When it comes to wicked female characters in the Bible, there are many. If ever there was a Razzie Awards to salute the worst the Bible has to offer, Jezebel would easily take a top prize. Almost everyone knows her as the infamous witch of the Word. She reigned as the most powerful she-devil to ever wear a crown in Israel. Jezebel was a direct enemy of God. Edward B. Coe called her “the Lady Macbeth of Hebrew history.” Even though the name Jezebel means, “chaste, free from carnal connection”; her name is now often associated with all things evil.
Jezebel is first mentioned in 1 Kings 16:31 as the daughter of King Ethbaal of Sidon who married King Ahab. Ahab took the throne following a long line of sinful kings who did what the Lord said was wrong. Because of their disobedience, God had all of them destroyed. In some cases, God had their entire families destroyed. Ahab obviously failed to get the memo because according to 1 Kings 16:30, “He did what the Lord said was wrong. Ahab was worse than all the kings who were before him.” One of the main reasons Ahab did so much evil was because of the powerful but corrupt influence of his wife, Jezebel.
According to Zondervan’s Alphabetical Exposition of Named Bible Women, Jezebel possessed an extraordinary force of character. Zondervan writes: “Savage and relentless, this proud and strong-minded woman carried out her foul schemes. A gifted woman, she prostituted all her gifts for the furtherance of evil, and her misdirected talents became a curse. Persuasive, her influence was wrongly directed. Resolute above other women, she used her strength of character to destroy a king and her own offspring, as well as pollute the life of a nation.”
Jezebel’s beauty did not keep her from being bad. Her charm was not enough to erase her corruption. Her talent could not reverse her transgressions. How can we avoid allowing power to corrupt us? How can we avoid being selfish and lying or screwing up the lives of others to get what we want? While Jezebel is a hard person to like and her story is a sad one, God did not put it in the Bible for nothing. Here are three things we can learn from her life.
1. Jezebel defied God. Jezebel’s father, Ethbaal, was a priest of the false god Baal. Instead of choosing to follow the one true God, she followed in the footsteps of her father and worshipped a god who did not exist. What she did led her husband and many of the people in Israel to turn their backs on God and worship Baal too. Because Jezebel was at odds with God, she was also at odds with His followers. Her arch-enemy was the prophet Elijah who refused to succumb to her evil rule.
Even when Elijah prayed fire down from Heaven (something her false prophets could not do), Jezebel still refused to acknowledge God. She ridiculed Elijah, scared him into hiding, and threatened more than once to kill him. She was unsuccessful in this last part, but unfortunately she was successful in carrying out mass murder that saw nearly all the Lord’s prophets killed. Jezebel had absolutely no respect for God or for the people of God.
Ecclesiastes 12:13 gives what the duty is for everyone: Fear God, and keep his commandments. The Creator and Supreme Ruler of the universe requires us to be loyal and obedient to His laws. Whether we understand His ways or not, God knows what is best for His creation. To fear God means to worship Him and to show Him the honor that is due Him. To keep His commandments is to show respect to His Holy Word. When we honor God, God will honor us. When we obey God, God will bless us. Jezebel did not fear God or keep His commandments. As a result, she came to a disastrous end.
2. Jezebel wanted what she wanted, when she wanted it. A good man named Naboth owned a vineyard near the palace where King Ahab lived with Jezebel. King Ahab wanted the vineyard to make a vegetable garden. Naboth refused to sell it to him. Ahab went back home angry and pouting. He was so upset that he immediately went to bed, refused to see anyone, and refused to eat. Imagine a king acting this way! Seriously, Ahab?
Anyway, Jezebel came along and got her husband to tell what he was pouting about. Jezebel told him not to worry about the vineyard anymore. She would get it for him herself. And get it she did. Through lies and plotting with two other dishonest people Jezebel had Naboth put to death just so Ahab could have his garden. When Elijah told Ahab how his wife acquired Naboth’s field and the judgement that was to come upon them because of it, 1 Kings 21:27 says Ahab became sad and put on sackcloth. He finally humbled himself before God. There is no record of Jezebel ever repenting. She was defiant to her violent death.
No matter how much we want something, we should never resort to trickery to get it. God wants us to depend on Him in all situations. Many times when we receive “no” for an answer it is because God has something far better in mind for us. It is selfish to only be happy when we get what we want, but pout when we don’t. Never take shortcuts to your blessing. Wait on God.
3. Jezebel forgot that good always wins in the end. Ahab and Jezebel ruled for a long time. Many of God’s followers were killed, others were forced to go into hiding. It probably seemed like God didn’t notice the wickedness of these rulers. Jezebel, with all her abused power and seductive cruelty, no doubt believed she would continue to get her way and succeed in abolishing all Godly worship out of the land. Even when Jezebel’s doom was near in 2 Kings 9, she still did not show remorse for her actions. She put make-up on her face, fixed her hair, put on her crown, and went haughtily out to die.
As it seemed back then, it may also seem today that evil has the upper hand. But we can be assured that while bad people may seem invincible for a time, they will not last forever. Jezebel’s story reminds us that disobedience brings a bitter reward, the wicked will violently reap what they sow, and the wages of sin is death. The devil goes on pretending that he will be triumphant; but the truth is, God has already won.
Evil is fighting a losing battle.
Good wins in the end.