Study Guide

Hazael in 2 Kings

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Hazael is a King of Aram, one who (before becoming king) actually makes Elisha cry. When the sick King Ben-Hadad of Aram sends Hazael to ask Elisha if he'll recover, Elisha weeps. He tells Hazael he's weeping because he knows about the horrors Hazael will inflict on Israel after Ben-Hadad dies. ("Hazael" means "God has seen.") Hazael pretends to be innocent, but goes back and kills Ben-Hadad by suffocating him with a wet piece of cloth.

Given his predilection for smothering sick kings with wet pieces of cloth, Hazael ends up being a pretty brutal ruler. He does unspeakably horrible crimes: killing pregnant women, infants, and children. (These are classic examples of the acts of the other super-evil rulers presented by the Bible, too.)

In a way, he's a bit like Shakespeare's Macbeth—Macbeth discovers that his fate is to kill the king and take over Scotland… so, he goes right ahead, and kills the king, and takes over Scotland (though things don't quite work out the way he planned.) Hazael, similarly, has his fortune read to him (though by a prophet rather than by witches), and sets about fulfilling that fortune with murderous zest.

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