Reply To: Who was Shallum in the bible?

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Shallum was the king of Israel.

Shallum’s account in 2 Kings was about as brief as his time on the throne—he reigned over the northern kingdom for just one fleeting month. With the aid of unidentified conspirators, Shallum moved against the previous king, Zechariah, whose tenure was hardly more impressive than Shallum’s. Zechariah lasted just six months as Israel’s king.

The fact that Shallum assassinated Zechariah was not particularly surprising. Zechariah was, after all, one of four Israelite kings to be murdered in a twenty-year period. What was particularly brazen about Zechariah’s assassination was the setting.

According to the writer of 2 Kings, Shallum killed him “in front of the people.” Shallum did not seize his moment behind closed doors or in a darkened room—he chose to carry out his treachery in full view of the Israelites. Perhaps he thought that such a bold display of violence would cow them into submission— that having seen what Shallum did to Zechariah, no one would dare interfere with Israel’s new king.

Unfortunately, the public assassination seems to have had the opposite effect, creating a large target on Shallum’s back. Only weeks into his reign, Shallum himself was betrayed. Menahem, a military commander loyal to Zechariah, exacted his revenge, killing Shallum in Samaria.

Shallum was a relatively common name in ancient Israel. The Old Testament includes around fifteen men who carried this name.