2 Kings 15:19
And Pul the king of Assyria came against the land: and Menahem gave Pul a thousand talents of silver, that his hand might be with him to confirm the kingdom in his hand.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(19) And.—As it stands, the verse begins abruptly. But the reading of the LXX. restores the connection: In his days Pul the king of Assyria,” &c. (Comp, 2Kings 15:29.)

Pul.—This name has been read in the cuneiform (Pu-u-lu, i.e., Pûlu, an officer of Sargon’s). For the identity of Pul, king of Assyria, with Tiglath Pileser II., see Note on 1Chronicles 5:26, and Schrader’s Die Keil-inschr. und das Alt. Test, pp. 227-240 (2nd edit., 1883). Prof. Schrader gives the following as the result of his elaborate and most interesting discussion: (1) Menahem of Israel and Azariah of Judah were contemporaries, according to the Bible as well as the Inscriptions. (2) According to the Bible, both these rulers were contemporary with an Assyrian king Pul; according to the Inscriptions, with Tiglath Pileser. (3) Berosus calls Pul a Chaldean; Tiglath Pileser calls himself king of Chaldea. (4) Pul-Porus became in 731 B.C. king of Babylon; Tiglath Pileser in 731 B.C. received the homage of the Babylonian king Merodach-Baladan, as he also reduced other Babylonian princes in this year, amongst them Chinzēros of Amukkan. (5) Poros appears in the canon of Ptolemy as king of Babylon; Tiglath Pileser names himself “king of Babylon.” (6) Chinzēros became king of Babylon in 731 B.C. according to the canon, and, in fact, along with (or, under) a king of the name of Pōros; the hypothesis that the vanquished king of Amukkan of the same name was entrusted by Tiglath Pileser with the vassal-kingship of Babylon is suggested at once by the coincidence of the chronological data. (7) In the year 727-726 B.C. a change of government took place in Assyria in consequence of the death of Tiglath Pileser, and in Babylonia in consequence of the death of Porus. (8) No king appears in the Assyrian lists by a name like Pul, which is anomalous as a royal designation; we can only identify Pul with some other name in the lists, and, on historical grounds, with Tiglath Pileser only. (9) Pul and Pōros are forms of the same name (comp. Bâbiru for Bâbilu in Persian inscriptions). (10) From all this, the conclusion is inevitable that Pul and Porus Pul and Tiglath Pileser, are one and the same person.

Came against the land.—Rather, came upon the land (Isaiah 10:28; Judges 18:27). The meaning here is, occupied it.

A thousand talents of silver.—About £375,000.

That his hand might be with him.—Pul (Tiglath Pileser) came at the invitation of Menahem to establish the latter in the sovereignty against other pretenders as a vassal of Assyria. (Comp. Hosea 5:13; Hosea 7:11; Hosea 8:9.) Tiff lath Pileser had first reduced Rezin king of Syria-Damascus, which was probably much weakened by the victories of Jeroboam II. (See Note on 2Kings 15:14.)

