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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
(Heb. Ben-Hadad', בֶּןאּהֲדִד, son of Hadad; Sept. υἱὸς ῎Αδερ ), the name of three kings of Damascene-Syria. As to the latter part of this name, Hadad, there is little doubt that it is the name of the Syrian god HADAD (See HADAD) (q.v.), probably the Sun (Macrob. Saturnalia, 1, 23), still worshipped at Damascus in the time of Josephus (Ant. 9, 4, 6), and from it several Syrian names are derived, as Hadadezer, i.e. Hadad has helped. The expression son of Hadad, which denotes dependence and obedience, not only accords with the analogies of other heathen names, but is also supported by the existence of such terms as "sons of God" among the Hebrews (comp. Psalms 82:6). On account of the nationality of this name, the term "palaces of Ben-hadad" came to be equivalent to Damascus itself (Jeremiah 49:27; Amos 1:4). (See DAMASCUS).
1. The king of Syria, who was subsidized by Asa, king of Judah, to invade Israel, and thereby compel Baasha (who had invaded Judah) to return to defend his own kingdom (1 Kings 15:18). B.C. 928. (See ASA). This Ben-hadad has, with some reason, been supposed to be Hadad the Edomite who rebelled against Solomon (1 Kings 11:25). Damascus, after having been taken by David (2 Samuel 8:5-6), was delivered from subjection to his successor by Rezon (1 Kings 11:24), who "was an adversary to Israel all the days of Solomon." This Ben-hadad was either son or grand- son to Rezon, and in his time Damascus was supreme in Syria, the various smaller kingdoms which surrounded it being gradually absorbed into its territory. Ben-hadad must have been an energetic and powerful sovereign, as his alliance was courted by Baasha of Israel and Asa of Judah. He finally closed with the latter on receiving a large amount of treasure, and conquered a great part of the north of Israel, thereby enabling Asa to pursue his victorious operations in the south. From 1 Kings 20:34, it would appear that he continued to make war upon Israel in Omri's time, and forced him to make "streets" in Samaria for Syrian residents. (See AHAB).
2. Another king of Syria, son of the preceding. Some authors call him grandson, on the ground that it was unusual in antiquity for the son to inherit the father's name. But Ben-hadad seems to have been a religious title of the Syrian kings, as we see by its reappearance as the name of Hazael's son, Ben-hadad III. Long wars with Israel characterized the reign of Ben-hadad II, of which the earlier campaigns are described under AHAB. His power and the extent of his dominion are proved by the thirty-two vassal kings who accompanied him to his first siege of Samaria. B.C. cir. 906. He owed the signal defeat in which that war terminated to the vain notion which assimilated JEHOVAH to the local deities worshipped by the nations of Syria, deeming Him "a God of the hills," but impotent to defend his votaries in "the plains" (1 Kings 20:1-30). Instead of pursuing his victory, Ahab concluded a peace with the defeated Ben-hadad. Some time after the death of Ahab, probably owing to the difficulties in which Jehoram of Israel was involved by the rebellion of Moab, Ben-hadad renewed the war with Israel; but all his plans and operations were frustrated, being made known to Jehoram by the prophet Elisha (2 Kings 6:8). B.C. cir. 894. After some years, however, he renewed the war, and besieged Jehoram in his capital, Samaria, until the inhabitants were reduced to the last extremities and most revolting resources by famine. The siege was then unexpectedly raised, according to a prediction of Elisha, through a panic infused into the besiegers, who, concluding that a noise which they seemed to hear portended the advance upon them of a foreign host procured by Jehoram from Egypt or some Canaanitish cities, as Tyre or Ramoth, thought only of saving themselves by flight. Jehoram seems to have followed up this unhoped-for deliverance by successful offensive operations, since we find from 2 Kings 9:1 that Bamoth in Gilead was once more an Israelitish town. (See AHAB).
The next year Ben-hadad, learning that Elisha, through whom so many of his designs had been brought to naught, had arrived at Damascus, sent an officer of distinction, named Hazael, with presents, to consult him as to his recovery from an illness under which he then suffered. ‘ The prophet answered that his disease was not mortal, but that he would nevertheless certainly die, and he announced to Hazael that he would be his successor, with tears at the thought of the misery which he would bring on Israel. On the day after Hazael's return Ben-hadad was murdered, as is commonly thought, by this very Hazael, who smothered the sick monarch in his bed, and mounted the throne in his stead (2 Kings 8:7-15). (See ELISHA); (See JEHORAM).
The attributing of this murder to Hazael himself has been imagined by some to be inconsistent with his character and with Elisha's suggestion of the act. Ewald, from the Hebrew text and a general consideration of the chapter (Gesch. des V. I. 3, 523, note), thinks that one or more of Ben- hadad's own servants were the murderers: Taylor (Fragm. in Calmet) believes that the wet cloth which caused his death was intended to effect his cure, a view which he supports by a reference to Bruce's Travels, 3, 33. There appears, however, to be no good reason for departing from the usual and more natural interpretation (so Josephus, "Αδαδος , Ant. 9, 4, 6) which assigns the deed to Hazael himself. (See HAZAEL).
Hazael succeeded him perhaps because he had no natural heirs, and with him expired the dynasty founded by Rezon. Ben-hadad's death was about B.C. 890, and he must have reigned some thirty years. (See SYRIA). The Scriptural notices of this king are strikingly confirmed by the cuneiform inscriptions (q.v.) on the black obelisk found among the Assyrian monuments at Nimrud (see Rawlinson's Hist. Evidences, p. 113), and translated by Dr. Hincks
(Dublin Univ. Magazine, Oct. 1853). According to these annals, the Assyrian king Shalmanubar (reigned apparently B.C. cir. 900-860 or 850) had several campaigns against the nations of Palestine and its vicinity (in his 6th, 11th, 14th, and 18th years), among which the Hittites (Khatti) and Benidri (i.e. Ben-hader; comp. the Sept. υἱὸς ῎Αδερ , for Ben-hadad), king of Damascus, are particularly named, the latter being represented as defeated, although allied with at least twelve neighboring princes, and at the head of an immense army, consisting largely of cavalry and chariots (Rawlinson's Herodotus, 1, 371).
3. A third king of Damascus, son of the above-mentioned Hazael, and his successor on the throne of Syria. His reign was disastrous for Damascus, and the vast power wielded by his father sank into insignificance. In the striking language of Scripture, "Jehoahaz (the son of Jehu) besought the Lord, and the Lord hearkened unto him, for He saw the oppression of Israel, because the King of Syria oppressed them; and the Lord gave Israel a savior" (2 Kings 13:4-5). This savior was Jeroboam II (comp. 2 Kings 14:27); but the prosperity of Israel began to revive in the reign of his father Jehoash, the son of Jehoahaz. When Ben-hadad succeeded to the throne of Hazael, Jehoash, in accordance with a prophecy of the dying Elisha, recovered the cities which Jehoahaz had lost to the Syrians, and beat him in Aphek (2 Kings 8:17), in the plain of Esdraelon, where Ahab had already defeated Ben-hadad II. B.C. 835. Jehoash gained two more victories, but did not restore the dominion of Israel on the east of Jordan. This glory was reserved for his successor Jeroboam. The misfortunes of Ben-hadad III in war are noticed by Amos (1, 4).
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McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Ben-Hadad'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​tce/​b/ben-hadad.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.