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Pekahiah was the king of Israel, though he did not sit long on the throne of Israel. Reigning just two years, he bears the distinction of being the seventh Israelite monarch to be assassinated.
Pekahiah’s father, Menahem, had come to power through treacherous means. Menahem appears to have died a peaceful death—a rare achievement during this period in Israel’s history—and was succeeded by his son.
The author of 2 Kings had little to say about Pekahiah, and none of it was good. Like every one of his predecessors, Pekahiah persisted in the sins of the northern kingdom’s first ruler, Jeroboam. Aside from this, not one accomplishment—good or bad—was recorded. The writer simply notes that Pekah, one of Pekahiah’s chief officers, conspired to assassinate the king. Aided by fifty Gileadites, Pekah stormed the royal compound in Samaria, killing Pekahiah and two others.
Scholars speculate that the assassination was motivated by a disagreement over Israel’s diplomatic policy toward Assyria, the chief power and primary threat to the region. Presumably, Pekahiah had continued his father’s policy of appeasement, preferring to bribe Assyria into keeping its distance rather than having to meet its army on the battlefield. Pekah, however, wanted to take a more aggressive posture toward Assyria, preferring to confront rather than wait for an invasion that seemed all but inevitable.
Indeed, Assyrian invasion did prove inevitable—and Pekah’s policies were no more effective at preventing it than Pekahiah’s had been.
Neither Pekahiah nor Pekah lived to see Assyria’s total triumph over the northern kingdom, but Israel nevertheless continued its downward spiral during their reigns.
Writing about Israel’s refusal to repent, the prophet Hosea summarized the tumultuous period that included the reign of Pekahiah, noting that “all their kings fall” (Hosea 7:7). Hosea’s description was bleak yet accurate: Four of Israel’s kings were murdered in a span of just two decades.