HAZAEL (Heb. חֲזָאֵל; "God has taken note"), king of Aram-Damascus (c. 842–798 b.c.e.). According to an inscription of Shalmaneser iii, King of Assyria (858–24), Hazael was the "son of a nobody" – who took the throne after Hadad-ezer (Adad-Idri) disappeared or died following his defeat by Shalmaneser (rima 3, p. 118). He founded a dynasty in Damascus during the unsettled period that also witnessed the accession of *Jehu in Israel and *Athaliah in Judah.
According to i Kings 19:15–16, Hazael was to be anointed king of Damascus by *Elijah, as Jehu was to be anointed king of Israel. When, thereafter, Ben-Hadad (= Hadad-ezer) lay ill, *Elisha directed Hazael, a royal servant, to tell Ben-Hadad that his illness was not fatal, but that in fact Ben-Hadad would not survive, and that Hazael would be king. The unclear text of ii Kings 8:7–15 has usually been understood to mean that Hazael smothered Ben-Hadad in order to usurp the throne of his master (see, e.g., *Ben-Hadad and Pitard in Bibliography, but contrast Rashi and Gersonides a.l. as well as Lemaire). Hazael immediately began the attacks on Israel predicted by Elisha, attacking *Ramoth-Gilead and seriously injuring Joram of Israel (ii Kings 8:28–29).
During the campaigns of Shalmaneser iii in the West, Aram, under Ben-Hadad (or Hadadezer), had stood at the head of a southern Syrian coalition which effectively repulsed the Assyrian armies under Shalmaneser at the battle of *Karkar in 853, and thereafter in 848 and 845. In 841, when Shalmaneser again campaigned in the West, Hazael alone resisted, withstanding a siege of Damascus, while Tyre, Sidon, and Israel became vassals of Assyria. A punitive campaign by Shalmaneser in 838 again failed to subdue Damascus, and the Assyrians withdrew, leaving Hazael the undisputed power in southern Syria. Hazael then began a series of attacks on Israel which resulted in the period of Aram's greatest territorial control and Israel's greatest weakness. At the end of the reign of Jehu, Hazael conquered all the Israelite lands east of the Jordan, and took possession of the highlands of Galilee (ii Kings 10:32–33; Amos 1:3). After Jehu's death he overran the entire territory of Israel, proceeding south along the coast to Gath on the border of Judah (ii Kings 12:18–19). Hazael completely humbled the kingdom of Israel throughout the reign of Jehoahaz (ii Kings 13:1–3, 7, 22), dominated the trade routes to Arabia, probably conquered all of Philistia, and even threatened Jerusalem, retreating from the city only upon the payment of a heavy tribute by Joash, king of Judah (ii Kings 12:19; cf. ii Chron. 24:23–24). So great was Hazael's power and domination over Israel and Judah that the resumed expeditions of Assyria under Adad-Nirari iii in 805 were viewed as a liberation, and Adad-Nirari was acclaimed a deliverer (ii Kings 13:5). As Dion has observed, the Aramean king who claimed victory over Israel and "the house of David" in the Tel Dan Inscription (COS ii, 161–62) was most likely Hazael. The mention of the victorious king's father in that inscription would seem to conflict with the biblical characterization of Hazael as a royal servant and the Assyrian "son of a nobody," but both accounts may be "enemy propaganda" (Dion: 1999, 153–54).
Some interesting artifacts remain from Hazael's reign, of note is the ivory bed plaque inscribed as "belonging to our Lord Hazael" (lmrʾn hẓʾl) that was discovered at Arslan Tash (the Assyrian provincial capital Hadattu). A horse's nose piece found in Samos, Greece, in 1984 and inscribed in Aramaic marks the year that Hazael "crossed the river" (COS ii, 163).
E. Kraeling, Aram and Israel (1918); R. de Vaux, in: rb, 43 (1934), 512–8; B. Maisler [Mazar], in: jpos, 18 (1938), 282–3; idem, in: D.N. Freedman and E.F. Campbell (ed.), The Biblical Archaeologist Reader, 2 (1964), 144–5; W.W. Hallo, ibid., 160–4; M.F. Unger, Israel and the Arameans of Damascus (1957), 75–82, 160–3. assyrian sources: Luckenbill, Records, 1 (1926), nos. 575, 578, 664, 672, 681; E. Michel, in: Die Welt des Orients, 2 (1947), 57–58; 3 (1948), 265–6, 268–9. add. bibliography: A. Lemaire, in: D. Charpin and F. Joannès (eds.), Marchands, diplomates… Études… Garelli (1991), 91–108; W. Pitard, in: abd, 3:83–4; P. Dion, Les Araméens… (1997) 191–204; idem, in: Y. Avishur and R. Deutsch (eds.), Michael… Studies… Heltzer (1999), 145–56.
[Tikva S. Frymer /
S. David Sperling (2nd ed.)]