Study Guide

Jezebel & Ahab in 1 Kings

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Jezebel & Ahab

Jezebel is the evil queen of 1st Kings. The idolatrous she-devil who woos Israel over to Baal worship, she's probably the baddest bad-guy in 1st Kings. But you can't help but respect her for at least a few reasons.

In a male-centric society, she's obviously the one in charge while her husband, Ahab, just kind of sits around. She's kind of like Lady Macbeth in a lot of ways. When their neighbor refuses to sell a vineyard to Ahab, he just "lay down on his bed, turned away his face, and would not eat" (21:4). Jezebel's like, "Do you not govern Israel? Get up, eat some food, and be cheerful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite" (21:7). Then she has the neighbor killed. Bada bing.

She's got some serious backbone. You remember Elijah (he's got his own discussion in the "Figures" section), right? The guy who controls the elements and eats his Wheaties with dragons's milk? If we were on his naughty list, we would probably just find some rock to hide under forever. Jezebel, on the other hand, doesn't give a hoot about Elijah. Even after he proves that he can make it rain fire, she's still trying to kill him. And not in some sort of safe, sneaky way. When he kills her priests, she sends him a message: "So may the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life like the life of one of them by this time tomorrow" (19:2).

Incredibly, Jezebel actually makes it out of 1st Kings alive (though she does get murdered later in 2nd Kings), while her sissy husband doesn't (see 22:34-38). That alone shows that for all her faults, she's got chutzpah. Love her or hate her, Jezebel is a deliciously evil nemesis worthy of challenging Elijah, and she plays her role with undeniable style.

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