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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Hazael

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(Heb. Chazal', חֲזָאֵל, also חֲזָהאֵל, whom God beholds, i.e. cares for; Sept. ζαήλ,Vulg. Hazael, but Azael in Amos 1:4; hence Latin Azelus, Justin. 36:2), an officer of Benhadad, king of Syria, whose eventual accession to the throne of that kingdom was revealed to Elijah (1 Kings 19:15), B.C. cir. 907; and who, when Elisha was at Damascus, was sent by his master, who was then ill, to consult the prophet respecting his recovery (2 Kings 8:8). B.C. cir. 884. He was followed by forty camels bearing presents from the king. 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 steadfastly 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, the [not a] dog, that he should do this great thing?" The prophet explained 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 (2 Kings 8:15). 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 composure 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. (See Kitto's Daily Bible Illust. ad loc.). He was soon engaged in hostilities with Ahaziah, king of Judah, and Jehoram, king of Israel, for the possession of the city of Ramoth-gilead (2 Kings 8:28). The Assyrian inscriptions show that about this time a bloody and destructive war was waged between the Assyrians on the one side, and the Syrians, Hittites, Hamathites, and Phoenicians on the other. (See CUNIFORM INSCRIPTIONS).

Benhadad (q.v.) had recently suffered several severe defeats at the hands of the Assyrian king, and upon the accession of Hazael the war was speedily renewed. Hazael took up a position in the fastnesses of the Auti-Libanus, but was there attacked by the Assyrians, who defeated him with great loss, killing 16,000 of his warriors, and capturing more than 1100 chariots. Three years later the Assyrians once more entered Syria in force; but on this occasion Hazael submitted, and helped to furnish the invaders with supplies. After this, internal troubles appear to have occupied the attention of the Assyrians, who made no more expeditions into these parts for about a century. The Syrians rapidly recovered their losses, and towards the close of the reign of Jehu, Hazael led them against the Israelites (B.C. cir. 860), whom he "smote in all their coasts" (2 Kings 10:32), thus accomplishing the prophecy of Elisha (2 Kings 8:12). His main attack fell upon the eastern provinces, where he ravaged "all the land of Gilead, the Gadites, and the Reubenites, and the Manassites, from Aroer, which is by the river Arnon, even Gilead and Bashan" (2 Kings 10:33). After this he seems to have held the kingdom of Israel in a species of subjection (2 Kings 13:3-7; 2 Kings 13:22), and towards the close of his life he even threatened the kingdom of Judah. Having taken Gath (2 Kings 12:17; comp. Amos 6:2), he proceeded to attack Jerusalem, defeated the Jews in an engagement (2 Chronicles 24:24), and was about to assault the city, when Joash induced him to retire by presenting him with "all the gold that was found in the treasures of the house of the Lord, and in the king's house" (2 Kings 12:18). This able and successful, but unprincipled usurper left the throne at his death to his son Benhadad (2 Kings 13:24). B.C. cir. 835. Such was the prosperity and influence of his reign that the phrase "house of Hazael" occurs in prophetical denunciation (Amos 1:4) as a designation of the kingdom of Damascene Syria. (See DAMASCUS).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Hazael'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/h/hazael.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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