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Mary Elizabeth Baxter :: Jezebel—1 Kings 16, 19 and 21.

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King Ahab had succeeded his father Omri on the throne of Israel. He not only followed the ways of Jeroboam, but "did evil in the sight of the Lord above all that were before him. And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel, the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him." Ahab was disobeying the plain command of God (Deu 7:3; Jos 23:12-13) in marrying a heathen woman, and, moreover, he was putting himself under the power of a beautiful, but utterly unscrupulous woman, whose first influence over her husband was to induce him to build a house for Baal‐worship, and rear up an altar to the false god which she served.

Not content with this, Jezebel, who seems to have had a peculiar influence over her husband, and to have made use of the weakness of his character to gain her own wicked ends, commenced


against the prophets of the Lord. She conceived the idea of destroying every prophet of the Lord in her husband's dominions, and actually commenced the massacre, and so great a reign of terror came about in Israel, that a hundred prophets at once took refuge in a cave provided by Obadiah, one of Ahab's courtiers, who supplied them with food and kept their hiding‐place secret. (1Ki 18:13.)

Whenever the enemy succeeds in securing a bold and unscrupulous witness, the Lord raises up a witness on His side. "When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him." (Isa 59:19.) It was at this very time that Elijah, prepared beforehand by three and a half years of close and solitary communion with his God, came forth to Mount Carmel, and, in the presence of the subdued and astonished king Ahab, challenged God, in the presence of assembled Israel, to send down fire from heaven and make manifest that He was God. When God's prophet had done all these things by His Word, and when the fire fell, and the representative gathering-king, princes, priests, prophets, and people-fell upon their faces and declared: "The Lord, He is the God; the Lord, He is the God," then Elijah expected that Jezebel, too, would be convinced, and that Baal‐worship had got its death‐stroke in Israel. But things were not yet ripe. God is in no hurry, He waits for the right moment. "He hath made every thing beautiful in His time." (Ecc 3:11.) When Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done and how her false prophets were slain with the sword, then Jezebel, utterly undaunted, sent a messenger to Elijah to threaten his life; and Elijah-who had stood unscathed amidst all the fire of persecution, all the trying ordeal of being in his own person the only witness who dared to acknowledge his God in that tremendous crisis on Mount Carmel-now fled before the face of this wicked woman Jezebel.

Elijah did not fear for his life; he had taken his life in his hand during years of silent testimony for his God, and in his bold witness against Ahab. But, O, his heart was broken, that it could still be possible for Jezebel to exercise an influence over her convinced husband. If Jezebel were not conquered, then Israel's conversion could not be permanent, and it was more than Elijah could bear. He asked only that he might die. So tremendous is the power of an unscrupulous, wicked woman even against a prophet of the Lord.

We hear no more of Jezebel after this time until king Ahab returned from his successful campaign against the Syrians. When Ahab was consciously undeserving and humbled, God had made use of him to scatter the boasting Syrians; but in his foolish pride he had saved the life of Ben‐hadad that he might, perhaps, have the glory of exhibiting his captive in some triumphal procession. The Lord had rebuked him by His prophet, and said, "Because thou hast let go out of thy hand a man whom I appointed to utter destruction, thy life shall go for his life, and thy people for his people." (1Ki 20:43.) Ahab was "heavy and displeased," sulky and ill‐tempered, instead of humble and broken. There had been a temporary measure of nearness to God; now he was open even to the influence of his wicked wife, and of the devil whose instrument she was.

Satan is never at a loss to tempt those who leave open the door of their hearts for his entrance, and when men quarrel with circumstances which God controls, the door is only upon the latch, and Satan finds a ready ingress. Ahab was a covetous man as well as an idolater. Covetousness is idolatry. (Col 3:5.) Ahab looked with a covetous eye upon a vineyard belonging to Naboth, the Jezreelite, which joined his vegetable garden; and he spoke to Naboth, saying:

"Give me thy vineyard, that I may have it for a garden of herbs, because it is near unto my house; and I will give thee for it a better vine‐yard than it; or, if it seem good to thee, I will give thee the worth of it in money." (1Ki 21:6.) Naboth was a man who lived in the fear of God; he answered:

"The Lord forbid it me, that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee."

