Women in the Bible
You are familiar with the Commandments. In this brief account of Ahab, Jezebel and Naboth, what commandments were ignored?
The Following Comments and Notes are from the Jewish Study Bible –
“21:1–29: Naboth’s vineyard. This story reintroduces Elijah into the narrative. In contrast to the preceding story, in which Ahab profited by not putting to death one who had been doomed by God, here he profits by passively allowing corrupt courts acting in the name of God and king to execute an innocent person.
1-3: Ahab’s request to purchase or trade for Naboth’s vineyard next to his palace was neither unreasonable nor illegal (Lev. 25:29–30), but Naboth may have refused because he did not wish to sell his inherited land (v. 3).
8-13: Here too, Jezebel is blamed (16:31). In relating how Jezebel corrupted the legal system using two corroborating witnesses (cf. Deut. 17:6; 19:15), the prophetic story reveals that Israel did have a legal system with defined laws and procedures, some of which are found in the Torah. The crime of which Naboth is accused, and its prescribed punishment, is only partially known from the Torah (Lev. 24:15–16). No Torah legislation explicitly criminalizes cursing the king (but see Exod. 22:27).
19-24: Elijah’s denunciation of Ahab flows into a doom–laden series of predictions: dogs will lap up Ahab’s blood (fulfilled in 22:38); dogs will devour Jezebel (fulfilled in 2 Kings 9:33–36); Ahab’s dynasty will be destroyed (cf. 20:42; fulfilled in 2 Kings 10:11, 17).
24: Devoured . . . dogs . . . birds, see 16:4 n.
25-26: The author’s comment about Ahab is not anchored in the context of the Naboth story. It addresses Ahab’s idolatrous behavior and attributes part of it, at least, to the instigation of his foreign wife. The author used the same device, intended to ameliorate but not forgive the offensive activities, in commenting onSolomon (11:4-5).
27-28: In view of Ahab’s sincere contrition, God tells Elijah who does not tell Ahab that the destruction of his dynasty, announced to Ahab in vv. 21–22, will not occur in his lifetime. This qualification of the earlier pronouncement allows the author to maintain congruency between a prediction that was part of an early prophetic story and recorded events. It highlights the power of repentance while emphasizing that misdeeds must at some point be punished.”
Who Was Jezebel?
There are two Jezebels in the Bible. The first one is found in the Old Testament, and the second one is found in the New Testament.
Jezebel – Old Testament. The first time the name Jezebel occurs in the Bible is when she is getting married to King Ahab in 1 Kings 16:31,
And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of YHVH more than all who were before him. And it came about, as though it had been a trivial thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he married Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and went to serve Baal and worshiped him. 1 Kings 16:30-31 (NASB)
She was an evil woman who killed many prophets of God while feeding and caring for the prophets of two gods called Baal and Asherah (1 Kings 18:1-19). In 1 Kings 18:20-46 Ahab, Elijah and 450 prophets of Baal gather to see, “Who is God?” Elijah puts it simply, How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If YHVH is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him. 1 Kings 18:21 (NASB)
What followed was a one-sided contest. The followers of Baal prepared a sacrifice but Baal never sent fire to consume the sacrifice even though the 450 prophets called to Baal all day pleading, “O Baal, answer us.” Then they even cut themselves with swords and lances and still Baal did not answer. Baal never responded. Finally, Elijah poured water on his sacrifice three times. After Elijahprayed, God sent fire from heaven to consume his sacrifice. Elijah killed the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:40). Therefore, Jezebel sought to kill Elijah (1 Kings 19:1-2).
In 1 Kings 21:5-25 Jezebel had Naboth the Jezreelite killed so that her husband could own Naboth’s vineyard. What a wicked woman! Eventually, Jezebel was trampled to death by horses (2 Kings 9:30-37). Then dogs ate her flesh, leaving only her skull and the palms of her hands. What a horrible way to die. Jezebel was a wicked, evil, adulterous woman who was fighting against God.
