It’s hard to 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 (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, her 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 a temple for Baal worship. To be inclusive, he also had his men construct some sites for the worship of Asherah, a Canaanite goddess. 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 or 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 (1 Kings 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, event absent; meanwhile Elijah’s 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 grin report, she blew a gasket, vowing to kill Elijah with twenty-four hours. Though her boast sent the weary prophet running like a scaled dog, it was a silly, arrogant threat. How did she thing 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.
Second records one final incident involving this wicked woman (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 pronounced 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 (2 Kings 9:30-37).
1 KINGS 21:25 – “Still, there was no one like Ahab, who devoted himself to do what was evil in the LORD’S sight, because his wife Jezebel incited him.”