2 Kings 15:19. Pul the king of Assyria came against the land — This is the first time that we find any mention of the kingdom of Assyria, since the days of Nimrod, who erected a small principality there, Genesis 10:11. And they were no great people, one would suppose, when the eighty-third Psalm was written, in which they are mentioned as auxiliaries to the children of Lot, against the Israelites, together with other small nations. But now they were become very powerful. This Pul, or Phul, was the first monarch of that nation that invaded Israel, and began their transportation out of their country. Some have been of opinion, with Bishop Patrick, Poole, and others, that he was the same with Belesis, the governor of Babylon, who, together with Arbaces the Mede, slew Sardanapalus, the last of the Assyrian monarchs, and translated the empire to the Chaldeans. But, according to Dr. Prideaux, Belesis was one generation later. It is supposed, therefore, that this Pul was the father of Sardanapalus, and the same king of Assyria who, when Jonah preached against Nineveh, gave great tokens of his humiliation and repentance. See Prideaux’s Con. A. 747, and Bedford’s Script. Chronology. Menahem gave Pul a thousand talents of silver — A very considerable present indeed, being no less than f450,000 sterling. This sum he gave, not only with a view to turn away the army of Pul from him, but also to purchase his friendship and assistance against those of his own subjects who opposed him, and to confirm the kingdom in his hand. By which it appears, that his cruelty at Tiphsah was so far from establishing him as he expected, that it weakened and endangered him, so that he was obliged to call in a foreign power to his aid.15:8-31 This history shows Israel in confusion. Though Judah was not without troubles, yet that kingdom was happy, compared with the state of Israel. The imperfections of true believers are very different from the allowed wickedness of ungodly men. Such is human nature, such are our hearts, if left to themselves, deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. We have reason to be thankful for restraints, for being kept out of temptation, and should beg of God to renew a right spirit within us.This is the first distinct mention which we find in Scripture of Assyria as an aggressive power. From the native monuments we learn that she had been for above a century pushing her conquests beyond the Euphrates, and seeking to reduce under her dominion the entire tract between that river and Egypt. Jehu had paid tribute. Some - arguing from the use of the phrase "confirmed the kingdom" (here, and in 2 Kings 14:5) - think that Jehoahaz had acknowledged Assyrian suzerainty, and consented that her monarchs should receive their investiture from the hands of the Ninevite king. But hitherto there had been no hostile invasion of Jewish or Israelite soil by an Assyrian army. Now, however, the Assyrians are at last formally introduced into the history. A series of aggressions is related in this and the four following chapters, culminating, on the one hand, in the destruction of the northern kingdom, on the other, in the complete failure of Sennacherib's attempt upon Judaea and Egypt.

With respect to the present expedition, there are certain difficulties. The name of Pul does not appear among the Assyrian monumental kings, and it is absent from the copies of the Assyrian Canon, containing the entire list of monarchs from about 910 B.C. to 670 B.C. Assyria Proper, moreover, appears to have been in a state of depression for some 40 years before the accession of Tiglath-Pileser 2 Kings 15:29. It is probable that, during the depression of the Ninevite line, Pul, a Chaldaean and not an Assyrian king, established a second monarchy upon the Euphrates, which claimed to be the true Assyria, and was recognized as such by the nations of Syria and Palestine. His invasion was probably provoked by Menahem's conquest of Thapsacus, which he would view as a wanton aggression upon his territory.

A thousand talents of silver - Compared with the tribute of Hezekiah soon afterward 2 Kings 18:14, this seems a large sum; but it is not beyond the resources of such a State as Samaria at the period. The tie which had bound Samaria to Assyria from the reign of Jehu to that of Jeroboam II, had ceased to exist during the period of Assyrian depression. Menahem now renewed it, undertaking the duties of a tributary, and expecting the support which Assyria was accustomed to lend to her dependencies in their struggles with their neighbors. Hence, the reproaches of Hosea (marginal reference "n").

19. Pul the king of Assyria—This is the first Assyrian king after Nimrod who is mentioned in biblical history. His name has been recently identified with that of Phalluka on the monuments of Nineveh, and that of Menahem discovered also.

came against the land—Elsewhere it is said "Ephraim [Israel] went to the Assyrian" [Ho 5:13]. The two statements may be reconciled thus: "Pul, of his own motion, induced, perhaps, by the expedition of Menahem against Thapsacus, advanced against the kingdom of Israel; then Menahem sent him a thousand talents in order not only to divert him from his plans of conquest, but at the same time to purchase his friendship and aid for the establishment of his own precarious sovereignty. So Menahem did not properly invite the Assyrian into the land, but only changed the enemy when marching against the country, by this tribute, into a confederate for the security of his usurped dominion. This the prophet Hosea, less concerned about the historical fact than the disposition betrayed therein, might very well censure as a going of Ephraim to the Assyrians (Ho 5:13; 7:1; 8:9), and a covenant-making with Asshur" (2Ki 12:1) [Keil].

a thousand talents of silver—Equal to £262,200. This tribute, which Menahem raised by a tax on the grandees of Israel, bribed Pul to return to his own country (see on [343]1Ch 5:26).

