After a period of upheaval that saw back-to-back assassinations, Menahem restored a degree of stability to the Northern Kingdom of Israel – but the price paid was VERY high.
Only months before Menahem’s rise to power, a man named Zechariah had taken the throne. His murder ended a dynasty that had lasted through 4 kings – an impressive period of stability for such a volatile nation. Zechariah’s murderer was a man named Shallum, who took Israel’s throne for himself.
But it would not last long. Menahem – who probably commanded a military force based in nearby Tirzah – had been loyal to Zechariah. Barely 1month into Shallum’s reign, Menahem marched on Samaria and killed Shallum.
It has been said that power corrupts people. Such was the case in Menahem’s story. His path to the throne was clear. Menahem sat on his throne – the 4th king to sit on that throne in less than a year!
I. Menahem’s Brutality (2Ki. 15:16)
Menahem’s reign was characterized by brutality and cowardice. When one of the cities of Samaria refused to acknowledge his legitimacy, Menahem raided the city… and “ripped open all the pregnant women” (2Ki. 15:16)! Such brutality was meant to send a message to the next generation of would-be throne-takers.
II. Menahem’s Blasphemy (2Ki. 15:17,18)
Menahem did evil in the sight of the Lord, practicing idolatry, just as so many kings of Israel before him had done.
III. Menahem’s Bribery (2Ki. 15:19-22)
Eventually, though, every bully finds himself confronted with someone “bigger and badder”. Menahem met his match in Tiglath-Pileser 3, king of Assyria – known in the Bible as Pul. The Assyrians invaded and demanded that Menahem pay tribute, acknowledging Tiglath-Pileser as his overlord. Menahem obliged, raising the necessary funds – a breathtaking 1,000 talents of silver – from Israel’s wealthy class. Menahem’s ability to collect such an amount suggests that the Northern Kingdom enjoyed much prosperity during that time.
Menahem was a bully.
Some bullies are looking for attention. They might think bullying is a way to be popular or to get what they want. Most bullies are trying to make themselves feel more important. When they pick on someone else, it can make them feel big and powerful.
Some bullies come from families where everyone is angry and shouting all the time. They may think that being angry, calling names, and pushing people around is a normal way to act. Some bullies are copying what they’ve seen someone else do. Some have been bullied themselves.
Sometimes bullies know that what they are doing or saying hurts other people. But other bullies may not really know how hurtful their actions can be. Most bullies don’t understand or care about the feelings of others.
Bullies often pick on someone they think they can have power over. They might pick on people who get upset easily or who have trouble sticking up for themselves. Getting a big reaction out of someone can make bullies feel like they have the power they want. Sometimes bullies pick on someone who is smarter than they are or different from them in some way. Sometimes bullies just pick on someone for no reason at all.
So, what do you do if a bully is bullying you?
– Try to avoid the bully.
– Stand tall and be brave.
– Don’t let a bully define who you are; define yourself. And feel good about yourself.
– Get a buddy (and be a buddy).
– If confronted by a bully:
* Try to ignore the bully.
* Stand up for yourself. Most bullies look for easy prey.
* Don’t bully back.
* Try not to show your emotions; they might be perceived as weakness in that moment of crisis.
* Tell an authority figure.
In the end, most bullies wind up in trouble. If they keep acting mean and hurtful, sooner or later they may have only a few friends left — usually other people who are just like them. The power they wanted slips away fast. Other people move on and leave bullies behind.
You can read Menahem’s story in 2Kings 15:16-22.