|Easton's Bible Dictionary|
The standing title of the Syrian kings, meaning "the son of Hadad." (see HADADEZER.)
(1.) The king of Syria whom Asa, king of Judah, employed to invade Israel (1 Kings 15:18).
(2.) Son of the preceding, also king of Syria. He was long engaged in war against Israel. He was murdered probably by Hazael, by whom he was succeeded (2 Kings 8:7-15), after a reign of some thirty years.
(3.) King of Damascus, and successor of his father Hazael on the throne of Syria (2 Kings 13:3, 4). His misfortunes in war are noticed by Amos (1:4).
Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia
ben-ha'-dad (ben-hadhadh; Septuagint huios Hader):
I. BENHADAD I
1. The Kingdom of Syria Founded
2. Syria and Judah
3. Shortsightedness of Asa
II. BENHADAD II
1. Hadad-'idri of the Monuments
2. Expeditions against Israel
3. Alliance with Ahab
4. Biblical History Confirmed by the Monuments
5. Alliance Broken off
6. Benhadad and Elisha
7. Panic of Syrians at Samaria
8. Murder of Benhadad
III. BENHADAD III
1. His Contemporaries
2. The Assyrians in the West
3. Downfall of Damascus before Ramman-Nirari III
4. Breathing Space for Israel
The name of three kings of Syria mentioned in the historical books. Hadad is the Syrian god of storms, and is apparently identical with Rimmon (2 Kings 5:18), the Assyrian Rammanu, "the Thunderer," whose temple was in Damascus. The name Benhadad, "son of Hadad," accords with the custom which obtained in Semitic mythology of calling a king or a nation the son of the national god, as we have Mesha`, son of Chemosh, and the Moabites, children of Chemosh. Benhadad seems to have become a general designation for the kings of Syria (Amos 1:4 Jeremiah 49:27).
I. Benhadad I
1. The Kingdom of Syria Founded:
Benhadad I was the son of Tabrimmon, who is called (1 Kings 15:18) "the son of Hezion, king of Syria, that dwelt at Damascus." Hezion has been with some plausibility identified with Rezon (1 Kings 11:23, 25) who founded the kingdom of Damascus and imparted to Syria that temper of hostility to Israel which became hereditary. Meanwhile the Arameans had shaken themselves free from the rule of the Hittites, and with Damascus for a center had planted strong settlements in the plains westward from the Euphrates. By the time that Benhadad entered into this succession, Syria was the strongest power in this region of Western Asia, and ready to take advantage of every opportunity of increasing her dominions.
2. Syria and Judah:
Such an opportunity presented itself in the appeal of Asa, king of Judah, for help against Baasha king of Israel. The two Hebrew kingdoms had been at feud ever since their disruption. Baasha had pushed his frontier southward to Ramah, within 5 miles of Jerusalem, and this commanding eminence he proceeded to fortify. The danger of a hostile fortress overlooking his capital, and the humiliation of his rival's presence so near, were more than Asa could bear. It was at this juncture that he bethought him of Benhadad. Taking all the silver and the gold that were left in the treasury of the house of the Lord, and the treasury of the king's house, he sent them to Benhadad with a request for an alliance begging him at the same time to break off the league he had with Baasha and thus enable Asa to dislodge his enemy. Benhadad saw an opening for the aggrandizement of his kingdom and broke off the alliance he had had with Jeroboam and Baasha. By an invasion of Northern Israel he obliged Baasha to withdraw from Ramah and confine himself to the neighborhood of his own capital (1 Kings 15:16). Judah obtained relief, but the price paid for it was too great. Asa had surrendered his treasures, and very likely some of his independence.
3. Shortsightedness of Asa:
For his shortsightedness in laying himself under obligation to Benhadad and relying upon the help of Syria rather than upon the Lord his God, Asa was rebuked by the prophet Hanani (2 Chronicles 16:1). Benhadad had extended his territories by the transaction and seems to have exercised henceforward some sort of sovereignty over both the Hebrew kingdoms.
McCurdy HPM, I, 256; H. P. Smith, Old Testament History, 186.