Pul the king of Assyria; called by heathen authors Pulbelochus, who by the help of Arbaces the Mede vanquished Sardanapalus the last monarch of Assyria, and translated the kingdom to Chaldea, and was the first king of Babylon and Assyria; Arbaces being made king of the Medes and Persians.

Against the land, to wit, of Israel, as the context shows.

Menahem gave, i.e. agreed or promised to give, as the next verse explains it.

That his hand might be with him, to confirm the kingdom in his hand; that he might assist him against all that did or should oppose him. By which it appears that his cruelty to Tiphsah was so far from establishing him, as he expected, that it weakened and endangered him so far, that he was forced to call in a foreign prince to his aid. And Pul the king of Assyria came against the land,.... The land of Israel, he invaded it; a Jewish chronologer (u) calls him Pulbelicho; and he is generally thought to be the same with Belochus or Belesis, governor of Babylon, who, with Arbaces the Mede, slew Sardanapalus, said to be the last of the Assyrian kings, and translated the empire to the Chaldeans; he ruling over Babylon and Nineveh, and Arbaces over the Medes and Persians; but Pul was not a Babylonian, but an Assyrian (w), and the first king of the Assyrians, at least, the Scriptures speak of: we read no more of him; but one Metasthenes, a Persian historian, feigned and published by Annius, and so named by him instead of Megasthenes, calls him Phulbelochus, and says (x) he reigned forty eight years:

and Menahem gave Pul a thousand talents of silver; and a talent of silver, according to Brerewood (y) was three hundred and seventy five pounds; but Bishop Cumberland (z) calculates it at three hundred and fifty three pounds eleven shillings and ten pence half penny; 1,000 of them made a large sum of money, according to the former 375,000 pounds; and this he gave to him, not only to desist from the invasion of his land, but

that his hand might be with him; and not against him:

and to confirm the kingdom in his hand; which being got by usurpation, and supported by cruelty, was but tottering.

(u) David Ganz. Tzemach David, par. 2. fol. 5. 2.((w) See the Universal History, vol. 4. B. 1. ch. 8. sect. 5. (x) De Judicio Temp. & Annal. Pers. fol. 221. 2.((y) De Ponder & Pret. Vet. Num. c. 4. (z) Scripture Weights and Measures, c. 4. p. 120.

And Pul the king of Assyria came against the {g} land: and Menahem gave Pul a thousand {h} talents of silver, that his hand might be with him to confirm the kingdom in his hand.

(g) That is, of Israel.

(h) Instead of seeking help from God, he went about by money to purchase the favour of this king being an infidel and therefore God forsook him, and Pul soon afterward broke his promises, destroyed his country and led his people away captive.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
19. And Pul the king of Assyria came against the land] R.V. There came against the land Pul &c. The sentence has no conjunction, and so R.V. represents the original better. In the LXX. we find ‘In his days’ put as an introduction to the sentence, and the name of Pul represented by Φουὰ, or Φουλὰ or Φοὺλ.

In his work on ‘the Cuneiform Inscriptions and the Old Testament’, Prof. Schrader (p. 133. Engl. Trans. Vol. 1. p. 230) identifies Pul with Tiglath-pileser, and his grounds for so doing may be thus stated. Azariah king of Judah was a contemporary of Menahem king of Israel (2 Kings 15:17). The Bible makes them both also contemporaries with Pul king of Assyria, while the inscriptions speak of them as contemporary with Tiglath-pileser the second. In Berosus’ Chaldæan history Pul is mentioned as a Chaldæan, Tiglath-pileser in the inscriptions calls himself king of Chaldæa. The name which in Berosus is ‘Phulus’ appears in the canon of Ptolemy as Πῶρος. This Porus became king of Babylon b.c. 731, in which year we learn from the inscriptions that Tiglath-pileser received homage from the Babylonian king, Merodach-baladan, and became thus lord paramount in Babylon. In the year 727–726 Tiglath-pileser dies, and at the same time a change of ruler takes place in Babylonia by the retirement of Porus. Pul or Por does not appear among the Assyrian kings unless it be under another name, and the only prince with whom the history allows him to be identical is Tiglath-pileser. Pul and Por are really the same name, changed by well-known phonetic laws. Hence it seems not improbable that Pul, Πῶρος, and Tiglath-pileser are names of one and the same person.

