Shallum is the man responsible for ending Zechariah’s reign. He lasted even less time than his predecessor; one month.
We don’t get to find out what kind of king Shallum would have been. We aren’t even told if he “did evil in the sight of the Lord.” I’m going to say he probably did, or God may have increased his time on the throne.
The fact that he got there through murder might give us a clue to what he was like. I wish we had the Book of Chronicles of the Kings of Israel. It would probably tell us more about the conspiracy that got Shallum into power as well as what happened when he was deposed.
What we do see is information on the king who is to follow Shallum. He follows him through murder too. At the same time Shallum took the throne Menahem was starting his reign of terror in Tirzah. If Shallum had had any military might at the time, it would have been used best by stopping what Menahem was doing. It is hard to fathom that this man is going to rule the people for TEN years.
The portion in our reading about Menaham ripping open the pregnant women brings back memories of Elisha’s prophecy to Hazael. When Elisha told Hazael he would be king of Syria he said that Hazael would rip open pregnant women in Gilead. Menahem did this in Tirzah. I don’t recall a story of Hazael doing these acts but I could have forgotten it. I’m certain it happened because of Elisha’s prophecy. Did Menaham get this idea from seeing the impact it had on the people when Hazael did it? EVIL men doing EVIL things!
I want to turn back to our king for a month; Shallum. He had enough people behind him to propel himself to the throne after killing Zechariah but not enough to support him against Menaham. Why is this? What happened to set up this power struggle? What was it that Zechariah did that got Shallum so worked up that he felt murdering him was the only solution? Was it a personal trait? Was it mismanagement of the kingdom? Did Shallum want power all his life and struck when he finally saw an opportunity? What was it about Zechariah that made his vulnerable? NOTHING happens in a vacuum.
Did the people play a part in the transfer of power so often or did they ‘go along for the ride’? Can you imagine living in Israel during those months? The first months of a new leader are often the hardest. They want to prove their worth so they set up new programs and make new laws. After a while you get to know what is expected and can settle in. Zechariah barely got to this point in his reign. Then along comes Shallum. He has taken the throne by force. He is not the peoples’ choice. He is not ushered in on their shoulders. But before the people can even get used to him along comes another contender for the throne.
From day one of Shallum’s reign Menaham has been making a name for himself as a man to be feared. The people are probably praying that Shallum will put an end to Menaham’s terror but instead of ending it Shallum falls victim to it too. Now the people are in abject terror. They dare not revolt. If Menaham is this vicious with pregnant women imagine what he would do to those who openly oppose him. It’s time to keep your head down and pray you go unnoticed. Hide your women, children and elders, there is no safety in Israel.
I don’t know exactly what it was but these men had a part to play in God’s plan of redemption. Maybe it was getting Israel to the point of crying out to God in earnest. Even the bad times can bring about positive results IF/WHEN given to the Lord. Israel’s trouble is that they weren’t learning from their experiences and therefor needed more lessons. DON’T be like Israel in this! LISTEN when God sends correction your way.
Father God, I PRAY I don’t have any of these lessons coming up! I pray I learn from the little ones instead and don’t need any big ones. Thank You that, during the big ones I’ve faced before, You NEVER abandon me or give up on me. You see me through from beginning to end. You even show me what it is that I am to learn from the lesson IF I only listen. Help me carry the lessons and leave behind the hurts. Turn my scars into a tapestry of stars along the way.