BibleAsk Team

Who was Ben-Hadad in the Old Testament?

Ben-Hadad means the “son of Hadad.” The name Hadad (Adad) referred to the god of storm and thunder in the ancient Mesopotamian religions. Aramean kings were often named after their gods. The Bible mentions three individuals by this name (1 Kings 15:18–22; 1 Kings 20; 2 Kings 6:24; 8:9; 13:24–25; 2 Chronicles 16:2–4; Jeremiah 49:27; Amos 1:4).

Ben-Hadad I

He was the son of Tabrimmon, the son of Hezion, king of Syria. He reigned between 900-860 BC. He was a contemporary to the kings Baasha of the Kingdom of Israel and Asa of the Kingdom of Judah (1 Kings 15:18-22).

There was a war between Asa and Baasha. And King Baasha of Israel came up against Judah, and built Ramah, to prohibit anyone of coming to King Asa of Judah. In response, Asa took all the silver and gold in the treasuries of the Lord’s and the king’s houses and sent them to Ben-Hadad I asking him to make a treaty with him against Baasha.

So, Ben-Hadad I agreed and sent the captains of his armies against the cities of Israel, which attacked Ijon, Dan, Abel Beth Maachah, and all Chinneroth, with all the land of Naphtali. Consequently, Baasha stopped building Ramah and remained in Tirzah (1 Kings 15:16:22)

Ben-Hadad II

He was the son (or grandson) of the Benhadad I. He was a contemporary of King Ahab and King Jehoshaphat and ruled between 860–841 BC (1 Kings 20:1, 34). He became a powerful king that occupied the dominant position among the rulers of western Asia.

His power was evident by the fact that the Assyrian records list him first among the western allies who fought against Shalmaneser III at Qarqar in 854 BC. In this battle, he had Ahab of Israel as one of his main allies. In his time, war with Israel was continual. And he was usually successful. But Ahab gained power in the campaigns of 856 and 855 BC, which were followed by a treaty of peace with Israel (1 Kings 20:1-43). On the the third year thereafter, Benhadad II was victorious (1 Kings 22:1-53).

About nine years after Ahab’s death, Ben-Hadad II attacked Israel and placed a siege on its capital Samaria (2 Kings 6–7). Consequently, the people inside the city starved. But the Lord intervened miraculously and made the Aramean army to hear sounds of an advancing army. So, Ben-Hadad’s army fled in defeat.

The prophet Elisha went to Damascus and said to Ben-Hadad II, who was sick: “Go and say to him, ‘You will certainly recover.’ Nevertheless, the Lord has revealed to me that he will in fact die” (In 2 Kings 8:10). Just as Elisha said, Ben-Hadad began to recover from his sickness. But he was assassinated by the usurper Hazael about 843 BC (2 Kings 8:15).

Ben-Hadad III

He was king of Aram-Damascus, the son and successor of Hazael. His succession is mentioned in 2 Kings 13:3, 24-25. He is thought to have ruled from 796 BC to 792 BC. And the king of Syria oppressed Israel. But the Lord was gracious to them, had compassion on them, and regarded them, because of His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and would not yet destroy them or cast them from His presence.

Finally, Ben-Hadad III was defeated three times by King Jehoash of Israel, who recaptured the cities of Israel fulfilling another prophecy of Elisha (2 Kings 13:1–25). Thus, the proud city of Damascus was to receive a just recompense for its sins and idolatry.

On the inscriptions of the Assyrian king Adad-nirari III, Ben-hadad appears under the name Mari’, an Aramaic title meaning “my lord.”

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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