Seal of Jezebel Identified -- By: Bryant G. Wood

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 21:2 (Spring 2008)
Article: Seal of Jezebel Identified
Author: Bryant G. Wood


Seal of Jezebel Identified

Bryant G. Wood

The Story of Jezebel

Jezebel was no doubt the wickedest woman in the Bible. In the book of Revelation her name was invoked in condemning a false prophetess in Thyatira who promoted sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols (Rv 2:20). Even today the name is emblematic of a sinful, shameless woman. Jezebel means “where is his highness (=Baal)?” (Korpel 2008: 37). Baal was the great Canaanite storm and fertility god. Jezebel’s father Ethbaal, whose name means “with Baal” or “man of Baal,” was king of the Phoenicians (1 Kgs 16:31). The Jewish historian Josephus tells us that Ethbaal was formerly a priest of Ashtoreth, consort of Baal, who usurped the throne and reigned over Tyre and Sidon for 32 years (Contra Apionem i.18.123).

In order to form a political alliance with the Phoenicians, Ahab, king of Israel (874–853 BC), married Baal-worshipping Jezebel (1 Kgs 16:31). “Urged on by Jezebel his wife” (1 Kgs 21:25), Ahab became a follower of Baal, and even erected a temple and altar to the pagan deity in Samaria (1 Kgs 16:32). He had the distinction of being the king who “did more to provoke the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger than did all the kings of Israel before him” (1 Kgs 16:33). Jezebel bore Ahab a son, Joram, who ruled Israel for 12 years from 852 to 841 BC, and she herself became a strong political figure bearing the title “Queen Mother” (2 Kgs 10:13).

Jezebel was zealous in her efforts to stamp out Yahwism and promote the worship of Baal. She mounted a campaign to kill the Lord’s prophets (1 Kgs 18:4, 13), while at the same time feeding 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah, the Canaanite mother goddess and consort of El, at the royal table (1 Kgs 18:19). This led to a confrontation between Elijah and the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel, resulting in the extermination of the prophets of Baal (1 Kgs 18:16–40).

Bryant G. Wood

Baal the Canaanite storm god, also worshipped by the later Phoenicians. In his left hand he holds a spear which flashes lightning and in his right hand a mace. The relief, which dates to 16...

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