II. Benhadad II
1. Hadad-'idri of the Monuments:
Benhadad II was in all probability the son of Benhadad I. He is the Hadad-ezer, or Hadad-'idri, of the monuments. He comes first upon the scene of the Biblical history invading the land of Israel with a large host, in which were 32 tributary kings, and horses and chariots. He had penetrated as far as Samaria, the newly built city of Omri, now the capital of his son Ahab. Benhadad and his Syrian host had laid siege to Samaria and Ahab had been summoned to surrender. Ahab was disposed to come to terms, but the intolerable proposals made by Benhadad drove him to resistance. Encouraged by the elders of the people, and acting on the counsel of a prophet, Ahab made a sortie and falling upon the carousing Syrians put them so completely to rout that Benhadad himself only escaped on a horse with the horsemen.
2. Expeditions against Israel:
Next year the Syrians resolved to retrieve their defeat saying of the Israelites, "Their God is a god of the hills; therefore they were stronger than we: but let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they." Ahab had been warned to expect the return of the Syrians and was prepared for the fresh attack. For seven days the two armies faced each other, the Israelites "like two little flocks of kids" before a host that filled the country. On the seventh day they joined battle near to Aphek, and the Syrians met again an overwhelming defeat. Yahweh was proved to be God both of the plains and of the hills. Benhadad was taken prisoner, and appealing to the clemency of the victor, he persuaded Ahab to spare his life.
3. Alliance with Ahab:
A treaty was agreed upon between the two monarchs under which Ahab's people were to have bazaars of their own in Damascus, as it would appear Benhadad I had had for his subjects before in Samaria (1 Kings 20:1-34). The treaty was denounced by a prophet, and Ahab was warned that this man whom God had devoted to destruction would be the destruction of himself and his people. Under the treaty, however, there were three years without war between Syria and Israel.
4. Biblical History Confirmed by the Monuments:
The treaty and the resulting period of peace receive striking confirmation from the monuments. From the monolith inscription of Shalmaneser II we learn that this Assyrian king in the 6th year of his reign (854 B.C.) had crossed the Tigris and made his way across the Euphrates on boats of sheepskin into Syria to Chalman (Aleppo). At Karkar he encountered the combined forces of Damascus, Hamath, Israel and the states which had united to oppose his progress westward. Achabbu Sir-'lai, Ahab of Israel Damascus are Dad'idri Hadadezer (Benhadad II) of Damascus are named in the inscription with chariots, horsemen and infantry, making common cause against Shalmaneser and fighting on the same side. It was Benhadad, as we gather, that bore the brunt of the assault, but the result of the battle was the complete rout of the allies with the loss of 14,000 men. That the assistance of Israel on the occasion was the outcome of the treaty between Ahab and Benhadad, and that the combination against Shalmaneser took place during the three years of peace, are in the highest degree probable.
5. Alliance Broken Off:
The disaster to the allies, however, seems to have broken up the confederacy. When the king of Syria is next mentioned in Biblical history, it is defending the city of Ramoth-Gilead against the attack made upon it by Ahab, who is found now in alliance with Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, attempting unsuccessfully and with fatal results to himself, to recover this city of Israel from the weakened power of Damascus. At Ramoth-Gilead Benhadad is not said to have 32 tributary kings in his train, but 32 military commanders who have taken their place (1 Kings 22:2, 29-31).
6. Benhadad and Elisha:
The peace between Israel and Syria having been broken, there was frequent, if not continuous, war between the kingdoms, in which the prophet Elisha is a prominent figure. He healed of his leprosy Naaman, Benhadad's commander-in-chief. He disclosed to the king of Israel the places wherever Benhadad pitched his camp. He smote with blindness a great host whom Benhadad had sent with horses and chariots to seize him at Dothan, and led them into Samaria where he saw them treated kindly and sent back to their master (2 Kings 6:8-23).
7. Panic of Syrians at Samaria:
Some time after Benhadad again assembled all his host and laid siege to Samaria. So great was the famine that women ate their own children. The king of Israel sent one of his men to put Elisha to death, but Elisha closed his house against him and announced that on the morrow there would be great plenty in the city. And so it happened. Certain lepers, despairing of relief, had gone into the Syrian camp and learned that the Syrians had abandoned their camp in a panic, believing that the king of Israel had hired the kings of the Mucri and the northern Hittites to raise the siege (2 Kings 6:24-7:20; compare Burney's note, 2 Kings 7:6).
