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THE HISTORICAL FICTION HAZAEL
A Destiny Unfolding
In the heart of the ancient Near East, a land of mystery and intrigue, a legend was born. His name was Hazael, a powerful and charismatic leader who would rise to become one of the greatest kings in the storied history of Syria. His life was a captivating tale of ambition, triumph, and resilience, unfolding against the backdrop of a volatile and treacherous world.
The Rising Sun
Beneath the golden rays of a new day, young Hazael found himself thrust into the demanding life of the royal court. An intelligent and perceptive child, he keenly observed the political machinations that swirled around him, quickly understanding the delicate balance of power that held the Kingdom of Aram-Damascus together. As he grew older, Hazael’s ambition and cunning were tempered by a fierce loyalty to his people and a strong sense of duty.
A Warrior’s Heart
Hazael’s true destiny was revealed on the field of battle. He was a prodigious warrior, possessing an indomitable spirit and an unquenchable thirst for victory. He led his men with unwavering resolve, and under his command, the army of Aram-Damascus became a force to be reckoned with. Clad in resplendent armor, Hazael’s imposing figure became a symbol of hope and strength for his people, and a harbinger of doom for his enemies.
An Empire Trembles
The winds of war swept through the ancient Near East as the mighty Assyrian Empire sought to expand its dominion. The great Assyrian king, Shalmaneser III, unleashed his unstoppable war machine upon the smaller kingdoms, leaving a trail of destruction in his wake. Yet, despite the overwhelming odds, Hazael refused to bow before the Assyrian yoke.
In a series of ferocious battles, Hazael’s forces clashed with the Assyrian legions, wielding their spears, swords, and chariots with deadly precision. It was said that Hazael himself fought like a lion, his courage and tenacity inspiring his warriors to hold the line against the relentless tide of Assyrian might. In a stunning upset, the Syrians managed to repel the invaders and maintain their independence.
A Golden Age
With the threat of Assyrian conquest abated, Hazael set about consolidating his power and expanding his kingdom. He embarked on a series of ambitious campaigns, capturing cities and territories that had once been under Assyrian control. Under his wise and steady rule, the Kingdom of Aram-Damascus flourished, becoming a beacon of wealth, culture, and prestige in the ancient world.
The prosperity of Hazael’s reign was not limited to military conquests. He was a shrewd and capable diplomat, forging alliances with neighboring kingdoms to strengthen his position and secure the future of his people. The bustling markets of Damascus teemed with traders from far and wide, exchanging exotic goods and ideas that enriched the lives of all who called the city home.
The Legacy of the Lion
As the sun began to set on Hazael’s storied reign, his kingdom stood as a testament to his vision and determination. He had transformed Aram-Damascus into a regional power, fearlessly challenging the might of the Assyrian Empire and carving out a legacy that would echo through the ages.
The tale of King Hazael is a story of courage, wisdom, and defiance, a vivid reminder that even in the face of overwhelming odds, a single determined leader can change the course of history. His spirit remains etched in the annals of time, a testament to the resilience and indomitable will of the ancient Syrians. The Lion of Syria may have passed into legend, but the memory of his remarkable reign endures, a shining example of the indomitable spirit of the human race.
In the twilight of his life, Hazael looked upon the kingdom he had so masterfully built, confident in the knowledge that he had left a lasting mark upon the world. He was revered not only as a mighty warrior but also as a wise ruler, a king who guided his people through the storm of adversity to emerge stronger and more unified than ever before.
As the years rolled on and the sands of time continued to shift, the memory of Hazael’s rule became enshrined in the collective consciousness of his descendants. They would speak in hushed tones of the Lion of Syria, recounting tales of his valiant deeds and the golden age of prosperity that flourished under his reign. Through these stories, the spirit of Hazael lived on, inspiring generations of Syrians to stand tall in the face of adversity and to strive for greatness, just as their legendary king had done.
