In modern times, the name Jezebel has come to mean a loose woman or one of low moral standards. You may remember the 1938 movie "Jezebel" with Bette Davis. The main character was called a Jezebel for simply being rebellious. However, the Jezebel of the Bible, spoken of in the book of 1Kings, chapters 16 - 21, was a different sort of woman. She had more charges against her than not following the accepted code of conduct. She has the dubious distinction of being the most evil woman in the Bible.
King Ahab of Israel should have held up the banner of the God of Israel, however he was considered evil. Each king before him had been straying from the true religion and he was the worst. He married Jezebel even though she was of Sidonian (a pagan nation) birth. Jezebel set about promoting Baal worship as the exclusive religion of Israel. . As the wife of King Ahab, she influenced her husband to turn against his belief and become even more evil. As queen of Israel she ruled over 850 pagan priests and systematically worked to turn Israel against the belief in the One True God. She was determined that the entire nation would worship Baal.
In Hebrew, Jezebel means "not exalted." Perhaps this contributed to her desire to exalt herself above all else. She believed that the king and queen should own anything they desired and she went to any means, even murder, to get what she wanted. She managed to influence Ahab, her husband, to do the same. In 1 Kings 21 we read that the evil couple caused a man, Naboth, to be framed and murdered just to gain control over his vineyard.
In the course of her campaign to stamp our Israel's religion Jezebel set about killing the prophets of God. The prophet Elijah went up against her pagan prophets of Baal and single-handedly killed them all. In retaliation, Jezebel sent a message with a vow to kill him. Elijah knew that this was no idle threat from the most evil woman ever known, so he fled. His God saved him and eventually sent him back to Ahab. Elijah prophesied terrible deaths for both King Ahab and Jezebel for being evil and causing Israel to sin. Ahab finally took God's word through Elijah seriously, humbled himself before the Lord and repented. Jezebel did not. The Lord spared Ahab but later Jezebel met her death just as Elijah had foretold. She was betrayed by her own servants who, at the request of her enemy, threw Jezebel out her window. Her blood splattered on the wall and horses trampled her corpse. Before she could be buried, dogs consumed her remains. She died on the ground that she had illegally obtained from Naboth. (2 Kings 9:30-37) Jezebel was an evil woman, and was cursed by God.
We find the name Jezebel mentioned again in the book of Revelation as part of God's message to the church of Thyatira. There was a prominent woman in the church who was teaching that impurity was not a serious sin for believers. She apparently led others into sexual immorality. This woman is referred to as Jezebel. There are differences of opinion on whether this woman's name was actually Jezebel. Many believe that God used the name to symbolize the extent of the evil that the woman caused. God takes the crime of misleading His people very seriously. Read about her in Revelation 2:20.
- Do you take God's word seriously? Are there parts of His word that you think are not important?
- Will you study God's word and pray for understanding of His meaning? Will you ask Him to change your will to correspond with His own?