Pekah (Hebrew, open-eyed) (r. 759-739 BC according to Ussher, or r. 752-732 BC according to Thiele), son of Remaliah, was the eighteenth king of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. He came to the throne by murder, and the man who murdered him took his throne—whether immediately or after a nine-year interregnum is in dispute.
Pekah, according to the Bible, was a ranking officer in the army of Pekahiah. The Scriptural account is simple: Pekah gathered a force (or, perhaps more properly, a gang) of fifty soldiers (or cutthroats) from his native Gilead. With these men he infiltrated the palace at Samaria and killed Pekahiah there, along with his bodyguards. This happened in the fifty-second year of King Uzziah.
However, the Thiele and Ussher camps differ strongly on the actual role of Pekah. The Ussher camp maintains that Pekah was exactly what the Bible says he was—a "captain," or officer, in the army. But the Thiele camp now maintains that Pekah was actually a rebel king who set himself up in Gilead two years before the viceroyalty of King Jotham of the Southern Kingdom (the fortieth year of the reign of King Uzziah). Twelve years later, according to this account, he finally toppled the "lawful" monarchs and ruled over all Israel for the next eight years. He acted when the policies of Menahem and Pekahiah, especially Menahem's capitation tax, alienated enough people to make a revolution feasible.
Many secular authorities assert that Pekah could not have reigned for twenty years as the Bible says, because the annals of Tiglath-Pileser III show him receiving a tribute from the earlier King Menahem. This assumes that Tiglath-Pileser III is also that king named Pul mentioned in the Bible.
However, the Bible gives no warrant for saying that Menahem and Pekah strove together for ten years, and that Pekahiah strove with Pekah for another two before Pekah killed him. When King Omri faced a similar problem with the pretender Tibni, the Bible stated this quite clearly. Ussher, furthermore, asserts that Pul was the second-to-last ruler of a dynasty that was wiped out by a Medo-Babylonian coalition led by (among others) Nabonassar, who gave his name to a calendar that began in 747 BC—and that Tiglath-Pileser III was the first king of a new Assyrian dynasty that assumed power at that time.
Beginning in the sixteenth year of his reign (however this is reckoned), Pekah joined forces with the Syrian King Rezin and attacked the Southern Kingdom, which was first under the command of King Jotham and then under the command of King Ahaz. Ahaz made an alliance with Tiglath-Pileser III, who in the twentieth year of Pekah's reign attacked the Northern Kingdom and captured seven Israelite cities and all the people of Naphthali. (Tiglath-Pileser also invaded Syria and killed Rezin.)
Death, Interregnum, and Succession
After that disaster, one Hoshea formed a conspiracy and killed Pekah. Once again, the Ussher and Thiele camps have a difference of opinion. Ussher says that a nine-year interregnum intervened at this time. The prophet Hosea describes a period during which many men boasted that their society had no king and therefore none to call them to account for their wickednesses; this is very likely a reference to that period of anarchy. Thiele flatly denies that any interregnum took place and says that Hoshea began to reign immediately. Some authorities hold that Tiglath-Pileser III boasted that he had removed Pekah and replaced him with Hoshea. Again, the Bible does not explicitly say this, though the Bible mentions multiple puppet-king placements in the years leading to the Fall of Jerusalem.
- James Ussher, The Annals of the World, Larry Pierce, ed., Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2003 (ISBN 0890513600), pghh. 583, 592-597, 599-601, 603, 611
- Leon J. Wood, A Survey of Israel's History, rev. ed. David O'Brien, Grand Rapids, MI: Academie Books, 1986 (ISBN 031034770X), pp. 280-281
- Authors unknown. "King Pekah - Biography." The Kings of Israel, hosted at http://www.geocities.com/ Retrieved June 5, 2007.
- Authors unknown. "Entry for Pekah." WebBible Encyclopedia. Retrieved June 5, 2007.
- Authors unknown. "Pekah." AllAboutGod.com, 2006. Retrieved June 5, 2007.
- II_Kings 15:25
- II_Kings 15:27
- Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Entry for 'PEKAHIAH'." International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Retrieved June 5, 2007.
- II_Kings 15:19-20
- I_Kings 16:21-22
- Ussher, op. cit., pghh. 592-7
- II_Kings 15:29
- II_Kings 15:30
- Hosea 10:3,7,15
- John Argubright. "King Hoshea." Bible Believer's Archaeology, Vol. 1: Historical Evidence That Proves the Bible. BibleHistory.net, 2007. Retrieved June 4, 2007. Requires PDF reader.