Jezebel is one of the most infamous figures in the Hebrew Bible (or Old Testament).
Background and Early Life
Jezebel was a Phoenician princess, the daughter of Ethbaal, King of Tyre.
She married Ahab, the King of Israel, in what was presumably a political alliance.
Jezebel is often portrayed as a zealous advocate for the worship of the Phoenician gods, Baal and Asherah, which brought her into direct conflict with the prophet Elijah and other prophets of Yahweh, the God of Israel.
She is accused of persecuting the prophets of Yahweh and promoting idolatry.
Under her influence, King Ahab is said to have done “more to provoke the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him” (1 Kings 16:33).
In one of the most famous stories involving Jezebel, she arranges for the false accusation and execution of Naboth in order to seize his vineyard for her husband, King Ahab. This act of treachery results in prophesies of doom against both Ahab and Jezebel.
Conflict with Elijah
Jezebel’s support for the prophets of Baal leads to a showdown between the prophet Elijah and the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. After God answers Elijah’s prayers and consumes a sacrifice with fire from heaven, proving His supremacy over Baal, Elijah has the prophets of Baal slaughtered. In retaliation, Jezebel vows to have Elijah killed, leading him to flee.
How did Jezebel die?
Her death is both violent and ignominious. As predicted by the prophet Elijah, she is thrown from a window by members of her own court, trampled by horses, and her body is left to be eaten by dogs, leaving only her skull, hands, and feet.
Jezebel’s legacy in the biblical narrative is overwhelmingly negative. She is remembered as a woman who used her position and power to lead Israel astray and oppose the servants of Yahweh.
In popular culture, her name has often been synonymous with wickedness, seduction, and treachery.
Biblical portrayal and interpretations
It’s important to note that the biblical portrayal of Jezebel is deeply colored by the religious and political biases of the writers. From their perspective, her support of Baal worship and her opposition to the Yahwistic prophets made her an arch-villain in the story of Israel’s religious history. However, in the context of her own culture and time, her actions and beliefs might be viewed more neutrally or even positively.