No biblical figure is more synonymous with evil than Jezebel.
She has come down through the ages as the primary symbol of shameless womanhood. From Shakespeare to Shelley, literature used her name.
In 1938, Bette Davis won an Academy Award for best actress playing the title role Jezebel set in the 1850s. Frankie Laine had an international hit single Jezebel in the 1950s, and Boyz II Men sang about her.
Jezebel characters have appeared in television shows like I Love Lucy, Little House on the Prairie, and The Muppet Show. Among history’s most famous female villains, fictional or real, from Lady Macbeth to Lizzie Borden, the pagan queen of 1 and 2 Kings still rules as the most wicked and enduring of them all.
As I read commentaries, I learned that this week’s leading lady Jezebel’s marriage to Ahab was one of political alliance.
Ahab, the king of the northern kingdom of Israel, married the daughter of the king of Phoenicia. Israel gained access to their ports; the Phoenicians gained passage through Israel’s central hill country to Jordan and the King’s Highway.
Their marriage may have been sound foreign policy, but it was intolerable because of Jezebel’s idol worship. She did not accept Ahab’s God, Yahweh. Rather, she lead Ahab to Baal.
Perhaps Jezebel saw herself as an ambassador who could help unite the two lands. Or perhaps she saw herself as a missionary for Baal in a land that had only one God.
Either way, she remained loyal to her religious upbringing and was determined to eliminate Israel’s faithful servants of God. Evidence of her cruel desire to wipe out Yahweh worship in Israel is told in 1 Kings 18:4:
“Jezebel was killing off the prophets of the Lord.”
Elijah escaped her wrath, yet he still returned to challenge 450 of her Baal priests to a tournament on Mt. Carmel to finally determine which deity is supreme: God or Baal.
Despite their large numbers, they could do nothing to ensure victory; nor could they petition their god.
At noon Elijah began to make fun of them. “Pray louder!” he said. “If Baal really is a god, maybe he is thinking, or busy, or traveling! Maybe he is sleeping so you will have to wake him!” 1 King 18:27
They even gashed themselves with knives and whooped it up in a heightened emotional state, hoping to incite Baal to unleash a great fire. But Baal did not respond to Jezebel’s prophets. At the end of the day, it is Elijah’s single plea to God that was answered.
I dare say any of us will be used as a pawn to gain political power like Jezebel nor asked to call fire down from heaven like Elijah. But maybe we do find ourselves in the same position of Elijah – a lone Christian in a world full of pagan worshippers.
We, too, live in a day of fallen foundations. It is through God’s work in Elijah’s life that we can learn how to handle our ups and downs, fears, and discouragements.
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then… Ephesians 6:13-14
The Bible does not analyze or even portray Jezebel’s character, but simply sets forth the events in which she played so prominent a part, yet as we read between the lines we cannot help but see her as a woman of tremendous force and will. Of all the women of the Old Testament, Jezebel is hands down thought to be the worst.
So what can we learn from this she-devil?
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man (or woman in this case) reaps what he sows. Galatians 6:7
Queen Jezebel paid a terrible price in her struggle to bring pagan worship to the kingdom of Israel where Yahweh is the only true God. Her life came to an ugly end: being thrown from a high window to her death, her unattended body was devoured by dogs. Thus fulfilling the prediction of the prophet Elijah.
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Cindy Willingham is a landscape designer, small group leader, avid encourager, and sinner saved by grace who is eight years new to Birmingham, Alabama. Her sweet husband of 37 years, two married children and four grand-kiddos fill her life with unbelievable fun and sweet snuggles. She thinks God is awesome and that the best adventure starts with saying yes to that still, small voice. ~ To read Cindy’s BoP Bio click here.