The King’s Messenger of Vengeance and the Untroubled Prophet & Dothan, Ben-Hadad and a Chronological Problem

Now that’s harsh, but Gehazi didn’t just scam on Naaman, he lied and stole from Elisha, a man that walks with You. 

Tel Dan Stele
The Tel Dan Stele is a broken stele (inscribed stone) discovered in 1993-94 during excavations at Tel Dan in northern Israel.

It consists of several fragments making up part of a triumphal inscription in Aramaic, left most probably by Hazael of Aram-Damascus, an important regional figure in the late 9th century B.C.

Hazael (or more accurately, the unnamed king) boasts of his victories over the king of Israel and his ally the king of the “House of David”, the first time the name David had been found outside of the Bible.

The Tel Dan inscription generated considerable debate and a flurry of articles, debating its age, authorship, and even some accusations of forgery, but it is now widely regarded as:

(a) genuine and

(b) referring to the Davidic dynasty and the Aramaic kingdom of Damascus.

It is currently on display in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

What Gehazi did is just like when Aaron and Miriam talked against Moses (Num 12:1-14).

“And the sons of the prophets said unto Elisha, Behold now, the place where we dwell with thee is too strait for us.

Let us go, we pray thee, unto Jordan, and take thence every man a beam, and let us make us a place there, where we may dwell. And he answered, Go ye.

And one said, Be content, I pray thee, and go with thy servants. And he answered, I will go.

Hazael
Hazael was a court official and later an Aramean king who is mentioned in the Bible.

Under his reign, Aram-Damascus became an empire that ruled over large parts of Syria and Palestine.

In the Bible
Hazael is first referred to by name in 1 Kgs 19:15 (842 B.C. God tells the prophet Elijah to anoint Hazael king over Syria).

Years after this, the Syrian king Hadadezer was ill and sent his court official Hazael with gifts to Elijah’s successor Elisha.

Elisha asked Hazael to tell Hadadezer that he would recover, and he revealed to Hazael that the king would recover but would die of other means.

The day after he returned to Hadadezer in Damascus, Hazael suffocated him and seized power himself.

During his approximately 46-year reign (c. 842 BC-796 B.C.), King Hazael led the Arameans in battle against the forces of King Jehoram of Israel and King Ahaziah of Judah.

After defeating them at Ramoth-Gilead, Hazael repelled two attacks by the Assyrians, seized Israelite territory east of the Jordan, the Philistine city of Gath, and sought to take Jerusalem as well (2 Kgs 12:17).

Hazael’s death is mentioned in 2 Kgs 13:24 (796 B.C.).

Tel Dan Stele
A monumental Aramaic inscription discovered at Tel Dan is seen by most scholars as having been erected by Hazael, after he defeated the Kings of Israel and Judah.

Recent excavations at Tell es-Safi/Gath have revealed dramatic evidence of the siege and subsequent conquest of Gath by Hazael.

The destruction of the settlement at Tell Zeitah during the 9th century may also be the result of Hazael’s campaign.

King Joash of Judah forestalled Hazael’s invasion by bribing him with treasure from the royal palace and temple.

Ivory inlay possibly depicting Hazael of Damascus.

Items Belonging to Hazael
Decorated bronze plaques from chariot horse-harness taken from Hazael, identified by their inscriptions, have been found as re-gifted votive objects at two Greek sites, the Heraion of Samos and in the temple of Apollo at Eretria on Euboea.

The inscriptions read “that which Hadad gave to our lord Hazael from ‘Umq in the year that our lord crossed the River”. The river must be the Orontes.

The triangular front pieces show a “master of the animals”gripping inverted sphinxes or lions in either hand, and with deep-bosomed goddesses who cup their breasts and stand on the heads of lions.

When Tiglath-Pileser III took Damascus in 733/2, these heirlooms were part of the loot that fell eventually into Greek, probably Euboean hands.

So he went with them. And when they came to Jordan, they cut down wood.

But as one was felling a beam, the axe head fell into the water: and he cried, and said, Alas, master! for it was borrowed.

And the man of God said, Where fell it? And he shewed him the place. And he cut down a stick, and cast it in thither; and the iron did swim” (2 Kgs 6:1-6).

