2 Kings 8:12
And Hazael said, Why weeps my lord? And he answered, Because I know the evil that you will do to the children of Israel: their strong holds will you set on fire, and their young men will you slay with the sword, and will dash their children, and rip up their women with child.
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(12) The evil that thou wilt do unto the children of Israel.—Fulfilled in 2Kings 10:32-33; 2Kings 13:3-4. The cruelties enumerated here were the ordinary concomitants of warfare in that age. (Comp. Amos 1:3-4; Amos 1:13; Hosea 10:14; Hosea 13:16; 2Kings 15:16.)

Set on fire.—Literally, send into the fire (Judges 1:8).

Young men.Chosen warriors.

Dash.—Dash in pieces.

2 Kings 8:12. I know the evil thou wilt do unto the children of Israel — It was not in Hazael’s countenance that Elisha read what he would do; but God did at this time reveal it to him, and gave him such a clear and full view of it, that it greatly affected him. The sins of Israel provoked God to give them up into the hands of their cruel enemies: yet Elisha wept to think that ever Israelites should be so abused as he foresaw they would be by Hazael. For though he foretold, he did not desire, the woful day. Their strong holds wilt thou set on fire, &c. — See what havoc and destruction war makes! what destruction sin makes! and how the nature of man is changed by the fall, and stripped even of humanity itself! Wilt dash their children — That dashing young children against the stones was one piece of barbarous cruelty which the people of the East were apt to run into, in the prosecution of their wars, is plainly intimated Psalm 137:8-9. Nor was this inhuman practice out of use among nations pretending to more politeness; for, according to the remains of ancient fame, the Grecians, when they became masters of Troy, were so cruel as to throw Astyanax, Hector’s son, a child in his mother’s arms, headlong from one of the towers of the city. The ripping up of women with child is the highest degree of brutal cruelty; but there is reason to believe that Hazael, in his war with the Gileadites, (2 Kings 10:32-33,) verified this part of the prophet’s prediction concerning him; for, what Amos, complaining of his cruelty to this people, calls thrashing Gilead with thrashing instruments of iron, both the Seventy and Arabic versions read, He sawed the pregnant women with iron saws. — Le Clerc and Calmet.8:7-15 Among other changes of men's minds by affliction, it often gives other thoughts of God's ministers, and teaches to value the counsels and prayers of those whom they have hated and despised. It was not in Hazael's countenance that Elisha read what he would do, but God revealed it to him, and it fetched tears from his eyes: the more foresight men have, the more grief they are liable to. It is possible for a man, under the convictions and restraints of natural conscience, to express great abhorrence of a sin, yet afterwards to be reconciled to it. Those that are little and low in the world, cannot imagine how strong the temptations of power and prosperity are, which, if ever they arrive at, they will find how deceitful their hearts are, how much worse than they suspected. The devil ruins men, by saying they shall certainly recover and do well, so rocking them asleep in security. Hazael's false account was an injury to the king, who lost the benefit of the prophet's warning to prepare for death, and an injury to Elisha, who would be counted a false prophet. It is not certain that Hazael murdered his master, or if he caused his death it may have been without any design. But he was a dissembler, and afterwards proved a persecutor to Israel.The evil that thou wilt do - The intention is not to tax Hazael with special cruelty, but only to enumerate the ordinary horrors of war, as it was conducted among the Oriental nations of the time. Compare the marginal references. 11. 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 (2Ki 10:32; 13:3, 4, 22). So here was a double cause of his grief and tears, the evil of sin in Hazael, and the evil of suffering upon Israel. And Hazael said, Why weepeth my lord?.... Imagining it was for the death of Benhadad he had predicted, for which he could see no reason; of the title, "my lord", see 1 Kings 18:7.

and he answered, because I know the evil that thou wilt do unto the children of Israel; which he foresaw by a spirit of prophecy; and Israel being his own people, he sympathized in their calamities before they came:

their strong holds wilt thou set on fire; which should be taken by him, see 2 Kings 10:32

and their young men wilt thou slay with the sword; in battle:

and wilt dash their children; against rocks and stones, or stone walls, or upon the ground, floor, or pavement, as was usual in war (g), see Psalm 137:9,

and rip up their women with child: which was the height of barbarity and cruelty. Ben Gersom and Ben Melech interpret this of breaking down the walls of fortified cities, built strong, like hills and mountains; but this is supposed in the first clause.

(g) Vid. Homer. Iliad. 22. ver. 63, 64.

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.
12. and wilt dash their children] R.V. and wilt dash in pieces their little ones. We have no details of Hazael’s cruelty in the future, but hints of it are found. In 2 Kings 10:32 it is said ‘Hazael smote them in all the coasts of Israel’, and in 2 Kings 13:3 we read ‘the Lord delivered Israel into the hand of Hazael’, and in verse 22 of that chapter ‘Hazael king of Syria oppressed Israel all the days of Jehoahaz’. The special instances of cruelty mentioned in this verse were those perpetrated among all the Eastern nations of Hazael’s time, and examples are to be found in several places in Scripture. Cf. Isaiah 13:15-16; Hosea 10:14; Hosea 13:16; Nahum 3:10.Verse 12. - And Hazael said, Why weepeth my lord? While inwardly contemplating an act of audacious wickedness in defiance of the prophet's implied rebuke, Hazael preserves towards him outwardly an attitude of extreme deference and respect. "My lord" was the phrase with which slaves addressed their masters, and subjects their monarchs (see 2 Kings 5:3; 2 Kings 6:12, etc.). And he answered, Because I know the evil that thou wilt do unto the children of Israel: their strongholds 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. The prophet does not intend to tax Hazael with any special cruelty, he only means to say, "Thou wilt wage long and bloody wars with Israel, in which will occur all those customary horrors that make war so terrible - the burning of cities, the slaughter of the flower of the youth, the violent death of children, and even the massacre of women in a state of pregnancy. These horrors belonged, more or less, to all Oriental wars, and are touched on in Psalm 137:9; 2 Kings 15:16; Isaiah 13:16, 18; Hosea 10:14; Nahum 3:10; Amos 1:13, etc. The wars of Hazael with the Israelites are mentioned in 2 Kings 10:32, 33; 2 Kings 13:3-7; and Amos 1:3, 4. While he was relating this, the woman herself came into invoke the help of the king to recover her property, and was pointed out to the king by Gehazi as the very woman of whom he was speaking, which caused the king to be so interested in her favour, that after hearing her complaint he sent a chamberlain with her (saris as in 1 Kings 22:9), with instructions to procure for her not only the whole of her property, but the produce of the land during her absence. - For עזבה without mappiq, see Ewald, 247, d.
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