1:4I will send a fire. This refrain in each of the messages is also found in Hosea (8:14) and Jeremiah (17:27; 21:14; 29:27; 50:32). Fire was widely understood in the ancient Near East to be an instrument of divine judgment. It was often used in warfare, and was considered one way that a god purged a rebellious people. This pagan understanding also reflects a truth revealed in Scripture: the true God will in fact judge by fire (2 Pet. 3:7 note).
Hazael. The king of Syria (c. 841–801 b.c.), whose reign was predicted by the prophet Elisha (2 Kin. 8:13).
strongholds. These seem to have been fortified citadel-palaces of the nobility.
Ben-hadad. This is a throne name, like “Pharaoh” in Egypt. Probably the third king with this name is meant. The first assisted Judah’s king Asa against Israel’s Baasha (1 Kin. 15:18–20). The second, Ben-hadad II, was assassinated by the usurper Hazael (2 Kin. 8:14, 15). Hazael’s son, Ben-hadad III, was contemporary with Jehoahaz of Israel (2 Kin. 13:25). It was he who made Israel’s army “like the dust at threshing” (2 Kin. 13:7).
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