Men'ahem (Hebrews Menachem', מנִחֵם, comforting [comp. Manaen, Ac 13:11; Sept. Μαναήμ, Vulg. Manahem; Josephus, Μανάημος, Ant. ix, lj, 1), the seventeenth separate king of Israel, who began to reign BC. 769, and reigned ten years. He was the son of Gadi, and appears to have been one of the generals of king Zachariah. When he heard the news of the murder of that prince, and the usurpation of Shallum, he was at Tirzah, but immediately marched to Samaria, where Shallum had shut himself up, and slew him in that city. He then usurped the throne in his turn, and forthwith reduced Tiphsah, which refused to acknowledge his rule. He adhered to the sin of Jeroboam, like the other kings of Israel. His general character is described by Josephus as rude and exceedingly cruel (Ant. 9:11, 1). The contemporary prophets, Hosea and Amos, have left a melancholy picture of the ungodliness, demoralization, and feebleness of Israel; and Ewald adds to their testimony some doubtful references to Isaiah and Zechariah. (For the encounter with the Assyrians, see below.) Menahem died in BC. 759, leaving the throne to his son Pekahiah (2Ki 15:14-22). There are some peculiar circumstances in the narrative of his reign, in the discussion of which we follow the most recent elucidations. SEE ISRAEL, KINGDOM OF.
(1.) Ewald (Gesch. Isr. 3:598), following the Sept., would translate the latter part of 2Ki 15:10, "And Kobolam (or Keblaam) smote him, and slew him, and reigned in his stead." Ewald considers the fact of such a king's existence a help to the interpretation of Zec 11:8; and he accounts for the silence of Scripture as to his end by saying that he may have thrown himself across the Jordan, and disappeared among the subjects of king Uzziah. It does not appear, however, how such a translation can be made to agree with the subsequent mention (ver. 13) of Shallum, and with the express ascription of Shallum's death (ver. 14) to Menahem. Thenius excuses the translation of the Sept. by supposing that their MSS. may have been in a defective state, but ridicules the theory of Ewald. SEE KINGS.
(2.) In the brief history of Menahem, his ferocious treatment of Tiphsah occupies a conspicuous place. The time of the occurrence and the site of the town have been doubted. Keil says that it can be no other place than the remote Thapsacus on the Euphrates, the northeast boundary (1Ki 4:24) of Solomon's dominions; and certainly no other place bearing the name is mentioned in the Bible. Others suppose that it may have been some town which Menahem took in his way as he went from Tirzah to win a crown in Samaria (Ewald); or that it is a transcriber's error for Tappuah (Jos 17:8), and that Menahem laid it waste when he returned from Samaria to Tirzah (Thenius). No sufficient reason appears for having recourse to such conjectures where the plain text presents no insuperable difficulty. The act, whether perpetrated at the beginning of Menahem's reign or somewhat later, was doubtless intended to strike terror into the hearts of reluctant subjects throughout the whole extent of dominion which he claimed. A precedent for such cruelty might be found in the border wars between Syria and Israel (2Ki 8:12). It is a striking sign of the increasing degradation of the land, that a king of Israel practiced upon his subjects a brutality from the mere. suggestion of which the unscrupulous Syrian usurper recoiled with indignation. SEE TIPHSAH.
(3.) But the most remarkable event in Menahem's reign is the first appearance of a hostile force of Assyrians on the. north-east frontier of Israel. King Pul, however, withdrew, having been converted from an enemy into an ally by a timely gift of 1000 talents of silver, which Menahem exacted by an assessment of fifty shekels a head on 60,000 Israelites. This was probably the only choice left to him, as he had not that resource in the treasures of the Temple of which the kings of Judah availed themselves in similar emergencies. It seems, perhaps, too much to infer from 1Ch 5:26 that Pul also took away Israelitish captives. The name of Pul (Sept. Phaloch or Phalos) appears, according'to Rawlinson (Bampton Lectures for 1859, Lect. iv, p. 133), in an Assyrian inscription of a Ninevite king, as Phallukha, who took tribute from Beth Kumri (=the house of Omri=Samaria), as well as from Tyre, Sidon, Damascus, Idumaea, and Philistia; the king of Damascus is set down as giving 2300 talents of silver, besides gold and copper, but neither the name -of Menahem, nor the amount of his tribute, is stated in the inscription. Rawlinson also says that in another inscription the name of Menahem is given, probably by mistake of the stonecutter, as a tributary of Tiglath- pileser. SEE NINEVEH.