God told the prophet Elijah that Hazael of Syria would be God’s instrument to punish Israel for its Baal worship during the reign of Ahab (1 Kings 19:15-17). Elijah’s successor, Elisha, wept when he saw the suffering that the cruel Hazael would bring upon Israel (2 Kings 8:12-15). Hazael began his brutal attacks on Israel during the reign of Ahab’s son Joram (2 Kings 8:28-29). The attacks became more widespread during the reign of the next king, Jehu (2 Kings 10:31-33). They even spread into Judah, with attacks on coastal towns and on the capital, Jerusalem (2 Kings 12:17-18). Israel lost further territory to Hazael during the reign of Jehoahaz, and gained some relief only after Hazael’s death (2 Kings 13:1-3,22-25). Israel looked longingly for the day when it would see a just punishment poured out on Syria because of Hazael’s cruelty (Amos 1:3-5).

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