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Body:Melqart Stele of Ben-Hadad II: 845 BC

Contemporary with Ahab, Naaman, Elisha, Hazael 1 Kings 20,22; 2 Ki 5-8

Melqart-Stele of Ben-Hadad II: 845 BC

"The stele which Bir-Hadad,

son of 'Ezer, the Damascene,

son of the king of Aram,

erected to his Lord Melqart,

to whom he made a vow

and who heard his voice."

(Translation by Frank Cross in 2003 AD and Gotthard G. G. Reinhold in 1986 AD)

Ben-Hadad II erected the stele in 845 BC at Aleppo as an appeasement to his pagan god for divine assistance to defeat of Shalmaneser III in the Battle of Hamath II (845 BC) with Ben-Hadad II and 12 kings. Shalmaneser III, year 14.

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Digging up Bible stories!

Ben-Hadad II is mentioned many times in scripture and was contemporary with Ahab, Naaman, Hazael and Elisha.

"What we read in the book, we find in the ground"

See also: Chronology of 25 Samarian, Aramean and Assyrian Wars

Introduction:

1. The Melqart Stele of Ben-Hadad II was discovered in 1939 AD in Breij Syria, which is about 7 km north of Aleppo.

a. After careful analysis, the author has concluded that Ben-Hadad II created and erected the stele in 845 BC at Aleppo as an appeasement to his pagan god for divine assistance to to defeat of Shalmaneser III in the Battle of Hamath II (845 BC) with Ben-Hadad II and 12 kings. Shalmaneser III, year 14.

b. Both Ben-Hadad I and his son Ben-Hadad II were known by a dynastic name 'Ezer. Therefore, the creator of the stele is the son of 'Ezer, meaning that he was the son of Ben-Hadad-Ezer I.

c. The 4 line Aramaic inscription is etched into basalt.

d. It was discovered in secondary use in Roman Period walls at Breij.

e. The stele was likely originally erected at Arpad or Aleppo.

f. The Stele currectly resides in the Aleppo museum.

2. Hadadezer (Hadad-Ezer) is a dynastic name for all the kings of Aram:

a. The Bible refers to the king of Zobah as "Hadadezer" at the time of David many times in 1003-1001 BC when he defeated Aram:

1. "Then David defeated Hadadezer, the son of Rehob king of Zobah (Aram), as he went to restore his rule at the River." (2 Samuel 8:3)

2. "When the Arameans of Damascus came to help Hadadezer, king of Zobah, David killed 22,000 Arameans." (2 Samuel 8:5)

3. "King David also dedicated these to the LORD, with the silver and gold that he had dedicated from all the nations which he had subdued: from Aram and Moab and the sons of Ammon and the Philistines and Amalek, and from the spoil of Hadadezer, son of Rehob, king of Zobah." (2 Samuel 8:11-12)

4. "When the Arameans saw that they had been defeated by Israel, they sent messengers and brought out the Arameans who were beyond the River, with Shophach the commander of the army of Hadadezer leading them." (1 Chronicles 19:16)

b. Zobah and Aram cooperated in military campaigns at the time of David

c. It is likely that the name "Hadadezer" was adopted by the Arameans after David defeated them. It is also possible there was a merging of the two nations for a while.

d. The evidence supports the view that 'Ezer was both Ben-Hadad I and II:

e. We propose that "Ezer" was a dynastic name used by both Ben-Hadad I and II.

i. There no extant inscriptions referring to Ben-Hadad I. Perhaps one day we will find an inscription where Ben-Hadad I is also called 'Ezer.

ii. While this is an argument from lack of evidence, it clearly becomes a viable option.

iii. Bible-trashers once said that one king Jaban of Hazor was confused and conflated in the two King Jabins in the stories of Joshua and Deborah, only to discover that Jabin was a dynastic name used for the king of Hazor as far back as 1700 BC.

f. There are no known inscriptions or literary references to any son of Ben-Hadad II.

g. The Bible records how Hazael murdered Ben-Hadad II and became king in his place, with no mention of any other king or his coregent son, Ben-Hadad III. But we do have plenty of inscriptional evidence for the period when such a co-regency would be discussed but it isn't.

h. So we are left to weigh the lack of early inscriptional evidence where Ben-Hadad I is called EZER with the lack of later inscriptional evidence of any coregent son of Ben-Hadad II.

3. Direct, open, professional access to the stele that resides in the dark basement of the Aleppo museum has hindered proper study of this important inscription

a. Most of the conclusions and study have been based upon photographs and most of the photographs published are of low quality resolution.

b. The few who have had direct access to the stele have been limited to an hour in the Aleppo museum.

c. Some who have had direct access to the stele do not have sufficient experience and knowledge to make correct conclusions of what they are looking at.

d. It is simply unacceptable that the Aleppo museum has not allowed the stele to be sent to a modern scientific archeological lab in the Israel of the USA for proper study.

e. If ISIS destroys the museum, as they have done in so many other places, we will never have any closure or certainly about the inscription.

f. It's better for the Muslims of the Aleppo museum to let Israel study the stele so proper published studies can be made, than have their Muslim ISIS extremists put them out of business forever.

4. The Melqart Stele of Ben-Hadad II is a complex subject because the critical second line of the inscription is damaged which makes identification of which Ben-Hadad erected the stele difficult.

a. The author has concluded that the best and most reliable reading, based upon the remaining undamaged letters in line two are translated by Cross and Reinhold as: "Ben[bir]-Hadad, son of 'Ezer, the Damascene, son of the king of Aram".

The author has adopted 845 BC, as proposed by Cross and Reinhold for the creation of the stele.

