Jezebel, from the Old Testament (Kings I and II), was the wife of King Ahab who ruled the kingdom of Israel. By opposing the worship of the Hebrew god Yahweh, neglecting the rights and well-being of her subjects, and challenging the great prophets Elijah and Elisha, she prompted the internal conflict that plagued Israel for decades.
Tyrannical Rule of Jezebel
When Jezebel married Ahab, she influenced him to worship Baal, a nature god. As a woman seeking more power, she sought to destroy those who questioned her, and most of the prophets of Yahweh were murdered at her request. These evil and tyrannical works motivated the righteous vengeance of Elijah who correctly predicted the encounter of a severe drought as divine retribution against Jezebel. Elijah later had the Baal priests killed after they had failed in a contest with him to see which God would answer their prayers to inflame a bull offering, Baal or Yahweh. When Jezebel learned of the killing, she furiously vowed to have Elijah killed, forcing him to flee for his life (I Kings 18:19–19:3).
Another cruel act credited to Jezebel is written in I Kings 21:5–16. Next to Ahab’s dwelling was a vineyard, which he envied and desired. It was owned by a civilian, Naboth of Jezreel. When Naboth declined to part with his vineyard as “the inheritance of my fathers” and Jezebel falsely accused him of cursing “God and the king,” which resulted in Naboth’s death by stoning. Elijah faced Ahab in the vineyard, prophesying that he and all his successors would be slain and that dogs would devour Jezebel.
Jezebel is Thrown Over and Overthrown
Some years after, Ahab died in fighting with the Syrians and Jezebel continued on for nearly another ten years. Elijah’s heir, Elisha the prophet, continued the determination to end Baal worship. He anointed a militant leader named Jehu to be king of Israel, an order that prompted civil war as Jehoram, Jezebel’s son, then ruled. Jehu then killed Jehoram and sought to overthrow Jezebel and take his place as ruler of Israel. Anticipating him, she decorated herself in fancy clothing for the occasion. Looking down from her window, she mocked him, and Jehu commanded her eunuchs to toss her out of the window. After her fall and death, he ordered that she be buried as a king’s daughter, however, it was found that dogs had eaten most of her body, just as Elijah had predicted. Jezebel has come to be recognized as a model of the wicked woman, embodying the characteristics of cruelty, greed, and vanity.
Significance of Jezebel in the Bible
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 splendor. Four hundred and fifty prophets ministered under her care to Baal, besides four hundred prophets of the groves [RSV, '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).
Find the full scripture text of the Jezebel Bible story below along with related articles, videos, and sermons.