The king of Syria warred against Israel and told his servants that his camp would be in a such and such a place.  Elijah told the king of Israel not to go to a certain place because the Syrians were there.

He didn’t listen and went, but Elisha saved them more than twice.  And the king of Syria was bothered by this and asked his servants who was helping Israel escape,

“And one of his servants said, None, my lord, O king: but Elisha, the prophet that is in Israel, telleth the king of Israel the words that thou speakest in thy bedchamber.

And he said, Go and spy where he is, that I may send and fetch him. And it was told him, saying, Behold, he is in Dothan” (2 Kgs 6:12-13).

The king of Syria then sent for horses, chariots, and a great host to surround the city and when Elisha got up in the morning and they saw there were surrounded his servant asked,

“Alas, my master! how shall we do?

And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.

And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.

And when they came down to him, Elisha prayed unto the Lord, and said, Smite this people, I pray thee, with blindness. And he smote them with blindness according to the word of Elisha.

Stone stele of Tiglath-Pileser III , from the Palace of Nimrud.
Tiglath-Pileser III was a prominent king of Assyria in the 8th century.

He ruled between 745 and 727. B.C. and was the founder of the Neo-Assyrian Empire.

He is considered one of the most successful commanders in history.

His conquests included the greater part of the world known to the ancient Assyrians .

Military Campaigns

Son of Adadnarari III, was preceded on the throne by three of his brothers, no historical importance, who were killed.

Quickly restored internal order, and during his first year of reign undertook the first military expedition against the tribes Aramaic and Chaldean south, respecting the integrity of Babylon , which was considered natural protector, and their sanctuaries.

The following year, he directed the operations against the hill tribes of the Zagros .

In 743 B. C., he faced a Syrian coalition, supported by Urartu , besieging Árpád , who was the center of the rebellion, for three years, until his fall, prompting other Syrian kingdoms submit as tax.

Once dominated Syria, turned against the Medes , getting a huge booty of cattle and prisoners, who were deported to the region of Diyala . In 735 B.C., attacked his main enemy, Urartu, seizing a number of strengths, but could not conquer the capital Turushpa .

The next year he returned to Syria to quell various rebellions in Damascus, Samaria, Ashkelon and Gaza .

Also came to the aid of King Ahaz of Judah , which he besieged Israel and Damascus, so that invaded both States, deporting populations and imposing his protege Hosea in Israel in 732. B.C.

Consequences

At his death he left a much larger than he had received, with a powerful army and modernized, and a renovated administration kingdom.

As the policy of conquest and accessions threatened to exceed the capabilities of state tried to limit them to the necessary, preferring to surround himself vassal tributary states, and building forts, garrisons and settlers deported, they could serve as auxiliary troops.

Moreover, the rapid expansion of the empire led to population displacement on a large scale, by the policy of mass deportations followed with enemy peoples, to break their social cohesion.

And Elisha said unto them, This is not the way, neither is this the city: follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom ye seek. But he led them to Samaria.

And it came to pass, when they were come into Samaria, that Elisha said, Lord, open the eyes of these men, that they may see. And the Lord opened their eyes, and they saw; and, behold, they were in the midst of Samaria.

And the king of Israel said unto Elisha, when he saw them, My father, shall I smite them? shall I smite them?

And he answered, Thou shalt not smite them: wouldest thou smite those whom thou hast taken captive with thy sword and with thy bow? set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink, and go to their master” (2 Kgs 6:15-22).

The Syrian army then left and never returned into the land of Israel, but Ben-hadad, king of Syria, attacked Samaria.

“And there was a great famine in Samaria: and, behold, they besieged it, until an ass’s head was sold for fourscore pieces of silver, and the fourth part of a cab of dove’s dung for five pieces of silver.

And as the king of Israel was passing by upon the wall, there cried a woman unto him, saying, Help, my lord, O king.

And he said, If the Lord do not help thee, whence shall I help thee? out of the barnfloor, or out of the winepress?

And the king said unto her, What aileth thee? And she answered, This woman said unto me, Give thy son, that we may eat him to day, and we will eat my son to morrow.