However, the author has assigned the creation of the stele to Ben-Hadad II and not is coregent son, Ben-Hadad III as suggested by Cross and Reinhold.

5. Damage to the key line 2 of the stele makes the identification of the author difficult. Proposals for identity of the author of the stele include:

a. Ben-Hadad I: (900-860 BC) William Albright

b. Ben-Hadad II: Steven Rudd

c. Ben-Hadad III: Cross and Reinhold proposed new, previously unknown king of Aram who was coregent with his father Ben-Hadad II before the rise of Hazael in 841 BC

d. "With regard to Aram-Damascus, however, the new reading of line 2 strongly indicates that the stela is not related to any of the known kings of that southern Syrian state and cannot be used to reconstruct the royal succession of Damascus." (Ancient Damascus, Wayne T. Pitard, p144, 1987 AD)

e. Bordreuil and Teixidor: "Bir-Hadad the Rehobite". Bir-Hadad is king of Zobah, not Aram in Damascus.

5. The critical phrase at the center of the controversy about who created the stele is "son of 'Ezer" from line two.

a. Cross and Reinhold suggest that 'Ezer is Ben-Hadad II, which forces the stele to be created by his son, Ben-Hadad III.

b. Cross and Reinhold suggest that since Ben-Hadad II was sick at the end of his reign, it is natural for his son, Ben-Hadad III to be coregent with his father around 845 BC.

c. The key evidence to support the position of Cross and Reinhold are the series of references to Ben-Hadad II as "Hadad-Ezer" in the inscriptions of Shalmaneser III (858-824 BC). For example, the Khurh Monolith of Shalmaneser III documents the Battle of Qarqar (853 BC) were an allegiance of 12 kings fought against Shalmaneser. The Stele quantifies the armies: "1,200 chariots, 1,200 cavalry, 20,000 soldiers, of Hadad-ezer, of Aram ... 10,000 soldiers of Ahab, the Israelite".

i. Cross and Reinhold believe that "Ezer" is the personal name for Ben-Hadad II.

ii. Since we are certain that the creator of the stele is the SON of Hadad-ezer, he must be the son of Ben-Hadad II. (as their flawed logic goes)

iii. To complicate matters, we can also be certain from the inscriptions of Shalmaneser III that Ben-Hadad II was called "Hadad-ezer of Aram".

iv. This seemingly rock solid case has misled Cross and Reinhold to invent a new king of Aram who is the son of Ben-Hadad II, called Ben-Hadad III.

v. While it is reasonable for them to suggest that the father (Ben-Hadad II) and son (Ben-Hadad III - erector of the stele) were coregent, it is overcomplicated and unnecessary because we propose that 'Ezer was a dynastic name used by both Ben-Hadad II and his father Ben-Hadad I.

d. "The second line of this text identifies its Bir-Hadad as a son of the Aramaean king Adad-'Idri. This king is known here only by his second name 'Ezer. Given the appropriate phonetic shifts, 'Idri in Akkadian equals 'Ezer in Aramaic and Hebrew. This king, Adad- 'Idri or 'Ezer, was the Aramaean king who led the western coalition of kings and armies in battle against Shalmaneser III of Assyria at Qarqar in Syria in 853 B.C. In the period after the battle of Qarqar, this father-and-son pair must have shared power on the throne of Damascus. Bir-Hadad the son may possibly have taken over the leadership of the army at that time. He was probably crown prince of the royal house of Damascus before he was raised to the status of coregent and king, ca. 845 B.C. or slightly earlier. Adad-'Idri is commonly identified as Ben Hadad I1 in the series of kings of Damascus known by that name from the Bible. Since we are now inserting his son in that line of kings as another Ben Hadad, the Bir/Ben Hadad who inscribed this stele should be indentified as Ben Hadad III. The later Ben Hadad of the Bible, the son of Hazael, should now be moved from Ben Hadad III to Ben Hadad IV. It is possible to interpret a statement in the annals of Shalmaneser III of Assyria in such a way as to indicate that Adad-'Idri/Ben Hadad II (if they are identical), against whom the Assyrians fought so frequently, died in battle in 845 B.C. and therefore did not live on as late as 842/841, as previously held. If that was the case, then it would have been natural for his son, the Bir-Hadad of the stele, to have accompanied his father into that battle. If Adad-'Idri was killed at that time, it is possible that Bir-Hadad may have been wounded. This Bir-Hadad of the stele, then, would be the Ben Hadad that we encounter in 2 Kgs 8 as lying sick, or still convalescing, from his wounds on the occasion when the usurper Hazael entered and murdered him (in 842/841 B.C.). The national and personal reverses experienced by Bir-Hadad (Ben Hadad III) played into the hands of Hazael. On the other hand, if the Ben Hadad of 2 Kgs 8 is to be identified with Adad-'Idri/Ben Hadad II, as the king whom Hazael murdered (vs. 15), then one might also expect that his son, the Bir- Hadad of the stele, met a similar fate at the hands of Hazael. (The Bir-Hadad stele and the biblical kings of Aram, Gotthard G. G. Reinhold, Andrews University Seminary Studies, Vol. 24, No. 2, p115-126, 1986 AD)

e. Cross and Reinhold, therefore propose a modified sequence of Aram kings:

Traditional as accepted by Steven Rudd)

Modified as proposed by Cross and Reinhold

Ben-Hadad I (Ezer, son of Tabrimmon, the son of Hezion) 900-860 BC

Ben-Hadad I (son of Tabraman) ca. 885-870

Ben-Hadad II (Hadad-ezer) ca. 860-841 BC

Ben-Hadad II (Hadad-'ior) ca. 870-844

Ben-Hadad III (son of 'Ior) coregent (?) 845-844

Hazael 841-800 BC

Haza'el ("son of nobody") 844-796

Ben-Hadad III (Mar'i) 800-770 BC

Ben-Hadad IV (Mar'i) 796-?