The sulky king lost his temper, and so yielded to his displeasure, that he took to his bed, "turned away his face, and would eat no bread." God had been trusting him with triumphs over his enemies, he had been having some real dealings with God, although it had not come to an absolute conversion, but now the tide is turning in another direction, and Jezebel comes to the help of the arch enemy as his instrument to overthrow the little current for good which had set in her husband's life. She comes to him with the question:

"Why is thy spirit so sad, that thou eatest no bread?"

And when the king told her how things stood between him and Naboth, the unprincipled woman said to him, with galling satire:

"Dost thou now govern the kingdom of Israel? arise, and eat bread, and let thine heart be merry; I will give thee the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite."

Presuming upon her position as queen, this prophetess of Baal "wrote letters in Ahab's name, and sealed them with his seal, and sent the letters unto the elders, and to the nobles that were in his city…Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people: and set two men, sons of Belial, before him, to bear witness against him, saying, Thou didst blaspheme God and the king. And then carry him out, and stone him, that he may die." (1Ki 21:7-10.)

Jezebel stopped short at nothing for the accomplishment of her purpose; imperious, unscrupulous, cruel, even murder did not stay the hand of this priestess of Baal, this upholder of the power of Satan in the land. Ahab was but a tool in her hands, and the nobles of Israel were little better. Jezebel carried all before her, and when her wicked purpose was accomplished, and the innocent Naboth was stoned-a true martyr to his conscientious scruples about the family holding which had come to him through his fathers as a charge from God-the officials who were in complicity with Jezebel, sent to her, saying:

"Naboth is stoned, and is dead."

And in her fiendish triumph, the wicked queen aroused her sulky consort, saying:

Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give thee for money: for Naboth is not alive, but dead." And Ahab arose, and took possession.

But an unexpected check awaited him in the very spot which he had coveted, and the stern figure of the holy prophet Elijah, standing, as was his wont, in the presence of the God of Israel, met the gaze of Ahab, and a searching voice, the sound of which, perhaps, is following him even in hell, asked the question:

"Hast thou killed, and also taken possession?" And then Ahab must hear the awful fate which God had determined upon him and upon his posterity. Part of this terrible curse ran thus:


by the walls of Jezreel." (2Ki 21:23.)

Years passed by. Ahab lost his life in his attempt to recover Ramoth‐gilead, but Jezebel lived still, and her wicked and immoral influence still held power in the court, and in the city of Jezreel. But God raised up the furious Jehu to scour from the land of Israel every representative of Ahab's family. When he came to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it. Perhaps she felt her time was coming; but like other infamous women, she was determined, if she died, to die in all the splendour of her usual attire. "She painted her face, and tired her head, and looked out at a window," with the insolent, dogged purpose to fight it out to the last. But Jezebel's time was come, and none of her creatures would have power to maintain her cause, for God's fiat was gone out against her.

"Who is on my side? Who?" cried the victorious Jehu, as he entered into the city and saw the wicked queen. "And there looked out to him two or three eunuchs."

"Throw her down," was the king's command, and this wretched woman, who had dominated king, and nobles, and prophets, who had ruled as an incarnate demon for years in Israel, was thrown down into the common street, and must have died in the fall.

Jehu went on to eat and to drink, and, after a time, he sent a messenger:

"Go, see now this cursed woman, and bury her: for she is a king's daughter." "But they found no more of her than the skull, and the feet, and the palms of her hands,' and Jehu recognised the fulfilment of Elijah's words: "In the portion of Jezreel shall dogs eat the flesh of Jezebel: and the carcase of Jezebel shall be as dung upon the face of the field in the portion of Jezreel: so that they shall not say, This is Jezebel." (2Ki 9:30; 9:37.)

So died one of the most wicked women who ever defiled the earth which God created. Powerful, influential, intellectual, beautiful, but wicked, she sold herself to work evil, and spent her life in fighting against God and His cause. Who can tell what the eternal condition of such soul must be? No imagination can picture it, no thought dwell upon it. A veil is drawn over this awful reality, and yet Jezebel exists in the blackness of darkness for ever!

Why does God permit such to live, and to live long upon the earth? Perhaps Elijah would never have been the prophet that he was, but for his suffering through this incarnate fiend. Where the secret of all hearts is made known, we shall understand God's economy in the education of His children, as we cannot do now.

Let us lay our hand upon our mouth when we see that cruelty, oppression and injustice are suffered. The end is not yet. He, who sees the end from the beginning, will yet be justified in all His ways with His creatures.

The Wife of Jeroboam—1 Kings 14. ← Prior Section
Athaliah—2 Chronicles 21. Next Section →

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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