Jezebel (Hebrew: אִיזָבֶל) was the queen consort of King Ahab of ancient Israel and the mother of King Ahaziah of Israel and King Jehoram of Israel, and possibly also the mother of King Jehoram of Judah's queen consort Athaliah. She was the daughter of Ithobaal I, the Phoenician king of Tyre, and attempted, along with her husband, to displace worship of the God of Israel with worship of the Phoenician gods Baal and Asherah.
Challenge at Mount Carmel
Jezebel had the prophets of the God of Israel put to death until the prophet Elijah was the sole remaining one.
God brought a drought to Israel and provided protection to Elijah. Eventually, Elijah came out of hiding and challenged Ahab, Jezebel, and their god Baal. Elijah had Ahab summon the prophets of Baal and Asherah to Mount Carmel, along with the people of Israel. Elijah presented a challenge: Elijah and the prophets of Baal would each sacrifice a bull to their respective god and the god that lights their sacrifice on fire would prove himself to be the true god.
The prophets of Baal did as they were told, but no matter how long or loudly they pleaded, their god did not respond.
Elijah then prepared God's altar and offerings and requested God to make his presence known. God then lit the offering, and the people of Israel realized that God was the one true god. Elijah then had the people of Israel kill the prophets of Baal. After this, God brought rain to the land and ended the drought that had been plaguing Israel.
Ahab told Jezebel what happened, and Jezebel responded by threatening Elijah's life via a messenger, vowing to Elijah as lifeless as the dead prophets of Baal:
So may the gods do to me, and even more, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like the life of one of them. (1 Kings 19:2 (AMP)). Elijah then fled.
Conspiracy to seize Naboth's vineyard
Nearby Ahab's palace in Samaria was a vineyard owned by Naboth the Jezreelite. Ahad sought possession of Naboth's vineyard in order to build a vegetable garden for his palace. Naboth refused to sell his land to Ahab due to God forbidding Naboth to sell his ancestral lands to Ahab.
Ahab returned home visibly frustrated, laid on his bed, sulking, and refused to eat. Jezebel asked Ahab about what was troubling him, and Ahab told Jezebel what happened. Jezebel took charge, told her husband to cheer up, and assured him that she would obtain Naboth's vineyard for him:
Do you now reign over Israel? Get up, eat food, and let your heart rejoice; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.— 1 Kings 21:7 (AMP)
Jezebel, through letters forged in her husband's name and with his seal, commanded the elders and leaders of Naboth's community to have Naboth falsely accused of blasphemy and treason, then stoned to death. The elders and leaders did as Jezebel commanded and killed Naboth on false charges of blasphemy and treason.
After learning of Naboth's death, Jezebeth commanded her husband to seize the land he that he desires so much:
Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite which he refused to sell you, because Naboth is no longer alive, but dead.— 1 Kings 21:15 (AMP)
Ahab then seized possession of the vineyard.
God then commanded Elijah to confront Ahab. Elijah told Ahab that Ahab had sinned and angered God so much that God was going to kill Ahab, his children, and his wife and have them eaten by dogs or birds.
I have found you, because you have sold yourself to do evil in the sight of the Lord. Behold [says the Lord], I am bringing evil (catastrophe) on you, and will utterly sweep you away, and will cut off from Ahab every male, both bond and free in Israel; and I will make your house (descendants) like that of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah, for provoking Me to anger and making Israel sin. The Lord also spoke in regard to Jezebel, saying,The dogs will eat [the body of] Jezebel in the district of Jezreel.The dogs will eat anyone belonging to Ahab who dies in the city, and the birds of the air will eat anyone who dies in the field.— 1 Kings 21:20–21:24 (AMP)
After hearing this, Ahab realized how much he had sinned and humbled himself in front of the Lord. As a result, God refrained from destroying Ahab's house until after Ahab's death.
Ahaziah's short reign
A few years, Ahab died in battle at Ramoth-Gilead, and his son by Jezebel, Ahaziah, succeeded to the throne of Israel. Ahaziah sinned like the rest of his family and worshiped Baal instead of God.
