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Menahem

MENAHEM

MENAHEM (Heb. מְנַחֵם; "comforter"; in Assyrian inscriptions Me-ni-ḥi-im-me, Mi-in-ḥi-im-mu), king of Israel, c. 746/6–737/6 b.c.e., son of Gadi (ii Kings 15:17). Menahem seized the throne after assassinating *Shallum son of Jabesh (15:14). Shallum and Menahem may possibly have competed for the throne during the decline of the house of *Jehu. It is widely believed that both were among the officers from Gilead, a group which had been influential from the beginning of Jehu's reign (of. ii Kings 9:1ff.; 15:25). Both Jabesh (the name of the principal city of Gilead) and Gadi (the name of a tribe) are designations pointing to the fact that both Menahem and Shallum were of Transjordanian origin. The struggle between the two was conducted with great cruelty. ii Kings 15:16 states: "At that time Menahem sacked Tiphsah and all who were in it and its territory." Tiphsah is Thapsacus which is on the River Euphrates, east of Aleppo. From this statement it appears that Menahem's campaign extended to the Euphrates. However, most scholars maintain that in light of the political-military situation of the Kingdom of Israel since the end of the reign of *Jeroboam ii, it is not possible that Menahem ruled over such a large kingdom, and they therefore accept the Lucian version of the Septuagint, where Tappuah appears instead of Tiphsah (cf. Josh. 16:8; 17:8). In view of the biblical chronological data with regard to Menahem and *Pekah, several scholars concluded that Menahem ruled only in the mountain of Ephraim, while at the same time Pekah ruled in eastern Transjordan. It appears that Pekah first served as Menahem's military commander, but later rebelled with the help of Aram, and became an independent ruler in Gilead, although nominally he was still considered the military commander of Menahem and Pekahiah.

According to the biblical account, during Menahem's reign, Pul, the king of Assyria (i.e., Pulu, the name given to *Tiglath-Pileser iii when he became king of Babylon in the latter part of his reign), extended his campaign into Israel; Menahem paid him 1,000 talents of silver in order to retain his throne (ii Kings 15:19). The annals of Tiglath-Pileser iii mention "Menahem of Samaria" (the city; this designation may be considered as attesting the limited area of his administration) among the kings who paid tribute to Assyria in 738 b.c.e., immediately after the defeat inflicted by the Assyrian king on *Uzziah, King of Judah. It is questionable whether the biblical account of Menahem's tax and the account of Menahem's tax in the Assyrian source refer to the same event. It is Y. Yadin's opinion that the *Samaria ostraca belong to the last years of Menahem's reign and bear some relation to the tribute paid to the king of Assyria, to which every "mighty man" of wealth was required to contribute 50 shekels (ii Kings 15:20). Apparently the Assyrian recognition of Menahem as the vassal king of Israel strengthened his status and helped stabilize his regime. Menahem needed Assyrian support both against rebel bases within his domain and against neighboring states, including the state of Judah (cf. Hos. 5:8–11). It is possible that most of the prophecies of Hosea 4–14 reflect the period of Menahem (H. Tadmor).

bibliography:

Bright, Hist, 252–4; Kittel, Gesch, 2 (1923), 351ff., 516; E.R. Thiele, The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings (1951), 73ff.; Y. Yadin, in: Scripta Hierosolymitana, 8 (1961), 19–25; H. Tadmor, ibid., 248–66; M. Haran, in: Zion, 31 (1966), 18–38; idem, in: Fourth World Congress of Jewish Studies, 1 (1967), 33–35 (Heb. pt.), 252 (Eng. summ.); H.L. Ginsberg, ibid., 92–93 (Eng. pt.); em, 5 (1968), 30–33 (includes bibliography). add. bibliography: M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, ii Kings (1988), 169–79; T. Hobbs, in: abd, 4, 692–93; H. Tadmor, The Inscriptions of Tiglath-Pileser iii King of Assyria (1994), 291, index, s.v. Menihimme.

[Jacob Licht and

Bustanay Oded]

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