Menahem and Pekah of Israel, Jotham of Judah and Tiglath-Plieser III of Assyria (2 Kings 15)

Bilderesultat for Tiglath-Pileser III of Assyria

Illustration: Artists impression of Assyrian soldiers extolling Tiglath Pileser III

Fifteen kings are named in 2 Kings 15, covering a span of about 35 years, from approximately 767 to 732 B.C. Nine are kings of Israel (Jeroboam I, Jeroboam II, Zechariah, Shallum, Jehu, Menahem, Pekahiah, Pekah and Hoshea), four of Judah (Amaziah, Azariah/Uzziah, Jotham and Ahaz), one of Assyria (Pul/Tiglath-Pileser III) and one of Aram/Syria (Rezin). Ten of the fifteen are named in contemporary sources outside the Bible. A few examples are as follows:

  • Menahem, king of Israel (ca. 747-737 B.C.), paid tribute to Tiglath-Pileser III, king of Assyria, from approximately 745 to 727 B.C. (15:19-20). Scholars believe this tribute was paid at the time of the first campaign of Tiglath-Pileser III into the region in approximately 740 B.C. Menahem is mentioned twice in Tiglath-Pileser’s records. Both the Iran Stele, purchased from an antiquities dealer in western Iran, and Tiglath-Pileser’s annals, excavated in his palace in Calah, Iraq, state that “Menahem of Samaria” paid tribute to the king in his eighth year, approximately 738 B.C.
  • Pekah, king of Israel (ca. 735-732 B.C.), joined forces with Rezin, king of Aram, in a revolt against Tiglath-Pileser III. The two attempted to force Judah to join them (15:37, 16:5, 2 Chronicles 28:5-8, Isaiah 7:1-9). This provoked the wrath of the Assyrian king, who defeated Damascus, the capital of Aram, and devastated Israel in 732 B.C. (2 Kings 15:29, 16:7-9, 1 Chronicles 5:26). The records of Tiglath-Pileser III twice refer to this campaing and to the demise of Pekah. An ancient seal depicts a figure facing left, with the name Pekak written behind him.This was most likely Pekah’s seal when he was an officer under Pekahiah prior to his becoming king (2 Kings 15:25).
  • The names of Jotham and Ahaz, kings of Judah (ca. 759-743 B.C.), appear on a clay seal impression or bulla. This bulla, from the reign of Jotham’s son Ahaz, once sealed an official papyrus document. The full name of a man in ancient Israel was rendered as “X”, son of Y”; thus the impression reads “Belonging to Ahaz, (son of) Jotham, king of Judah”.
  • Tiglath-Pileser III, king of Assyria (ca. 745-727 B.C.), is named nine times in the Bible. Many records from his reign, including sculptured reliefs depicting the king himself, were found in his palace at Calah, Iraq.


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