Jezebel was the wicked daughter of King Ethbael, wife of King Ahab, and mother of Jehoram, Ahaziah, and Athaliah.
Have you ever met a truly evil person, someone so depraved you shudder just thinking of them? What effect did that person have on those around them? What eventually happened to them?
In today’s episode of All God’s Women we look at Jezebel, a woman so vile she’s forever known as the wickedest woman to ever live. So what did she do to gain such a reputation?
Jezebel was the wife of Ahab who was king of Israel for twenty two years. Ahab was the son of Omni, an evil king, but Ahab was even worse.
I love how we’re introduced to Jezebel in 1 Kings 16:31.
“And it came to pass, as though it had been a trivial thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took as wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians; and he went and served Baal and worshiped him.”
As if he weren’t evil enough on his own, he married Jezebel and then he served Baal. Ethbaal was not only king of the Sidonians but also a Baal priest. Jezebel had been raised in the vilest of Baal worship and brought her religious zeal to Ahab and Israel. She installed four hundred and fifty Baal prophets at the temple and four hundred prophets of Asherah, the female companion of Baal, to live in her palace.
As so often happened throughout the Bible, when God’s people go astray, God gets their attention through drought. Such was the case during Jezebel’s time. The prophet Elijah came to Ahab and informed him that there would be no rain until he proclaimed it. Then, because this angered Ahab, Elijah fled and hid away by the Brook Cherith.
Furious, Jezebel tried to massacre all the prophets of the Lord. She tried to exterminate all those men who were loyal to God. Fortunately, Ahab’s servant Obadiah managed to hide a hundred of them in a cave and prevent their murder.
For three years Israel went without rain until Elijah came out of hiding and presented himself to Ahab. He told Ahab to gather together all the people of Israel to observe a challenge for the Baal and Asherah prophets.
One of the saddest verses to me is when Elijah speaks directly to the people of Israel and asks them to make a choice between God and Baal. But no one said a word. That’s a commentary all its own, but I’ll keep my focus on Jezebel today.
We all know the story of how the Baal prophets begged for Baal to send fire to their burnt offering. But nothing happened. No matter how hard they begged and pleaded, even when they cut themselves until the blood gushed out of them, they got no response.
Elijah mocked the prophets. Then he set to work. He invited the people to watch as he repaired the Lord’s altar and put a trench around it and covered his burnt offering with water. Three times they poured water over the ram and filled the trench with water.
And at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, Elijah prayed to God and fire came down from heaven and consumed the the burnt offering. When the people witnessed this, they finally spoke, saying He is Lord! He is Lord!
Elijah told the people to seize the Baal prophets, to not let escape, and he executed them all.
Then Elijah told Ahab to eat and drink for rain was coming. He told Ahab to get his chariot and go down before the rain stopped him. And Ahab rode away and went to Jezebel. He told her all that had happened and when she heard about the prophets, she sent a message to Elijah threatening to do to him what he’d done to her prophets. And even though he had just witnessed the amazing power of God, Elijah couldn’t handle the threat of an evil woman. He ran away and hid in the wilderness.
Jezebel and Ahab
In the meantime, Ahab decided he wanted a beautiful vineyard that was located adjacent to the king’s palace. But Naboth, the vineyard owner wasn’t interested in selling. So Ahab moped and pouted like a spoiled child until Jezebel ask what was wrong. When she heard what happened, she told him she’d take care of it and get him his vineyard. She concocted a plan and had Naboth falsely accused of blasphemy then stoned.
Later, when Ahab was at the vineyard Elijah came to him and prophesied what was to come for Ahab and Jezebel. Regarding Jezebel, dogs would eat Jezebel’s body at the plot of land in Jezreel. We’re told there was no one else who had devoted himself so completely to doing wrong in the LORD’s sight as Ahab–all at the urging of his wife Jezebel.
We get one final glimpse of Jezebel as she prepares for her death. Her husband is dead as are her two sons who had ruled after Ahab. Jezebel knew that Jehu, the new king, was coming for her, so she put on makeup, styled her hair, and watched through a window. He entered the gate, looked up at her and saw the eunuchs standing behind her. He asked them to throw her down, and they threw her out the window. Her blood splattered on the wall and on the horses and he trampled her underfoot. Jehu then went inside and ate and drank before giving orders to have her buried. But when they went to bury her, all they could find was her skull, her feet, and the palms of her hands.
Morbid to the end.
What Can We Learn From Jezebel?
I did an interview on Your Spiritual Game Plan with Cheri Fletcher, and she asked me which woman of the Bible I would most like to play in a movie. I responded with Jezebel because I’m a character actress and would love to portray such an over the top character. Of everything I’ve read about her, no one had anything positive to say about her, so it would be interesting to get inside her head and try to see things from her perspective.
But today, we’ll settle for looking at her life, what God chose to include about her in the Bible, and seeing what we can learn from her story. As wicked as she was, it appears that her worst offense was the way she influenced those around her. Ahab was bad, but she brought out the worst in him, causing him to be even more evil than he was before. And she passed on her vile behaviors to her children and grandchildren. She left a legacy of idol worship and violence.
Jezebel is not someone we easily connect with, and yet, we may have more in common than we care to admit.
As wives, we have terrific power over our husbands. They love us and want to please us. Have we ever, though, led them astray, causing them to do something they might not have done on their own? What about our children? What are they picking up from us? How are they imitating us? Are they following in our footsteps? Is that a good thing or a bad thing?
Have we ever been guilty of dominating over our husbands rather than letting them be the leader they were designed to be? Ahab was king, but Jezebel was the one calling the shots. Has that ever happened in your marriage?
What about are we more concerned with physical appearance than inner beauty? Are we consumed with our hair and makeup when we should be concerned with our hearts?
And finally, are we endearing ourselves to those who know us best? Would they defend you in times of trouble or would they throw you out the window to your enemy?
Lord God, thank you for this story of Jezebel and for the reminder of how important it is that we be a positive influence to those around us. Open our eyes to those things we are doing that are having a negative influence on others. Thank you for loving us and forgiving us when we fall short. Help us to be the supportive wives you would have us to be. Give us wisdom and direction in all that we do. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.
That concludes this week’s episode of All God’s Women. Tune in next week when we look at the Widow of Zarephath.
Jezebel Bible Study
1 Kings 16, 18, 19, 21
2 kings 9
Bible Study Review
- Who was Jezebel married to?
- Who did Jezebel worship?
- How did Jezebel feel about Elijah?
Thoughts to Ponder
- How did Jezebel’s family mold her into who she was?
- What might have happened had Ahab stood up to Jezebel?
- What affect did Jezebel have on Israel?
- How are you like/unlike Jezebel?
- Do you ever dominate over your husband?
- How do you respond when things don’t turn out the way you expected?
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