2 Kings 15:13-22

Shallum and Menahem, Kings of Israel

Shallum conspired against Zechariah, killed him, and reigned in his stead. His crime scarcely benefited him, for at the end of a month he fell beneath the blows of Menahem. We are touching the reason for all these acts of violence: each is wanting to usurp power for his own gain. With conscience no longer lifting up its voice, sinners are delivered up to all the instincts of their evil nature.

The city of Tiphsah not having wanted to open its gates to Menahem, he treats it with utmost cruelty. He succeeds in maintaining himself upon the throne for ten years. He does that which is evil, walking in the sins of Jeroboam all his days. Under his reign the Assyrians at last appear upon the scene: "Pul the king of Assyria came against the land" (v. 19). This is the first king of Assyria whose name is mentioned in biblical history. This personage has occasioned much debate among critics, who seem to agree now to consider him identical with Tiglath‑Pileser, one of the greatest and best‑known among the Assyrian monarchs (2 Kings 15: 29; 2 Kings 16: 7; etc.). In keeping simply to the letter of Scripture, we shall rather be led to see in Pul, king of Assyria, a distinct person, according to what is told us in 1 Chronicle 5: 26: "And the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul king of Assyria, and the spirit of Tiglath‑Pileser king of Assyria, and he carried them away, the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh." The carrying away of the tribes beyond the Jordan is attributed in verse 29 of our chapter to Tiglath‑Pileser, whereas Pul is presented to us in verse 19 as coming against Israel, but influenced by an immense tribute of silver (more than six million U.S. dollars in terms of the value of silver at the time of the translation of this book) to become the protector of the king of Israel "that his hand might be with him to establish the kingdom" so greatly shaken "in his hand." This Pul, we have not yet pointed out enough, "turned back, and stayed not there in the land" (v. 20), which was not the case with his successor. It is true that human documents are silent with regard to him, and perhaps will always remain so, but we have the Word of God as guide, and our safeguard is to receive it simply, as God has given it to us. Hosea mentions the fact that is before us now: Ephraim went "to the Assyrian, and sent to king Jareb; but he was unable to heal you, nor hath he removed your sore (Hosea 5: 13). This king Jareb may well be none other than Pul.* His name means, "He who contests," doubtless an allusion to the combative power of the Assyrian, whom Israel thought to appease and to propitiate by presents. "The inhabitants of Samaria shall fear because of the calf of Beth‑aven; for the people thereof shall mourn over it, and the idolatrous priests thereof shall tremble for it, for its glory, because it is departed from it. Yea, it shall be carried unto Assyria as a present for king Jareb" (Hosea 10: 5‑6). Even one of Jeroboam's calves had been carried to Assyria as a present for its king! And the same prophet adds in another place: "They are gone up to Assyria as a wild ass alone by himself: Ephraim has hired lovers" (Hosea 8: 9). But what a shame for Israel! Their god given to the enemy of their race as a common present! That too was of the Lord.

In the final analysis, what was the use of all the politics and quests after alliances and protection, turning now toward Assyria, then toward Egypt? Did they delay for one instant the judgment that had been decreed? And it is the same in our own day, is it not? The guarantees that nations are seeking to procure one from the other will all disap­pear like chaff carried away by the wind when "the Lamb that was slain" shall step forward to take the book of God's counsels and ways toward the world and carry it into execution.

 

Footnotes:

*Perhaps also Shalmaneser. In thiscase, the calf of Bethel would have been sent to this latter by Hoshea. Beth even (Hosea 4: 15; Hosea 5: 6) signified "House of iniquity," taking the place of Bethel, "House of God."