JEHOAHAZ (Heb. יוֹאָחָז ,יְהוֹאָחָז; "yhwh has grasped"), son of *Jehu, king of Israel c. 814–800 b.c.e. According to ii Kings 13:1, Jehoahaz reigned for 17 years, while according to the synchronism made between his reign and that of Joash king of Judah, it is evident that he only reigned 14 years. It might therefore be assumed that Jehoahaz reigned together with his father Jehu during his last three years. (Another possibility is a shift in the dating system (see *Chronology). Although the writer of ii Kings 13:2 classifies him as a sinner in the mold of Jeroboam son of Nebat, he observes (13:4) that Jehoahaz implored yhwh, who brought (an unnamed) savior to deliver Israel in response to the prayer of the king. This is the only story in Kings of a northern king imploring yhwh. Nonetheless, it gains credibility because something quite similar is said of Zakkur of Hamath who successfully cried out to his god Baalhamayn during a siege (Cogan and Tadmor, 143–44). He reigned during a time of decline and degradation in the kingdom of Israel. By the end of Jehu's reign, *Hazael king of Aram had occupied Transjordan, and in 813 b.c.e. (the last year of Jehu's reign and the first of Jehoahaz to reign alone) Hazael launched a military campaign which brought him as far south as Aphek on the border of Philistia (according to the addition in the Lucian version of the lxx to ii Kings 13:23). At that time, or a short while later, it seems that Jehoahaz became a vassal of Aram – during the reigns of Hazael and his son *Ben-Hadadiii, who exercised sovereignty over the whole of Syria and Palestine. The latter extended and imposed the authority of Aram up to the borders of Egypt. The Arameans left Jehoahaz with only "fifty horsemen, and ten chariots, and ten thousand footmen, for the king of Aram had destroyed them and made them like the dust at threshing" (ii Kings 13:7). The prophecy of Amos 1:3, 13, concerning the cruelty of the Arameans and the Ammonites in the land of Gilead, probably refers to this period (cf. ii Kings 8:12). The decline of Israel in the period is also evident from the series of prophetic stories concerning Elisha (ii Kings 5–7), which describe the subordination of the "king of Israel" to the "king of Aram." There is no doubt that the unnamed "king of Israel" was Jehoahaz (and not Jehoram son of Ahab) and that "Ben-Hadad" (6:24) was not Ben-Hadad ii (the contemporary of Ahab and Jehoram), but Ben-Hadad iii, son of Hazael.
According to the prophetic story, Ben-Hadad besieged Samaria, and it was only saved after "the Lord had made the army of Aram hear the sound of chariots, and of horses, the sound of a great army, so that they said to one another, 'Behold, the king of Israel has hired against us the kings of the Hittites and the kings of Egypt to come against us.' So they fled away in the twilight and forsook their tents, their horses…" (ii Kings 7:6–7); i.e., the deliverance is in this instance explained by the fear of the Arameans of an attack from the north (the kings of the Hittites, led by Hamath) or from the south (the Egyptian Pharaohs). However, the deliverance of Israel is due to the campaigns of Assyria into northern Syria of Adad-Nirari iii. These campaigns began in 805 b.c.e. and continued until 802 b.c.e., their principal objective being the weakening of the Aramean supremacy in northern (the region of Arpad) and central Syria. The permanent liberation of Israel from the Aramean oppressor only came with the defeat of Ben-Hadad iii by Adad-Nirari, in 796 b.c.e. during the second campaign of Adad-Nirari iii into southern Syria (against Menṣuate), i.e., at the beginning of the reign of *Jehoash son of Jehoahaz. It is likely that the writer of ii Kings 13:5 preferred not to name an Assyrian king as the deliverer of Israel and purposely left him anonymous. B. Mazar attributes the Samarian Ostraca to Jehoahaz' reign; he sees in them the evidence of an expansion of the kingdom of Jehoahaz, from the time when he began to liberate himself from the yoke of Aram. (For other opinions on the date of the Samarian Ostraca, see: *Samaria.)
Bright, Hist, 236; B. Maisler (Mazar), in: jpos, 21 (1948), 124–7; B. Mazar, in: A. Malamat (ed.), Bi-Ymei Bayit Rishon (1962), 149–50; H. Tadmor, ibid., 166–7; idem, in: Scripta Hierosolymitana, 8 (1961), 241–3 (Eng.); idem, in: iej, 11 (1961), 149. add. bibliography: M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, ii Kings (1988).
[Hayim Tadmor /
S. David Sperling (2nd ed.)]