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Jezebel

Hebrew: אִיזֶ֗בֶל

Meaning: Where is the Prince? (referring to the heathen false god Baal)

also known as: Izebel and The Whore of Baal

Origin and history

Jezebel was once the queen of the Kingdom of Israel. She was originally a Phoenician princess (1 Kings 16:31), the daughter of King Ethbaal, the king of the Zidonians. She is also said to have been the grand-aunt of Dido, the founder of Carthage.

She became the wife of King Ahab of the Kingdom of Israel (1 Kings 16:31). This evil marriage marks the “first time that a king of Israel had allied himself by marriage with a heathen princess who never gave up idolatrous religion; and the alliance was in this case of a peculiarly disastrous kind. Jezebel has stamped her name on history as the representative of all that is designing, crafty, malicious, revengeful, and cruel. She is the first great instigator of persecution against the saints of God.

Guided by no principle, restrained by no fear of either God or man, passionate in her attachment to her heathen worship, she spared no pains to maintain idolatry around her in all its splendor. Four hundred and fifty false prophets ministered under her care to Baal, besides four hundred prophets of the groves [Revised King James Version, “prophets of the Asherah'], which ate at her table (1 Kings 18:19). The idolatry, too, was of the most debased and sensual kind.”

Her conduct was in many respects very disastrous to the kingdom both of Israel and Judah (21:1-29).

Death

At length she came to an untimely end. As Jehu rode into the gates of Jezreel, she looked out at the window of the palace, and said, “Had Zimri peace, who slew his master?” He looked up and called to her chamberlains, who instantly threw her from the window, so that she was dashed in pieces on the street, and his horses trod her under their feet. She was immediately consumed by the dogs of the street (2 Kings 9:7-37), according to the word of Elijah the Tishbite (1 Kings 21:19). As Elijah prophecied, Ahab and Jezebel’s dynasty became extinct with the murder of their son King Joram of Israel and his family.

Her name afterwards came to be used as the synonym for a wicked woman (Rev. 2:20).

Ancient seal

In 1964, an ancient royal seal was discovered with the Hebrew inscription “יזבל” (L’YZBL—“Belonging to Jezebel”)
—references: Marjo C.A. Korpel, “Fit for a Queen: Jezebel’s Royal Seal,” Biblical Archaeology Society (May 1, 2008), and “Seals of Jezebel and Other Women in Authority,” Journal of Semitics, 15/2 (2006).

Relatives

  • Father: King Ethbaal (aka Ithobaal I, Ithobalus), priest of the goddess Astarte (Ashtoreth)
  • Father-in-law: King Omri
  • Brother: Badezorus, aka Baal-Eser II, Balbazer II and Ba'l-mazzer I
  • Husband: Ahab
  • Sons: King Ahaziah, King Joram (Jehoram)
  • Great niece: Dido, Queen of Carthage (sister of King Pygmalion)

Also see