After Menahem killed Shallum, he became king over Israel in Samaria. He reigned ten years, and was evil in the sight of the Lord. During the course of his reign, Pul, King of Assyria, came against Israel, and Menahem paid him off with ten thousand pieces of silver, which he took from the wealthy people of Israel. This bribe strengthened Menahem’s hand in his leadership over Israel. The king of Assyria left and returned to Assyria. Menahem died, and his son Pekahiah reigned in his place. After two year one of Pekahiah’s officers, Pekah, killed him in Samaria, in his own house, and reigned in his place.
Menahem may have been shrewd, attacking the previous king and killing him, then negotiating a treaty with Pul, but he definitely lacked the courage of King David, and the relationship with the Lord that would have led him to fight Pul, rather than giving him such a large offering to earn peace. Ten thousand shekels of silver would equate to about 111 years in wages, as 90 shekels was about a year’s wages in Bible times. At today’s rate of about $35,000 per year average wages, Menahem gave Pul about 3.9 million dollars in ransom to avoid a war. His righteous predecessors would have sought God, overcome any fear, and defeated Pul in battle, taking spoil from him instead. We see here in this action a negative pattern developing in the practices of the kings of Israel and Judah. Another telling event is the fact that Menahem’s son, Pekahiah’s, suffered the same sneaky fate as Menahem’s immediate predecessor, Shallum. An ambitious servant killed him to take the crown. In today’s society, we need to return to a brave, godly leadership that will bring revival!