Bible Commentary: 2 Kings 8:7-15 and Related

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2 Kings 8:7-15 and Related

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Hazael King Over Syria, Ahaziah King Over Judah, and Jehu Anointed King Over Israel 

Why did Elisha go to Syria? Ben-Hadad II, king of Syria, felt that his arrival was accidental. But, in fact, Elisha was fulfilling a commission that had earlier been given to Elijah. At Mount Sinai, God had commissioned Elijah to anoint Hazael king over Syria, Jehu king over Judah and Elisha as a prophet in his place (1 Kings 19:15-16). Yet Elijah did not finish this commission. He anointed Elisha but not Hazael or Jehu. Thus, Elisha is now being used to complete Elijah's commission, appearing here on the scene at the time of the prophesied transfer of power.

When Ben-Hadad, who had fallen sick, heard that Elisha had come to Damascus, he asked his assistant Hazael to inquire of him whether he, the king, would recover. Elisha notified the king that he would recover, but he went on to explain that he knew that the king would die (2 Kings 8:7-10). Though seemingly inconsistent, this was nonetheless a truthful statement considering that the king would not die because of his sickness, but because he would be murdered by Hazael. Elisha also told Hazael that he would be the next king of Syria, and that the war he would wage against Israel would be severe and brutal (verses 12-15). Elisha must have anointed Hazael at this time, between verses 13 and 14.

After Jehoram, king of Judah, died, Ahaziah, his youngest son, became his successor. He was only 22 years old and reigned only one year. He was a wicked king, the "son-in-law of the house of Ahab" (2 Kings 8:27). He followed the bad advice of his mother Athaliah and his counselors (2 Chronicles 22:1-6). Pursuant to their advice, he engaged in warfare together with Israel's King Joram, referred to earlier as Jehoram, against Hazael, king of Syria. The Syrians, however, wounded Joram, and Ahaziah visited him in Jezreel (2 Kings 8:25-29). It is interesting to note that this battle was fought at Ramoth Gilead (verse 28), the same place Ahab and Jehoshaphat had fought against Ben-Hadad, which resulted in the wounding and death of Ahab (1 Kings 22).

It was now time for Jehu to be anointed king of Israel. To complete Elijah's commission, Elisha sends one of the sons of the prophets to do the anointing (2 Kings 9:1-6). (As an aside, there's an interesting lesson here. God often commissions one of His servants to fulfill a task, which may span many years and include several other servants of God. That is, the commission given to one person isn't necessarily fulfilled by that person alone.) God's command to Jehu is that he "strike down the house of Ahab your master, that I may avenge the blood of my servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of the Lord, at the hand of Jezebel [the infamous wicked wife of Ahab]" (2 Kings 9:6-7).