The story about Jezebel is recorded in 1 Kings and 2 Kings of the Old Testament, but for those who do not know much about this character, here is an overview. According to Hebrew scripture, Jezebel was the daughter of Ethbaal, the king of Tyre in Phoenicia during the 9th-century BC. Phoenicia was a coastal area corresponding to present-day Lebanon.1
At that time, the Jewish commonwealth was divided and the southern portion was called Judah. The northern portion was called Israel, which was near the border where the city of Tyre was located. Although a wealthy and influential city, its politics and religion were at odds with the laws, beliefs, and traditions of Yahweh, the true God of all Jews.2 Jezebel’s father was not only a king but also a pagan priest of both the god Bel and the fertility goddess Astarte, who together were often referred to as Baal.3
So, Princess Jezebel became a queen when she married King Ahab of Israel. It was an arranged marriage, suggesting a peaceful solution for territories at odds with one another, like Phoenicia and Israel. There was probably not much real love involved, as these kinds of marriages were made for political and trading reasons, because making alliances with other states was a primary motivation for peace and profit.4
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As soon as she became queen of Israel (869 BC), Ahab began constructing shrines to his wife’s pagan gods in all the holy places, even building a temple to Baal in the capital city (1 Kings 16:31-33). Although it was common for a foreign queen to continue worshiping her own gods, it was not acceptable to publically promote her beliefs upon the faithful Jews of Israel. Jezebel declared herself a sworn enemy of Yahweh and his prophets. The prophet she hated most was Elijah, who fought against all paganism in Israel, especially the worship of Baal. Elijah was instrumental in removing hundreds of priests of Baal and Jezebel condemned him to death, but Yahweh protected Elijah (1 Kings 18).
In a later incident, Jezebel conspired to help her husband obtain a vineyard that he coveted. The owner didn’t want to sell, so she trumped up charges against the owner and had him stoned to death (1 Kings 21). Of course, to the Jews, this was a particularly grievous act because Jewish Law forbade such actions, requiring assets to be obtained equitably. When Jezebel and Ahab finally confronted Elijah, he “prophesied that because of this murder she and Ahab would both die dishonorably and that Jezebel would be trampled by horses and eaten by dogs.”6
Ahab was one of Israel’s most evil kings and Jezebel is most responsible for that reputation. She was the tyrant who corrupted him and the true power behind the throne. “When the prophets of the Lord opposed Jezebel, she had them massacred (1 Kings 18:4, 13). After Elijah defeated her prophets . . . she swore revenge. She was such a fearsome figure that the great prophet [Elijah] was afraid and ran for his life,” (1 Kings 19:3).7
After the death of her husband in battle, Jezebel reigned for ten years through her two sons’ kingships. Her sons were both killed by Jehu who became the new king in Israel (841-814 BC). Jehu then also killed Jezebel by having her thrown out of a palace window and she was trampled by horses and eaten by dogs (1 Kings 21:19), just as predicted by the prophet Elijah. Only her skull, feet, and the palms of her hands were left when the dogs were finished with her (2 Kings 9:30-37).8
The Bad Girl in the Bible
There was nothing good that came from Jezebel’s deeds, and for three thousand years she has been saddled with the reputation of being the most evil woman in the Bible. This wicked queen has been denounced as a murderer, prostitute, and enemy of God, and her name has been adopted for clothing and cosmetic products and even wartime munitions.9 Today, there are many books and movies related to her depraved personality. She has come to be known as an archetype of the wicked woman.10
Her Old Testament legacy was so powerful that it is even mentioned in the last book of the New Testament. In Revelation, Jesus dictates a message for the church in Thyatira,11 which represents a religious organization at the end of this present age. The message infers strong parallels between Jezebel and Babylon. This suggests that Jezebel is a preview of Babylon the Great (Revelation 2:18-29).12 Babylon the Great (or the Whore of Babylon) refers to Rome, which succeeded to the power of the old Babylon; Rome also adopted the worship of false deities and debauchery and by her own act became the heiress and successor of all the Babylonian idolatry and sexual immorality consequently plaguing all of the earth (Revelation 17:18).13
It is easy to see why Jezebel stands out amongst other biblical women. She was socially gifted and had every opportunity for greatness, but threw all chances for that out the window to embrace a foreign god. Torn apart by her fall, trampled by horses, eaten by dogs, and left for garbage, this evil woman was wiped off the face of the earth, along with all her offspring.14
The Jezebel Stereotype
