A Tool of God’s Anger

Credit: BiblePlaces.com, Louvre Museum

In Deuteronomy 3, Moses tells the assembled that God was angry with him due to their actions. “But because of you the Lord was angry with me and would not listen to me. That is enough, the Lord said. Do not speak to me anymore about this matter. Go up to the top of Pisgah and look west and north and south and east. Look at the land with your own eyes, since you are not going to cross this Jordan. But commission Joshua, and encourage and strengthen him, for he will lead this people across and will cause them to inherit the land that you will see.”

In 2 Kings 13, God was similarly angry, and this time Israel paid the price. “In the twenty-third year of Joash son of Ahaziah king of Judah, Jehoahaz son of Jehu became king of Israel in Samaria, and he reigned seventeen years. He did evil in the eyes of the Lord by following the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit, and he did not turn away from them. So the Lord’s anger burned against Israel, and for a long time he kept them under the power of Hazael king of Aram and Ben-Hadad his son.

This tool of God’s anger is found in the archaeological record.

During Hazael’s reign, he appears to have ruled over a swath of territory that included much of modern Syrian and the southern Levant. One record of his rule appears to come from Arslan Tash in northern Syria. The Arslan Tash Ivory Inscription is a small ivory plaque, dated to the 9th century BCE with an inscription in Aramaic, the language spoken by the Arameans. The inscription includes the words “son of Amma, engraved for our lord Hazael in the year.” The setting for the inscription was in an 8th BCE palace of the Assyrian governor, indicating that site was connected to executive function.

The Arslan Tash Ivory Inscription is held in the collection of the Louvre Museum in Paris, France.