Kenneth Cohen

A frightening prophecy

In the Book of Kings II, chapter eight, there is the frightening dialogue between the prophet Elisha and Hazael, king of Aram.

Originally, Hazael came to ask Elisha about the fate of the previous king, Ben Hadad, who was bedridden. He was told that the king would recover, but would die a different death, and would be replaced by Hazael. This happened the next day when Hazael caused him to die by suffocating him.

Before he left, Elisha was unable to hold back his tears from the prophecy that he saw. He saw that the Jewish people would be deserving of punishment at the hands of Hazael. He begged Hashem not to allow this prophecy to come true.

He told Hazael the vision that he saw and why he cried. “Because I know what evil you will do to the Children of Israel. Their strongholds you will set on fire; their young men you will kill by the sword, their babies you will tear apart, and their pregnant women you will split open.”

Hazael responded to Elisha by saying, “Am I a dog that I would commit such atrocities?”

This is a particularly frightening prophecy considering what Israel has been going through. It is clearly a time of soul searching and repentance. Am Yisrael must rise in holiness and spirituality. The tragedy of October seventh must serve as the springboard to bring great things to the Jewish people. We must fervently believe that great times are ahead, that will come when we remain strong in our faith.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at