The Biblical character Jezebel first appeared in the book of 1 Kings 16 when she married the Israelite King Ahab. Jezebel was a Phoenician princess and the daughter of Ethbaal, the king of Baal-worshipping Sidonians. Jezebel literally means “Where is the prince?” where prince is Baal. It was said that Jezebel was a high priestess of Baal and that every time Baal goes to the Underworld, his worshippers chant “Jezebel” for the prince to come out and bring forth spring.
The worship of Baal was fixated on sensuality and sexual perversion. Jezebel grew up in that kind of atmosphere and it became her way to use sex as a means to yield power and influence. King Ahab of Israel was totally subdued and under the control of Jezebel. It was not a time of peace in the Kingdom and so Jezebel and Ahab only ruled the Northern Kingdom.
The Biblical story of Jezebel touched on two major points. The first point is the conflict between the worshippers of Yahweh the God of the Israelites and the traditional gods of Phoenicians, Baal and Asherah, introduced by Jezebel. The second point is the concept of how monarchs should rule. Jezebel, being a princess herself was exposed to the absolute monarchy as exemplified by her father king Ethbaal.
Jezebel came from the small but very rich and cultured city of Sidon. A marriage was arranged between her and the King of Ahab when she came of age. Instead of letting go of her gods and embracing the God of Israel, Jezebel introduced the worship of Ashtoroth to the Israelites. She brought her own priestesses who double as prostitutes to her “shrine” and literally “serviced” the worshippers. Monotheism was a new form of worship that is was not greatly embraced. The Israelites were swayed between the worship of Yahweh alone or the combine worship of Baal and Yahweh. Surely these foolish people thought that they could have it both ways. They could not, so that hatred between the priests of Baal and those of Yahweh became fiercer. Those were days of filth and total abandonment. It was said that 10 million Israelites converted to Baal worship which left only about 7,000 faithful to Yahweh. It was written that with Jezebel in control of Ahab, - Ahab … did more to provoke the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger than did all the kings of Israel before him.” (1 Kings 16:33 NIV)
The prophet Elijah was the one leading the remaining Israelites who were faithful to Yahweh. He was the prophet of Fire and a favorite of Yahweh. For seven years he was protected by Yahweh while he was out in the dessert. Even the army of Ahab could not kill him. A drought brought on by Elijah on the land came to be the final show down between Elijah and Jezebel. At Mount Carmel, Elijah challenged the priests of Baal and Asherah to call on their gods to set fire on the sacrifice. Baal’s 450 priests and Asherah’s 400 priests did just that while Elijah did the same thing all by himself. The 850 high priests of Baal and Asherah could have chanted themselves hoarse but no fire came from above. Elijah prayed and called on his God and a rumbling was heard from above as a ball of fire descended on the Elijah’s sacrifice. Elijah did not spare the priests of Baal and Asherah and they all fell dead. The drought ended but Jezebel was able to “defeat” Elijah so to speak because when she said -so may the gods do to me and more also, if I do not make your life like the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” Then he was afraid; he got up and fled for his life…..’(1 Kings 19:1-3). Elijah, the prophet fled and he asked Yahweh to end his life right there and then. However, Yahweh had other plans and told Elijah to anoint Jehu as king of Israel and Hazael king of Aram. He was also asked to anoint Elisha as the new prophet.
Jezebel was a faithful yet cunning wife to Ahab. When Ahab wanted a piece of lot that Naboth would not sell, Ahab became depressed. Naboth refused to sell for he was resisting the trend of the rich getting richer and poor, poorer. Jezebel plotted against Naboth so they could get the land in Jezreel needed to build the palace.
Though Ahab was a great warrior himself, he was not as skilled as his father Omrin. King Ahab died in battle as prophesied by Elijah. He was then replace by his son Ahaizah but he died two years later as he fell from the palace’s balcony. Joram became king but after some years he was killed by Jehu – the anointed one. Jehu ordered the death of Jezebel too as he ordered her eunuchs to toss her out of the balcony. Jezebel died in her finest clothes and jewelry and fully made up. She was left in the streets and was eaten by dogs before being buried as was written - and concerning Jezebel the LORD also spoke, saying, 'The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.' The dogs shall eat whoever belongs to Ahab and dies in the city, and the birds of the air shall eat whoever dies in the field." (1 Kings 21:23)
All the 70 male descendants of Ahab and Jezebel were killed with their heads in baskets presented to King Jehu of Israel.
Jezebel is mentioned in the New Testament. The Bible says "Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols." (Rev 2:20)
Jezebel has been murdered in the Old Testament. It is obvious that what is being referred to here is the “spirit of Jezebel” that even today has a sort of demonic influence in the church and society.
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