So we boiled my son, and did eat him: and I said unto her on the next day, Give thy son, that we may eat him: and she hath hid her son.

And it came to pass, when the king heard the words of the woman, that he rent his clothes; and he passed by upon the wall, and the people looked, and, behold, he had sackcloth within upon his flesh.

Then he said, God do so and more also to me, if the head of Elisha the son of Shaphat shall stand on him this day.

But Elisha sat in his house, and the elders sat with him; and the king sent a man from before him: but ere the messenger came to him, he said to the elders, See ye how this son of a murderer hath sent to take away mine head? look, when the messenger cometh, shut the door, and hold him fast at the door: is not the sound of his master’s feet behind him?

And while he yet talked with them, behold, the messenger came down unto him: and he said, Behold, this evil is of the Lord; what should I wait for the Lord any longer? (2 Kgs 6:25-33).

Then Elisha said, Hear ye the word of the LORD; Thus saith the LORD, Tomorrow about this time shall a measure of fine flour be sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, in the gate of Samaria.

Then a lord on whose hand the king leaned answered the man of God, and said, Behold, if the LORD would make windows in heaven, might this thing be? And he said, Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof” (2 Kgs 7:1-2).

A ways outside the locked city of Samaria stood four leprous men and they sat and talked about what they should do about living or dying.    And they decided to go to the camp of the Syrians and see if they would feed them, but when they arrived nobody was there.

“For the Lord had made the host of the Syrians to hear a noise of chariots, and a noise of horses, even the noise of a great host: and they said one to another, Lo, the king of Israel hath hired against us the kings of the Hittites, and the kings of the Egyptians, to come upon us.

Wherefore they arose and fled in the twilight, and left their tents, and their horses, and their asses, even the camp as it was, and fled for their life” (2 Kgs 7:6-7).

So the lepers went in and ate and drank.  They then went into different tents and carried away silver, gold, and clothes and hid it outside the camp. 

Samaria
Samaria or the Shomron (Heb) is a name for the mountainous, central region of ancient Palestine, based on the borders of the biblical Northern Kingdom of Israel.

The name “Samaria” derives from the ancient city Samaria, the capital of the Kingdom of Israel.

In modern times, the territory is generally and almost universally known as part of the West Bank.

Jordan ceded its claim to the area to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in November 1988.

In 1994, control of Areas ‘A’ (full civil and security control by the Palestinian Authority) and ‘B’ (Palestinian civil control and joint Israeli-Palestinian security control) were transferred by Israel to the Palestinian Authority.

Palestinian Authority did not recognize the term Samaria within its domain.

Geography
To the north, Samaria is bounded by the Jezreel Valley; to the east by the Jordan Rift Valley; to the west by the Carmel Ridge (in the north) and the Sharon plain (in the west); to the south by the Jerusalem mountains.

In Biblical times, Samaria “reached from the [Mediterranean] sea to the Jordan Valley”, including the Carmel Ridge and Plain of Sharon.

The Samarian hills are not very high, seldom reaching the height of over 800 meters.

Samaria’s climate is more hospitable than the climate further south.

The mountain ranges in the south of the region continue into Judaea without a clear division.

The Samaritan Woman at the Well
The The Jews regarded the Samaritans as foreigners and their attitude was often hostile, although they shared many beliefs.

One day while Jesus’ disciples were going to get food Jesus went to Samaria and met a woman at the well, she was shocked when Jesus, a Jew, spoke to her (Jn 4:7-26).

“Then they started thinking that if they didn’t let the king of Samaria know that something bad would happen so they told the porter of the king.

And the king arose in the night, and said unto his servants, I will now shew you what the Syrians have done to us. They know that we be hungry; therefore are they gone out of the camp to hide themselves in the field, saying, When they come out of the city, we shall catch them alive, and get into the city.

And one of his servants answered and said, Let some take, I pray thee, five of the horses that remain, which are left in the city, (behold, they are as all the multitude of Israel that are left in it: behold, I say, they are even as all the multitude of the Israelites that are consumed:) and let us send and see” (2 Kgs 7:12-13).

