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My Assessment here spawns out of this Related Question: In 2 Kings 8:11 was it Hazael or Elisha who settled his countanance stedfastly?

I'm trying to imagine/visualize how Elisha's vision of Hazel's future destiny is gradually revealed in real time for both Elisha and for Hazel. Also, I'm trying to understand the psychological/mental/spiritual state and/or ongoing thought process of the relevant biblical characters involved.

In 1 Kings 19:15, God commands Elijah, who is Elisha's predecessor, to anoint Hazel king over Aram

( 1 Kings 19:15 ) (NASB1995)

15 The Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus, and when you have arrived, you shall anoint Hazael king over Aram;

Since it's important to keep in mind the chronologically order of events.

  1. It was first revealed to Elijah that God wanted him to anoint Hazael to be king over Aram. Therefore, it is important to note that Hazael knew that he would be king of Aram at some point in time in the future, but at the time of Elijah's anointing, it is very likely that Hazael did Not know how/when he would be king of Aram, and under what circumstances he would be made king of Aram.

(2 Kings 8:9-12) KJV

9 So Hazael went to meet him, and took a present with him, even of every good thing of Damascus, forty camels' burden, and came and stood before him, and said, Thy son Benhadad king of Syria hath sent me to thee, saying, Shall I recover of this disease? 10 And Elisha said unto him, Go, say unto him, Thou mayest certainly recover: howbeit the Lord hath shewed me that he shall surely die. 11 And he settled his countenance stedfastly, until he was ashamed: and the man of God wept. 12 And Hazael said, Why weepeth my lord? And he answered, Because I know the evil that thou wilt do unto the children of Israel: their strong holds wilt thou set on fire, and their young men wilt thou slay with the sword, and wilt dash their children, and rip up their women with child.

(2 Kings 8:9-12) NASB1995

9 So Hazael went to meet him and took a gift in his hand, even every kind of good thing of Damascus, forty camels’ loads; and he came and stood before him and said, “Your son Ben-hadad king of Aram has sent me to you, saying, ‘Will I recover from this sickness?’” 10 Then Elisha said to him, “Go, say to him, ‘You will surely recover,’ but the Lord has shown me that he will certainly die.” 11 He [d]fixed his gaze steadily on him until he was ashamed, and the man of God wept. 12 Hazael said, “Why does my lord weep?” Then he [e]answered, “Because I know the evil that you will do to the sons of Israel: their strongholds you will set on fire, and their young men you will kill with the sword, and their little ones you will dash in pieces, and their women with child you will rip up.”

Now there might be some debate as to who was gazing at whom, and who was ashamed. However, I believe that Hazel was the one who became ashamed.

  1. The next revelation by Elisha, who is Elijah's successor, was that king Ben-hadad of Aram's health would recover, but then he strangely says that king Ben-hadad would certainly die.

This sudden contrasting change of fortune in the revelation may indicate something sinister would occur.

(2 Kings 8:10) (NASB1995)

.....“Go, say to him, ‘You will surely recover,’ but the Lord has shown me that he will certainly die.”.....

  1. Since Hazel was already:

a) given the partial revelation by Elijah based on 1 Kings 19:15 that Hazel would be king of Aram at some point in time in the future,

b) and then given this second revelation by Elisha that king Ben-hadad of Aram have a sudden change of fortune by dying even though his health recovered,

Hazel's then starts to think in a sinister manner that something unfortunate will happen to king Ben-hadad of Aram like an assassination/murder, and furthermore Hazel shows that he himself is ashamed because at that very moment Hazel thinks that he himself will instigate said assassination/murder

  1. As Hazel shows that he is feeling ashamed, Elisha's thoughts are somewhat in-synchronized with Hazel's thoughts because as we continue to read 2 Kings 8:9-12, Elisha is aware of Hazel's sinister intentions, and Elisha takes it a step further by revealing what Hazel will violently and viciously attack God's Israelite people group.

