|Easton's Bible Dictionary|
Chaste, the daughter of Ethbaal, the king of the Zidonians, and the wife of Ahab, the king of Israel (1 Kings 16:31). This was the "first time that a king of Israel had allied himself by marriage with a heathen princess; 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 splendour. Four hundred and fifty prophets ministered under her care to Baal, besides four hundred prophets of the groves [R.V., '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). 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).
Her name afterwards came to be used as the synonym for a wicked woman (Revelation 2: 20).
It may be noted that she is said to have been the grand-aunt of Dido, the founder of Carthage.
Noah Webster's Dictionary
(n.) A bold, vicious woman; a termagant.
Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia
jez'-e-bel 'izebhel, "unexalted," "unhusbanded" (?); Iezabel; see BDB; 1 Kings 16:31; 1 Kings 18:4, 13, 19; 19:1, 2; 21:5;; 2 Kings 9:7;, 30;; Revelation 2:20): Daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Zidonians, i.e. Phoenicians, and queen of Ahab, king of Northern Israel. Ahab (circa 874-853 B.C.) carried out a policy, which his father had perhaps started, of making alliances with other states. The alliance with the Phoenicians was cemented by his marriage with Jezebel, and he subsequently gave his daughter Athaliah in marriage to Jehoram, son of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah. His own union with Jezebel is regarded as a sin in 1 Kings 16:31, where the Massoretic Text is difficult, being generally understood as a question. The Septuagint translations: "and it was not enough that he should walk in the sins of Jeroboam ben Nebat, he also took to wife Jezebel," etc. The Hebrew can be pointed to mean, "And it was the lightest thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam ben Nebat, he also took to wife Jezebel, and went and served Baal and worshipped him," i.e. all the other sins were light as compared with the marriage with Jezebel and the serving of Baal (compare Micah 6:16). Is this a justifiable view to take of the marriage? One answer would be that Ahab made a wise alliance; that Baal-worship was not non-Hebrew, that Ahab named his children not alter Baal but after Yahweh (compare Ahaziah, Jehoram, Athaliah), and that he consulted the prophets of Yahweh (compare 1 Kings 22:6); further, that he only did what Solomon had done on a much larger scale; it may be added too that Ahab was in favor of religious toleration, and that Elijah and not the king is the persecutor. What then can be said for the unfavorable Verdict of the Hebrew historians? That verdict is based on the results and effects of the marriage, on the life and character of Jezebel, and in that life two main incidents demand attention.
1. Persecution of Yahweh's Prophets:
This is not described; it is only referred to in 1 Kings 18:4, "when Jezebel cut off the prophets of Yahweh"; and this shows the history of the time to be incompletely related. In 1 Kings 18:19 we are further told that "450 prophets of Baal ate at her table" (commentators regard the reference to "400 prophets of the Asherah" as an addition). In 1 Kings 19:1 Ahab tells Jezebel of the slaughter of the prophets of Baal by Elijah, and then Jezebel (19:2) sends a messenger to Elijah to threaten his life. This leads to the prophet's flight, an object which Jezebel had in view, perhaps, for she would hardly dare to murder Elijah himself. 2 Kings 9:7 regards the massacre of Ahab's family as a punishment for the persecution of the prophets by Jezebel
2. Jezebel's Plot Against Naboth (1 Kings 21):
Ahab expresses a desire to possess the vineyard neighboring upon his palace in Jezreel, owned by Naboth, who refuses to part with the family inheritance though offered either its money value or a better vineyard in exchange. Ahab is depressed at this, and Jezebel, upon finding the cause of his melancholy feelings, asks him sarcastically if he is not king, suggesting that as king his wishes should be immediately granted by his subjects. She thereupon plots to secure him Naboth's vineyard. Jezebel sends letters sealed in Ahab's name to the elders of Naboth's township, and bids them arrange a public fast and make Naboth "sit at the head of the people" (Revised Version margin), a phrase taken by some to mean that he is to be arraigned, while it is explained by others as meaning that Naboth is to be given the chief place. Two witnesses-a sufficient number for that purpose-are to be brought to accuse Naboth of blasphemy and treason. This is done, and Naboth is found guilty, and stoned to death. The property is confiscated, and falls to the king (1 Kings 21:1-16). Elijah hears of this, and is sent to threaten Ahab with Divine vengeance; dogs shall lick his dead body (1 Kings 21:19). But in 1 Kings 21:20-23 this prophecy is made, not concerning Ahab but against Jezebel, and 21:25 attributes the sins of Ahab to her influence over him.
