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In the Bible
She appears in 1 Kings (1 Kings 16:31) as a Sidonian (i.e., Phoenician) princess who married
Captain King Ahab in the time when the Kingdom of Israel was split in two kingdoms: the northern one (Samaria) and the southern one (Judah), Ahab being from the former.
What no one could have predicted is that it was tradition among Phoenicians that the queen was also the priestess of the goddess Astarte, so she'd be more active than usual in the Hebrew monarchy.
The best was still to come, as according to 1 Kings 18:1 she got rid of Yahweh's prophets minus one hundred of them who were rescued and hidden in a cave by Obadiah (Ahab's overseer), and brought instead more than eight hundred prophets (read: priests) of the
demons gods Baal , Loviatar, and Talona and Asherah during a famine that took place in Samaria. As the prophet Elijah Wood disliked how the worship of Baal was overtaking that of Yahweh, he decided to challenge the prophets brought by Jezebel to see how powerful were their deities[note 1] at Mount Carmel, with all the population of Israel as spectators.
This being the Bible, nothing of course happened when the ones of Baal and Asherah attempted to call their gods but when Elijah called Yahweh a
flaming discharge cast by him in secret fire from the skies devoured the offerings for the latter. Of course also, all those prophets were slaughtered by the Israelites and he pissed so much Jezebel that Elijah had to hid in the wilderness, lamenting how his people had given up Yahweh in exchange for Baal.
Later on King Ahab wanted to buy a vineyard close to the royal palace to expand his gardens. Its owner, Naboth, refused even if Ahab even offered the former one better and Jezebel got rid of him causing that the elders accused that man of blasphemy, being stoned to death. Elijah popped up when Ahab appeared by the vineyard telling him that as presumably divine punishment for that act, both the King and Queen would die, the latter devoured by dogs, and the royal line would be history.
As one could again expect Ahab died three years later as well as his son Ahaziah, who succeeded him in the throne being replaced by his brother Joram. Elijah's sucecssor Elisha declared Jehu, commander of Joram's army as king to avenge how were treated Yahweh's prophets and his people by Jezebel, and also of course Joram was killed by Jehu. The latter went to the royal palace, finding Jezebel dressed in all the finery of a queen, and naturally she was thrown out by her servants from the window, trampled by Jehu's horse, and devoured by dogs leaving behind to be buried little more than her skull and a feet.
According to historicists, like other characters on the Bible, Jezebel's history is less of a real character and more of a fictional one, with the events described in the Bible having been compiled centuries after the real Jezebel had lived and criticizing from a monotheistic perspective the polytheistic that existed in that epoch, considered sinful.
Needless to say after what the Bible describes, and like the no less fictional Semiramis even if unlike the former she is a Biblical character, Jezebel has been used as proof by certain Fundies of why (not God-fearing at least) women can be rulers (queens, presidents, majors, whatever). She has ended also as a synonym not only of false a prophet(ess) but also of promiscuous and controlling women, most notably applied to black ones.
- The Bible (KJV) mentions "groves", which of course should be translated as "Asherah".
- The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts by Israel Finkelstein & Neil Asher Silberman (2001) Free Press. ISBN 0684869128.
- New Bible Commentary, edited by Gordon J. Wenham et al. (1994) IVP Academic. 21st Century Edition. ISBN 0830814426.