The reigns of Azariah, Zechariah, Shallum, Menahem, Pekahiah, Pekah, and Jotham are described. Tiglath-pileser exiles a group of Israelites to Assyria.
Azariah lives in solitude: “The Lord struck the king with a plague, and he was a leper until the day of his death; he lived in isolated quarters.” (v. 5a)
III. Important Verses
5: The LORD struck the king [Azariah] with a plague, and he was a leper until the day of his death; he lived in isolated quarters, while Jotham, the king’s son, was in charge of the palace and governed the people of the land.
10: Shallum son of Jabesh conspired against [Zechariah] and struck him down before the people and killed him, and succeeded him as king.
12: This was in accord with the word that the LORD had spoken to Jehu: “Four generations of your descendants shall occupy the throne of Israel.” And so it came about.
16: At that time, [marching] from Tirzah, Menahem subdued Tiphsah and all who were in it, and its territory; and because it did not surrender, he massacred [its people] and ripped open all its pregnant women.
19-20: King Pul of Assyria invaded the land, and Menahem gave Pul a thousand talents of silver that he might support him and strengthen his hold on the kingdom. Menahem exacted the money from Israel: every man of means had to pay fifty shekels of silver for the king of Assyria. The king of Assyria withdrew and did not remain in the land.
29: In the days of King Pekah of Israel, King Tiglath-pileser of Assyria came and captured Ijon, Abel-beth-maacah, Janoah, Kedesh, Hazor — Gilead, Galilee, the entire region of Naphtali; and he deported the inhabitants to Assyria.
37: In those days, the LORD began to incite King Rezin of Aram and Pekah son of Remaliah against Judah.
1-7. Azariah king of Judah 1-2. Introductory statement 3. Azariah’s piety 4. Azariah’s sins 5. Azariah’s life of isolation 6-7. Summary statement 8-11. Zechariah king of Israel 8. Introductory statement 9. Zechariah’s sins 10. Shallum’s coup 11. Summary statement 12. Editor’s note: A prophecy fulfilled 13-15. Shallum king of Israel 13. Introductory statement 14. Menahem’s coup 15. Summary statement 16. Menahem’s wrath towards Tiphsah 17-22. Menahem king of Israel 17. Introductory statement 18. Menahem’s sins 19-20. Menahem’s tribute to Pul king of Assyria 21-22. Summary statement 23-26. Pekahiah king of Israel 23. Introductory statement 24. Pekahiah’s sins 25. Pekah’s coup 26. Summary statement 27-31. Pekah king of Israel 27. Introductory statement 28. Pekah’s sins 29. Tiglath-pileser exiles many Israelites to Assyria 30. Hoshea’s coup 31. Summary statement 32-38. Jotham king of Judah 32-33. Introductory statement 34. Jotham’s piety 35. Jotham’s sins 36. Summary statement 37. Israel and Aram harass Judah 38. Summary statement concluded
Chapter 15 describes the Israelite and Judean kings of the 8th century BCE. Collins highlights the political instability in the north during this period: “After the death of Jeroboam, there was rapid turnover of rulers in northern Israel. Six kings ruled in the space of just over twenty years. Four of these were assassinated. Zechariah, son of Jeroboam, was assassinated after a few months on the throne, and his assassin, Shallum, survived only a month.” (271)
It seems that the Israelite-Assyrian relationship was in steady decline throughout the 8th century. Collins writes: “Menahem (745-737), had to deal with a new factor in Israelite history, the encroachment of the Assyrian Empire. Menahem paid a heavy tribute to the Assyrian king, Tiglath-pileser, and in return was confirmed on his throne (2 Kgs 15:19). King Joash, father of Jeroboam, had already paid tribute to Assyria at the beginning of the eighth century, but the Assyrian threat had receded at that time. Assyrian power posed a much more serious threat in the 730s that it had sixty years earlier. Menahem’s son, Pekahiah, was assassinated by one Pekah, son of Remaliah, who is mentioned in Isaiah 7. The statement that Pekah reigned for twenty years (15:28) must be a mistake. Modern historians credit him only with a short reign of three or four years. During his reign, Tiglath-pileser of Assyria captured territory in the north of Israel, in Gilead, Galilee, and Naphtali, and took the people captive to Assyria (Damascus was destroyed at this time). Shortly thereafter Pekah was assassinated by Hoshea, the last king of Israel. He ruled for nine years, paying tribute to Assyria, but in the end he made the disastrous mistake of conspiring with Egypt and withholding tribute. In 722 Samaria was destroyed by the Assyrians, and the area was placed under direct Assyrian rule.” (ibid.)
Verses 19-20 mention a certain Pul king of Assyria: “King Pul of Assyria invaded the land, and Menahem gave Pul a thousand talents of silver that he might support him and strengthen his hold on the kingdom. Menahem exacted the money from Israel: every man of means had to pay fifty shekels of silver for the king of Assyria. The king of Assyria withdrew and did not remain in the land.” Who was king Pul? Hobbs writes: “Evidence from the Babylonian King List (ANET, 272) makes clear that Tiglath Pileser and Pul are the same person, the latter name being given to him after he seized the throne of Babylon. The older separation between the two (see I. Benzinger, Die Bucher der Könige, 168–69) is no longer possible. The date of the Assyrian lordship over Israel, which undoubtedly took place during the reign of Tiglath-Pileser (745–727 BC), is a disputed one. More than once the Assyrian records mention tribute from Menahem of Samaria. These inscriptions, translated in Luckenbill’s collection (Ancient Records 1:269–96), are extremely difficult to interpret, in spite of the detail they provide for the reign of the Assyrian king. In the order found in Luckenbill, it would appear that tribute was exacted from Menahem during the third-year campaign to the west (ca 743 BC).” (198)
VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
Cogan, Mordechai and Hayim Tadmor. “II Kings” The Anchor Bible v. 11 (USA: Doubleday, 1988).
Collins, John J. “Introduction to the Hebrew Bible,” (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004).
Hobbs, T.R. “2 Kings” Word Biblical Commentary vol. 13 (Waco, Texas: Wordbooks, 1985).
Photo taken from http://creamtiffa.files.wordpress.com/2008/02/alone.jpg