Please feel free to comment on this assessment, and possibly provide further insight.

As you read through (2 Kings 8:9-12), if you think about it, it is very interesting to think about how God gradually, slowly and possibly gracefully reveals Godly insight & Godly understanding and Wisdom to Elisha. One could sort of think about what was going on in Elijah's mind as Godly knowledge was revealed bit by bit to Elisha interlaced with how Elisha processes each bit of knowledge before receiving the next bit of Godly knowledge-- like a sonar operator/sonarman on a submarine who is gradually listening for important sounds.

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  • I don't see a question, here. This looks like an answer to a previous question.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Nov 22, 2020 at 3:09

2 Answers 2

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Here there are a half a dozen of comments by Bible scholars that can be useful to answer your question. Personally, I agree with all these remarks, also because the prophet had no reason to feel ashamed, from his behaviour, instead Hazael had.

(As usual, the bold emphasis is mine)

And his [Elisha’s] face froze and he [Hazael] was dumbfounded a long time, and the man of God wept.” [translation]

And his face froze. This is the likely sense of the somewhat obscure Hebrew, which is literally, ‘and he made his face stand [still]’.

and he was dumbfounded. The received text shows wayasem, ‘and he put’. But the two Hebrew manuscripts and the [Hebrew text behind to the version of the] Vulgate have wayishom, to be desolate or dumbfounded, which is much more likely. The subject of both these verbs must be Hazael, who is astounded, and at a loss, to hear Elisha’s stark prophecy.” [comments] (Robert Alter, 2019)


“Elisha fixed a stedfast gaze on the messenger. ‘The seer of God descries more in Hazael than he could see in himself: he fixes his eyes therefore stedfastly in the Syrian’s face, as one that in those lines read the bloody story of his life. Hazael blushes, Elisha weeps. The intention (i.e. the stedfast gaze) of those eyes did not so much amaze Hazael as the tears.” (Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges)


“Elisha fixed his eyes on Hazael, and looked upon him so earnestly, so long, and with such a settled countenance, that Hazael was ashamed, as apprehending that the prophet discerned or suspected something of an evil and shameful nature in him. The Hebrew words, however, rendered ‘till he was ashamed’, are ambiguous, and may be indifferently referred either to the prophet or to Hazael: but they seem more properly to belong to the latter, because it follows by way of distinction, The man of God wept.” (Benson’s Commentary)


“That is, ‘And he (Elisha) settled his conntenance, and set it (toward Hazael), until he (Hazael) was ashamed.’ Elisha fixed on Hazael a long and meaning look, until the latter’s eyes fell before his, and his cheek flushed. Elisha, it would seem, had detected the guilty thought that was in Hazael's heart, and Hazael perceived that he had detected it. Hence the ‘shame’. (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)


“he settled his countenance stedfastly until he was ashamed—that is, Hazael. The steadfast, penetrating look of the prophet seemed to have convinced Hazael that his secret designs were known. The deep emotions of Elisha were justified by the horrible atrocities which, too common in ancient warfare, that successful usurper committed in Israel.” (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary)


“Josephus’s exposition of the scene recommends itself: ‘And while the king’s servant (i.e., Hazael) was grieving at what he had heard, Elisha began to cry . . .’ {Antiquities ix. 90). (Note that Vulg. ‘et conturbatus est’, ‘he was appalled’ [Heb. wayyiššōm]—adopted by Klostermann, Benzinger, Kittel, Sanda, Montgomery-Gehman, Gray—may reflect this same tradition.) Hazael was overcome by the implications of the duplicity suggested by Elisha; his stupor was only broken by the prophet’s weeping.” (II Kings, by Mordecai Cogan & Hayim Tadmor [part of The Anchor Bible], p. 90)

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  • Thanks. I've met people with Pentecostal/Charismatic church background who have the Charismatic gift of discernment/prophesy. In rare cases, it's really interesting how some of these Discernment/Prophetic Charismatic people/ministers are blessed to reveal Godly information. It's sort of like a sonar operator/sonarman on a submarine who is carefully listening for important sounds, and as time goes by get a surprised(or sometimes sadly shocking) look on their faces when they receive important bits of Godly information. Commented Jul 22, 2023 at 12:55
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Here is my assessment of how Elisha's vision of Hazael's future destiny is gradually revealed in real time in 2 Kings 8:9-12:

  • Elijah had been commanded by God earlier to anoint Hazael as king over Aram (1 Kings 19:15). It's unclear if Hazael knew about this at the time.

