Son of Gadi. Slew Shallum, and seized the throne of Israel, 772 B.C.; reigned ten years. The words (2 Kings 15:14
; 2 Kings 15:16
) "from Tirzah" imply that Menahem was a general under Zechariah, stationed at Tirzah (now Tallusa), and that he marched thence with some troops to Samaria, and avenged his master's murder by Shallum. He then, proceeding "from Tirzah" (2 Kings 15:16
) where Israel's main army was posted, smote Tiphsach (Thapsacus on the Euphrates), Israel's northeastern border city under Solomon (1 Kings 4:24
), restored by Jeroboam II (2 Kings 14:25
; 2 Kings 14:28
), but having probably revolted again during the anarchy at his death. Situated on the western bank of the Euphrates on the great trade road from Egypt, Syria, and Phoenicia to Mesopotamia, it was important for Menahem to secure it.
With savage cruelty, "because they opened not to him," and to strike terror into all opponents, Menahem "smote it and ripped up the women with child," copying the unscrupulous Syrian Hazael's cruelty (2 Kings 8:12
). In religion "he departed not all his days from the sins of Jeroboam who made Israel to sin." Hosea and Amos depict Israel's demoralization at the time. In his reign first appear the Assyrians as invaders of Israel from the N.E. under Palestine. Menahem, at the cost of 1,000 talents of silver (400,000 British pounds, reckoning the silver talent 400 British pounds), induced him to "confirm the kingdom in his hand." By exacting 50 shekels a head from 60,000 wealthy men of Israel, Menahem raised the money. The name Pal appears in an Assyrian inscription as "Phallukha," who took tribute from "the house of Omri" (Beth Khumri), i.e. Samaria. Tiglath Pileser II, the first monarch of the new dynasty, mentions Menahem in another inscription. Menahem died in peace; Pekahiah his son succeeded him.