The eighteenth and penultimate king of Israel was Pekah. He was a captain in the army of Pekahiah, king of Israel, whom he assassinated to take power. He was the son of Remaliah.
A Brief History of Pekah’s Kingdom
King Pekah ruled for twenty years, beginning in the 52nd and last year of Judah’s monarch, Uzziah. In the next year of his rule, Jotham established his rule over Judah, which lasted for sixteen years. Finally, Ahaz, the son of Jotham, took over as king in the seventeenth year of his reign.
In line with HJ Cook and Carl Lederer, ER Thiele asserted that Pekah founded a parallel empire to Menahem’s kingdom of Samaria in Gilead in Nisan 752 BC, took total control after Menahem’s son Pekahiah was killed in 740/739 B.C., and passed away in 732/731 B.C.
This interpretation is in line with the data provided by the Assyrian records, which concur that Menahem and Hoshea were kings in either 743 or 742 B.C.
Tiglath-Pileser III, Emperor of Assyria, was enlisted by Ahaz, King of Judah, to defend him when Pekah and Rezin, King of Aram, conspired to attack Ahaz. Although Judah had become an Assyrian tributary, the Assyrian king complied.
Summary of King Pekah’s reign
Pekah obtained the assistance of a party of Gileadites from whose native land he most likely descended before killing Pekahiah and assuming the kingdom.
Around 732 BC, Pekah, Rezin’s ally and a threat to Jerusalem, did so. The main motivation for such an alliance was probably to defend their respective nations from Tiglath-pileser III, who had already forced Menahem to pay a substantial tribute in 738 B.C.
The two kings combined their forces and tried to coerce Ahaz of Judah into joining them. Pekah raided Judah and abducted some people to Samaria. Still, after receiving a rebuke from the prophet Oded and numerous distinguished men, he released and returned the prisoners.
Outside Jerusalem’s walls, the combined forces of Syria and Israel gathered to demand their surrender. Isaiah then intervened on behalf of Judah and its king. The allies suggested installing a kid of Tabeel, who was the most likely one who was friendly to the alliance, in the kingdom of Judah.
However, Ahaz asked Tiglath-pileser for help because he knew he was nearby. In the Immanuel prophesy in Isaiah 7:14, where the birth of a son (perhaps Hezekiah) is a portent of both kings’ defeat, Ahaz expresses his “dread” of Rezin and Pekah, “Son of Remaliah.” Before the infant is mature enough to understand what is good and wrong and can consume curds and honey. The Assyrian monarch would perform this act on them.
Pekah’s Time, Death, and Reign: The Biblical Perspectives
The information provided in the biblical scriptures about Pekah’s reign has sparked considerable debate. However, his death date is reasonably certain to be 732/731 BC.
However, two opposing systems of reckoning were used during his reign. According to one method, he reigned for twenty years (2 Kings 15:27), putting his beginning date at 752 B.C. This timeframe is consistent with the assertion that Jotham of Judah took the throne in Pekah’s second year, 750 B.C. And that Ahaz took the throne in Pekah’s 17th year, 735 B.C., Jotham’s successor (2 Kings 16: 1 ).
However, according to 2 Kings 15:27, Pekah took the throne in Judah in the 52nd year of Azariah (Uzziah) in 740 B.C. Additionally, Pekah killed Pekahiah to ascend to the throne (2 Kings 15:25), and Pekahiah’s father Menahem’s ten-year rule (2 Kings 15:23) came before Pekahiah’s two-year rule (2 Kings 15:17).
Assyrian references during King Pekah’s reign
The Assyrian ruler distinguished between the two kingdoms in northern Israel. As can be seen by viewing the situation from their point of view. According to Tiglath-Pileser, he joined Assyria and the northern portion, which the text has restored as Naftali.
He stated, “Israel (bit-Humria) deposed their king Pekah, and I set Hoshea as king over them.” In contrast, in the southern region. Menahem’s tribute to Assyria in 2 Kings 15:19, in Cook’s opinion, also suggests the presence of a rival kingdom to Menahem’s:
Menahem took advantage of Tiglath-Pileser III’s western appearance to court his favor by delivering a contribution of a thousand talents of silver. Believing that it would “enable him to confirm his hold on the royal power,” as stated in 2 Kings xv 19. Menahem’s attitude might manifest his anxiety over Assyrian strength. Still, it could also be a sign of a rival.
Pekah and King Rezin of Aram allegedly allied, endangering Ahaz of Judah, according to Isaiah 7:1, 2. This explains why Menahem felt uncomfortable and tried to bribe Assyrian support. Menahem of Israel (Ephraim) followed a pro-Assyrian strategy. Aligning himself against the alliance of Pekah and the Arameans, who sought to confront Assyria.
Pekah as a commander under Pekahiah
The claim that Pekah ruled a kingdom in Samaria that was a challenger to Menahem’s rule is strongly refuted by the fact that he is identified as the ruler of Pekahaiah, whom he killed (2 Kings 15:25).
Arguments against Pekah being Menahem’s competitor typically rely on Pekah’s role as a commander in Pekahiah’s (Menahem’s) troops (2 Kings 15:25). A deal between two competitors, however, in which one takes a subordinate role. While the other waits until the right moment to destroy his opponent (or his rival’s son). It is indeed not necessarily unreasonable. So when the conflict erupted, Assyria’s external danger strongly justified going to war.
This competition between Menahem and Pekah would only appear silly, given Assyria’s increasing danger. Syria’s capital and former ally of Pekah, Damascus, was the target of Tiglath-expedition Pileser’s in 733. He later went back to obliterate the city.
Pekah must have recognized the impending doom in 733 or earlier; any Realpolitik would have advised him that it was time for the two adversaries to put personal egos aside in the interest of compromise. Realpolitik would advise against, as Pekahiah learned too late, granting a prospective rival a leadership position in the military as part of this accommodation.
How did Pekah die? Chronological note of King Pekah’s life
The calendars used in Judah and Israel to count the years of the kings were six months different. Judah’s calendar begins in Tishri (fall), and Israel’s calendar begins in Nisan (spring). Because of this, the dates of a king’s beginning and ending can commonly be shortened to a six-month window due to the cross-synchronizations between the two kingdoms.
The updated version also commonly settles for a rather erroneous notation. Such as “931/930 BC,” or perhaps just “931 BC”. Rather than clearly defining the reduction of the six-month dates available from the scriptural data. Pekahiah was assassinated sometime between Tishri 1 in 740 BC.
And the day before Nisan 1 in 739 BC, according to the synchronisms with the Judah monarchs. Between Tishri 1 (732 BC) and the day before Nisan 1, Hosea killed him (731 BC).