I. The pagan idol god Hadad (Adad)

Adad-nirari III (king of Assyria), Ben-Hadad I,II,III (king of Aram at Damascus) were all named after the SAME PAGAN GOD: HADAD

Adad and Hadad are two different spellings of the same "storm god"

Adad-nirari III is literally "Adad is my helper"

Ben-Hadad is literally "son of Hadad"

We find the same thing true with all the Babylonian kings being named after idol gods Bel or Nebo. (Nebuchadnezzar)

"Adad (Addu, Akkadian), Hadda/i/u (West Semetic), storm-god. may also stand for Baal" (The Amarna Letters, W. L. Moran, p 386, 1992 AD)

"Hadad is the name under which the ancient Near Eastern storm god was known among various groups in the Mesopotamian and Syrian world. The god is also mentioned in a number of biblical texts and names. In this article, the biblical material will be dealt with in conjunction with the epigraphic data from the Near East. Hadad makes his first appearance as Adad in Old Akkadian texts, and in this guise he is important in the Mesopotamian world through the neo-Assyrian and neo-Babylonian periods. Hadad in all likelihood means 'thunderer' and as the storm-god he brings both fertility through abundant rains and destruction through fierce winds and storms. His voice (rigmu) can be a sign of both blessing and curse." (Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, Hadad, 1999 AD)

II. About the Melqart Stele of Ben-Hadad II: 845 BC

1. "Royal inscriptions of the ninth century B. C. from Palestine and Syria have not been discovered hitherto in any considerable number. In fact, only two steles with royal inscriptions of this century have yet become known, the famous Mesha Stone, erected by Mesha of Moab (II Kings 3: 4) about 830 B. C., and the stele of Kilamuwa king of Sham'al (Zencirli) in northern Syria, carved about the same time or a little later. The latter stele is in standard Canaanite (Phoenician); the former is in a dialect related to the language of northern Israel as we know it from the Ostraca of Samaria, but not identical with it. The addition of a new inscribed stele to the two already known, is accordingly a matter of unusual archaeological interest. Moreover, it is the first inscribed monument of significance found bearing the name of a king of Damascus (Aram) . Since the kings of Damascus were hereditary foes of Israel for a century and a half, the absence of such documents has seriously embarrassed historians.' Quite aside from its direct historical significance is the fact that it must be nearly a century older than the next oldest Aramaic inscription of any length, the stele of Zakir king of Hamath and Lu'ash, which was probably set up about 775 B. C. It is not the oldest Aramaic inscription now known, since that distinction goes to a short epigraph from Gozan (Tell Halaf) , which was published only two years ago." (A Votive Stele Erected by Ben-Hadad I of Damascus to the God Melcarth, William Albright, BASOR 87, p23-29, 1942 AD)

2. "The Aramaic text from a stele that was found just north of Aleppo in Syria was first published by M. Dunand in 1939. The rather standard dedicatory contents of this text refer to the fact that the stele was erected by a king named Bir-Hadad in honor of the god Melqart who heard and answered his petition. The main point about this text which has not been clear is the identity of this Bir- Hadad. His name was incised at the end of the first line and the beginning of the second line and it can be read quite clearly. It is also the direct equivalent of Hebrew Ben Hadad. Problems arise at this point, however, because there are at least three and possibly four different Aramean kings mentioned in 1 and 2 Kings who bore this name. The question then is, Which one of these Ben Hadads erected this stele? If this text was whole and relatively undamaged, the making of such an identification probably would not have been very difficult. The rest of the second line went on to give some of the king's identifying characteristics or titles, but at this crucial juncture, however, the stone is badly damaged and the text is extremely difficult to read. As a result, a large number of different readings have been offered for the rest of this line, and thus the identifications made for the king mentioned here have varied considerably." (The Bir-Hadad stele and the biblical kings of Aram, Gotthard G. G. Reinhold, Andrews University Seminary Studies, Vol. 24, No. 2, p115, 1986 AD)

3. "The Bir-Hadad or Melqart Stela, a basalt monument found in the late 1930s at the village of Bureij, 7 km. north of Aleppo, has played a significant part in the attempt to reconstruct the history of Aram-Damascus during the ninth century. The stela, slightly more than a meter in height, is carved with a relief representation of the god Melqart, surmounting a four-line Aramaic inscription (one letter on a fifth), which identifies the donor of the monument as a certain Bir-Hadad. It was found, out of its original context, incorporated into the remains of some Roman Period walls at Bureij. Since there is no evidence of Iron Age occupation around Bureij, the stone was probably brought in from someplace nearby during the Roman period, when the settlement there was built. It is possible that the original location of the stela was Aleppo. Although the inscription is short and stereotypical in form, it has been the center of enormous controversy since its discovery. The significance of the inscription is related to the problem of the identity of the Bir-Hadad who erected the stela. Unfortunately, the one part of the inscription which has been badly effaced is the left half of line 2, which gives the patro-nymic of Bir-Hadad." (Ancient Damascus, Wayne T. Pitard, p138, 1987 AD)

III. Translations of Melqart Stele of Ben-Hadad II:

Because the second line is badly damaged at the critical section that identifies who this "Bir-Hadad" is the "son of", there have been a wide range of translations which lead to widely divergent conclusions.

The author, Steven Rudd, has adopted the translation of Cross and Reinhold and their date of 845 BC for the creation of the stele.

