Pe'kah (Heb. Pekach, פֶּקִח, an opening, as of the eyes; Sept. Φακεέ; Josephus, Φακέας; Vulg. Phacee), son of Remaliah, originally a captain of Pekahiah, king of Israel, murdered his master, seized the throne, and became the eighteenth sovereign (and last but one) of the northern kingdom. His native country was probably Gilead, as fifty Gileadites joined him in the conspiracy against Pekahiah; and if so, he furnishes an instance of the same undaunted energy which distinguished, for good or evil, so many of the Israelites who sprang from that country, of which Jephthah and Elijah were the most famous examples (Stanley, Sin. and Pal. p. 327). Under his predecessors Israel had been much weakened through the payment of enormous tribute to the Assyrians (see especially 2Ki 15:20), and by internal wars and conspiracies. Pekah seems steadily to have applied himself to the restoration of its power. For this purpose he sought the support of a foreign alliance, and fixed his mind on the plunder of the sister kingdom of Judah. He must have made the treaty by which he proposed to share its spoil with Rezin, king of Damascus, when Jotham was still on the throne of Jerusalem (2Ki 15:37); but its execution was long delayed, probably in consequence of that prince's righteous and vigorous administration (2 Chronicles 27). When, however, his weak son Ahaz succeeded to the crown of David, the allies no longer hesitated, and formed the siege of Jerusalem. The history of the war, which is sketched under AHAZ, is found in 2 Kings 16 and 2 Chronicles 28; and in the latter (ver. 6) we read that Pekah "slew in Judah one hundred and twenty thousand in one day, which were all valiant men," a statement which, even if we should be obliged to diminish the number now read in the text, from the uncertainty as to numbers attaching to our present MSS. of the books of Chronicles (Kennicott, Hebrew Text of the Old Testament Considered, p. 532), proves that the character of his warfare was in full accordance with Gileaditish precedents (Jg 11:33; Jg 12:6). The war is famous as the occasion of the great prophecies in Isaiah 7-9. Its chief result was the capture of the Jewish port of Elath, on the Red Sea; but the unnatural alliance of Damascus and Samaria was punished through the final overthrow of the ferocious confederates by Tiglath-Pileser, king of Assyria, whom Ahaz called to his assistance, and who seized the opportunity of adding to his own dominions and crushing a union which might have been dangerous. The kingdom of Damascus was finally suppressed, and Rezin put to death, while Pekah was deprived of at least half of his kingdom, including all the northern portion, and the whole district to the east of Jordan. For though the writer in 2Ki 15:29 tells us that Tiglath-Pileser "took Ijon, and Abelbeth-maachah, and Janoah, and Kedesh, and Hazor, and Gilead, and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali," yet from comparing 1Ch 5:26, we find that Gilead must include "the Reubenites and the Gadites and half the tribe of Manasseh." The inhabitants were carried off, according to the usual practice, and settled in remote districts of Assyria. Pekah himself, now fallen into the position of an Assyrian vassal, was of course compelled to abstain from further attacks on Judah. Whether his continued tyranny exhausted the patience of his subjects, or whether his weakness emboldened them to attack him, we do not know; but, from one or the other cause, Hoshea the son of Elah conspired against him, and put him to death. Josephus says that Hoshea was his friend (Ant. 9:13, 1). Comp. Isa 8:16, which prophecy Hoshea was instrumental in fulfilling. Pekah ascended the throne B.C. 757. In order to bring down the date of Pekah's murder to the date of Hoshea's accession, some chronologists propose to read twenty-nine years for twenty in 2Ki 15:27. Most, however, prefer to let the dates stand as at present in the text, and suppose that an interregnum, not expressly mentioned in the Bible, occurred between those two usurpers. The words of Isaiah (Isa 9:20-21) seem to indicate a time of anarchy in Israel. SEE CHRONOLOGY. Pekah must have begun to war against Judah B.C. 740, and was killed B.C. 737. The order of events above given is according to the scheme of Ewald's Geschichte des Volkes Israel, 3:602. Mr. Rawlinson (Bampton Lectures for 1859, lect. 4) seems wrong in assuming two invasions of Israel by the Assyrians in Pekah's time, the one corresponding to 2Ki 15:29, the other to 2Ki 16:7-9. Both these narratives refer to the same event, which in the first place is mentioned briefly in the short sketch of Pekah's reign, while, in the second passage, additional details are given in the longer biography of Ahaz. It would have been scarcely possible for Pekah, when deprived of half his kingdom, to make an alliance with Rezin, and to attack Ahaz. We learn further from Mr. Rawlinson that the conquests of Tiglath-Pileser are mentioned in an Assyrian fragment, though there is a difficulty, from the occurrence of the name Menahem in the inscription, which may have proceeded from a mistake of the engraver. Comp. the title, son of Khumri (Omri), assigned to Jehu in another inscription; and see Rawlinson, note 35 on lect. 4. As may be inferred from Pekah's alliance with Rezin, his government was no improvement, morally and religiously, on that of his predecessors. SEE ISRAEL, KINGDOM OF.

Bible concordance for PEKAH.

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