—Biblical Data:

A name that would seem to mean simply "the son of Hadad," a well-known appellation of an Aramean and perhaps also of an Edomite deity (see Hadad). As found in the Old Testament, the name is applied to at least two distinct kings of Damascus; some expositors, however, say three. Of these, Ben-hadad I., son of Tabrimon, son of Hezion, was subsidized by Asa of Judah to aid him in his attack on Baasha of Israel while the latter was building the fortress of Ramah (I Kings xv. 18; II Chron. xvi. 2). The allies succeeded in their campaign; and Asa, removing the building material of Ramah, constructed with it Geba and Mizpah. Ben-hadad engaged later in a war with Ahab and unsuccessfully besieged Samaria (I Kings xx. 12; see Ahab). The campaign resulted happily for Israel, as the Syrian was over-whelmed at Aphek, in spite of his numerous allies. On his attacking Samaria again, his army fled without giving battle, owing to a rumor that the king of Israel had entered into an alliance with the Hittites and Egyptians (II Kings vii. 6, 7).

Ben-hadad and Shalmaneser.

The relations between Ben-hadad and the Assyrian king Shalmaneser II. are very clear. The Syrian forces were utterly defeated at Karkar on the Orontes in 853 B.C., in spite of the enormous armament which the Damascene had brought to his aid. The inscriptions of Shalmaneser in one passage give the number of the slain as 20,500. With 120,000 men in 845 B.C. Shalmaneser again entered Syria and overthrew Ben-hadad and a large army of allies.

According to II Kings viii. 7-15, Ben-hadad fell ill and sent Hazael to the prophet Elisha—who was then in Damascus—in order to inquire whether he would recover. Elisha prophesied that Hazael would be king in Ben-hadad's stead and would do much evil to Israel. On Hazael's return to his master he smothered Ben-hadad with a wet cloth and declared himself king (see Hazael). When, in 841, the Assyrian king once more encountered the forces of Damascus, his chief foe was Hazael, who, it is known, was Ben-hadad's successor, so that the latter must have died between 845 and 841 B.C.

Some expositors deny the necessity of assuming that the events just described should be divided between two kings named Ben-hadad, on the ground that the period between Ben-hadad's alliance with Asa and Ben-hadad's death—which, as just shown, could not have been earlier than 845—is too long for the reign of one king. It is suggested, in answer to this, that Tabrimon, the father of Ben-hadad, may have been contemporaneous with Baasha and Asa for a long time, so that really not more than forty years need have passed between Ben-hadad's alliance with Asa and the death of the former.

Hazael Ben-hadad.

The son of Hazael also is called "Ben-hadad" in II Kings xiii. 24, 25, where he is mentioned as an oppressor of Israel and as a contemporary of Jehoahaz ben Jehu (814-798 B.C.). Joash of Israel met and defeated this king three times and recovered from him a number of cities. This Ben-hadad II. is probably the same as "Mari" alluded to in Rawlinson, "Cuneiform Inscriptions of Western Asia," i. pl. 35, No. 1, l. 15, as resisting Rammannirari III. between 826 and 803. The Assyrian form "Mari" may possibly be an attempt to reproduce the Aramaic title "Maré" (lord, possessor) which may have been applied as a subsidiary name or title of honor to this king. This is Schrader's view ("C. I. O. T." p. 212) and appears the most reasonable, but Cheyne suggests that "Mari" was the correct name of the king as against "Ben-hadad."

The name "Ben-hadad" in the late passage, Jer. xlix. 27, is not a general term for the kings of Damascus, but is simply an allusion to Ben-hadad I., son of Tabrimon, and not to Ben-hadad II., son of Hazael. The passage in Jeremiah is probably borrowed from Amos i. 4.

J. Jr. J. D. P.—In Rabbinical Literature:

When Ben-hadad demanded that Ahab should surrender, in addition to his gold, silver, wives, and children, also ("whatsoever is pleasant in thine eyes") (I Kings xx. 6), the haggadists affirm that he meant by this expression the sacred scroll of the Torah, which the Syrian king wanted to take away from Ahab. Although a sinful king, Ahab would not be responsible for such an act, but convoked the elders, who advised him to refuse compliance with the wish of Ben-hadad. As a reward for thus honoring the Torah, it was granted to Ahab to reign for twenty-two years (as the Torah is written with an alphabet of twenty-two letters) and to conquer Ben-hadad (Tan., Shemot, 29; ed. Buber, 26; Ex. R. iii. 8; Sanh. 102b).

J. Sr. L. G.
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