Jezebel: The Whore of Baal

The popular definition of a Jezebel is an – impudent, selfish, and scheming woman willing to use any means immoral or otherwise, to get her own way.

But who was the real Jezebel, the Painted Jezebel of legend and lore who wicked and lustful used her body and sexual allure to manipulate men to her will, or merely an assertive woman in a patriarchal world who refused to be cowed by men and was to be murdered by a society that had come to loathe and fear her?

Jezebel, who appears in the Hebrew Book of Kings, was the daughter of Ethobaal, King of the Sidonians, and therefore a Phoenician Princess from modern day Lebanon.

The Phoenicians worshipped many Gods the most powerful of which was Baal the God of heaven, storms, fertility, and agriculture and as a descendant of Royal Blood she was designated a Priestess of Baal, a position of duty and honour.

But another duty of a Royal Princess was to make a good marriage and so early she was wed to King Ahab who ruled the northern Israel from his capital in Samaria.

Jezebel’s new subjects were monotheists but she was nonetheless determined to introduce Baal into their religious life and woo them from their worship of Yahweh, the one True God.

When Ahab built a temple to Baal in Samaria it was rumoured that his Queen had seduced him into committing heresy, when he ordered his people to worship at the temple they were convinced she had.

But the Israelites were a stubborn people and would not readily forsake Yahweh but Jezebel, though she may have to bide her time, would find a way – for though she may not have ruled Samaria she did rule her husband.

When Ahab desired a plot of land near the Royal Palace for a vegetable garden he made its owner Nabooth a generous offer but Nabooth did not wish to sell which he was under no obligation to do.

It was a decision that Ahab appeared willing to accept.

When Jezebel found out however, she turned on her husband:

“Who rules here, does this man not know that Kings to have to eat!!”

She took it upon herself to seize the land and when Nabooth complained she ordered him stoned to death.

Jezebel had proven herself a cruel Queen for whom no iniquity was beyond her countenance, and like all followers of Baal she painted her face and dressed immodestly, she encouraged the married to commit adultery, in the Temple of Baal there were orgies, and sodomites, and human sacrifice.

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Her enemies plotted her downfall but it was Jezebel who struck first. She had the Prophets of Yahweh arrested and executed – if the people of Israel would not worship Baal then they would not worship at all.

King Ahab it seemed was incapable of resisting his wife’s demands and so his death was greeted with relief but only temporarily for he was succeeded by Jezebel’s son, Ahaziah.

This was unacceptable to the people of Samaria and he was murdered in an uprising.

But Jezebel would not be intimidated and she ensured that her second son Jehoram would become King, but few doubted who really ruled.

The Prophet Elisha, who had escaped the massacre of the Servants of Yahweh had returned and now prophesied not just the end of Jezebel’s reign but her death.

But before retribution could be wrought upon the apostate Queen, King Jehoram would have to be eliminated for without him she would be defenceless.

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Following defeat in battle a General named Jehu led a rebellion during which he shot Jehoram dead with an arrow to the back.

Learning of her son’s death Jezebel chose not to flee but remained at the Royal Palace in Samaria and awaited the arrival of her tormentors.

If she was to die then she would do so as a Queen and a Priestess of Baal; she dressed her hair and wore her jewellery, put on her finest clothes and painted her lips, coloured her eyes and made up her face.

Jezebel had no army with which to fight only a woman’s power of seduction but it was not her intention to seduce Jehu, for him she had a venomous tongue and he would experience the sharp end of it.

She taunted him for being a coward and less than a man and abused him in the most explicit of terms.

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A furious Jehu ordered the eunuchs who accompanied him to throw her from the window, as defenestration approached it was said she screamed so loud the walls shook.

It was also said that her body was crushed by the fall and that her blood spattered the walls and buildings thereabout.

Her body was left in the street to rot and be chewed by dogs and pecked at by birds, but the sight of the bleeding and decaying corpse of a woman, even one so hated was unpleasant and harmful to Jehu and so he ordered:

“Attend to that accursed woman and bury her.”

So ended the life of the Harlot Queen Jezebel, her face painted and her reputation tainted for all eternity.

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