9.1. Her Origin

Her name means either “dunghill,” or “without cohabitation, un-husbanded.”1 Jezebel was the daughter of a Phoenician king, Ethbaal of Sidon (1K. 1K. 16:13).

The identity of this Ethbaal and Ειθώβαλος [Eithōbalos] , mentioned in a fragment of the Tyrian Annals of Menander, . . . is sufficiently made out, and is not, I believe, called in question by any. Of this Ethbaal we there learn that he was a priest of Astarte, and, by the murder of his predecessor Pheles, made his own way to the throne and kingdom. Jezebel, so swift to shed blood (1K. 1K. 18:4; 1K. 19:2; 1K. 21:10), is a worthy offshoot of this evil stock.2

Ahab, the sinful king over the Northern Kingdom of Israel, took her in marriage as an accommodation with the pagan culture of the Sidonians:

And it came to pass, as though it had been a trivial 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 he went and served Baal and worshiped him. Then he set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal, which he had built in Samaria. And Ahab made a wooden image. Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him. (1K. 1K. 16:31-33)


1 “Jezebel. i.e. a dunghill; without cohabitation.”—Jerome Smith, The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1992), Rev. 1:20. “Noncohabited, un-husbanded.”—Merrill K. Unger, R. Harrison, Frederic F Vos, and Cyril J. Barber, The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1988), s.v. “Jezebel.”

2 Richard Chenevix Trench, Commentary on the Epistles to the Seven Churches in Asia (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1861), 138.