2 Kings 15:20
And Menahem exacted the money of Israel, even of all the mighty men of wealth, of each man fifty shekels of silver, to give to the king of Assyria. So the king of Assyria turned back, and stayed not there in the land.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(20) Exacted.—Literally, caused to go out; a word already used in the sense of to lay out, expend money (2Kings 12:12). Probably, therefore, laid (vayyissā), i.e., imposed, should be read here (Genesis 31:17).

Of.—Heb., upon.

The mighty men of wealth.—A later use of the Hebrew phrase, which, in older parlance, means “the heroes of the host” (Judges 6:12; 1Samuel 9:1).

Fifty shekels.—The talent of silver was worth 3,000 shekels. The payment of 1,000 talents (3,000,000 shekels) therefore implies a total of 60,000 persons able to contribute. Fifty shekels were one maneh (Assyrian, mana; Greek, μνῦ, and Latin, mina). There was no great Temple treasury to draw from in the northern kingdom, and any palace hoards would have disappeared in the confusions attending the frequent revolutions of the time.

There.—Or, then (Psalm 14:5).

2 Kings 15:20. Of all the mighty men of wealth — By exacting the money only of the rich, it is likely, he thought he should ingratiate himself with the common people, upon whom he laid no tax. Fifty shekels of silver, demanded of each man of wealth, were a sum equal to f7. 10s. of our money.

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.Menahem exacted the money - The kings of Israel had no such ready resource in difficulties as that possessed by the kings of Judah in the temple treasury 2 Kings 12:18; 2 Kings 16:8. Hence, the forced contribution from the people, the odium of which was diminished by confining the levy to the comparatively rich.

Each man fifty shekels - As the silver talent contained 3,000 shekels, the levy of fifty shekels a head must have extended to 60,000 persons.

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).

Of each man, i.e. of each of those wealthy Israelites. But as each of these were not equally wealthy, so it is not probable that he taxed them equally. Others therefore render it to or for each man, i.e. for every Assyrian soldier; which interpretation is favoured by the placing of the words in the Hebrew text, which differs from that in our translation.

And Menahem exacted the money of Israel, even of all the mighty men of wealth,.... Who were most able to pay it, by which means he eased the poor, and might thereby attach them to him:

of each man fifty shekels of silver, to give to the king of Assyria: that is, he required them to pay fifty shekels apiece to make up the above sum as a present to Pul; though the words in the original text lie more naturally thus, "to give to the king of Assyria fifty shekels of silver for one man"; that is, for every man in his army; which amounted to about six pounds a man:

so the king of Assyria turned back; to his own country:

and stayed not there in the land; in the land of Israel, neither to distress nor to help Menahem, for which he gave him the money.

And Menahem exacted the money of Israel, even of all the mighty men of wealth, of each man fifty shekels of silver, to give to the king of Assyria. So the king of Assyria turned back, and stayed not there in the land.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
20. Menahem exacted the money] Fifty shekels=one maneh, was the sixtieth part of a talent of silver. Hence the mighty men of wealth must have numbered 60,000, a number which tells of the richness of the time. The population of Israel in David’s time had 800,000 soldiers (2 Samuel 24:9).

stayed not there] He had evidently made his approach to the very border, and perhaps over it.

Verse 20. - And Menahem exacted the money of Israel. Either he was not possessed of any accumulated treasure, such as the kings of Judah could commonly draw upon (1 Kings 15:18; 2 Kings 12:18; 2 Kings 16:8; 2 Kings 18:15, 16), or he thought it more prudent to keep his stores untouched, and obtain the money from his subjects. Even of all the mighty men of wealth. The context shows this to be the meaning; and the rendering is justified by Ruth 2:1; 1 Samuel 9:1. "Mighty men of valor" cannot possibly be intended. Of each man fifty shekels of silver, to give to the King of Assyria. Fifty shekels was a heavy tax, not less than £5 or £6 of our money. To produce a thousand talents, this tax had to be levied on some sixty thousand persons. Tiglath-pileser mentions his receipt of tribute from "Minikhimmi of Tsammirin" (Menahem of Someron or Samaria), but does not tell us the amount (see 'Epouym Canon,' p. 120, line 29). So the King of Assyria turned back, and stayed not there in the land. Kings of Assyria usually returned home at the end of each campaign, and wintered in their own territory. 2 Kings 15:20To collect the requisite amount, Menahem imposed upon all persons of property a tax of fifty shekels each. יצא with על, he caused to arise, i.e., made a collection. הציא in a causative sense, from יצא, to arise, to be paid (2 Kings 12:13). חיל גּבּורי: not warriors, but men of property, as in Ruth 2 Kings Ruth 2:1; 1 Samuel 9:1. אחד לאישׁ, for the individual. Pul was the first king of Assyria who invaded the kingdom of Israel and prepared the way for the conquest of this kingdom by his successors, and for the extension of the Assyrian power as far as Egypt. According to the thorough investigation made by Marc. v. Niebuhr (Gesch. Assurs u. Babels, pp. 128ff.), Pul, whose name has not yet been discovered upon the Assyrian monuments, was the last king of Nineveh of the family of the Derketades, who still ruled over Babylon according to Berosus, and the last king but one of this dynasty.

(Note: It is true that some trace of his expedition has been found in the monuments, since an inscription has been deciphered with tolerable certainty, stating that king Minikhimmi of Samirina (Menahem of Shomron or Samaria) paid tribute to an Assyrian king. But the name of this Assyrian king is not determined with certainty, as Rawlinson, and Oppert read it Tiglat-palassar, and suppose Tiglath-pileser to be intended; whereas M. v. Niebuhr (p. 132, note 1) imagines it to be the full name of Pul, since no Assyrian king ever had a name of one syllable like Pul as his official name, and even before that Hincks had detected in the name Minikhimmi the king Menahem who had to purchase the friendship of the Assyrian ruler Pul with 1000 talents of silver. (Comp. J. Brandis, uber d. histor. Gewinn aus der Entzifferung der assyr. Inschriften, Berl. 1856, p. 50.))

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