Hananiah Son of Azzur

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article Share Article
views updated

HANANIAH SON OF AZZUR

HANANIAH SON OF AZZUR (Heb. חֲנַנְיָה בֶּן עַזּוּר), of Gibeon, prophet, contemporary of the prophet *Jeremiah (Jer. 28:1) and opposed to his teachings. Hananiah prophesied that Judah would be freed of the yoke of Babylon, that the Temple vessels would be returned, and that Jeconiah (i.e., Jehoiachin), the son of *Jehoiakim, king of Judah, would be restored as king in Jerusalem. The setting of his prophecy, as proclaimed in the fourth year of Zedekiah's reign of Judah (593 b.c.e.; Jer. 28:2–4), was the gathering of the representatives of Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre, and Sidon in Jerusalem to plan a coordinated activity against *Nebuchadnezzar. Jeremiah argued against this treaty in the name of God, for it would not succeed. He put a yoke on his neck to symbolize the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar and the kingdom of Babylon imposed by God for three generations (ibid. 27:1ff.). Thus, the prophets in Judah who predicted that all the Temple vessels and Jeconiah would be returned from Babylon were speaking false prophecies. It is not known whether Hananiah prophesied together with those prophets, or separately, though his prophecy coincided with theirs. To Hananiah Jeremiah responded "Amen" in bitter irony, but he added that a true prophet can only be one whose prophecies for good are fulfilled (cf. Deut. 18:18–22). Thus, in two years they would know if Hananiah spoke the truth. Hananiah, to give credence to his words, broke the yoke off Jeremiah's neck in public, as a sign of the breaking of the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar (Jer. 28:l0–11). Jeremiah proclaimed that the act was, on the contrary, not a symbol of the breaking of the yoke, but of the replacement of the wooden yoke by an iron one. He also predicted that Hananiah would die in that same year, and three months later Hananiah died (28:16–17).

[Yehoshua M. Grintz]

In the Aggadah

Hananiah was one of the prophets who misused the gifts with which he had been divinely endowed (Sif. Deut. 84). He is particularly criticized for using Jeremiah's prophecy of the defeat of Elam (Jer. 49:35) as the basis of his own forecast that a similar fate would befall the Babylonians (Jer. 28:2). He reached this conclusion, not as a result of prophecy, but by reasoning, arguing: "If Elam, which only came to assist Babylon, will be broken; how much more certain is it that Babylon itself will be destroyed" (Sanh. 89a). Jeremiah then challenged Hananiah to give some sign to indicate the validity of his prophecy that God would perform this miracle "within two full years" (Jer. 28:3). Hananiah retorted that Jeremiah first had to give some sign that his prophecies of gloom would be fulfilled. Initially reluctant to do so (because God's evil decrees can always be averted by repentance), Jeremiah eventually prophesied that Hananiah would die that same year. This prophecy was fulfilled; the reference to his death in the "seventh month" (which commences a new year), indicates that he died on the eve of Rosh Ha-Shanah, but commanded his family to keep the death secret for a few days in an attempt to discredit Jeremiah (tj, Sanh. 11:5).

bibliography:

W. Rudolph, Jeremia (Ger., 1947), index. in the aggadah: Ginzberg, Legends, 4 (1947), 297–8; 6 (1946), 389; I. Ḥasida, Ishei ha-Tanakh (1964), 158. add. bibliography: T.Overholt, in: jaar, 35 (1967), 241–49; J. Crenshaw, Prophetic Conflict (1971); R. Carroll, Jeremiah (1986), 440–50; H. Sun, in: basor, 275 (1989), 81–3; W. Holladay, Jeremiah 2 (1989), 455.