Bad Woman: Queen Jezabel

For more than two thousand years, Jezebel has been saddled with a reputation as the bad girl of the Bible, the wickedest of women. This ancient queen has been denounced as a murderer, prostitute and enemy of God, and her name has been adopted for lingerie lines and World War II missiles alike. But what if this version of her story, handed down to us through the ages, is merely the one her enemies wanted us to believe? It happens more often than you think. What if Jezebel, far from being a conniving harlot, was, in fact, framed?
Jezebel was a powerful Phoenician princess around 900 BCE.  She is the daughter to Ethbaal, King of Tyre in Phoenicia, and wife to Ahab, King of northern Israel. It is said by many archaeologists and scholars that Jezebel was power behind the throne, not her husband and king. She still honored her religion and did not covert to Judaism. She convinced her husband to worship her Phoenician God Baal, God of fertility, rain and the seasons. They had temples erected in his honor which was seen as sinful by the other Israelite's. They viewed Ahab not only sinning against his own God, but also against his people. His crimes: First by marrying a Phoenician princess who was viewed as a Pagan, then by worshiping the Phoenician God.
Jezebel did not want to lose her cultural identity and her Gods and Goddesses from her home. She was a bold and fierce woman and some will say that her actions were brutal, but in that time, Pagans had been dealing with the constant threat of Judaism and then later Christianity, for some thousand years or so. Many followers of ancient religions were not as eager or willing to give that up so easily, like Jezebel. She started having prophets of the Israeli God killed off.  Although it is said many died, many also survived. Jezebel would stop at nothing to see this new religion gone. She was spoken badly about by worshipers of God and in biblical texts she is described as a wicked woman who dressed herself in makeup and sinful clothing; she was even portrayed as a prostitute, a harlot.
This is not entirely uncommon in the Old Testament as the Jews frequently killed their prophets; but Jezebel had to go one worse. Not content to murder the prophets to stop them spreading their “wickedness” she sacrificed babies to her god of stone to appease him. Elijah – her chief protagonist at least has a chance for vengeance and eventually slaughtered the 450 prophets of Baal.
Throughout the centuries, Jezebel has been attacked as a whore, and her name has been used to describe a woman of promiscuous behavior. But there is nothing in Jezebel’s story to suggest that she was ever unfaithful to Ahab. In fact, she seems to have been fiercely loyal to him and her sons, even in adversity. Jezebel was powerful, a woman and a foreigner. These qualities made her a target for the prophets of Yahweh. In the long run, she backed the wrong gods. She ruled with arbitrary power, which went against the Israelite ideal of kingship. But she was a woman of tremendous ability and intelligence, strong-willed, courageous and loyal.

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