(Peʹkah) [from a root meaning “open”].
King of Israel for a 20-year period beginning in about 778 B.C.E.; contemporaneous with Judean Kings Azariah (Uzziah), Jotham, and Ahaz. Earlier, Pekah had served as adjutant to Israelite King Pekahiah. But in the 52nd year of Uzziah’s reign, Pekah the son of Remaliah, with the cooperation of 50 men of Gilead, assassinated Pekahiah and seized the kingship over Israel in Samaria. (2Ki 15:25, 27) During Pekah’s reign idolatrous calf worship continued. (2Ki 15:28) This ruler also formed an alliance with Rezin the king of Syria. Toward the close of Judean King Jotham’s reign (which began in the second year of Pekah), both Pekah and Rezin caused trouble for Judah.—2Ki 15:32, 37, 38.
After Jotham’s son Ahaz began his reign in the 17th year of Pekah, Rezin and Pekah invaded Judah, intending to dethrone that monarch and install a certain son of Tabeel as king. They did not succeed in taking Jerusalem (2Ki 16:1, 5; Isa 7:1-7), but Judah sustained heavy losses. In one day Pekah killed 120,000 valiant men of Judah. The Israelite army also took 200,000 Judeans captive. However, on the advice of the prophet Oded, supported by a number of leading men of Ephraim, these captives were returned to Judah.—2Ch 28:6, 8-15.
Though assured through the prophet Isaiah that the Syro-Israelite combine would fail in deposing him as king (Isa 7:6, 7), faithless Ahaz bribed Assyrian King Tiglath-pileser III to come to his assistance. In response, the Assyrian monarch captured Damascus and put Rezin to death. (2Ki 16:7-9) Apparently also at this time Tiglath-pileser captured the regions of Gilead, Galilee, and Naphtali, as well as a number of cities in northern Israel. (2Ki 15:29) Thereafter Hoshea the son of Elah killed Pekah and became Israel’s next king.—2Ki 15:30.
A fragmentary historical text of Tiglath-pileser III reports about his campaign against Israel: “All its inhabitants (and) their possessions I led to Assyria. They overthrew their king Pekah (Pa-qa-ha) and I placed Hoshea (A-ú-si-ʼ) as king over them.”—Ancient Near Eastern Texts, edited by J. B. Pritchard, 1974, p. 284.