However, the author has assigned the creation of the stele to Ben-Hadad II and not his supposed coregent son, Ben-Hadad III as suggested by Cross and Reinhold.

ALBRIGHT: "The stele which Bir-Hadad, son of Tab-Ramman, son of Hadyan, king of Aram, set up for his lord Milqart, (the stele) which he vowed to him when (lit., and) he harkened to his voice." (A Votive Stele Erected by Ben-Hadad I of Damascus to the God Melcarth, William Albright, BASOR 87, p23-29, 1942 AD)

Albright studied photographs of the stele and identified the creator of the stele as Ben-Hadad I (900-860 BC) who cooperated with ASA in 2 Chron 16:2-4; 1 Ki 15:18-20.

Albright translated the stele to exactly conform with the Bible reading in 1 Kings 15:18

"Then Asa took all the silver and the gold which were left in the treasuries of the house of the Lord and the treasuries of the king's house, and delivered them into the hand of his servants. And King Asa sent them to Ben-hadad the son of Tabrimmon, the son of Hezion, king of Aram, who lived in Damascus, saying," (1 Kings 15:18)

There is almost universal agreement that Albright's translation, as exciting as it is by directly confirming 1 Kings 15:18, is wrong.

CROSS and REINHOLD: "The stele which Bir-Hadad, son of 'Ezer, the Damascene, son of the king of Aram, erected to his Lord Melqart, to whom he made a vow and who heard his voice."

The author, Steven Rudd, has adopted this translation as correct.

Both Cross and Reinhold render the identical translations:

(The Bir-Hadad stele and the biblical kings of Aram, Gotthard G. G. Reinhold, Andrews University Seminary Studies, Vol. 24, No. 2, p115-126, 1986 AD)

(Melqart Stele of Ben-Hadad II, Translation by Frank Cross, Leaves from an Epigraher's notebook, p173, 2003 AD)

Reinhold suggests the Khurh Monolith of Shalmaneser III describes how Ben-Hadad II was killed "violently", when in fact it does not. What the stele DOES say is, "I battled with them (the allegiance of 12 kings). From Karkar, as far as the city of Gilzau, I routed them. 14,000 of their warriors I slew with the sword." So Reinhold's key point that the stele describes the death of Ben-Hadad II is inferential.

BORDREUIL and TEIXIDOR: "Bir-Hadad, son of Ezra, king, the Rehobite, king of Aram His Lord Melqart, vaulted him and (this one) listened his voice." (Nouvel examen de l'inscription de Bar-Hadad", P. Bordreuil, J. Teixidor, J., Aula Orientalis, vol. 1, pp. 73-91, 1983 AD)

This reading has been generally rejected because, in spite of the fact these two had direct access to the stele, they erred on several counts in correctly transcribing the letters.

"The heh is badly damaged, but still quite discernible (particularly to the touch). The right-hand vertical stroke is well preserved, and two of the three horizontals can be made out. The horizontals do not meet to form a triangle and cannot be traced to the right of the vertical. Thus, the letter cannot be an "alep as proposed by Bordreuil and Teixidor. The mem is clear, although the head has been slightly damaged. Bordreuil and Teixido have mistaken the left downstroke of the head of the mem for a lamed. The small size of this stroke when compared to the other lameds in the inscription shows clearly that it belongs to the mem." (Ancient Damascus, Wayne T. Pitard, p142, 1987 AD)

"In 1983 the first study based on a direct examination of the stela since that of Dunand appeared. In their article, Bordreuil and Teixidor presented the following reading: 'Bir-Hadad, son of Ezra, king, the Rehobite, king of Aram'. Bordreuil and Teixidor connect Bir-Hadad not with Aram- Damascus, but rather with the kingdom of Zobah, by noting the dynastic title 'son of Rehob', found in 2 Sam 8:3 and here in their reading."

PITARD: "Bin-Hadad son of Attar-hamek" (king of Arpad). "With regard to Aram-Damascus, however, the new reading of line 2 strongly indicates that the stela is not related to any of the known kings of that southern Syrian state and cannot be used to reconstruct the royal succession of Damascus." (Ancient Damascus, Wayne T. Pitard, p144, 1987 AD)

a. "Line 2. The patronymic 'zr is clear, I believe. The attempt to read 'tr posits a taw which has the wrong slant for this period (if one compares the photograph, not the drawings) and is too short. Pitard misdraws the form, including as part of the tail the top of the lamed on the line below; Puech's drawing is also inaccurate, as a comparison with Pitard's excellent photograph makes evident." (Melqart Stele of Ben-Hadad II, Translation by Frank Cross, Leaves from an Epigraher's notebook, p174, 2003 AD)

b. "Pitard, followed by Puech reads 'tr-; I think zayin is certain. The element hmk proposed by Pitard I find implausible in a personal name. Puech, who reads 'trsmk, has presented us with a good name; alas, -smk does not fit the traces. I still should argue that we can read in line 2: br 'zr[ ]ms[. We take the Bir-Hadad of the inscription to be the son and crown-prince or coregent of (Hadad-)Idri ('Ior) , who flourished c. 870-842 BCE." (Melqart Stele of Ben-Hadad II, Translation by Frank Cross, Leaves from an Epigraher's notebook, p174, fn19, 2003 AD)

