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(From a Hebrew word meaning "the consoler"; Septuagint, Manaem; Aquila, Manaen.)
Manahem was king over Israel, according to the chronology of Kautsch (Hist. of O.T. Literature, 185), from 743 B.C.; according to Schrader, from 745-736 B.C. The short reign of Manahem is told in IV Kings, xv, 13-22. He was "the son of Gadi", maybe a scion of the tribe of Gad. Josephus (Antiq. Jud., ix, xi, 1) tells us he was a general of the army of Israel. The sacred writer of IV Kings is apparently synopsizing the "Book of the Words (Hebrew, 'Deeds') of the Days of the Kings of Israel", and gives scant details of the ten years that Manahem reigned. When Sellum conspired against and murdered Zacharias in Samaria, and set himself upon the throne of the northern kingdom, Manahem refused to recognize the usurper; he marched from Thersa to Samaria, about six miles westwards, laid siege to Samaria, took it, murdered Sellum, and set himself upon the throne. He next destroyed Thapsa, which has not been located, put all its inhabitants to death, and treated even pregnant women in the revolting fashion of the time. The Prophet Osee (vii, 1-xiii, 15) describes the drunkenness and debauchery implied in the words "he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam."
The reign of this military adventurer is important from the fact that therein the Assyrian first entered the land of Israel. "And Phul, king of the Assyrians, came into the land, and Manahem gave Phul a thousand talents of silver" (IV Kings, xv, 19). It is now generally admitted that Phul is Tiglath-Pileser III of the cuneiform inscriptions. Phul was probably his personal name and the one that first reached Israel. His reign (745-728 B.C.) had begun at most two years before Manahem's. The Assyrians may have been invited into Israel by the Assyrian party. Osee speaks of the two anti-Israelitic parties, the Egyptian and Assyrian (vii, 11). The result of the expedition of Tiglath-Pileser was an exorbitant tribute imposed upon Rezin of Damascus and Manahem of Samaria (Mi-ni-hi-im-mi Sa-mi-ri-na-ai). This tribute, 1000 talents of silver (about $1,700,000) was exacted by Manahem from all the mighty men of wealth. Each paid fifty shekels of silver — about twenty-eight dollars. There were, at the time, then, some 60,000 "that were mighty and rich" in Israel. In view of this tribute, Tiglath-Pileser returned to Assyria. Manahem seems to have died a natural death. His son Phaceia reigned in his stead.
KITTEL, History of the Hebrews, II (tr., London, 1896); SCHRADER, Keilinschriften und das Alte Test., II (Berlin, 1902), 264.