Who or what are the Jezebels in today’s world? The famous biblical character’s name has been used for thousands of years to stereotype any woman that habitually presents unbiblical attributes. Originally she was famous for reestablishing the Canaanite cult and its associated political practices within the Hebrew nations. And through time, she became known as a pagan masquerading as a servant for goodness, but misled many Godly people into the sins of idolatry and sexual immorality. In modern times some Christians have tended to associate Jezebel with promiscuity, heavy use of cosmetics, skimpy clothing, and prone to controlling men.15
Add to this a personality of having no regard for others, a lack of empathy, and dishonest behavior, I’m sure Jezebel would be diagnosed as a sociopath in today’s world. In the Bible she did break rules and laws, behave aggressively and impulsively, and use manipulation, deceit, and controlling behavior. And taking into consideration that this evil woman did not hesitate to use violence, some would even consider her mental state as demonic or psychopathic.16
While sexual immorality was part of Jezebel’s personality, her other characteristics are most prevalent in her story. Surely, I guess, sex was what she used to control and manipulate her husband-king, but just as surely it was his power that she desired most. But many people focus only upon unrestrained sluttish activity to describe what is sometimes called the Jezebel Stereotype — why is that?
For whatever reason, displays of promiscuity are the reason for applying the Jezebel label to some women — and mostly black women. Why the black woman? Well, some serious researchers attribute the African black race and global slavery back in the 1600s–1800s as contributing factors to what became known as the Jezebel Stereotype.
While I’m not sure if this is either true or false, I do present the subject because it has been discussed for several hundred years. There seems to be a resurgence of interest even today, so I will let you decide for yourselves. Just to show the seriousness of this belief and its scholastic interest, I have included what I consider a couple of impeccable references for serious consideration. If desired, you may review them for more information and further published data.
Some people say that calling a black woman a Jezebel is a racist comment, but over my eighty years of life, I’ve heard it applied more to white women, especially in Christian churches. I suspect it depends upon your beliefs, your point-of-view, and the kind of neighborhood in which you live. One study suggested that some women just want to use sex and greed as stepping stones to obtain the absolute power they demand.
Introducing the black African to the European world demonstrated some racial body differences which objectified them sexually to a greater extent than white women. One such example was Sarah Baartman, a South African slave, who was brought to London in the early 1800s and exhibited on stages in circuses and museums, where onlookers paid to gawk at her untypically large buttocks. This introduction of the black African to white society brought racial body differences to the forefront of thought.17
Baartman, who adopted the stage name of Hottentot Venus, used her African body type as a curiosity and as a projection for erotic emotions.18 There are conflicting opinions on whether or not she did this voluntarily, but either way she made money by bringing attention to her body.
According to one research professor, the descriptive words associated with the Jezebel Stereotype are particular in their focus: seductive, alluring, worldly, beguiling, tempting, and lewd.19 While those types of traits grabs ones’ focus, it is at the very least ungodly, because those same attributes are spoken of in the Bible as the methods Satan uses to deceive and manipulate people.
But the professor explains that “historically white women, as a category, were portrayed as models of self-respect, self-control, and modesty — even sexual purity — but black women were often portrayed as innately promiscuous, even predatory. This depiction of black women is signified by the name Jezebel.” And from the early 1630s to the present, “black American women of all shades have been portrayed as hyper-sexual ‘bad girls’.”20
White people were fascinated by African sexuality and described the black women as ‘fiery’ and much hotter than the men. So the origin of the sexual standards emerged from such descriptions implying the black male as a brute and potential rapist, while the black woman was a Jezebel whore. This portrayal of black women as Jezebels began in slavery and extended through the Jim Crow21 period and continues today.22
Even black men have capitalized upon the black women’s Jezebel spirit. After slavery ended, the stereotyping continued, even within black communities. Being as old as I am, I remember a barroom swizzle stick (see reference)23 during the 1950s, called ‘Zulu Lulu’, which was shaped into the silhouette of a naked African woman. They were found in both Negro and white bars and restaurants. Being a native of New Orleans, I can attest to these facts, having attended many such venues, both black and white alike.