Jezebel – New Testament. The name Jezebel is used for a woman once again in Revelation 2:18-29. Here, Jezebel is described as a prophetess, a false teacher, an immoral woman and idol worshiper. She attended a church at Thyatira. She encouraged those who attended the church to engage in sexual sin and worship other gods.
But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. And I gave her time to repent; and she does not want to repent of her immorality. Rev. 2:20-21 (NASB)
She was like the Jezebel in the Old Testament. They share many of the same characteristics. God warned this Jezebel that He would punish her if she did not stop teaching this evil and repent. God not only warned Jezebel the teacher, He also warned her followers to stop and repent (Rev. 2:22-23).
And I will kill her children with pestilence, and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds. Rev. 2:23 (NASB)
Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a sharp contrast to Jezebel. She was a woman who committed herself to God and followed Him. Notice Mary’s attitude of willing submission to God when she agreed to become the mother of Jesus, And Mary said, “Behold, the bond slave of YHVH; may it be done to me according to your word.” Luke 1:38 (NAS95S)
And Mary said: “My soul exalts YHVH, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave.” Luke 1:46-48 (NASB)
What a wonderful woman! What a contrast. This is the kind of woman God desires, one who is humble, God honoring and God glorifying.
Dictionaries - Easton's Bible Dictionary - Jezebel
Jezebel: chaste, the daughter of Ethbaal, the king of the Zidonians, and the wife of Ahab, the king of Israel (1 Kings 16:31). 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 splendour. 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).
Her name afterwards came to be used as the synonym for a wicked woman (Revelation 2:20).
It may be noted that she is said to have been the grand-aunt of Dido, the founder of Carthage.
Question: “What is the Jezebel Spirit?”
Answer: There is a variety of opinions about what constitutes a Jezebel spirit, everything from sexual looseness in a woman to the teaching of false doctrine—by a man or a woman. The Bible does not mention a Jezebel spirit, although it has plenty to say about Jezebel herself.
Jezebel’s story is found in 1 and 2 Kings. She was the daughter of Ethbaal, king of Tyre/Sidon and priest of the cult of Baal, a cruel, sensuous and revolting false god whose worship involved sexual degradation and lewdness. Ahab, king of Israel, married Jezebel and led the nation into Baal worship (1 Kings 16:31). Ahab and Jezebel’s reign over Israel is one of the saddest chapters in the history of God’s people.
There are two incidents in the life of Jezebel that characterize her and may define what is meant by the “Jezebel spirit.” One trait is her obsessive passion for domineering and controlling others, especially in the spiritual realm. When she became queen, she began a relentless campaign to rid Israel of all evidences of Yahweh worship. She ordered the extermination of all the prophets of YHVH (1 Kings 18:4, 13) and replaced their altars with those of Baal. Her strongest enemy was Elijah, who demanded a contest on Mount Carmel between the powers of Israel’s God and the powers of Jezebel and the priests of Baal (1 Kings 18). Of course, God won, but despite hearing of the miraculous powers of YHVH, Jezebel refused to repent and swore on her gods that she would pursue Elijah relentlessly and take his life. Her stubborn refusal to see and submit to the power of the living God would lead her to a hideous end (2 Kings 9:29–37).
The second incident involves a righteous man named Naboth who refused to sell to Ahab land adjoining the palace, rightly declaring that to sell his inheritance would be against YHVH’s command (1 Kings 21:3; Leviticus 25:23). While Ahab sulked and fumed on his bed, Jezebel taunted and ridiculed him for his weakness, then proceeded to have the innocent Naboth framed and stoned to death. Naboth’s sons were also stoned to death, so there would be no heirs, and the land would revert to the possession of the king. Such a single-minded determination to have one’s way, no matter who is destroyed in the process, is a characteristic of the Jezebel spirit.