The prophecy is fulfilled in 2 Kings 9:30-37. Ahaziah and Jehoram had succeeded their father Ahab; the one reigned for 2 years (1 Kings 22:51), the other 12 years (2 Kings 3:1). Jehu heads a revolt against the house of Ahab, and one day comes to Jezreel. Jezebel had "painted her eyes, and attired her head," and sees Jehu coming. She greets him sarcastically as his master's murderer. according to Massoretic Text, Jehu asks, "Who is on my side? who?" but the text is emended by Klostermann, following Septuagint in the main, "Who art thou that thou shouldest find fault with me?" i.e. thou art but a murderess thyself. She is then thrown down and the horses tread upon her (reading "they trod" for "he trod" in 2 Kings 9:33). When search is afterward made for her remains, they are found terribly mutilated. Thus was the prophecy fulfilled. (Some commentaries hold that Naboth's vineyard and Ahab's garden were in Samaria, and Naboth a Jezreelite. The words, "which was in Jezreel," of 1 Kings 21:1 are wanting in Septuagint, which has "And Naboth had a vineyard by the threshing-floor of Ahab king of Samaria." But compare 1 Kings 18:45; 1 Kings 21:23 2 Kings 8:29; 2 Kings 9:10, 15;, 30;.)
See AHAB; JEHU.
3. Jezebel's Character:
The character of Jezebel is seen revived in that of her daughter, Athaliah of Judah (2 Kings 11); there is no doubt that Jezebel was a powerful personality. She brought the worship of the Phoenician Baal and Astarte with her into Hebrew life, and indirectly introduced it into Judah as well as into the Northern Kingdom. In judging her connection with this propagation, we should bear in mind that she is not a queen of the 20th century; she must be judged in company with other queens famous in history. Her religious attitude and zeal might profitably be compared with that of Mary, queen of Scots. It must also be remembered that the introduction of any religious change is often resented when it comes from a foreign queen, and is apt to be misunderstood, e.g. the attitude of Greece to the proposal of Queen Olga have an authorized edition of the Bible in modern Greek.
On the other hand, although much may be said that would be favorable to Jezebel from the religious standpoint, the balance is heavy against her when we remember her successful plot against Naboth. It is not perhaps blameworthy in her that she upheld the religion of her native land, although the natural thing would have been to follow that of her adopted land (compare Ruth 1:16). The superiority of Yahweh-worship was not as clear then as it is to us today. It may also be held that Baal-worship was not unknown in Hebrew life (compare Judges 6:25), that Baal of Canaan had become incorporated with Yahweh of Sinai, and that there were pagan elements in the worship of the latter. But against all this it must be clear that the Baal whom Jezebel attempted to introduce was the Phoenician Baal, pure and simple; he was another god, or rather in him was presented an idea of God very different from Yahweh. And further, "in Phoenicia, where wealth and luxury had been enjoyed on a scale unknown to either Israel or the Canaanites of the interior, there was a refinement, if one may so speak, and at the same time a prodigality of vicious indulgences, connected with the worship of Baal and Astarte to which Israel had hitherto been a stranger..... It was like a cancer eating into the vitals or a head and heart sickness resulting in total decay (Isaiah 1:6). In Israel, moral deterioration meant political as well as spiritual death. The weal of the nation lay in fidelity to Yahweh alone, and in His pure worship" (HPM, section symbol 213).
The verdict of the Hebrew historian is thus substantiated. Jezebel is an example-an extreme one no doubt-of the bad influence of a highly developed civilization forcing itself with all its sins upon a community less highly civilized, but possessed of nobler moral and religious conceptions. She has parallels both in family and in national life. For a parallel to Elijah's attitude toward Jezebel compare the words of Carlyle about Knox in On Heroes and Hero-Worship, IV, especially the section, "We blame Knox for his intolerance," etc.