In a related matter, here is another interesting tidbit of information to get attention and make you look smart at the next dinner party you attend. The early 1900s musician, Jelly Roll Morton,24 was a Créole25 of color. His real name was Ferdinand LaMothe (1890-1941) and he chose Jelly Roll Morton as his professional name. He began playing piano at the age of fourteen in the ‘red-light’ district of New Orleans, at a time when brothels hired musicians to entertain and attract customers. Marton’s smutty songs worked well in that type of environment and his new name fit well, too. At that time, after the turn of the century, the slang term ‘jelly roll’ was a Negro euphemism for female genitalia.26
Right now we are seeing a new Jezebel generation. Satan had such a good tool going with the Jezebel Stereotype that he keeps using it over and over again throughout the ages. A woman can attract attention, become popular, have power, and make money by adapting the Jezebel spirit. It appears that one secret to getting all that is to be seductive, alluring, worldly, beguiling, tempting, and lewd — just what our true God tells us not to be.
All a girl needs to do is reject God and accept Satan. It is very easy to get most of what she wants, especially in the entertainment industry. But remember that twerking27 her jelly roll on stage into the faces of an audience will NOT get her a ticket into God’s promised land.
A popular internet podcaster, Nick Jones, has an excellent take on the Jezebel spirit in the music industry. He is a serious Christian and I find much of his opinion on things to be well thought out biblically. He says even “people who really don’t have any talent are perceived to have it . . . sexy people can make it to the top — they can acquire influence because of their ability to promote the sense of sexual immorality.” I’ve included a link if you wish to watch an eleven minute clip concerning what he had to say about female rapper ‘Ice Spice’28 being given a Bible following a performance (see References & Notes).29 I think Jones is ‘right on’ with his views and I recommend this clip from his show.
Many celebrity singers and dancers use sex in their words and actions, but don’t forget that Jezebel of the Bible was a worshiper of pagan gods too. So, I’ve noticed that most modern Jezebels also are very willing to sacrifice children to the god they perform for, through abortion. They accept murder of their babies in exchange for an easier, freer, and financially better life. (See the link in References & Notes for an article about this subject.)30
Both men and women in religion, politics, sports, and show business often resemble Jezebel when they use their authoritative platform for their own selfish ambitions and ego. And it is not just a lack of integrity, but having a willingness to murder to gain power.31 And for women, especially, sexual immorality can be the medium that draws all ungodly traits together, so she becomes a very useful tool in Satan’s control of this world.
For my selection of a related music video for this study, I’ve selected an oldie from The Frankie Laine Show of the mid-1950s. The song is ‘Jezebel’, one of Laine’s signature songs during that time. Selected lyrics are below and a link to the music video is listed in References & Notes.32
If ever the devil was born without a pair of horns
It was you, Jezebel, it was you
If ever an angel fell, Jezebel, it was you
Jezebel, it was you
If ever the devil’s plan
was made to torment man
It was you night and day, every way
Copyright © 2023, Dr. Ray Hermann
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References & Notes
- “Ethbaal”, (Encyclopedia.com, retrieved 3 November 2023), https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/ethbaal
- Parke, Blair, “Jezebel in the Bible – What We Can Learn from Her Story”, (Crosswalk, 18 June 2020), https://www.crosswalk.com/faith/bible-study/who-is-jezebel-in-the-bible.html
- Losch, Richard R., All the People in the Bible: An A–Z Guide to the Saints, Scoundrels, and Other Characters in Scripture, (Grand Rapids, MI & Cambridge, UK: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 2008), p. 216.
- Orr, James, et al., (Eds.), The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, “Jezebel,” by David Francis Roberts, (Chicago: The Howard-Severance Company, 1915), vol. 3, p. 1675.
- Losch, Richard R. All the People in the Bible, see above.
- Youngblood, Ronald, et al. (Eds.), Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995), “Jezebel”.
- Gaines, Janet Howe, “How Bad Was Jezebel?” (Biblical Archaeology Society, 1 October 2023), https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/people-cultures-in-the-bible/people-in-the-bible/how-bad-was-jezebel/
- “Jezebel”, (Encyclopedia Britannica, 20 July 1998), https://www.britannica.com/biography/Jezebel-queen-of-Israel
- Thyatira: This city was one of Paul’s first attempts to recruit European converts. It had a Jewish contingent from which grew a New Testament church. Although praised for works of charity, service, and faith, the city was criticized for allowing the followers of Jezebel to prosper in its midst.