IV. Ben-Hadad II in the Bible:

1. 857 BC: Siege of Samaria: Ahab captures and releases Ben-Hadad II: 1 Kings 20:1-43

a. "Now Ben-hadad king of Aram gathered all his army, and there were thirty-two kings with him, and horses and chariots. And he went up and besieged Samaria and fought against it. Then he sent messengers to the city to Ahab king of Israel and said to him, "Thus says Ben-hadad, 'Your silver and your gold are mine; your most beautiful wives and children are also mine.' " The king of Israel replied, "It is according to your word, my lord, O king; I am yours, and all that I have." Then the messengers returned and said, "Thus says Ben-hadad, 'Surely, I sent to you saying, "You shall give me your silver and your gold and your wives and your children," but about this time tomorrow I will send my servants to you, and they will search your house and the houses of your servants; and whatever is desirable in your eyes, they will take in their hand and carry away.' " Then the king of Israel called all the elders of the land and said, "Please observe and see how this man is looking for trouble; for he sent to me for my wives and my children and my silver and my gold, and I did not refuse him." All the elders and all the people said to him, "Do not listen or consent." So he said to the messengers of Ben-hadad, "Tell my lord the king, 'All that you sent for to your servant at the first I will do, but this thing I cannot do.' " And the messengers departed and brought him word again. Ben-hadad sent to him and said, "May the gods do so to me and more also, if the dust of Samaria will suffice for handfuls for all the people who follow me." Then the king of Israel replied, "Tell him, 'Let not him who girds on his armor boast like him who takes it off.' " When Ben-hadad heard this message, as he was drinking with the kings in the temporary shelters, he said to his servants, "Station yourselves." So they stationed themselves against the city. Now behold, a prophet approached Ahab king of Israel and said, "Thus says the Lord, 'Have you seen all this great multitude? Behold, I will deliver them into your hand today, and you shall know that I am the Lord.' " Ahab said, "By whom?" So he said, "Thus says the Lord, 'By the young men of the rulers of the provinces.' " Then he said, "Who shall begin the battle?" And he answered, "You." Then he mustered the young men of the rulers of the provinces, and there were 232; and after them he mustered all the people, even all the sons of Israel, 7,000. They went out at noon, while Ben-hadad was drinking himself drunk in the temporary shelters with the thirty-two kings who helped him. The young men of the rulers of the provinces went out first; and Ben-hadad sent out and they told him, saying, "Men have come out from Samaria." Then he said, "If they have come out for peace, take them alive; or if they have come out for war, take them alive." So these went out from the city, the young men of the rulers of the provinces, and the army which followed them. They killed each his man; and the Arameans fled and Israel pursued them, and Ben-hadad king of Aram escaped on a horse with horsemen. The king of Israel went out and struck the horses and chariots, and killed the Arameans with a great slaughter. Then the prophet came near to the king of Israel and said to him, "Go, strengthen yourself and observe and see what you have to do; for at the turn of the year the king of Aram will come up against you." Now the servants of the king of Aram said to him, "Their gods are gods of the mountains, therefore they were stronger than we; but rather let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we will be stronger than they. "Do this thing: remove the kings, each from his place, and put captains in their place, and muster an army like the army that you have lost, horse for horse, and chariot for chariot. Then we will fight against them in the plain, and surely we will be stronger than they." And he listened to their voice and did so. At the turn of the year, Ben-hadad mustered the Arameans and went up to Aphek to fight against Israel. The sons of Israel were mustered and were provisioned and went to meet them; and the sons of Israel camped before them like two little flocks of goats, but the Arameans filled the country. Then a man of God came near and spoke to the king of Israel and said, "Thus says the Lord, 'Because the Arameans have said, "The Lord is a god of the mountains, but He is not a god of the valleys," therefore I will give all this great multitude into your hand, and you shall know that I am the Lord.' " So they camped one over against the other seven days. And on the seventh day the battle was joined, and the sons of Israel killed of the Arameans 100,000 foot soldiers in one day. But the rest fled to Aphek into the city, and the wall fell on 27,000 men who were left. And Ben-hadad fled and came into the city into an inner chamber. His servants said to him, "Behold now, we have heard that the kings of the house of Israel are merciful kings, please let us put sackcloth on our loins and ropes on our heads, and go out to the king of Israel; perhaps he will save your life." So they girded sackcloth on their loins and put ropes on their heads, and came to the king of Israel and said, "Your servant Ben-hadad says, 'Please let me live.' " And he said, "Is he still alive? He is my brother." Now the men took this as an omen, and quickly catching his word said, "Your brother Ben-hadad." Then he said, "Go, bring him." Then Ben-hadad came out to him, and he took him up into the chariot. Ben-hadad said to him, "The cities which my father took from your father I will restore, and you shall make streets for yourself in Damascus, as my father made in Samaria." Ahab said, "And I will let you go with this covenant." So he made a covenant with him and let him go. Now a certain man of the sons of the prophets said to another by the word of the Lord, "Please strike me." But the man refused to strike him. Then he said to him, "Because you have not listened to the voice of the Lord, behold, as soon as you have departed from me, a lion will kill you." And as soon as he had departed from him a lion found him and killed him. Then he found another man and said, "Please strike me." And the man struck him, wounding him. So the prophet departed and waited for the king by the way, and disguised himself with a bandage over his eyes. As the king passed by, he cried to the king and said, "Your servant went out into the midst of the battle; and behold, a man turned aside and brought a man to me and said, 'Guard this man; if for any reason he is missing, then your life shall be for his life, or else you shall pay a talent of silver.' "While your servant was busy here and there, he was gone." And the king of Israel said to him, "So shall your judgment be; you yourself have decided it." Then he hastily took the bandage away from his eyes, and the king of Israel recognized him that he was of the prophets. He said to him, "Thus says the Lord, 'Because you have let go out of your hand the man whom I had devoted to destruction, therefore your life shall go for his life, and your people for his people.' " So the king of Israel went to his house sullen and vexed, and came to Samaria." (1 Kings 20:1-43)