So infamous was Jezebel’s sexual immorality and idol worship that YHVH Jesus Himself refers to her in a warning to the church at Thyatira (Revelation 2:18-29). Most likely referring to a woman in the church who influenced it the same way Jezebel influenced Israel into idolatry and sexual immorality, Jesus declares to the Thyatirans that she is not to be tolerated. Whoever this woman was, like Jezebel, she refused to repent of her immorality and her false teaching, and her fate was sealed. YHVH Jesus cast her onto a sick bed, along with those who committed idolatry with her. The end for those who succumb to a Jezebel spirit is always death and destruction, both in the physical and the spiritual sense.
Perhaps the best way to define the Jezebel spirit is to say it characterizes anyone who acts in the same manner as Jezebel did, engaging in immorality, idolatry, false teaching and unrepentant sin. To go beyond that is to engage in conjecture and can possibly lead to false accusations and divisiveness within the body of Christ.
Question: “What is the story of Ahab and Jezebel?”
Answer: King Ahab and Queen Jezebel served as leaders of the northern kingdom of Israel during a time of much evil in the land. King Ahab was a Jewish king who married a Sidonian woman named Jezebel and became involved in worshiping Baal, the god of her people. Ahab built a house to Baal in the capital city of Samaria and made an Asherah pole as a tool of pagan worship. We are told, “Ahab did more to provoke YHVH, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him” (1 Kings 16:33).
Jezebel was likewise known for her evil actions. She was the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians. After her marriage to Ahab, her first recorded action was cutting off the prophets of YHVH (1 Kings 18:4). Obadiah, a Godfearing officer in Ahab’s court, noted that Jezebel killed many prophets, despite Obadiah’s efforts to save them: “Has it not been told my lord what I did whenJezebel killed the prophets of YHVH, how I hid a hundred men of YHVH’s prophets by fifties in a cave and fed them with bread and water?” (1 Kings 18:13–14).
It was during the time of Ahab and Jezebel that Elijah was the prophet in Israel. Satan had his couple on the throne, but God had His man in the field, performing miracles and leading a revival against Baal-worship. The three-and-a-half-year drought that Elijah prayed for was part of God’s judgment on the wickedness of the nation and its leaders.
When Elijah confronted Ahab near the end of the drought, the king said to him, “Is that you, you troubler of Israel?” (1 Kings 18:17). But Ahab had it wrong.
Elijah was not the one bringing trouble on the land. The prophet corrected the king: “I have not made trouble for Israel . . . but you and your father’s family have. You have abandoned YHVH’s commands and have followed the Baals” (verse 18).
After Elijah defeated the prophets of Baal and had them killed at Mt. Carmel (1 Kings 18), Jezebel issued a death threat against him (1 Kings 19:2). The queen went on to plot against Naboth, the innocent owner of a vineyard that Ahab coveted. Jezebel had Naboth killed so the king could confiscate his land (1 Kings 21), and she prodded her husband into many other wicked acts besides: “There was none who sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of YHVH like Ahab, whom Jezebel his wife incited” (1 Kings 21:25).
Ahab’s death was predicted by the prophets Elijah and Micaiah (1 Kings 21:19; 22:28). Jezebel’s gruesome death was also predicted by Elijah (1 Kings 21:23).
True to the prophecy, Ahab was killed in a battle with Syria. Later, Jezebel was thrown from a tower, “and some of her blood spattered on the wall and on the horses, and they trampled on her” (2 Kings 9:33). Then, “when they went to bury her, they found no more of her than the skull and the feet and the palms of her hands” (2 Kings 9:35). Just as Elijah had said, the dogs ate Jezebel.
In Revelation 2:20 Jezebel’s reputation lives on as Jesus speaks against the church at Thyatira: “But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols.” The woman’s name in Thyatira was probably not literally “Jezebel,” but her immorality and idolatry in preying upon God’s people was very Jezebel-like.
Both Ahab and Jezebel were leaders of God’s people who forsook YHVH and served other gods. The royal couple earned a reputation for sin and violence, and they both suffered violent deaths as part of God’s judgment on their actions.
Compilation and comments © by Dr. David G. Sloss, PhD 2018