Jezebel: Eternally Infamous

The story of Jezebel is not a pretty one for her life epitomizes wasted potential. She is the daughter of Ethbaal, the king-priest of Tyre who murders his own brother. Jezebel grows to womanhood in her father’s palace with advantages that include beauty, intelligence, and wealth. But she also inherits the negative characteristics of the idolatrous Phoenicians, such as revenge and mercilessness. These qualities infect her entire family.

Omri is an evil king of Israel who “did worse than all the kings before him” (I Kgs. 16:25). After his son Ahab becomes king, Jezebel marries him and immediately begins to promote the worship of Baal and Astarte. She is known for corrupting her husband, but he does not seem to need much help. As the tool of a wicked wife, spineless Ahab builds altars and shrines throughout Israel (vv. 29-33). He erects places for orgies in honor of the goddess Asherah. An altar to Baal is even constructed in his own palace. At his wife’s request, Ahab orders the systematic extermination of all God’s prophets (I Kgs. 18:4 & 13). Elijah escapes to prophecy against them both. 

Although he is rich, King Ahab moans and pouts because he cannot possess something he covets: a vineyard close to the palace. Jezebel arranges to have the owner brought up on false charges of blasphemy which result in his death. The king then acquires the property he desires. Because of this sin, Elijah prophecies dogs will lick up his blood (I Kgs. 21:19) and eat the body of Jezebel (v. 23). These prophecies are fulfilled completely (22:38).

Jezebel bears three children and all of them die in infamy. She has two sons named Ahaziah and Jehoram. Her daughter’s name is Athaliah. Although the queen outlives Ahab by ten years, she continues to reign over Israel through her sons. Ahaziah is king for two years and worships Baal. Elijah prophecies he will die and his execution is ordered by Jehu (II Kgs. 1:2-4). Jehu tells Jehoram that there will not be peace in Israel as long as his mother Jezebel and her witchcraft continue (II Kgs. 9:22). Jehoram succeeds his elder brother and rules for twelve years but dies from an arrow of judgment from Jehu (II Kgs. 9:24). Jezebel’s daughter Athaliah follows in her mother’s footsteps by marrying a king of Judah and encouraging him to promote idolatry (II Kgs. 8:18). As predicted, Jezebel’s life ends in reproach and shame. Jehu suggests to her servants that they throw her out a window. They are quick to comply and horses trample her to death (II Kgs. 9:32-33).

For 3,000 years since her demise her name continues to be a synonym for female depravity, treachery, and deceit. This is apparent from the Apostle John’s use of her name in the book of Revelation (Rev. 2:20). The Biblical portrait of Jezebel pictures a woman who strongly influences those in her home. It is tragic that her determination is not used for the good of her family. Her time and strength are spent destroying her own family and polluting a nation. As king and queen they could have set an example that transforms their nation. Although their story does not have a happy ending, we can learn a great lesson regarding the effects of negative influence. 

Maxim of the Moment

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