2. 854 BC: Naaman, the commander of Ben-Hadad II, is healed by Elisha: 2 Kings 5:1-14

a. "Now Naaman, captain of the army of the king of Aram, was a great man with his master, and highly respected, because by him the Lord had given victory to Aram. The man was also a valiant warrior, but he was a leper. Now the Arameans had gone out in bands and had taken captive a little girl from the land of Israel; and she waited on Naaman's wife. She said to her mistress, "I wish that my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! Then he would cure him of his leprosy." Naaman went in and told his master, saying, "Thus and thus spoke the girl who is from the land of Israel." Then the king of Aram said, "Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel." He departed and took with him ten talents of silver and six thousand shekels of gold and ten changes of clothes. He brought the letter to the king of Israel, saying, "And now as this letter comes to you, behold, I have sent Naaman my servant to you, that you may cure him of his leprosy." When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, "Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man is sending word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? But consider now, and see how he is seeking a quarrel against me." It happened when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, that he sent word to the king, saying, "Why have you torn your clothes? Now let him come to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel." So Naaman came with his horses and his chariots and stood at the doorway of the house of Elisha. Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, "Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh will be restored to you and you will be clean." But Naaman was furious and went away and said, "Behold, I thought, 'He will surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper.' "Are not Abanah and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?" So he turned and went away in a rage. Then his servants came near and spoke to him and said, "My father, had the prophet told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, 'Wash, and be clean'?" So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child and he was clean." (2 Kings 5:1-14)

3. 853 BC: Battle of Ramoth-gilead I Ahab killed three years later by Ben-Hadad II: 1 Kings 22:1-40

a. "Three years passed without war between Aram and Israel. In the third year Jehoshaphat the king of Judah came down to the king of Israel. Now the king of Israel said to his servants, "Do you know that Ramoth-gilead belongs to us, and we are still doing nothing to take it out of the hand of the king of Aram?" And he said to Jehoshaphat, "Will you go with me to battle at Ramoth-gilead?" And Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, "I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses." Moreover, Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, "Please inquire first for the word of the Lord." Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said to them, "Shall I go against Ramoth-gilead to battle or shall I refrain?" And they said, "Go up, for the Lord will give it into the hand of the king." But Jehoshaphat said, "Is there not yet a prophet of the Lord here that we may inquire of him?" The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, "There is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the Lord, but I hate him, because he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil. He is Micaiah son of Imlah." But Jehoshaphat said, "Let not the king say so." Then the king of Israel called an officer and said, "Bring quickly Micaiah son of Imlah." Now the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah were sitting each on his throne, arrayed in their robes, at the threshing floor at the entrance of the gate of Samaria; and all the prophets were prophesying before them. Then Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah made horns of iron for himself and said, "Thus says the Lord, 'With these you will gore the Arameans until they are consumed.' " All the prophets were prophesying thus, saying, "Go up to Ramoth-gilead and prosper, for the Lord will give it into the hand of the king." Then the messenger who went to summon Micaiah spoke to him saying, "Behold now, the words of the prophets are uniformly favorable to the king. Please let your word be like the word of one of them, and speak favorably." But Micaiah said, "As the Lord lives, what the Lord says to me, that I shall speak." When he came to the king, the king said to him, "Micaiah, shall we go to Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall we refrain?" And he answered him, "Go up and succeed, and the Lord will give it into the hand of the king." Then the king said to him, "How many times must I adjure you to speak to me nothing but the truth in the name of the Lord?" So he said, "I saw all Israel Scattered on the mountains, Like sheep which have no shepherd. And the Lord said, 'These have no master. Let each of them return to his house in peace.' " Then the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, "Did I not tell you that he would not prophesy good concerning me, but evil?" Micaiah said, "Therefore, hear the word of the Lord. I saw the Lord sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by Him on His right and on His left. "The Lord said, 'Who will entice Ahab to go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?' And one said this while another said that. "Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord and said, 'I will entice him.' "The Lord said to him, 'How?' And he said, 'I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.' Then He said, 'You are to entice him and also prevail. Go and do so.' "Now therefore, behold, the Lord has put a deceiving spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets; and the Lord has proclaimed disaster against you." Then Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah came near and struck Micaiah on the cheek and said, "How did the Spirit of the Lord pass from me to speak to you?" Micaiah said, "Behold, you shall see on that day when you enter an inner room to hide yourself." Then the king of Israel said, "Take Micaiah and return him to Amon the governor of the city and to Joash the king's son; and say, 'Thus says the king, "Put this man in prison and feed him sparingly with bread and water until I return safely." ' " Micaiah said, "If you indeed return safely the Lord has not spoken by me." And he said, "Listen, all you people." So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah went up against Ramoth-gilead. The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, "I will disguise myself and go into the battle, but you put on your robes." So the king of Israel disguised himself and went into the battle. Now the king of Aram had commanded the thirty-two captains of his chariots, saying, "Do not fight with small or great, but with the king of Israel alone." So when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, they said, "Surely it is the king of Israel," and they turned aside to fight against him, and Jehoshaphat cried out. When the captains of the chariots saw that it was not the king of Israel, they turned back from pursuing him. Now a certain man drew his bow at random and struck the king of Israel in a joint of the armor. So he said to the driver of his chariot, "Turn around and take me out of the fight; for I am severely wounded." The battle raged that day, and the king was propped up in his chariot in front of the Arameans, and died at evening, and the blood from the wound ran into the bottom of the chariot. Then a cry passed throughout the army close to sunset, saying, "Every man to his city and every man to his country." So the king died and was brought to Samaria, and they buried the king in Samaria. They washed the chariot by the pool of Samaria, and the dogs licked up his blood (now the harlots bathed themselves there), according to the word of the Lord which He spoke. Now the rest of the acts of Ahab and all that he did and the ivory house which he built and all the cities which he built, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel? So Ahab slept with his fathers, and Ahaziah his son became king in his place." (1 Kings 22:1-40)

