Jezebel, Queen of Israel, 19th-century painting by John Liston Byam Shaw

Jezebel, Queen of Israel, 19th-century painting by John Liston Byam Shaw

By Dr. Harold Sala

Do not be deceived:  God cannot be mocked.  A man reaps what he sows.  Galatians 6:7

In 1930, an archaeological expedition digging at the site of ancient Samaria struck it rich–no, not gold!  But when it became clear that the ivory palace of Ahab and Jezebel had been identified, excitement filled the camp.  In the palace of the ancient monarch, in the queen’s chambers were the very saucers and small stone boxes which Jezebel had used in mixing her makeup.  It was all there, having been preserved by the destruction of the palace.  Traces of coal had been used for black; turquoise for green; ocher for red, and a small, smooth depression in the stone box was used for mixing the eye shadow.

At one time, believed archaeologists, the eye makeup had been used by one of the most powerful, ruthless, sensuous women who ever lived.  Mentioned 22 times in the Bible in both the Old and New Testaments, Jezebel became a symbol of a depraved, manipulating, perverse woman–the kind that identified with the lowest dregs of womanhood.

Who was this woman?  And how did she become so powerful?  Born in a king’s palace in Sidon across the Jordan, as a child Jezebel knew no discipline.  But she did learn that her seductive ways and strong will could manipulate men and give her what she wanted.  A marriage of convenience was arranged by Ethbaal, her father, and when she became the wife of Ahab, the king of Israel, little did Ahab know what he was in for!

Long before women demanded independence, Jezebel understood how to get what she wanted.  Her power of persuasion involved a measure of physical beauty, manipulation, and raw physical power.  She destroyed anyone and everyone who stood in her way.  Both men and women moved quickly to get away from her wrath.

In Israel, Jezebel introduced the worship of an agricultural deity, Baal, and brought in an Asherah pole including sexual expression as part of the worship.  Eventually, human sacrifice was introduced, and the remains of tiny infant bones, hundreds of years old, sealed in jars unearthed by archaeologists, are a grim testimony to what took place.

There was, however, one man who withstood her fury.  But even he was afraid of her.  His name–Elijah.  You can read about him in 1 Kings in the Old Testament.   When confronted with this hideous situation, Elijah challenged Jezebel’s false religious leaders and the historic battle of the true and the false took place on Mt. Carmel.  But after the 450 prophets of Baal were eliminated, all that Jezebel had to do to put Elijah to flight was tell him, “I’m going to get you like you got my boys!”

Violence has a way of begetting violence!  An eternal law of the harvest says that you reap what you sow!  Eventually, all the cosmetics of the world could not erase the hard lines of sinful living, and Jezebel met her death in much the same manner as she accomplished her goals–violently and cruelly.  Elijah, not given to flattery, prophesied that her end would be marked with violence.  “Dogs will devour Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel” (1 Kings 21:23).  When Jezebel was confronted with an invading army, according to Scripture, “she painted her eyes, arranged her hair” and went out to dialogue with the enemy.  This time, though, her looks failed her, and palace attendants turned the tables on her and threw her to her death, where dogs devoured her body, exactly as Elijah had predicted.

Here’s how Paul states the principle:  “Do not be deceived:  God cannot be mocked.  A man reaps what he sows” (Galatians 6:7).  It’s still true, today!

Resource reading: 1 Kings 21