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Verse 4

And I will send a fire on the house of Hazael - The fire is probably at once material fire, whereby cities are burned in war, since he adds, “it shall devour the palaces of Benhadad,” and also stands as a symbol of all other severity in war as in the ancient proverb, “a fire is gone out from Heshbon, a flame from the city of Sihon; it hath consumed Ar of Moab, the lords of the high places of Arnon” Numbers 21:28; and again of the displeasure of Almighty God, as when He says, “a fire is kindled in Mine anger, and it shall burn unto the lowest hell” Deuteronomy 32:22. For the fire destroys not the natural buildings only, but “the house of Hazael,” that is, his whole family. In these prophecies, a sevenfold vengeance by fire is denounced against the seven people, an image of the eternal fire into which all iniquity shall be cast.

The palaces of Benhadad - Hazael, having murdered Benhadad his master and ascended his throne, called Iris son after his murdered master, probably in order to connect his own house with the ancient dynasty. Benhadad, that is, son or worshiper of the idol “Hadad,” or “the sun,” had been the name of two of the kings of the old dynasty. Benhadad III was at this time reigning. The prophet foretells the entire destruction of the dynasty founded in blood. The prophecy may have had a fulfillment in the destruction of the house of Hazael, with whose family Rezin, the king of Syria in the time of Ahaz, stands in no known relation. Defeats, such as those of Benhadad III by Jeroboam II who took Damascus itself, are often the close of an usurping dynasty. Having no claim to regard except success, failure vitiates its only title. The name Hazael, “whom God looked upon,” implies a sort of owning of the One God, like Tab-el, “God is good,” El-iada’, “whom God knoweth,” even amid the idolatry in the names, Tab-Rimmon, “good is Rimmon;” Hadad-ezer, “Hadad is help;” and Hadad, or Benhadad. Bad men abuse every creature, or ordinance, or appointment of God. It may be then that, as Sennacherib boasted, “am I now come up without the Lord against this land” to destroy it? the Lord said unto me, Go up against this land and destroy it” Isaiah 36:10; so Hazael made use of the prophecy of Elisha, to give himself out as the scourge of God, and thought of himself as one “on whom God looked.”

Knowledge of futurity is an awful gift. As “Omniscience alone can wield Omnipotence,” so superhuman knowledge needs superhuman gifts of wisdom and holiness. Hazael seemingly hardened himself in sin by aid of the knowledge which should have been his warning. Probably he came to Elisha, with the intent to murder his master already formed, in case he should not die a natural death; and Elisha read him to himself. But he very probably justified himself to himself in what he had already purposed to do, on the ground that Elisha had foretold to him that he should be king over 2 Kings 8:13, and, in his massacres of God’s people, gave himself out as being, what he was, the instrument of God. “Scourges of God” have known themselves to be what they were, although they themselves were not the less sinful, in sinfully accomplishing the Will of God (see the note at Hosea 1:4). We have heard of a Christian Emperor, who has often spoken of his “mission,” although his “mission” has already cost the shedding of much Christian blood.

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