Another supposition is that Pul is the name of one of Tiglath-pileser’s generals, who was in charge of the expedition against Israel. But he is in this verse very expressly called king of Assyria, and the Bible narrative continually makes it clear when an official person, not the king himself, is in command. For an example cf. Isaiah 20:1.

came against the land] i.e. Was making a hostile advance, and would have invaded Israel but for the bribe.

a thousand talents of silver] This represents a very large sum. Omri only gave two talents of silver (1 Kings 16:24) for the ground on which he built Samaria; and in Hezekiah’s time the king of Assyria’s demands were only for 300 talents of silver and 30 talents of gold (2 Kings 18:14). But we can have no doubt from the writings of the contemporary prophets that the northern kingdom was rich at this time. Amos speaks of their houses of ivory (2 Kings 3:15), of their houses of hewn stone and their pleasant vineyards (2 Kings 5:11), how they lay upon beds of ivory, ate of the choicest, had music in their feasts, drank wine in bowls and anointed themselves with the best ointments (2 Kings 6:4-6): all indications of excessive wealth.

that his hand might be with him] The desire of Menahem was to secure Pul as an ally, and to gain his help against other adversaries; a very natural aim under the circumstances. To obtain this he no doubt acknowledged the Assyrian as his superior, and did homage to him, as well as paying him this large bribe.

to confirm the kingdom in his hand] These words, which make clear Menahem’s object, are unrepresented in the LXX.Verse 19. - And Pul, the King of Assyria came against the land. There is no connective in the Hebrew text, and it has been proposed to supply one; but there can be little doubt that the best emendation is that suggested by Thenius, who changes the כָּל־יָמָיו of ver. 18 into בְיָמָיו, and attaches that word to ver. 19. Ver. 19 will then read thus: "In his days Pul the King of Assyria came against the laud" - and no connective will be wanted. The greatest doubt has been entertained with regard to the identity of Pul, whose name does not appear in the Assyrian Eponym Canon, or in any other purely Assyrian document. But recently discovered Babylonian documents seem to prove that Pul (Pulu) was the Babylonian name for Tiglath-pileser, who reigned under that name in Babylon during his last two years, and appears in the Canon of Ptolemy as "Porus." Tiglath-pileser, the great founder of the later Assyrian empire, made himself king in B.C. 745, and proceeded to consolidate the Assyrian power on every side, after a period of great weakness and disorganization. He made several expeditions against Babylonia, and several into Syria and Palestine. The expedition in which he came into contact with Menahem is thought to have been that of his eighth year, B.C. 738 (see G. Smith, 'Eponym Canon,' pp. 117-120; and, for the identity of Tiglath-pileser with Pul, see the 'Transactions of the Society of Biblical Archaeology' for 1884, p. 198). And Menahem gave Pal a thousand talents of silver. A vast sum certainly, equal to above a quarter of a million of our money, perhaps to some extent a punishment for the siege and sack of Tiphsah. But not a sum that it would have been impossible to pay. A King of Damascus, about fifty years previously, had bought off an Assyrian attack by the payment of two thousand three hundred talents of silver and twenty talents of gold (see 'Eponym Canon,' p. 115). That his hand might be with him to confirm the kingdom in his hand; i.e. that Pal might take him under his protection, accept him as one of his subject-princes, and (by implication) support him against possible rivals. Reign of Shallum. - Shallum reigned only a full month (ירח־ימים, as in Deuteronomy 21:13; see at Genesis 29:14). Menahem the son of Gadi then made war upon him from Tirzah; and by him he was smitten and slain. Menahem must have been a general or the commander-in-chief, as Josephus affirms. As soon as he became king he smote Tiphsach, - i.e., Thapsacus on the Euphrates, which has long since entirely disappeared, probably to be sought for in the neighbourhood of the present Rakka, by the ford of el Hamman, the north-eastern border city of the Israelitish kingdom in the time of Solomon (1 Kings 5:4), which came into the possession of the kingdom of Israel again when the ancient boundaries were restored by Jeroboam II((2 Kings 14:25 and 2 Kings 14:28), but which had probably revolted again during the anarchy which arose after the death of Jeroboam, - "and all that were therein, and the territory thereof, from Tirzah; because they opened not (to him), therefore he smote it, and had them that were with child ripped up." מתּרצה does not mean that Menahem laid the land or district waste from Tirzah to Tiphsach, but is to be taken in connection with יכּה in this sense: he smote Tiphsach proceeding from Tirzah, etc. The position of this notice, namely, immediately after the account of the usurpation of the throne by Menahem and before the history of his reign, is analogous to that concerning Elath in the case of Uzziah (2 Kings 14:22), and, like the latter, is to be accounted for from the fact that the expedition of Menahem against Tiphsach formed the commencement of his reign, and, as we may infer from 2 Kings 15:19, became very eventful not only for his own reign, but also for the kingdom of Israel generally. The reason why he proceeded from Tirzah against Tiphsach, was no doubt that it was in Tirzah, the present Tallusa, which was only three hours to the east of Samaria (see at 1 Kings 14:17), that the army of which Menahem was commander was posted, so that he had probably gone to Samaria with only a small body of men to overthrow Shallum, the murderer of Zachariah and usurper of the throne, and to make himself king. It is possible that the army commanded by Menahem had already been collected in Tirzah to march against the city of Tiphsach, which had revolted from Israel when Shallum seized upon the throne by the murder of Zachariah; so that after Menahem had removed the usurper, he carried out at once the campaign already resolved upon, and having taken Tiphsach, punished it most cruelly for its revolt. On the cruel custom of ripping up the women with child, i.e., of cutting open their wombs, see 2 Kings 8:12; Amos 1:13, and Hosea 14:1. Tiphsach, Thapsacus, appears to have been a strong fortress; and from its situation on the western bank of the Euphrates, at the termination of the great trade-road from Egypt, Phoenicia, and Syria to Mesopotamia and the kingdoms of Inner Asia (Movers, Phniz. ii. 2, pp. 164,165; and Ritter, Erdkunde, x. pp. 1114-15), the possession of it was of great importance to the kingdom of Israel.