8. Murder of Benhadad:
Still another notice of Benhadad II is found in the Annals of Shalmaneser, who records that in the 11th year of his reign he defeated a combination of 12 kings of the Hittites with Benhadad at their head, and slew 10,000 men. Of this. there is no record in Biblical history, but it must have been shortly before the tragedy which ended the career of the Syrian king. Benhadad had fallen sick and sent his commander-in-chief, Hazael, to inquire as to the issue of his sickness of the prophet Elisha, who was visiting Damascus. Elisha foretold the king's death, and wept as he read to Hazael the cruel purpose which the Syrian commander was even then maturing. Hazael professed to be incredulous, but he departed from Elisha and the very next day in cold blood put his master to death and ascended the throne (2 Kings 8:7-15). Thus ingloriously ended the reign of one of the most powerful of the Syrian kings.
McCurdy, HPM, I, 267; Schrader, COT, I, 179 if; Winckler, Geschichte Israels, Theil I, 133-55.
III. Benhadad III
1. His Contemporaries:
Benhadad III was the son of the usurper Hazael, and though not in the dynastic succesion, assumed on the death of his father the dynastic name. He was contemporary with Amaziah, king of Judah; Jehoahaz, the son of Jehu, king of Israel; and Ramman-Nirari III, king of Assyria. The fortunes of Israel had fallen low in the days of Jehoahaz, and Hazael and Benhadad III were the instruments of Yahweh's displeasure with the nation. At this time Jehoahaz had no more than 53 horsemen and 10 chariots and 10,000 footmen; for the king of Syria had destroyed them and made them like the dust in threshing (2 Kings 13:7). It was when the fortunes of Israel were at the lowest ebb by reason of the oppression of the king of Syria-by this time Benhadad-that help came to them and Yahweh gave Israel a savior, so that Israel went out from under the hands of the Syrians, "and the children of Israel dwelt in their tents (in their homes) as beforetime" (2 Kings 13:5).
2. The Assyrians in the West:
The "saviour" of the Biblical narrative is the one allusion in Scripture to the king of Assyria of that day, Ramman-Nirari III, whose inscriptions record his victorious expedition to the West. "From the Euphrates to the land of the Hittites," runs an inscription, "the west country in its entire compass, Tyre, Zidon, the land Omri, Edom, Philistia as far as the Great Sea of the sunsetting, I subjected to my yoke; payment of tribute I imposed upon them. Against Syria of Damascus I marched; Mari, the king of Syria, in Damascus his royal city I besieged." He then proceeds to tell of the subjugation of the monarch and of the spoils obtained from his capital. That Mari which means in Aramaic "lord," is Benhadad III, the son of Hazael, is now generally believed.
3. Downfall of Damascus before Ramman-Nirari III:
With the capture of Damascus and the collapse of the Syrian power under Marl (Benhadad III), an era of recuperation and prosperity became possible to Israel and Judah. So it came to pass that "Jehoash the son of Jehoahaz took again out of the hand of Benhadad the son of Hazael the cities which he had taken out of the hand of Jehoahaz by war. Three times did Joash smite him, and recovered the cities of Israel" (2 Kings 13:25). 4. Breathing Space for Israel:
Israel was able to breathe freely for a time and Jeroboam II restored the Northern Kingdom to its former extent and glory. But the flame of war which had been sent into the house of Hazael and which devoured the palaces of Benhadad (Amos 1:4) was only waiting the time when the Assyrians would be free to renew their expeditions to the West and carry Samaria and Israel "into captivity beyond Damascus" (Amos 5:27).
McCurdy, HPM, I, 291; Schrader, COT, I, 202-ff.