Hazael’s impact on the region was profound, with his legacy extending far beyond the borders of his own kingdom. As the once-mighty Assyrian Empire receded into the shadows of history, the example set by Hazael served as a potent reminder that even the most seemingly invincible forces could be challenged and overcome. His tenacious resistance against the oppressive might of Assyria provided hope and inspiration to countless others who found themselves facing similar struggles.
The legend of King Hazael, the Lion of Syria, is not merely a tale of one man’s exploits but a timeless story of resilience, determination, and the indomitable human spirit. It is a narrative that speaks to the heart of what it means to be a leader and the transformative power that a single, determined individual can wield. In an age defined by conflict, ambition, and the constant struggle for power, Hazael’s story stands as an enduring testament to the best of human nature – a beacon of hope amidst the darkness, and a shining example of the greatness that can be achieved when one dares to defy the odds.
As the sun finally sets on the tale of Hazael, his legacy remains forever etched in the annals of history, serving as a guiding light for all who would follow in his footsteps. The Lion of Syria may have returned to the sands from which he was born, but his spirit lives on, a timeless symbol of the extraordinary potential that resides within each and every one of us.
A Tale of Power and Intrigue: Hazael’s Ascent to the Throne
Picture the remarkable basalt statue of Shalmaneser III, housed in the Museum of the Ancient Orient in Istanbul, its inscription branding Hazael as the “son of a nobody.” This fascinating character, Hazael, rose to power through a cunning act of murder and usurpation, setting the stage for a thrilling tale of battles and victories.
In the ancient biblical narrative of 2 Kings 8:7-15, Hazael finds himself embroiled in a deadly game of prophecy and subterfuge, as he is told by the prophet Elisha to deceive his ailing king, Ben-Hadad. Elisha, having foreseen the devastation Hazael would bring upon Israel, instructs him to lie about the king’s recovery. Elisha’s prediction of Hazael’s rise to power comes true when he kills Ben-Hadad and claims the throne.
What makes Hazael’s story even more intriguing is the Assyrian inscriptions that allude to his coup, labeling him as the “son of a nobody.” The broken statue of Shalmaneser III, discovered at Ashur, bears an inscription recounting the Assyrian king’s campaigns, including the enigmatic line: “Hadad-ezer disappeared forever; Hazael, son of a nobody, seized the throne.”
Hazael’s existence is beyond doubt, thanks to numerous inscriptions bearing his name, such as the Arslan-Tash ivory inscription and the Zakkur Stele. These attestations not only solidify his place in history but also paint a vivid picture of a powerful and influential ruler.
Our story shifts to the battlefield, where Hazael faces the formidable Assyrian king, Shalmaneser, in multiple engagements. Despite suffering defeats, Hazael remains an indomitable figure, as Shalmaneser is never able to subjugate him fully.
The biblical account portrays Hazael as a relentless adversary to Israel and Judah, clashing with their armies and even marching against Jerusalem. He is a force to be reckoned with, and his military prowess is evident in the battles he wages.
The Tel Dan Stele is among the most famous artifacts attesting to Hazael’s wars with Israel and Judah. This victory monument, discovered at Hazor, recounts the Aramean king’s claim to have killed a king of Israel and a king of the “house of David.” Although the Bible attributes these deaths to Jehu, it is not surprising that Hazael would seize the opportunity to take credit for the demise of his enemies.
The tale of Hazael’s life comes to a climactic end with his victorious battle against the Philistines. Dr. Aren Maeir, the director of excavations at Tell es-Safi/Gath, recounts the evidence of Hazael’s destruction at the site, including the earliest known archaeological evidence of a siege system in the world.
In conclusion, Hazael stands as a testament to the rich history and compelling narratives found within the biblical and archaeological records. As one of the most powerful kings of Aram-Damascus, his story is an enthralling blend of cunning, ambition, and triumph. Time and again, archaeology affirms the accuracy of historical events recorded in the Bible, shedding light on the captivating world in which Hazael reigned supreme.