4. 850 BC: Battle of Dothan Solders of Ben-Hadad II are blinded, captured by Elijah and released: (2 Kings 6:8-23)

a. "Now the king of Aram was warring against Israel; and he counseled with his servants saying, "In such and such a place shall be my camp." The man of God sent word to the king of Israel saying, "Beware that you do not pass this place, for the Arameans are coming down there." The king of Israel sent to the place about which the man of God had told him; thus he warned him, so that he guarded himself there, more than once or twice. Now the heart of the king of Aram was enraged over this thing; and he called his servants and said to them, "Will you tell me which of us is for the king of Israel?" One of his servants said, "No, my lord, O king; but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the words that you speak in your bedroom." So he said, "Go and see where he is, that I may send and take him." And it was told him, saying, "Behold, he is in Dothan." He sent horses and chariots and a great army there, and they came by night and surrounded the city. Now when the attendant of the man of God had risen early and gone out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was circling the city. And his servant said to him, "Alas, my master! What shall we do?" So he answered, "Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them." Then Elisha prayed and said, "O Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see." And the Lord opened the servant's eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. When they came down to him, Elisha prayed to the Lord and said, "Strike this people with blindness, I pray." So He struck them with blindness according to the word of Elisha. Then Elisha said to them, "This is not the way, nor is this the city; follow me and I will bring you to the man whom you seek." And he brought them to Samaria. When they had come into Samaria, Elisha said, "O Lord, open the eyes of these men, that they may see." So the Lord opened their eyes and they saw; and behold, they were in the midst of Samaria. Then the king of Israel when he saw them, said to Elisha, "My father, shall I kill them? Shall I kill them?" He answered, "You shall not kill them. Would you kill those you have taken captive with your sword and with your bow? Set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink and go to their master." So he prepared a great feast for them; and when they had eaten and drunk he sent them away, and they went to their master. And the marauding bands of Arameans did not come again into the land of Israel." (2 Kings 6:8-23)

5. 845 BC: Melqart Stele erected near Aleppo: Ben-Hadad II and 11 other kings attempt to defeat of Shalmaneser III in the Battle of Hamath II (845 BC) with Ben-Hadad II and 12 kings. Shalmaneser III, year 14.

6. 845 BC: Battle of Hamath II: Composite text of 3 Shalmaneser III inscriptions:

a. 945 BC: "In the fourteenth year of my reign ... I crossed the Euphrates." (Black Obelisk) ... "in flood with 120,000 troops. At that time Hadad-ezer (Adad-idri), the Damascene, (and) Irhulënu, the Hamatite, together with twelve kings on the shore of the sea, above and below, mustered their troops which were too numerous to be counted." (Twin Bulls) ... "They attacked me, I fought with them, (and) defeated them. I took away their chariotry, cavalry, (and) military equipment. To save their lives they ran away." (Marble Tablets)

b. Notice that Shalmaneser III says "THEY ATTACKED ME". This shows that the Melqart Stele was set up as a defensive "talisman" against Shalmaneser III before he got closer to Hamath.

7. 842 BC: Siege of Samaria II Ben Hadad II sends his entire army to siege the city of Samaria and are thwarted: (2 Kings 6:24-7:20)

