign, Assyria invaded Israel. The battles were focused around the area of Galilee and also in Gilead where King Pekah was reigning. All of the cities mentioned in this account lie on a north-south line, following the Assyrians’ march into Israel, conquering each city as they entered. While Israel did not fall to the Assyrians during King Pekah’s reign, the end was definitely coming soon for this nation. King Pekah’s reign ended when Hoshea rose up and assassinated him to take the throne.

This time period was a very tumultuous one for the nation of Israel. Israel had evil king after evil king for its entire history as the northern kingdom, and that does not make good things happen for the nation. This is a clear example of how when a nation continuously disobeys God for 200 years, that nation will definitely reap the consequences of that disobedience. God used all of the political upheaval and He used the Assyrians to bring about punishment for the nation of Israel. It did not happen immediately, but it was building to that point of destruction over a few decades.

How does that relate to us today? Take a look at our nation of the United States of America. While this nation was founded on Christian principles, we have gone astray from that. There are still many who follow God in our nation, but there are many more who do not follow Him. Even if they claim to be Christians, the lifestyle of many people does not support that claim. We have different idols today than they did back in Israel's time, but idolatry and the worship of false gods is rampant in our culture today.

We cannot see the future and know if or how God will punish us for our nation’s disobedience to Him, but we can and should continue to pray for our nation, that we as a people would turn back to God and truly desire to follow Him, not only so that we escape harsh judgment like Israel experienced from the Assyrians but more so because God is truly worthy of our worship.

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