THE HISTORICAL HAZAEL
Hazael: From Obscurity to Notoriety
In the annals of ancient Syria, King Hazael emerged as a powerful figure, ruling from around 917 to 859 BCE. Hazael, a man of humble origins, rose to prominence during the reign of King Jehoram of Israel and died during King Jehoash’s rule. He was not of royal descent but served as a high-ranking officer under his predecessor, King Ben-hadad II of Syria.
Fulfilling a Divine Commission
Years before Hazael’s reign, Jehovah instructed the prophet Elijah to anoint Hazael as king over Syria. The purpose was to punish the nation of Israel for their sins against God. Hazael was never literally anointed with oil, but the commission was fulfilled by Elijah’s successor, Elisha. When King Ben-hadad II fell ill, he sent Hazael to the city of Damascus to inquire of Elisha whether he would recover. Elisha told Hazael that although Ben-hadad’s illness would not kill him, he would nevertheless die. Elisha also revealed that Hazael would become the king of Syria. After relaying Elisha’s message to Ben-hadad, Hazael killed the king and assumed the throne.
A Warrior King
Hazael’s rule was marked by numerous military campaigns and conquests. He fought against the kings of Israel and Judah, capturing territories and cities once controlled by Assyria. Hazael’s strategic military prowess allowed him to withstand the pressure from the Assyrian Empire and secure his kingdom’s independence.
During King Jehu’s reign in Israel, Hazael conquered Gilead and Bashan, east of the Jordan River. He later invaded the Kingdom of Judah, capturing the city of Gath and turning his attention toward Jerusalem. However, King Jehoash of Judah persuaded Hazael to withdraw by offering him valuable treasures from the temple and palace.
In the years that followed, Hazael’s oppression of Israel continued, as foreseen by the prophet Elisha. Despite his aggression, God ensured that Syria did not crush Israel completely. After Hazael’s death, King Jehoash of Israel recaptured cities from Hazael’s son, Ben-hadad III. King Jeroboam II of Israel later restored Damascus and Hamath to Judah.
Hazael in Ancient Inscriptions
Historical inscriptions found at a site now called Afis, southwest of Aleppo, mention Hazael and his son, Ben-hadad III, who succeeded him as king. Shalmaneser III’s annals also recount his campaigns against Syria, emphasizing Hazael’s non-royal background as the usurper of Damascus’s throne.
Shalmaneser III failed to capture Damascus, which Tiglath-pileser III later accomplished during the reign of Syrian King Rezin. This fulfilled Jehovah’s prophecy through Amos that He would send a fire upon the house of Hazael and the dwelling towers of Ben-hadad, breaking the bar of Damascus.
From obscurity to notoriety, King Hazael’s tale is one of divine commission, ambition, and military conquest. His rule over ancient Syria left a lasting impression on the region, a testament to his indomitable spirit and determination to protect his kingdom. Hazael’s story serves as a potent reminder that even seemingly invincible forces can be challenged and overcome, and that the course of history can be changed by the actions of one determined individual.
The records of Shalmaneser III’s battles against Syria reveal his victories over Hazael, who is referred to as a commoner, likely because he gained the throne of Damascus by killing King Ben-hadad II, rather than being of royal descent. Shalmaneser boasts of defeating Hazael’s army and capturing his chariots, horses, and camp. He also besieged Hazael in Damascus, cutting down his gardens and marching through the mountains of Hauran, destroying and burning many towns and taking much booty. However, Shalmaneser III did not succeed in taking Damascus itself, which was left for Tiglath-pileser III to accomplish during the reign of Syrian King Rezin. This fulfilled Jehovah’s prophecy through Amos that the dwelling towers of Ben-hadad would be devoured by fire and the bar of Damascus would be broken.—Am 1:4, 5; 2Ki 16:9.
EDWARD D. ANDREWS (AS in Criminal Justice, BS in Religion, MA in Biblical Studies, and MDiv in Theology) is CEO and President of Christian Publishing House. He has authored over 220+ books. In addition, Andrews is the Chief Translator of the Updated American Standard Version (UASV).
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