a. "Now it came about after this, that Ben-hadad king of Aram gathered all his army and went up and besieged Samaria. There was a great famine in Samaria; and behold, they besieged it, until a donkey's head was sold for eighty shekels of silver, and a fourth of a kab of dove's dung for five shekels of silver. As the king of Israel was passing by on the wall a woman cried out to him, saying, "Help, my lord, O king!" He said, "If the Lord does not help you, from where shall I help you? From the threshing floor, or from the wine press?" And the king said to her, "What is the matter with you?" And she answered, "This woman said to me, 'Give your son that we may eat him today, and we will eat my son tomorrow.' "So we boiled my son and ate him; and I said to her on the next day, 'Give your son, that we may eat him'; but she has hidden her son." When the king heard the words of the woman, he tore his clothes-now he was passing by on the wall-and the people looked, and behold, he had sackcloth beneath on his body. Then he said, "May God do so to me and more also, if the head of Elisha the son of Shaphat remains on him today." Now Elisha was sitting in his house, and the elders were sitting with him. And the king sent a man from his presence; but before the messenger came to him, he said to the elders, "Do you see how this son of a murderer has sent to take away my head? Look, when the messenger comes, shut the door and hold the door shut against him. Is not the sound of his master's feet behind him?" While he was still talking with them, behold, the messenger came down to him and he said, "Behold, this evil is from the Lord; why should I wait for the Lord any longer?" Then Elisha said, "Listen to the word of the Lord; thus says the Lord, 'Tomorrow about this time a measure of fine flour will be sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, in the gate of Samaria.' " The royal officer on whose hand the king was leaning answered the man of God and said, "Behold, if the Lord should make windows in heaven, could this thing be?" Then he said, "Behold, you will see it with your own eyes, but you will not eat of it." Now there were four leprous men at the entrance of the gate; and they said to one another, "Why do we sit here until we die? "If we say, 'We will enter the city,' then the famine is in the city and we will die there; and if we sit here, we die also. Now therefore come, and let us go over to the camp of the Arameans. If they spare us, we will live; and if they kill us, we will but die." They arose at twilight to go to the camp of the Arameans; when they came to the outskirts of the camp of the Arameans, behold, there was no one there. For the Lord had caused the army of the Arameans to hear a sound of chariots and a sound of horses, even the sound of a great army, so that they said to one another, "Behold, the king of Israel has hired against us the kings of the Hittites and the kings of the Egyptians, to come upon us." Therefore they arose and fled in the twilight, and left their tents and their horses and their donkeys, even the camp just as it was, and fled for their life. When these lepers came to the outskirts of the camp, they entered one tent and ate and drank, and carried from there silver and gold and clothes, and went and hid them; and they returned and entered another tent and carried from there also, and went and hid them. Then they said to one another, "We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news, but we are keeping silent; if we wait until morning light, punishment will overtake us. Now therefore come, let us go and tell the king's household." So they came and called to the gatekeepers of the city, and they told them, saying, "We came to the camp of the Arameans, and behold, there was no one there, nor the voice of man, only the horses tied and the donkeys tied, and the tents just as they were." The gatekeepers called and told it within the king's household. Then the king arose in the night and said to his servants, "I will now tell you what the Arameans have done to us. They know that we are hungry; therefore they have gone from the camp to hide themselves in the field, saying, 'When they come out of the city, we will capture them alive and get into the city.' " One of his servants said, "Please, let some men take five of the horses which remain, which are left in the city. Behold, they will be in any case like all the multitude of Israel who are left in it; behold, they will be in any case like all the multitude of Israel who have already perished, so let us send and see." They took therefore two chariots with horses, and the king sent after the army of the Arameans, saying, "Go and see." They went after them to the Jordan, and behold, all the way was full of clothes and equipment which the Arameans had thrown away in their haste. Then the messengers returned and told the king. So the people went out and plundered the camp of the Arameans. Then a measure of fine flour was sold for a shekel and two measures of barley for a shekel, according to the word of the Lord. Now the king appointed the royal officer on whose hand he leaned to have charge of the gate; but the people trampled on him at the gate, and he died just as the man of God had said, who spoke when the king came down to him. It happened just as the man of God had spoken to the king, saying, "Two measures of barley for a shekel and a measure of fine flour for a shekel, will be sold tomorrow about this time at the gate of Samaria." Then the royal officer answered the man of God and said, "Now behold, if the Lord should make windows in heaven, could such a thing be?" And he said, "Behold, you will see it with your own eyes, but you will not eat of it." And so it happened to him, for the people trampled on him at the gate and he died." (2 Kings 6:24-7:20)

8. 841 BC: Hazael meets with Elisha and then kills Ben-Hadad II to become new king of Aram: 2 Kings 8:7-15

a. "Then Elisha came to Damascus. Now Ben-hadad king of Aram was sick, and it was told him, saying, "The man of God has come here." The king said to Hazael, "Take a gift in your hand and go to meet the man of God, and inquire of the Lord by him, saying, 'Will I recover from this sickness?' " So Hazael went to meet him and took a gift in his hand, even every kind of good thing of Damascus, forty camels' loads; and he came and stood before him and said, "Your son Ben-hadad king of Aram has sent me to you, saying, 'Will I recover from this sickness?' " Then Elisha said to him, "Go, say to him, 'You will surely recover,' but the Lord has shown me that he will certainly die." He fixed his gaze steadily on him until he was ashamed, and the man of God wept. Hazael said, "Why does my lord weep?" Then he answered, "Because I know the evil that you will do to the sons of Israel: their strongholds you will set on fire, and their young men you will kill with the sword, and their little ones you will dash in pieces, and their women with child you will rip up." Then Hazael said, "But what is your servant, who is but a dog, that he should do this great thing?" And Elisha answered, "The Lord has shown me that you will be king over Aram." So he departed from Elisha and returned to his master, who said to him, "What did Elisha say to you?" And he answered, "He told me that you would surely recover." On the following day, he took the cover and dipped it in water and spread it on his face, so that he died. And Hazael became king in his place." (2 Kings 8:7-15)

Conclusion:

See also: Chronology of 25 Samarian, Aramean and Assyrian Wars

Ben-Hadad II erected the stele in 845 BC at Aleppo as an appeasement to his pagan god for divine assistance to defeat of Shalmaneser III in the Battle of Hamath II (845 BC) with Ben-Hadad II and 12 kings. Shalmaneser III, year 14..

Epigraphical comparative studies set the date to about 845 BC ± 20 years.

Ben-Hadad II erected the stele to the pagan God Melqart as a way to get military assistance of the gods.

Ben-Hadad II was defeated by Shalmaneser III at Hamath.

The creator of the Melqart Stele is not certain because the second line is damaged.

The most recent studies have been conducted by Frank Cross in 2003 AD who, having reviewed all the previous studies, reconfirmed his own conclusions from his initial study in 1972 AD.

Pressure needs to be put on the Aleppo museum to release the Stele for true professionals in Israel or the USA to analyze it once for all and bring some closure to the circus of speculation created by a vacuum of secrecy.

We have followed Cross and Reinhold and find their conclusions most reliable:

The stele was created in 845 BC based on the best epigraphical comparative studies.

Their translation is most likely correct: "The stele which Bir-Hadad, son of 'Ezer, the Damascene, son of the king of Aram, erected to his Lord Melqart, to whom he made a vow and who heard his voice."

This author disagrees with Cross and Reinhold and suggest that Ben-Hadad II created the Stele and not his co-regent son, Ben-Hadad III as they propose.

This author feels the weight of evidence supports the conclusion that "'Ezer" is a dynastic name shared by both Ben-Hadad I and his son who created the Stele, Ben-Hadad II.

What you read in the book, you find in the ground!

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By Steve Rudd: Contact the author for comments, input or corrections.

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