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Reference: Hazael


HAZAEL usurped the throne of Syria (c. 844 b.c.) by murdering Ben-hadad ii. (Hazael's successor was probably Ben-hadad iii., the Mari of the inscriptions.) The form and fragmentary character of the OT references to Hazael demand caution in drawing conclusions from them. According to 1Ki 19:15, Elijah is sent to anoint Hazael king of Syria; he is regarded as Jahweb's instrument who is to punish the Baal-worshippers in Israel (1Ki 19:18). The next mention of him describes how Ben-hadad, Hazael's predecessor, who is ill, sends Hazael to Elisha, to inquire whether he will recover (2Ki 8:7 ff.); at the interview which Hazael has with the Israelite prophet, the murder of the Syrian king is arranged, and Elisha designates Hazael as his successor on the throne. Both these passages introduce Hazael somewhat abruptly; in each case the Israelite prophet goes to Damascus; and each passage has for its central point the question of Hazael's succeeding to the throne of Syria; these considerations (not to mention others) suggest that the passages come from different sources, and are dealing with two accounts of the same event.

The next mention of Hazael shows him fighting at Ramoth-gilead against the allied armies of Joram, king of Israel, and Ahaziah, king of Judah (2Ki 8:28-29; 9:14,16); the narrative here breaks off to deal with other matters, and does not say what the result of the fighting was, but from 2Ki 10:32 ff. it is clear not only that Hazael was victorious then, but that he continued to be so for a number of years (see, further, 2Ki 12:17 ff., cf. Am 1:3-5); indeed, it was not until his death that the Israelites were once more able to assert themselves.

W. O. E. Oesterley.

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