So they took two chariots out all the way to Jordan and they saw garments and vessels everywhere that the Sryians had left so they returned and told the king.  So the people went out and spoiled the tents.

“And it came to pass as the man of God had spoken to the king, saying, Two measures of barley for a shekel, and a measure of fine flour for a shekel, shall be tomorrow about this time in the gate of Samaria.

Ben-Hadad I
Research proves that the Ben-Hadad’s were real, they did exist, but when and where is questionable.

I also came across a problem with Ben-Hadad II, and I’ll get to that in the next picture posted.

The biblical Ben-Hadad I (880-841 B.C.) and his son, Hazael (841-806 B.C.), who murdered him, both long-reigning Syrian kings, prove to be ubiquitous and multi-facetted rulers when studied in the context of Velikovsky’s revision (Ages in Chaos I).

Some believe that they also provide the key to “The Assuruballit Problem” [TAP]; perhaps one of the three most challenging problems for the revision (alongside where to locate Ramses II and how to account for the Third Intermediate Period?). TAP is this: Statue of Assurnasirpal, TSBA, Vol. V, June 1877, p. 278.

On his wrist is the sunburts symbol worn by popes today.

If Velikovsky is right in locating el-Amarna [EA] to the mid-9th B.C., then why is EA’s Assyrian king “Assuruballit”, and not Shalmaneser III, who is known to have straddled the mid-9th B.C.?

And that lord answered the man of God, and said, Now, behold, if the LORD should make windows in heaven, might such a thing be? And he said, Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof.  And so it fell out unto him: for the people trode upon him in the gate, and he died” (2 Kgs 7:18-20).

Dothan, Ben-Hadad and
a Chronological Problem

The chronology of 2 Kings 6 is difficult to reconstruct. There were at least three Aramean (Syrian) kings at Damascus  named Ben-Hadad.

A plausible sequence is as fol­lows:

Ben-Hadad I (son ofTabrimmon in late 10th to early 9th century B.C. (1 Kgs 15:18).Ben-Hadad II (father’s name never given; mid-9th century B.C.) + Hazael (late 9th century B.C., c. 842-800).

Ben-Hadad III (the son of Hazael, early 8th century B.C.).

In addition, it is difficult to determine the historical circumstances behind 2 Kings 6-8.

Basic facts are as follows:

According to 6:8-23, a king of Damascus tried unsuccessfully to capture Elisha at Dothan.

After this episode Israel was for a time spared the depravations brought about by bands of Arameans, but neither the king of Damascus nor the king of Israel is named.

However, 6:24-7:20 describes an inva­sion led by “Ben-Hadad king of Aram” that nearly brought Samaria to its knees (6:25).

The text identifies the leader of the Ara­means as Ben-Hadad; otherwise, we know only that this event occurred during Elisha’s ministry.

Second Kings 8:7-15 describes the death of “Ben-Hadad” (probably Ben-Hadad II) and the rise of Hazael.

This suggests that Ben- Hadad II was the king of chps 6-7.

The archaeology of Dothan, where Elisha resided, may have bearing on Ben-Hadad’s invasion. Dothan is mentioned in the Bible only in Gen 37:17 and 2 Kgs 6:13.

It was strategically located on a highway in the southern Dothan Valley in central Israel, with the Jezreel Valley to the north and Samaria to the south.

Tiglath-Pileser III was a prominent king of Assyria in the eighth century BCE (ruled 745–727 BCE) who introduced advanced civil, military, and political systems into the Neo-Assyrian Empire.
TiglathPileser III seized the Assyrian throne during a civil war and killed the royal family. He made sweeping changes to the Assyrian government, considerably improving its efficiency and security. He created Assyria’s first professional standing army.
Tiglath-Pileser III subjugated much of the Near East region; to the south, his fellow Mesopotamians in Babylonia and Chaldea, and further south still, the Arabs, Magan, Meluhha, and Dilmunites of the Arabian Peninsula.

In the south west, Israel, Judah, Philistia, Samarra, Moab, Edom, the Suteans and Nabatea fell. To the north, Urartu, Armenia and Scythia in the Caucasus Mountains, Cimmeria by the Black Sea, and Nairi were subjugated, and in the north west much of eastern and south western Asia Minor, including the Hittites, Phrygia, Cilicia, Commagene, Tabal, Corduene and Caria.

