Who was Ben-Hadad in the Old Testament?


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The name Ben-Hadad means “son of Hadad.” Hadad was an Aramaean god. Ben-Hadad was the king of Aram and was first mentioned in the Bible in 1 Kings 15:18–22 and later in 1 Kings 20; 2 Kings 6:24; 8:9; 13:24–25; 2 Chronicles 16:2–4; Jeremiah 49:27; and Amos 1:4. Benhadad II was a contemporary of King Ahab (1 Kings 20:1, 34). And a Benhadad III, son of Hazael, was a contemporary of King Jehoash (2 Kings 13:24, 25).

1 Kings 15:18-19

King Asa of Judah made a treaty with Ben-Hadad to help save himself from the king of Israel, who was warring against him (2 Chronicles 16:2–4). Ben-Hadad sent his troops to war against Israel under King Baasha and attacked Ijon, Dan, Abel Beth Maachah, and all Chinneroth, with all the land of Naphtali.

1 Kings 20

Ben-Hadad and thirty two of his kings warred against the northern kingdom of Israel under King Ahab. But the Lord through His prophet promised Ahab that he will overcome Ben-Hadad. And God’s Word was fulfilled in two different wars.  The Loss of the Syrian army was so great that Ben-Hadad sent a message of submission to Ahab hoping for a peace treaty. And Ahab agreed. But God sent a message through His prophet rebuking and judging the king for sparing his enemy (v. 42).

2 Kings 6–7

Ben-Hadad II attacked Israel and held a siege over Samaria. The siege was so severe that people starved. But Elisha God’s prophet was given a word that the Lord will give victory to His people and they will get to eat the second day. Then, God caused the army of the Syrians to hear the noise of chariots and horses and they thought that the king of Israel has hired against them the Hittites and the Egyptians to attack them so they all fled in terror and left behind all their resources. Some lepers discovered that the army had fled and they told the starving people of Samaria about the empty camp. So the people Samaria came and took all the spoils of the army.

2 Kings 8

The prophet Elisha traveled to Damascus. The King there was sick and he sent his servant to ask God’s prophet if he will live or die. Elisha told him that he will certainly recover. However, the LORD showed him that he will also die. The prophet also added that his servant will reign in his place and  war against Israel. And that is exactly what happened. Ben-Hadad started to recover from his illness but his servant Hazael killed him and reigned over Aram. Then, Benhadad III son of Hazael (2 Kings 13:3) was overcome three times by Jehoash King of Israel thus fulfilling a prophecy by Elisha (2 Kings 13:1–25).

Jeremiah 49:27

The word of the Lord says, “I will set fire to the walls of Damascus; it will consume the fortresses of Ben-Hadad.” Here the verse is used as a general reference to the Syrian kings.

Amos 1:4

In this passage, we read: “I will send fire on the house of Hazael that will consume the fortresses of Ben-Hadad.” This is a reference to Benhadad III ( 2 Kings 13:3). This proud city was to receive a just recompense for its sins.

Thus, we can see that God allowed the Assyrians to overcome Israel as a punishment for their idolatry and rebellion against Him (2 Kings 13:3). Then the Lord punished Assyria and their kings (the family of Ben-Hadad) for all the evil they brought upon His people (2 Kings 13:14-19).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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