BEN-HADAD (bĕn-hā'dăd, Heb. ben hădhadh). The name is titular, as opposed to a proper name. As the rulers in Egypt bore the title Pharaoh, so the rulers of Syria bore the designation Ben-Hadad, “son of [the god] Hadad.” The Syrians believed their rulers were lineal descendants of the Syrian god Hadad, the deity of storm and thunder, to be identified with Rimmon (
Ben-Hadad I was a contemporary with Asa, king of Judah (
Ben-Hadad II was in all probability the son of Ben-Hadad I. He is the Hadadezer of the monuments. He was contemporary with Ahab of Israel (873-853 b.c.), against whom he waged war, laying siege to the newly constructed capital, Samaria. Because of the ungracious terms of surrender demanded by Ben-Hadad, Ahab refused to capitulate. With divine aid, Ahab was able to rout the Syrian army utterly at the battle of Aphek (
Ben-Hadad III (796-770 b.c.) was son of the usurper Hazael, hence not in direct line. His name was adopted from the illustrious name before him. He was a contemporary of Amaziah, king of Judah, and Jehoahaz of Israel. He reduced the fighting personnel of Israel till it was “like the dust at threshing time” (
BENHADAD, BEN-HADAD bĕn hā’ dăd (בֶּנ־֠הֲדַד; LXX, υἱὸς ̔Αδέρ, son of Hadad). The name of three kings of Syria. According to
He was the son of Tabrimmon, the son of Hezion, king of Syria, who dwelt in Damascus (
Identification. It seems best to regard this Ben-hadad as the son of Ben-hadad I and the Hadad-ezer or Hadad-’idri of the monuments. However, Bruce treats him as Ben-Hadad I. It must be observed that the greater part of his activity, as recorded in the historical books of the Bible, places him in the days of Ahab, king of Israel (874-853 b.c.) and Jehoshaphat, king of Judah (869-848 b.c.), whereas the activity of Ben-hadad I must be placed somewhere near 900 b.c. The help of the latter was sought by Asa against Baasha (919-886 b.c.) when he was building at Ramah which must have been in the early part of his reign. This Ben-hadad came against Ahab in the days of Jehoshaphat which could place as much as forty years between the two conflicts. While the Bible does not give any family relationship for the Ben-hadad who came against Ahab, it seems better on the evidence of historical backgrounds to treat him as a son of Ben-hadad I.
The annals of Shalmaneser (6th year) name this Ben-hadad Adad ’idri (or Hadadezer) of Damascus and makes him a part of the combined forces with Ahab, Hamath and others whom he defeated at Karkar when he crossed the Euphrates on boats made of goatskins. Ben-hadad bore the brunt of the losses at the time.
The siege of Samaria.
With the aid of thirty-two tributary kings and with horses and chariots Ben-hadad laid siege to Samaria (
The following year Ben-hadad attempted to avenge his earlier defeat. At this time he met Israel in the plain, claiming that Israel’s gods were gods of the hills. Jehovah, however, offended by the remark, gave the victory to the Israelites (
The battle for Ramoth-Gilead.
With the covenant Ahab made with Ben-hadad hostilities ceased for three years. The suspension of hostilities, however, was interrupted by Ahab, who, with the aid of Jehoshaphat of Judah, sought to take Ramoth-Gilead back from the Syrians (
Ben-hadad and Elisha.
The Syrian strife continued even after Ahab’s death but Elisha seems to have been the chief thorn in Ben-hadad’s flesh. Elisha predicted the moves of the Syrian king, producing such a frustration that he was determined to capture the Heb. prophet (
The death of Ben-hadad.
For Syria’s conflict with Assyria one must turn to Shalmaneser’s annals, since the Bible does not record it. The Assyrian inflicted a series of defeats upon Benhadad, pushing his troops into the Orontes River on the occasion of Ben-hadad’s death. Shalmaneser records that Hazael seized the throne and rose against him, but was defeated. The Bible adds that Ben-hadad dispatched his commander-in-chief to Elisha to inquire if he would recover from his illness. Informed by Elisha that he would be the successor of Ben-hadad, Hazael took a wet cover-let and suffocated his king, placing himself upon the throne (
He was the son of Hazael, the usurper. While he was unrelated to Ben-hadad II, he appropriated the dynastic name.
Continued conflict with Israel.
Because Jehoahaz (819-798 b.c.) continued in the evil ways of , God permitted Israel to fall into the hand of Ben-hadad (
Defeat at the hands of the Assyrians.
F. F. Bruce, Israel and the Nations, 46-51; Hitti, History of Syria, 162-168; ANET, 276-281.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
(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 (
I. Benhadad I
1. The Kingdom of Syria Founded:
Benhadad I was the son of Tabrimmon, who is called (
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 (
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 (
McCurdy HPM, I, 256; H. P. Smith,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 (
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 BC) 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 dur ing 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 (
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 (
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 (
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 (
McCurdy, HPM, I, 267 ff; 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 dent h 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. 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" (
Israel was able to breathe freely for a time and
McCurdy, HPM, I, 291 ff; Schrader, COT, I, 202-ff.