In the west, the Greeks of Cyprus and Aram (modern Syria), and the Mediterranean City States of Phoenicia/Caanan were subjugated. To the east he subjugated Persia, Media, Gutium, Mannea, Cissia and Elam, and later in his reign, Tiglath-Pileser III was crowned king in Babylonia.
Tiglath-Pileser III discouraged revolts against Assyrian rule with the use of forced deportations of thousands of people all over the empire. He is one of the most successful military commanders in world history, conquering most of the world known to the Assyrians before his death.

Origins
Tiglath-pileser III, an alabaster bas-relief from the king’s central palace at Nimrud, Mesopotamia.
Formerly the governor of Kalhu (Biblical Calah/Nimrud) and a general, the usurper Pulu assumed his Assyrian throne-name (Tiglath-Pileser) from two more-legitimate predecessors. He described himself as a son of Adad-nirari III in his inscriptions, but the accuracy of this claim remains uncertain. He seized the throne in the midst of civil war on 13 Ayaru, 745 BCE.

As a result of Pulu seizing the throne in a bloody coup d’état, the old royal family was slaughtered, and the new monarch set Assyria on the path to expand the empire in order to ensure the survival of the kingdom

Evidence of occupation levels from the Chalcolithic and all three Bronze Ages5 was found at Dothan, but most of the finds are from the Iron Age II, the period of the Elisha stories.

Remains of private homes, storage bins, ovens and pottery vessels were unearthed, along with a large public building.

Excavations were conducted at Dothan in the 1950s. Unfortunately, the reports are unclear, and this lack of definition has made it difficult to piece together the site’s history.

Stele of Zakkur
The Stele of Zakkur (or Zakir) is a royal stele discovered in 1903 at Tell Afis, 45 km southeast of Aleppo, in the territory of the ancient kingdom of Hamath. It was published in 1907.

It reads in part:
“I am Zakkur, king of Hamath and Luash . . . Bar-Hadad, son of Hazael, king of Aram, united against me seventeen kings. . .all these kings laid siege to Hazrach…

Baalshamayn said to me, “Do not be afraid! . . .I will save you from all [these kings who] have besieged you.”

It also mentions that Ben-Hadad/Bar-Hadad is the son of Hazael.

There is evidence of a late ninth-century b.c. destruction of Dothan, possibly related to Ben-Hadad’s invasion in v. 24.

We might speculate that the Ben-Hadad of this verse demolished Dothan during the course of this invasion to secure supply lines for his troops around Samaria.

If this Ben-Hadad was indeed Ben-Hadad II, he may also have been the anonymous Aramean king who tried to capture Elisha at Dothan (vs. 8-23).

This premise would require that both episodes took place early in Elisha’s ministry.

Based upon 1 Kgs 19:16 and 2 Kgs 3, Elisha was anointed around 855 B.C. (near the end of Ahab’s reign) and began his ministry around 851 B.C. (the beginning of Joram’s).

Second Kings 6:31 suggests that Elisha was already a prophet of renown during the inva­sion of v. 24, since Israel’s king was angry that Elisha had not done more to thwart the incursion.

It may be that the events of v. 8-23 helped to establish Elisha’s reputation.

If all of this was so, these events must have occurred around 850 B.C., with verses 24 and following taking place around 845 B.C.

We might speculate that the 9th century destruction of Dothan took place around 845 if that destruction is related to this story.

Another possibility is that the Ben-Hadad of verse 24 was Ben-Hadad III and that this story was related out of sequence for the­matic purposes.

Evidence suggests that Dothan was rebuilt and reoccupied in the eighth century B.C. but destroyed again by the Assyrians, either in the invasion of Tiglath-Pileser III in 732 or in the final obliteration of the north­ern kingdom around 721 B.C.

Among the pot­tery finds at 8th century Dothan were carinated bowls of Assyrian origin, attesting to an Assyrian presence or influence at that time.

Dothan was then abandoned, although a small settlement was established there during the Hellenistic period.