Friday, May 16, 2008

Jezebel, An Emblem of Wickedness

Ahab Takes Naboth’s Vineyard

1 Kings 21

1After these things had happened, this is what followed. A man named
Naboth owned a vineyard in Jezreel, near the palace of Ahab king of Israel. 2One
day Ahab said to Naboth, “Give me your vineyard. It is near my palace, and I
want to make it into a vegetable garden. I will give you a better vineyard in its
place, or, if you prefer, I will pay you what it is worth.”

3Naboth answered, “May the LORD keep me from ever giving my land to
you. It belongs to my family.”

4Ahab went home angry and upset, because he did not like what Naboth from
Jezreel had said. (Naboth had said, “I will not give you my family’s land.”) Ahab
lay down on his bed, turned his face to the wall, and refused to eat.

5His wife, Jezebel, came in and asked him, “Why are you so upset that you
refuse to eat?”

6Ahab answered, “I talked to Naboth, the man from Jezreel. I said, ‘Sell me
your vineyard, or, if you prefer, I will give you another vineyard for it.’ But
Naboth refused.”

7Jezebel answered, “Is this how you rule as king over Israel? Get up, eat
something, and cheer up. I will get Naboth’s vineyard for you.”

8So Jezebel wrote some letters, signed Ahab’s name to them, and used his
own seal to seal them. Then she sent them to the older leaders and important men
who lived in Naboth’s town. 9The letter she wrote said: “Declare a day during
which the people are to give up eating. Call the people together, and give Naboth
a place of honor among them. 10Seat two troublemakers across from him, and
have them say they heard Naboth speak against God and the king. Then take
Naboth out of the city and kill him with stones.”

11The older leaders and important men of Jezreel obeyed Jezebel’s command,
just as she wrote in the letters. 12They declared a special day on which the people
were to give up eating. And they put Naboth in a place of honor before the
people. 13Two troublemakers sat across from Naboth and said in front of
everybody that they had heard him speak against God and the king. So the people
carried Naboth out of the city and killed him with stones. 14Then the leaders sent
a message to Jezebel, saying, “Naboth has been killed.”

15When Jezebel heard that Naboth had been killed, she told Ahab, “Naboth of
Jezreel is dead. Now you may go and take for yourself the vineyard he would not
sell to you.” 16When Ahab heard that Naboth of Jezreel was dead, he got up and
went to the vineyard to take it for his own.

17At this time the LORD spoke his word to the prophet Elijah the Tishbite.
The LORD said, 18“Go to Ahab king of Israel in Samaria. He is at Naboth’s
vineyard, where he has gone to take it as his own. 19Tell Ahab that I, the LORD,
say to him, ‘You have murdered Naboth and taken his land. So I tell you this: In
the same place the dogs licked up Naboth’s blood, they will also lick up your

20When Ahab saw Elijah, he said, “So you have found me, my enemy!”

Elijah answered, “Yes, I have found you. You have always chosen to do what
the LORD says is wrong. 21So the LORD says to you, ‘I will soon destroy you. I
will kill you and every male in your family, both slave and free. 22Your family
will be like the family of King Jeroboam son of Nebat and like the family of
King Baasha son of Ahijah. I will destroy you, because you have made me angry
and have led the people of Israel to sin.’

23“And the LORD also says, ‘Dogs will eat the body of Jezebel in the city of

24“Anyone in your family who dies in the city will be eaten by dogs, and
anyone who dies in the fields will be eaten by birds.”

25There was no one like Ahab who had chosen so often to do what the LORD
said was wrong, because his wife Jezebel influenced him to do evil. 26Ahab
sinned terribly by worshiping idols, just as the Amorite people did. And the
LORD had taken away their land and given it to the people of Israel.

27After Elijah finished speaking, Ahab tore his clothes. He put on rough cloth,
refused to eat, and even slept in the rough cloth to show how sad and upset he

28The LORD spoke his word to Elijah the Tishbite: 29“I see that Ahab is now
sorry for what he has done. So I will not cause the trouble to come to him during
his life, but I will wait until his son is king. Then I will bring this trouble to
Ahab’s family.”

The Holy Bible, New Century Version


Jezebel was the daughter of the king of Sidon, and was totally committed to the virulent form of Baal worship practiced there. Her marriage to Ahab resulted in Ahab worshiping the Sidonian deity and cooperating with jezebel in her efforts to make Baal the god of Israel. She came close to succeeding.

First Kings 18:4 and 13 make it clear that jezebel took the initiative in this religious crusade, for the text tells us that "Jezebel killed the prophets of the LORD." This does not mean that she personally killed God's prophets, but rather that they were killed at her command. This and other references to jezebel in the Old Testament make it clear that she was a forceful woman. In many ways Jezebel dominated her husband and set the course of the kingdom.

God responded to the threat posed by Jezebel by raising up the prophet Elijah. Elijah not only turned the hearts of the people back to the Lord, but he predicted jezebel's death as a punishment from God.

In the end God commissioned an army officer named Jehu to replace Ahab. Jehu fulfilled God's commission by wiping out all those in Israel who worshiped Baal and by killing every member of Ahab’s household.

The one reference in the New Testament to Jezebel is found in Revelation 2:20: “You allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols."

The name jezebel is probably used symbolically here. Yet the stated reasons why the real woman in the church at Thyatira was identified as a "Jezebel'' is significant.

• A Jezebel "calls herself a prophetess" that is, presents herself as a religious leader.

• A Jezebel teaches and seduces God's people "to commit sexual immorality."

• A Jezebel teaches and seduces God's people to "eat things sacrificed to idols."

This verse in turn suggests that much of jezebel's power over Ahab was rooted in Jezebel's sexuality. She apparently relied on her sexuality to the end. As Jehu entered Jezreel after killing Ahab's successor, "Jezebel heard of it; and she put paint on her eyes and adorned her head, and looked through a window" (2 Kin. 9:30). This last desperate act was futile, however, for at Jehu's command Jezebel was thrown through the window to her death, and dogs ate her body as Elijah had predicted.

Jezebel was undoubtedly a strong woman. She relied on her sexuality and the force of her character to dominate her husband, King Ahab, and to set national religious policy. It would seem that Jezebel rather than Ahab was the dominant personality in the ruling house. Jezebel never hesitated to act as if she rather than Ahab ruled. The immediate obedience of those she commanded indicates that her power was real indeed.

The tragedy of jezebel is that she was committed to evil rather than to God. She used the many gifts and her influence to harm others rather than help them. Despite the power she exercised, Jezebel's life was meaningless and empty. Her death was a consequence of her own evil ways.

(From Every Woman in the Bible by Sue and Larry Richards).

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