  • Years later, Elisha is visited by Hazael, who is sent by King Ben-hadad to ask if the king will recover from illness (2 Kings 8:9).

  • Elisha tells Hazael to tell the king he will recover, but that God has revealed to Elisha that the king will actually die (v.10). This foreshadows something ominous.

  • As Elisha says this, he steadily gazes at Hazael until Hazael is ashamed (v.11), likely realizing Elisha knows of his sinister intentions to harm the king.

  • Seeing Hazael's shame, Elisha weeps, knowing the evil Hazael will commit against Israel (v.12).

  • Elisha reveals to Hazael details of the violence he will inflict on Israel. Hazael feigns ignorance.

So the revelation unfolds gradually:

  1. Hazael knows he will be king one day per Elijah

  2. Elisha foretells the king will die unexpectedly

  3. Elisha discerns Hazael's sinister intentions from his gaze

  4. Elisha reveals Hazael's specific future crimes against Israel

It's a dramatic scene as Elisha steadily pieces together the revelation from God before confronting Hazael with his knowledge. Elisha is grieved by the violence he sees in the vision.

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  • Thanks. I've met people with Pentecostal/Charismatic church background who have the Charismatic gift of discernment/prophesy. In rare cases, it's really interesting how some of these Discernment/Prophetic Charismatic people/ministers are blessed to reveal Godly information. It's sort of like a sonar operator/sonarman on a submarine who is carefully listening for important sounds, and as time goes by get a surprised(or sometimes sadly shocking) look on their faces when they receive important bits of Godly information. Commented Jul 22, 2023 at 12:55
  • The religious claim of possessing a 'Charismatic gift of discernment/prophesy' is, as with all supernatural claims, one that requires empirical evidence to be taken seriously. It's all well and good to claim that some people are 'blessed to reveal Godly information', but without any verifiable proof, such statements amount to nothing more than anecdotal evidence. Commented Jul 22, 2023 at 13:04
  • Moreover, the information these 'prophets' claim to receive from God is often vague, open to interpretation, or only recognized as 'prophetic' after the event has occurred. This is not evidence of divine communication, but rather an example of what skeptics call 'retroactive clairvoyance', or the tendency to interpret past events as having been predictable or expected. Commented Jul 22, 2023 at 13:05
  • IMHO, Both (2 Kings 8:11b) & (2 Kings 8:12b) strongly Suggest/Hint that Elisha was experiencing an episode of the 'Charismatic gift of discernment/prophesy' in action. (2 Kings 8:11b) ".... the man of God wept." & (2 Kings 8:12b)'.... “Because I know the evil that you will do to the sons of Israel: their strongholds you will set on fire, and their young men you will kill with the sword, and their little ones you will dash in pieces, and their women with child you will rip up.”' Commented Jul 22, 2023 at 13:32
  • this biblical tale clearly reflects the superstitions and magical thinking of its pre-scientific time. What sensible evidence demonstrates these "gifts" exist beyond the Bible's own assertions? Why do such fantastical powers elude scrutiny today? I weep and wave my hands predicting calamity for you too - will you accept that as prophecy? This passage shows how religion corrodes moral reasoning. Elisha has no ethical grievance against Hazael yet condemns him. Worst, the tale has Elisha facilitating Hazael's bloody campaign by anointing him king! Some "gift" indeed. Commented Jul 22, 2023 at 13:38

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