Hanani the Seer (fl. 870 BC) Imprisoned for Truth-Telling

Ramah from the South by OSU Special Collections & Archives; Hanani rebuked King Asa of Judea for paying Syria to end Israel’s fortification of this town. [No restrictions], via Wikimedia Commons

In Hanani we have an example of a prophet who paid for speaking the truth. King Asa of Judah, Solomon’s great-grandson, was generally a good king. He sponsored revival throughout his land, strengthened Judah’s defenses, and defeated a huge Ethiopian army with God’s help. In his old age, however, he faltered from his principles enough that God sent the prophet Hanani to warn him. Rather than accept the warning, Asa became furious and jailed God’s messenger. Here is the account from the Bible.

2 Chronicles 16:1-10

In the thirty-sixth year of the reign of Asa, Baasha king of Israel came up against Judah, and built Ramah, in order to stop anyone from going out or coming in to Asa king of Judah.

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So Asa brought silver and gold out of the temple and palace treasuries and sent them to Ben-hadad king of Syria, who lived in Damascus, saying,

“There is a treaty between me and you, and between my father and your father: look, I’m sending you silver and gold; break your treaty with Baasha king of Israel, so that he may withdraw from me.”

And Ben-hadad listened to king Asa, and sent the captains of his forces against the cities of Israel; and they attacked Ijon and Dan and Abelmaim, and all the store-magazines of the cities of Naphtali.

When Baasha heard of it, he stopped building Ramah, and abandoned his work there.

Then king Asa took all Judah; and they carried away the stones and the timber from Ramah, with which Baasha had been building, and Asa built Geba and Mizpah with them.

And at that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah, and said unto him, “Because you have relied on the king of Syria, and not relied on Jehovah your God, the army of the king of Syria has escaped out of your hand.

“Were not the Ethiopians and the Libyans a huge army, with very many chariots and horsemen? but when you relied on Jehovah, he delivered them into your hand. For the eyes of Jehovah run to and fro through the whole earth, to show himself strong in behalf of those whose heart is perfect toward him. In this you have acted foolishly; for from this time on you will have wars.”

Asa was angry with the seer, and put him in the prison; for he was enraged with him because of this. And Asa oppressed some of the people at the same time.