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Bible Dictionaries

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary


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the son of Tibrimon, king of Syria, came to the assistance of Asa, king of Judah, against Baasha, king of Israel, obliging the latter to return home and succour his own country, and to abandon Ramah, which he had undertaken to fortify, 1 Kings 15:18 . This Benhadad is thought by some to have been the same person with Hadad the Edomite, who rebelled against Solomon toward the end of that prince's reign, 1 Kings 11:25 .

2. BENHADAD, king of Syria, son of the preceding, made war upon Ahab, king of Israel, but was defeated. In the following year, however, he came with a most powerful army to Aphek, where Ahab again engaged him, killed a hundred thousand of his men, and the remainder endeavouring to take refuge in Aphek, the walls of the city fell upon them, and killed twenty-seven thousand more. Thus completely defeated, Benhadad submitted to beg his life of the king of Israel, who not only granted his request, but gave him his liberty, and restored him to his crown upon certain conditions, 1 Kings 20. Twelve years afterward, A.M. 3115, Benhadad declared war against Jehoram, the son and successor of Ahab, 2 Kings 6:8; but his designs were made known to Jehoram by the Prophet Elisha, and they were accordingly frustrated. Suspecting some treachery in this affair, Benhadad was informed that all his projects were revealed to his enemy by Elisha, and getting intelligence that the latter was at Dothan, he sent a detachment of his best troops to invest the city and apprehend the prophet; but they were struck with blindness at Elisha's prayer, so that they were unable to distinguish him, when he was in the midst of them and held a conversation with them. He then led them into the city of Samaria, and having conducted them safely there, he prayed to God again to open their eyes, and induced Jehoram to dismiss them without violence. Generous as this conduct was, it produced no salutary effect on the infatuated Benhadad; for about four years afterward, he laid close siege to Samaria, and reduced the city to such distress that the head of an ass, which the Israelites considered to be an unclean animal, was sold for fourscore pieces of silver, about 2 l . 9 s . sterling; and the fourth part of a cab of dove's dung, or rather three quarters of a pint of chick pease, as Bochart understands the word, for five pieces of silver. In fact, such was the pressure of the famine at this time in Samaria, that mothers were constrained to eat their own children. Jehoram, hearing of these calamities, attributed them to Elisha, and sent orders to have him put to death; but before his messengers could reach the prophet's house, he came thither himself. Elisha predicted that the next day, about the same hour, a measure of fine flour would be sold at the gate of Samaria for a shekel, which, however incredible at the moment, proved to be the case; for in the night, a general panic, supernaturally induced, pervaded the Syrian camp; they imagined that Jehoram had procured an army of Egyptians to come to his assistance, and, abandoning their horses, tents, and provisions, they all took to flight. Four lepers, whose disease did not permit them to live within the city, and being ready to perish with hunger, ventured into the Syrian camp; and finding it deserted, and at the same time abounding with all sorts of provisions, communicated the information to Jehoram. The king immediately rose, though in the middle of the night; but reflecting that probably it was only a stratagem of Benhadad to draw his people out of the town, he first sent parties to reconnoitre. They, however, speedily returned, and informed him that the enemy was fled, and that the roads were every where strewed with arms and garments which the Syrians had abandoned to facilitate their flight. As soon as the news was confirmed, the Samaritans went out, pillaged the Syrian camp, and brought in such quantities of provisions, that a measure of fine flour was, at the time specified by Elisha, sold at the gate of Samaria for a shekel, 2 Kings 7.

The following year, A.M. 3120, Benhadad fell sick, and sent Hazael, one of his officers, with forty camels, loaded with valuable presents, to the Prophet Elisha, to interrogate him, whether or not he should recover of his indisposition. Elisha fixed his eyes steadfastly on Hazael, and then burst into tears: "Go," said he, "and tell Benhadad, Thou mayest certainly recover; though the Lord hath showed me that he shall assuredly die." He at the same time apprised Hazael that he himself would reign in Syria, and do infinite mischief to Israel. Hazael on this returned and told Benhadad that his health should be restored. But on the next day he took a thick cloth which having dipped in water, he spread over the king's face and stifled him. He then took possession of the kingdom of Syria, according to the prediction of Elisha, 2 Kings 8.

3. BENHADAD, the son of Hazael, mentioned in the preceding article, succeeded his father as king of Syria, 2 Kings 13:24 . During his reign, Jehoash, king of Israel, recovered from him all that his father Hazael had taken from Jehoahaz, his predecessor. He defeated him in three several engagements, and compelled him to surrender all the country beyond Jordan, 2 Kings 13:25 .

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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Benhadad'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. 1831-2.

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