(Menʹa·hem) [one who comforts].
Son of Gadi and king of Israel for ten years (c. 791-780 B.C.E.). Upon learning that Shallum had assassinated King Zechariah, Menahem went from Tirzah to Samaria and killed the assassin there. He then assumed rulership. Evidently during the early part of his reign Menahem struck down Tiphsah “and all that was in it and its territory out from Tirzah, because it did not open up.” The town was apparently reluctant to open its gate to him. (LXX, Vg, Sy) Harsh treatment was meted out to the populace: “All its pregnant women he ripped up.”—2 Ki. 15:10, 13-17.
Menahem did what was bad in Jehovah’s eyes. He promoted calf worship, failing to depart from the sins of Jeroboam, the first king of the ten-tribe kingdom. During his reign, King Pul (Tiglath-pileser III) invaded Israel, and Menahem was forced to pay that Assyrian monarch “a thousand talents of silver,” equaling more than $1,423,000. He acquired this sum by imposing an assessment of fifty silver shekels upon each of the “valiant, mighty men” of Israel. Since a talent of silver equaled about three thousand shekels, the silver was obtained from about 60,000 persons. Menahem gave the silver to the Assyrian king, “that his hands might prove to be with him to strengthen the kingdom in his own hand.” Upon receiving this amount, Pul withdrew from the land.—2 Ki. 15:19, 20.
Menahem is named in an inscription of Tiglath-pileser III as “Menahem the Samarian” (Minehimmu Samarina), being listed there, along with Syrian King Rezin (Rasunnu) and King Hiram (Hirumu) of Tyre (different from the Hiram of David’s day), as a ruler from whom that Assyrian monarch claims to have received tribute. Menahem died about 780 B.C.E. and his son Pekahiah succeeded him on Israel’s throne.—2 Ki. 15:22.