It’s hard find nice things to say about the woman whose name has become synonymous for being shameless, brazen, and morally bankrupt.
Jezebel came from royalty-her father was Ethbaal, a Phoenician king. She also married into royalty-her husband, Ahab, was the king of the ten tribes that made up the northern kingdom of Israel (see 1 Kings 16:29-33).
That an Israelite king would marry a pagan princess was, sadly, not newsworthy. There were surely political reasons for this union. But there were no doubt other explanations too. Ahab, like every other ruler of the northern kingdom before and after him, was indifferent to the Word of the Lord and allowed pagan practices to influence him. Ahab reminds us that when a person is open to anything and everything, he or she ends up believing in nothing.
Ahab’s new bride, Jezebel, on the other hand, was over-the-top religious, As a rabid evangelist for Baal, the pagan god of her people, she was violently opposed to the worship of Yahweh, the acknowledged God of her adopted nation.
Perhaps in an effort to insure “domestic tranquility,” Ahab tried to accommodate the religious preferences of his strong, Baal-loving wife, He ordered his work crews in Samaria to build to temple for Baal worship. To be inclusive, he also had his men construct some sites for the worship of Asherah, a Canaanite goodness. That’s when things got interesting.
God sent Elijah to Ahab with a short, not-so-sweet message: “As the LORD God of Israel lives. . .there will be no dew nor rain during these years except by my command!” (1 kings 17:1). From the moment Elijah disappeared, the nation’s water supply began to disappear as well. The drier things got over the ensuing months, the more enraged Jezebel and Ahab became. With murder in their eyes, they searched futilely for Elijah. When they couldn’t find the prophet responsible for the drought that was destroying the nation, Jezebel began killing any prophet of Yahweh she could find (see 1 King 18:4).
Three years passed before Elijah showed up again. This time he instructed Ahab to gather all the Israelites and all the prophets of Baal and Asherah (850 total) to Mount Carmel.
In the epic spiritual contest that followed. Elijah humiliated Jezebel’s false prophets. Despite hours of elaborate actions performed by his prophets, Baal was silent, even absent; meanwhile Elijah prayer resulted in a miraculous display of fire from heaven. “When all the people saw it, they fell facedown and said, “Yahweh, He is God! Yahweh, He is God!” (1 Kings 18:39). Elijah commanded the people to seize the pagan prophets. When they did so, he slaughtered all 850 on the spot. When he gave the word for the rains to return, it wasn’t long before everyone had to reach for their umbrellas.
Jezebel, for some unstated reason, was not present at this mountaintop meeting. When Ahab got home with the grim report, she blew a gasket, vowing to kill Elijah within twenty-four hours. Though her boast sent the weary prophet running like a scalded dog, it was a silly, arrogant threat. How did she think she was going to lay hands on the one who was in the hands of the one true God?
The drought, the events on Carmel, the rain-one would think this series of miraculous events would have been enough to pierce even Jezebel’s heart. Sadly, she was unfazed.
Scripture records one final incident involving this wicked woman (see 1 Kings 21). Ahab coveted his neighbor’s vineyard and offered to buy it, but the neighbor refused. So Jezebel concocted an elaborate scheme to accuse the neighbor of blasphemy and treason. In no time, she had him stoned to death and was in the process of seizing his land. The whole thing might have worked, but out of the blue came her old nemesis, Elijah. He pronounce doom on the house of Ahab and declared that Jezebel would eventually become dog food.
And so it happened-a fitting end for her deplorable, regrettable life (see 2 kings 9:30-37).
Check yourself. Do you consistenlty demand that things go your way in your business dealings or personal interactions? Are people afraid of you? Do they walk on eggshells around you? It’s one thing to be a strong, capable, confident person who uses your abilities and position for good. It’s another thing to e domineering and conniving and to exploit advantages for selfish ends.
Jezebel was in the second category. Her philosophy was “my way or the highway.” She desperately needed to know and to embrace two Scriptures truths:
- “Pride comes before destruction, and an arrogant spirit before a fall” (Prov 16:18).
- “Don’t be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows he will also reap” (Gal 6:7).
Those are good truths for all of us to keep in mind all the time.