(Note: There is no foundation for the view propounded by Ewald (Gesch. iii. p. 599), Simson (Hosea, pp. 20, 21), Thenius, and many others, that Tiphsach was a city between Tirzah and Samaria, which Menahem laid waste on his march from Tirzah to Samaria to dethrone Shallum; for it rests upon nothing more than the perfectly unwarrantable and ungrammatical combination of מתרצה with את־גבוליה, "its boundaries towards Tirzah" (Sims.), and upon the two worthless objections: (1) that the great distance of מתרצה from יכה precludes the rendering "going out from Tirzah;" and (2) that Menahem was not the man to be able to conquer Thapsacus on the Euphrates. But there is no foundation for the latter assertion, as we have no standard by which to estimate the strength and bravery of the Israelitish army commanded by Menahem. And the first objection falls to the ground with the correct rendering of מתרצה, viz., "proceeding from Tirzah," which is preferred even by Ewald and Thenius. With this rendering, the words by no means affirm that Menahem smote Tiphsach from Tirzah on the way to Samaria. This is merely an inference drawn from v. 13, according to which Menahem went from Tirzah to Samaria to overthrow Shallum. But this inference is open to the following objections: (1) that it is very improbable that there was a strong fortress between Tirzah and Samaria, which Menahem was obliged to take on his march before he could overthrow the usurper in the capital of the kingdom; and (2) that the name Tiphsach, trajectus, ford, is by no means a suitable one for a city situated on the mountains between Tirzah and Samaria, and therefore, in order to carry out the hypothesis in question, Thenius proposes to alter Tiphsach into Tappuach, without any critical warrant for so doing.)

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