Benhadad (24 Occurrences)
1 Kings 15:18 Then Asa took all the silver and the gold that were left in the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king's house, and delivered them into the hand of his servants: and king Asa sent them to Benhadad, the son of Tabrimon, the son of Hezion, king of Syria, that dwelt at Damascus, saying, (KJV)
1 Kings 15:20 So Benhadad hearkened unto king Asa, and sent the captains of the hosts which he had against the cities of Israel, and smote Ijon, and Dan, and Abelbethmaachah, and all Cinneroth, with all the land of Naphtali. (KJV)
1 Kings 20:1 And Benhadad the king of Syria gathered all his host together: and there were thirty and two kings with him, and horses, and chariots; and he went up and besieged Samaria, and warred against it. (KJV)
1 Kings 20:2 And he sent messengers to Ahab king of Israel into the city, and said unto him, Thus saith Benhadad, (KJV)
1 Kings 20:5 And the messengers came again, and said, Thus speaketh Benhadad, saying, Although I have sent unto thee, saying, Thou shalt deliver me thy silver, and thy gold, and thy wives, and thy children; (KJV)
1 Kings 20:9 Wherefore he said unto the messengers of Benhadad, Tell my lord the king, All that thou didst send for to thy servant at the first I will do: but this thing I may not do. And the messengers departed, and brought him word again. (KJV)
1 Kings 20:10 And Benhadad sent unto him, and said, The gods do so unto me, and more also, if the dust of Samaria shall suffice for handfuls for all the people that follow me. (KJV)
1 Kings 20:16 And they went out at noon. But Benhadad was drinking himself drunk in the pavilions, he and the kings, the thirty and two kings that helped him. (KJV)
1 Kings 20:17 And the young men of the princes of the provinces went out first; and Benhadad sent out, and they told him, saying, There are men come out of Samaria. (KJV)
1 Kings 20:20 And they slew every one his man: and the Syrians fled; and Israel pursued them: and Benhadad the king of Syria escaped on an horse with the horsemen. (KJV)
1 Kings 20:26 And it came to pass at the return of the year, that Benhadad numbered the Syrians, and went up to Aphek, to fight against Israel. (KJV)
1 Kings 20:30 But the rest fled to Aphek, into the city; and there a wall fell upon twenty and seven thousand of the men that were left. And Benhadad fled, and came into the city, into an inner chamber. (KJV)
1 Kings 20:32 So they girded sackcloth on their loins, and put ropes on their heads, and came to the king of Israel, and said, Thy servant Benhadad saith, I pray thee, let me live. And he said, Is he yet alive? he is my brother. (KJV)
1 Kings 20:33 Now the men did diligently observe whether any thing would come from him, and did hastily catch it: and they said, Thy brother Benhadad. Then he said, Go ye, bring him. Then Benhadad came forth to him; and he caused him to come up into the chariot. (KJV)
2 Kings 6:24 It happened after this, that Benhadad king of Syria gathered all his army, and went up and besieged Samaria. (WEB KJV ASV)
2 Kings 8:7 Elisha came to Damascus; and Benhadad the king of Syria was sick. It was told him, saying, "The man of God has come here." (WEB KJV ASV)
2 Kings 8:9 So Hazael went to meet him, and took a present with him, even of every good thing of Damascus, forty camels' burden, and came and stood before him, and said, "Your son Benhadad king of Syria has sent me to you, saying,'Will I recover from this sickness?'" (WEB KJV ASV)
2 Kings 13:3 The anger of Yahweh was kindled against Israel, and he delivered them into the hand of Hazael king of Syria, and into the hand of Benhadad the son of Hazael, continually. (WEB KJV ASV)
2 Kings 13:24 Hazael king of Syria died; and Benhadad his son reigned in his place. (WEB KJV ASV)
2 Kings 13:25 Jehoash the son of Jehoahaz took again out of the hand of Benhadad the son of Hazael the cities which he had taken out of the hand of Jehoahaz his father by war. Three times did Joash strike him, and recovered the cities of Israel. (WEB KJV ASV)
2 Chronicles 16:2 Then Asa brought out silver and gold out of the treasures of the house of the LORD and of the king's house, and sent to Benhadad king of Syria, that dwelt at Damascus, saying, (KJV)
2 Chronicles 16:4 And Benhadad hearkened unto king Asa, and sent the captains of his armies against the cities of Israel; and they smote Ijon, and Dan, and Abelmaim, and all the store cities of Naphtali. (KJV)
Jeremiah 49:27 And I will kindle a fire in the wall of Damascus, and it shall consume the palaces of Benhadad. (KJV)
Amos 1:4 But I will send a fire into the house of Hazael, which shall devour the palaces of Benhadad. (KJV)