Jezebel was the daughter of Ethbaal, the king of the Sidonians. She married Ahab, the king of Israel, and caused him worship Baal. She is most often remembered as the archenemy of Elijah though. This report will examine more closely how Jezebel’s character is reflected throughout her life. It will begin with the story of Naboth and his vineyard.
Ahab had tried unsuccessfully to buy the vineyard of Naboth, intending to turn it into a vegetable garden. After his offer was turned down, he went to his room, doleful and despondent. Jezebel then entered the area, and asked for the reason he was so depressed. He then told her that it was because Naboth was refusing to sell his vineyard. In her response to him she said, “You now exercise authority over Israel!”  This phrase is likely an imperative. The modern equivalent of her answer would be something like “Aren’t you the king? Don’t you have power over everything in Israel?”
The kings of other nations would have taken the vineyard by force without second thought. Jezebel was thinking in these terms, being that she was the daughter of a foreign king. Israel was to be different though. Not even kings were exempt from God’s law.
Jezebel then said, “Arise, eat food, and let your heart be cheerful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.”
Ahab did not question how she would go about this. He was more interested in his future vegetable garden, then in Naboth’s fate. Jezebel then wrote letters to the leaders of the city. To do this, she forged Ahab’s signature, and used his seal to make it seem as though Ahab had written the letters.
In the letters, a conspiracy against Naboth is outlined. A fast is called to atone for the “sin” that had been committed. Two false witnesses would be hired, to testify against Naboth, that he had blasphemed God and the king. Naboth would be stoned and his vineyard forfeit to the crown.
At this point, it can be clearly seen that Jezebel had an inherent attitude of control and dominance, unlike Ahab, who generally was a passive follower of her plans. She had more of a “mannish spirit” than he did. Fearsomeness was also a foremost feature of Jezebel. She in fact, was so formidable that even after calling fire from heaven, Elijah fled in fear of her. She had made an oath for “the gods” to kill her, if she did not have Elijah killed within twenty-four hours of making the oath.
The account continues with Naboth being stoned for blasphemy, and Jezebel prompting Ahab to take the vineyard. God has not overlooked this though. He tells Elijah to go to Ahab, and reveal to him that he would die for his sin. God knew it was Jezebel that planned the conspiracy though, so He added, “The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.”
As merciful as God is, He will not tolerate continued disobedience. Jezebel’s wicked life and disgraceful death are an excellent illustration of this.
Jezebel had many of the opposite characteristics of a virtuous wife. Proverbs 31 notes, regarding a virtuous wife, that “… on her tongue is the law of kindness (v26).” Jezebel was the opposite of this. Not only did she murder Naboth, but she also massacred the prophets of Yahweh. She had the law of violence on her tongue, rather than the law of kindness. It is humorous to note that despite her immorality and spiritual harlotry Jezebel’s Hebrew name “Izabel” means “chaste.”
A great many spiritual lessons can be learned from Jezebel’s life. First of all, the importance of choosing a good wife can be learned. Ahab had been a wicked king from the start, but upon marrying Jezebel his wickedness increased even further. 1 Kings 16:31
describes this, “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.”
The concept of foreign wives turning the king’s heart away from God is not new. 1 Kings chapter 11 tells of how Solomon had married many pagan wives. He ended up with seven hundred wives, and three hundred concubines---enough to turn his heart from God. He loved them more than he loved God, and rather than show them the glory of Yahweh, he turned after their gods.
Returning to the story of Naboth and his vineyard; Ahab had just been given an oracle of death. He then, without hesitation, tears his clothes, and wears sackcloth. He also begins a fast, and goes into mourning. Because of God’s dual nature of justice and mercy, He sometimes forgives, even the most wicked of sinners. Regarding Ahab, the author of kings says, “there was no one like Ahab who sold himself to do wickedness in the sight of the Lord…” God partially forgives him though. He tells Ahab that because of his repentance his kingdom will not be taken from him while he is still ruling. It will nonetheless be taken from his lineage, once his son comes to power. It seems though, that God changed his judgment once again. The reason for this is unknown. It is most likely that Ahab fell back into a life of sin, and forfeited God’s mercy. He was killed by a random arrow in a battle with the Syrians.
As for Jezebel, her end is much more gruesome. Jehu had recently been anointed king of Israel, although Jezebel almost certainly thought of herself as the new queen. Jehu then went towards Jezreel, where Jezebel lived. When she heard that Jehu had come, she put makeup on, thinking he was coming peacefully. “Is it peace, Zimri, murderer of your master.”
Jehu does not even respond to her. Rather, he commands her servants (who are on his side) to defenestrate her. He then steps over her cadaver on his way into the building.
After having a meal, he commands her former servants to “see to this accursed woman, and bury her, for she was a king’s daughter.” When her servants went to bury her though, all that remained was a skeleton. This happened to fulfill the prophesy God spoke to Elijah, that the dogs would eat Jezebel, and she would not be buried. God may have forgiven Jezebel if she had repented earlier, but the thought of that did not even enter her mind.
The spirit of Jezebel left a lasting legacy among Israelites. Her wickedness was common knowledge among the Jews of Jesus time. When Jesus was dictating to John a message for the church in Thyatira, He chastised them for permitting a false prophet He called “Jezebel” to lead the church into eating food sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality.
This author personally takes example of Jezebel’s life, as a type of many wicked people that try to dominate and control others. It is reassuring to know that God has everything under His control when this author enters their sphere of influence. In a world, with many Jezebels and Ahabs, this author sees the need for more Elijahs. Those who follow after God amid a culture of indifference and antagonism. It is reassuring to know, that although the wicked may seem in control in the present, they will be brought to an end----just like Jezebel.
What is even more reassuring is the fact that no matter how corrupt of a sinner a person is, God will nonetheless forgive the sin of a repentant soul. This was partially true with the people of the Old Testament. This is especially true in the New Testament though, now that Christ has died for humanity. No matter how wicked of a sinner, they can be fully forgiven if they accept Jesus sacrifice, and commit their lives to God.