In Revelation 2:20, we read of Iezabel, "the woman Jezebel, who calleth herself a prophetess"; not "thy wife" (i.e. the wife of the bishop) the Revised Version margin, but as Moffat (Expositor's Greek Testament) aptly renders, "that Jezebel of a woman alleging herself a prophetess." Some members of the church at Thyatira "under the sway of an influential woman refused to separate from the local guilds where moral interests, though not ostensibly defied, were often seriously compromised..... Her lax principles or tendencies made for a connection with foreign and compromising associations which evidently exerted a dangerous influence upon some weaker Christians in the city." Her followers "prided themselves upon their enlightened liberalism (Revelation 2:24)." Moffat rejects both the view of Schurer (Theol. Abhandlungen, 39), that she is to be identified with the Chaldean Sibyl at Thyatira, and also that of Selwyn making her the wife of the local asiarch. "It was not the cults but the trade guilds that formed the problem at Thyatira." See also Zahn, Introduction to the New Testament, section symbol 73, note 7; AHAB; BAAL; ELIJAH.
David Francis Roberts
Jezebel (20 Occurrences)
Revelation 2:20 But I have this against you, that you tolerate your woman, Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. She teaches and seduces my servants to commit sexual immorality, and to eat things sacrificed to idols. (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS NIV)
1 Kings 16:31 It happened, as if it had been a light 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 went and served Baal, and worshiped him. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS NIV)
1 Kings 18:4 for it was so, when Jezebel cut off the prophets of Yahweh, that Obadiah took one hundred prophets, and hid them by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water.) (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS NIV)
1 Kings 18:13 Wasn't it told my lord what I did when Jezebel killed the prophets of Yahweh, how I hid one hundred men of Yahweh's prophets with fifty to a cave, and fed them with bread and water? (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS NIV)
1 Kings 18:19 Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel to Mount Carmel, and four hundred fifty of the prophets of Baal, and four hundred of the prophets of the Asherah, who eat at Jezebel's table." (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS NIV)
1 Kings 19:1 Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS NIV)
1 Kings 19:2 Then Jezebel send a messenger to Elijah, saying, "So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I don't make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time!" (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS NIV)
1 Kings 21:5 But Jezebel his wife came to him, and said to him, "Why is your spirit so sad, that you eat no bread?" (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS NIV)
1 Kings 21:7 Jezebel his wife said to him, "Do you now govern the kingdom of Israel? Arise, and eat bread, and let your heart be merry. I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite." (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS NIV)
1 Kings 21:11 The men of his city, even the elders and the nobles who lived in his city, did as Jezebel had sent to them, according as it was written in the letters which she had sent to them. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS NIV)
1 Kings 21:14 Then they sent to Jezebel, saying, "Naboth has been stoned, and is dead." (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS NIV)
1 Kings 21:15 It happened, when Jezebel heard that Naboth was stoned, and was dead, that Jezebel said to Ahab, "Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give you for money; for Naboth is not alive, but dead." (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS NIV)
1 Kings 21:23 Yahweh also spoke of Jezebel, saying, "The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the rampart of Jezreel. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS NIV)
1 Kings 21:25 But there was none like Ahab, who sold himself to do that which was evil in the sight of Yahweh, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS NIV)
2 Kings 9:7 You shall strike the house of Ahab your master, that I may avenge the blood of my servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of Yahweh, at the hand of Jezebel. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS NIV)
2 Kings 9:10 The dogs will eat Jezebel on the plot of ground of Jezreel, and there shall be none to bury her." He opened the door, and fled. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS NIV)
2 Kings 9:22 It happened, when Joram saw Jehu, that he said, "Is it peace, Jehu?" He answered, "What peace, so long as the prostitution of your mother Jezebel and her witchcraft abound?" (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS NIV)
2 Kings 9:30 When Jehu was come to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it; and she painted her eyes, and attired her head, and looked out at the window. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS NIV)
2 Kings 9:36 Therefore they came back, and told him. He said, "This is the word of Yahweh, which he spoke by his servant Elijah the Tishbite, saying,'The dogs will eat the flesh of Jezebel on the plot of Jezreel, (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS NIV)
2 Kings 9:37 and the body of Jezebel shall be as dung on the face of the field in the portion of Jezreel, so that they shall not say, "This is Jezebel."'" (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS NIV)