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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature


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Hazael (vision of God), an officer of Benhadad, king of Syria, whose eventual accession to the throne of that kingdom was made known to Elijah (); and who, when Elisha was at Damascus, was sent by his master, who was then ill, to consult the prophet respecting his recovery. He was followed by forty camels bearing presents from the king. When Hazael appeared before the prophet, he said, 'Thy son Benhadad, king of Syria, hath sent me to thee saying, Shall I recover of this disease?' The answer was, that he might certainly recover. 'Howbeit,' added the prophet, 'the Lord hath showed me that he shall surely die.' He then looked stedfastly at Hazael till he became confused: on which the man of God wept; and when Hazael respectfully inquired the cause of this outburst, Elisha replied by describing the vivid picture then present to his mind of all the evils which the man now before him would inflict upon Israel. Hazael exclaimed, 'But what! Is thy servant a dog that he should do this great thing?' The prophet exclaimed that it was as king of Syria he should do it. Hazael then returned, and delivered to his master that portion of the prophetic response which was intended for him. But the very next day this man, cool and calculating in his cruel ambition, took a thick cloth, and, having dipped it in water, spread it over the face of the king, who, in his feebleness, and probably in his sleep, was smothered by its weight, and died what seemed to his people a natural death (, etc.), B.C. 885. We are not to imagine that such a project as this was conceived and executed in a day, or that it was suggested by the words of Elisha. His discomposure at the earnest gaze of the prophet, and other circumstances, show that Hazael at that moment regarded Elisha as one to whom his secret purposes were known. In that case, his cry, 'Is thy servant a dog,' etc. was not, as some suppose, a cry of joy at the first view of a throne, but of horror at the idea of the public atrocities which the prophet described. This was likely to shock him more than it would do after he had committed his first crime, and obtained possession of a throne acquired at such a cost.

The further information respecting Hazael which the Scriptures afford is limited to brief notices of his wars with Ahaziah and Joash, kings of Judah, and with Jehoram, Jehu, and Jehoahaz, kings of Israel (;;;;; ). It is difficult to distinguish the several campaigns and victories involved in these allusions, and spread over a reign of forty years; but it is certain that Hazael always had the advantage over the Hebrew princes. He devastated their frontiers, rent from them all their territories beyond the Jordan, traversed the breadth of Palestine, and carried his arms into the states of the Philistines; he laid siege to Jerusalem, and only retired on receiving the treasures of the temple and the palace. The details of these conquests redeemed to the very letter the appalling predictions of Elisha. This able and successful, but unprincipled usurper left the throne at his death to his son Benhadad.





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Bibliography Information
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Hazael'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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