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5.66 1 Kings -- Hazael of Aram

Elijah was commissioned to anoint three people:  Hazael over Aram, Jehu over Israel, and Elisha as prophet.  In actual fact, the Bible never records that Elijah ever anointed the two kings.  And he cast his mantle on Elisha.  Elisha prophesied to Hazael, and wept over him (2 Kings 8), but did not anoint him.  Elisha sent a junior prophet to anoint Jehu.
Even though it does not appear that God's command was literally carried out, the command is interesting in that it showed God's view of national leadership.  Instead of resting all authority in a single absolute king, God set up a two-leader structure.  Over against the political rulers, He maintained a voice in Israel, His own ambassador.  This was the office of the chief prophet, who was himself the leader of bands or schools of prophets.   While possessing no administrative authority (he was not an official advisor or a member of the "Cabinet"), the prophet had complete autonomy from the king, and the unique responsibility of speaking forth the words of God for the nation.  Unlike the judges of early days, who also served as God's chosen representatives, the prophets had great spiritual authority, but lacked the function of military leadership or governing power.  In the time of the kings, it was as if God split the anointing of the Spirit into two parts, prophet and king, and no man possessed both qualities.  We can almost trace in the Scriptures, in parallel with the chronology of the kings of Israel and Judah, a similar unofficial dynasty of prophets.  Even through the time of the Exile, God never left His people without a voice, without a living compass for guidance and correction.


The other notable thing about this command to go and anoint Hazael is that Elijah was told to anoint a foreigner!  We will follow Hazael's disastrous career later, but at this point it is sufficient to point out that God did not limit Himself to the borders of Israel, or to the Israelite race.  Aram had been under Israelite domination briefly -- David defeated Hadadezer and took his gold shields (2 Sam 8:7) -- but rose to become a regional power under Hazael in the 9th Century BC, ruling from the capital of Damascus.(Hazael reigned from c. 840-805 BC.)  There is no hint that the Arameans had any loyalty to Israel's God.  But God had an interest in Aram, particularly since it bordered Israel and her kings tended to expand southward.  The choosing of Hazael also set a precedent for God's later frequent use of foreign kings to accomplish His purposes of judgment or restoration (Nebuchadnezzar, Cyrus, Xerxes).

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