Ahaziah did not reign long. He fell through a lattice and became ill. He sent messengers to Baal-Zebub, the pagan god of Ekron, to ask about whether he would recover.
God, via an angel, told Elijah that He was displeased that Ahaziah sought the aid of Baal-Zebub instead of the one true god, and as a result, Ahaziah will not recover and will die. Elijah relayed this information to the messengers and later to the king himself, and Ahaziah died.
Downfall of the House of Ahab
Ahaziah was succeeded by his brother Jehoram, another child of Ahad and Jezebel. Although Jehoram did not worship Baal, he continued the other sins of his family.
Several years into Jehoram's reign, Elijah's successor Elisha had a son of a prophet anoint Jehu as King of Israel with oil, per God's will.
Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel:I have anointed you king over the people of the Lord, over Israel. You shall strike the house of Ahab your master, so that I may avenge the blood of My servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of the Lord, [who have died] at the hands of Jezebel. For the entire house of Ahab shall perish, and I will cut off from Ahab every male, both bond and free, in Israel. I will make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah. And the dogs will eat Jezebel in the territory of Jezreel, and there will be no one to bury her.— 2 Kings 9:6–9:10 (AMP)
Jehu then rode to Jezreel, where Jehoram and Jehoram's ally King Ahaziah of Judah were present. Jehoram and Ahaziah rode out to meet Jehu and asked Jehu if he had come in peace, and Jehu responded by saying,
What peace [can exist] as long as the fornications of your mother Jezebel and her sorceries are so many? (2 Kings 9:22 (AMP)).
Jehoram and Ahaziah attempted to flee. Jehu shot and killed Jehoram with an arrow and had his men mortally wound Ahaziah.
Jehu proceeded into Jezreel, and Jezebel put on make-up and adornments in order to speak to Jehu from an upper window. She mocked Jehu, comparing him to King Zimri:
Is it well, Zimri, your master’s murderer? (2 Kings 9:31 (AMP)). Jehu asked the palace officials whose side they were going to take and commanded them to throw Jezebel from her window. The officials did as they were commanded: Jezebel was thrown out of the window and trampled by horses.
Since Jezreel was born a princess, he commanded his men to bury her, but they found that dogs had eaten her, leaving only her skill and the palms of her hands. They reported back to Jehu, stating that God's will was done.
When he came in, he ate and drank, and said, "See now to this cursed woman and bury her, for she is a king’s daughter." They went to bury her, but they found nothing left of her except the skull and the feet and the palms of her hands. So they returned and told Jehu. Then he said, "This is the word of the Lord, which He spoke through His servant Elijah the Tishbite, saying, "In the property of Jezreel the dogs shall eat the flesh of Jezebel. The corpse of Jezebel will be like dung on the surface of the field in the property of Jezreel, so they cannot say, "This is Jezebel."'"— 2 Kings 9:34–9:37 (AMP)
After this, the guardians of the surviving children of Ahab dared not raise a pretender to challenge Jehu and defected to Jehu's side. Jehu then had them execute the surviving children of Ahab.
Jezebel was assertive, devious, and ruthless. She sought to impose her religion on the people of Israel. She had prophets of the God of Israel killed, threatened Elijah's life, and engineered Naboth's death in order for her husband to seize possession of Naboth's vineyard.
In the Book of Revelation, Jesus commanded John of Patmos to write a letter to the Christians in Thyatira, chastening them for tolerating a false prophet named Jezebel. This Jezebel was attempting to led Christians into sexual immorality and idolatry. Jesus promised punishment onto Jezebel and her followers. As a result, the name "Jezebel" became associated with false prophets and sexual immorality.
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- "JEZEBEL by Lesley Hazleton". Kirkus Reviews. 2007-10-16. Retrieved 2016-09-05.
- Zach, Oscar (2014-09-13). "Modern Culture Mirrors Jezebel's Poisonous Spirit". Return of Kings. Retrieved 2016-09-06.