Menahem over Israel
17 In the thirty-ninth year of Azariah king of Judah, Menahem son of Gadi became king over Israel and reigned ten years in Samaria. 18 He did evil in the sight of the Lord; he did not depart all his days from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel sin.
19 Pul, king of Assyria, came against the land, and Menahem gave Pul a thousand talents of silver so that his hand might be with him to strengthen the kingdom [d]under his rule. 20 Then Menahem exacted the money from Israel, even from all the mighty men of wealth, from each man fifty shekels of silver to pay the king of Assyria. So the king of Assyria returned and did not remain there in the land. 21 Now the rest of the acts of Menahem and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel? 22 And Menahem slept with his fathers, and Pekahiah his son became king in his place.
Pekahiah over Israel
23 In the fiftieth year of Azariah king of Judah, Pekahiah son of Menahem became king over Israel in Samaria, and reigned two years. 24 He did evil in the sight of the Lord; he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he made Israel sin. 25 Then Pekah son of Remaliah, his officer, conspired against him and struck him in Samaria, in the castle of the king’s house with Argob and Arieh; and with him were fifty men of the Gileadites, and he killed him and became king in his place. 26 Now the rest of the acts of Pekahiah and all that he did, behold they are written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel.
There’s something to be said for giving that which costs you nothing. Which is that it’s a huge farce, and the leaders of Israel knew it. It seems very possible that’s why Menahem’s son was disposed two years after he became king. Pul attacks Israel, and Menahem gives him a huge sum of silver. But the money wasn’t just to make Pul leave Israel alone. It was also intended to be a payment for Pul’s support. Except Menahem didn’t pay that money, the “mighty men of wealth” were the ones who actually paid this “king’s ransom”.
No doubt they were less than excited to pay the fee for Menahem’s reinforcement as king, and that very well could have caused the unrest which led to Pekahiah’s death at the hands of Pekah and the Gileadites. So what can we learn from Menahem? Don’t give that which costs you nothing, or at least don’t lie or deceive folks about what it cost. God struck a couple dead for that very deceit, which shows how detestable it is to God… and how detestable it ought to be in our minds also.
When your position or power or reputation is built on the generosity (or forced giving) of others, that’s shaky ground. The Bible says elsewhere, “be sure your sins will find you out.” And it’s a truth that is worth repeating again, because you can’t get away with such deception forever. Be honest and genuine in your giving, and in all your actions. Let your actions speak for themselves and don’t try to puff up yourself, because a fall is the only thing waiting at the end of that road.