🔼The name Hazael: Summary
- God Has Seen
- From (1) the verb חזה (haza), to see or have [a] vision, and (2) the word אל ('el), God.
🔼The name Hazael in the Bible
There's only one Hazael (חזהאל) or Hazel (חזאל) in the Bible and he is quite a character. We hear first of Hazael right after the famous scene in which Elijah the Tishbite sees YHWH on the mountain, in the sound of a gentle blowing. The Lord asks the prophet what he's up to and Elijah vents his despondency concerning the fate of his fellow prophets. The Lord instructs the prophet Elijah to go to Damascus and anoint Hazel king of Aram (1 Kings 19:15), apparently as instrument of a mass carnage (1 Kings 19:17).
Elijah never seems to make it to Damascus, but his successor Elisha does. When word of Elisha's arrival in town reaches the incumbent and bed-ridden king Ben-hadad, the latter sends his servant Hazael over to inquire if he's ever going to recover. Elisha says he won't but instructs Hazael to say he will. He also reveals that Hazael will be king of Aram. Hazael goes back to his king, tells him he will recover, smothers him with a wet towel the next morning and usurps the throne (2 Kings 8:7-15).
A few years after that, king Ahaziah of Judah and king Joram of Israel engage king Hazael of Aram at the battle of Ramoth-gilead (2 Kings 8:28), which culminates in the death of both kings (by Jehu; 2 Kings 9:24 and 9:27). Hazael becomes the promised penal instrument of God's wrath, and begins to pick off bits and pieces of Israel (2 Kings 10:32). After he captures Gath he marches onto Jerusalem, but king Joash buys him off by giving him all the treasures he can find, including those of the temple of the Lord (2 Kings 12:17).
It's not clear of the Ark of the Covenant also changes hands but Hazael takes his spoils and abandons his campaign. He nevertheless continues harassing Israel until his death (2 Kings 13:3, 13:22). His son and successor Ben-hadad is not as great a warrior as his father, and king Jehoash recaptures all the cities Israel lost to Hazael (2 Kings 13:25).
Through the prophet Amos, the Lord published his displeasure with Hazael, saying that he would send fire upon the house of Hazael and consume the citadels of Ben-hadad (Amos 1:4).
Our name is spelled חזהאל (Hazael) in 2 Kings 8:8, 8:13, 8:15, 8:28, 8:29 and 2 Chronicles 22:6 and חזאל (Hazel) 1 Kings 19:15, 19:17, 2 Kings 8:9, 8:12, 9:14, 9:15, 10:32, 12:17, 12:18, 13:3, 13:22 and 13:24.
🔼Etymology of the name Hazael
The name Hazael consists of two elements, the final one being אל (El), either the prominent Canaanite deity whose name became applied to the God of Israel, or the common abbreviation of Elohim, the genus God:
In names אל ('el) usually refers to אלהים ('elohim), that is Elohim, or God, also known as אלה ('eloah). In English, the words 'God' and 'god' exclusively refer to the deity but in Hebrew the words אל ('l) and אלה ('lh) are far more common and may express approach and negation, acts of wailing and pointing, and may even mean oak or terebinth.
The first part of our name comes from the verb חזה (haza I), meaning to look or see:
The verb חזה (haza) means to see or behold. Noun חזה (hozeh) means seer or visionary. Nouns חזות (hazot), חזות (hazut), חזיון (hizzayon) and מחזה (mahazeh) mean vision, anything between the mere act of seeing to experiencing a prophetic apparition. The noun מחזה (meheza) literally describes a place or instrument of vision and is the word for window.
It may be that the verb חזה (haza) originated in the idea of being or looking forward, which would explain the noun חזה (hazeh), which describes the breast of an animal. It may also be that this noun derives from a second verb חזה (haza), to be in front.
For a meaning of the name Hazael, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads God Has Seen. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names proposes He Who Sees God. And BDB Theological Dictionary has El Sees.