Brand, Chad, et al., (Eds.), Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, (Nashville, TN: Holman Reference, 2003), p. 1593.
- Cabal, Ted, (Ed.), The Apologetics Study Bible, (Nashville TN: Holman Bible Publisher, 2017), p. 1581.
- Easton, M. G., Easton’s Bible Dictionary, (New York: Thomas Nelson, 1893), p. 73.
- Higgs, Liz Curtis, Bad Girls of the Bible: and What We can Learn from Them, (WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House Inc., Colorado Springs, CO, 1999), p. 188.
- “Jezebel”, (Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 6 November 2023), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jezebel
- “What It Actually Means to Be a ‘Sociopath’”, (Healthline, retrieved 8 November 2023), https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/sociopath#What-is-a-sociopath?
- Anderson, Joel R., et. al, “Revisiting the Jezebel Stereotype: The Impact of Target Race on Sexual Objectification”, (Psychology of Women Quarterly, Sage Journals, 22 August 2018), vol. 42, no. 4, [also online at https://doi.org/10.1177/0361684318791543]
- Pilgrim, David, “The Jezebel Stereotype”, (Jim Crow Museum, Ferris State University, July 2002), https://jimcrowmuseum.ferris.edu/jezebel/index.htm
- Jim Crow: a harmful caricature stage act. The show exploited stereotyped speech, movement, and physical features attributed to Negros to mock them.
“Who Was Jim Crow?” (National Geographic, 6 August 2015), https://education.nationalgeographic.org/resource/who-was-jim-crow/
- Pilgrim, David, “The Jezebel Stereotype”, (see above).
- swizzle stick: a small stick used to stir drinks; made of wood, plastic, or glass and were used to shake or stir out the bubbles from champagne or other carbonated alcoholic beverages.
“Swizzle stick”, (Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 11 July 2023), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swizzle_stick
- Jelly Roll Morton: a ragtime and jazz pianist, bandleader, and composer of Créole descent. Birth name: Ferdinand Joseph LaMothe.
- Créole of color: The Creoles of color are a historic ethnic group of Creole people that developed in the former French and Spanish colonies of Louisiana (especially in the city of New Orleans), of mixed race, but inclusive of the African-American ethnic group. Generally, meaning they were born in the New World, rather than elsewhere.
“Creoles of color”, (Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 7 November 2023), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creoles_of_color
- Hermann, Ray, A Collection of Life Stories, (Claymont, DE: Storyworth Publishing, May 2022), p. 172.
- twerking: is a type of dance that emerged out of the hip-hop ‘bounce’ music scene of New Orleans in 1990. It has a broader origin among other types of booty dancing found among the African diaspora.
“Twerking”, (Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 10 November 2023), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twerking
- Ice Spice: an American rapper considered to have a relaxed style. Her real name is Isis Naija Gaston (born 2000) and she gained major recognition in 2022 with her song ‘Munch (Feelin’ U)’.
“Ice Spice”, (Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 10 November 2023), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice_Spice
- Nick Jones: “PROOF Jezebel Spirits Are Taking Over The Music Industry” (no copyright or licensing information available, 2 November 2023, Nick Jones: @nickvaughnjones). Used under ‘fair use copyright’ for teaching under Section 107 of the United States Copyright Act of 1976 — PODCAST VIDEO: https://youtu.be/PWULiMswsFs
- Hermann, Ray, “Abortion and Sacrificing Children to Moloch: A Bible Study”, (The Outlaw Bible Student, OBS, 27 June 2022), https://outlawbiblestudent.org/abortion-and-sacrificing-children-to-moloch-a-bible-study/
- Peru, Yasmine, “Lessons from the Bad Girls of the Bible – Jezebel”, (The Gleaner, 17 November 2019), https://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/news/20191117/lessons-bad-girls-bible-jezebel
- “Jezebel”, Artist: Frankie Laine with Harry Zimmerman & His Orchestra; Album: Jezebel; recorded mid-1950s, uploaded to YouTube 27 July 2019, (no copyright notice listed, no licenses listed). Used under ‘fair use copyright’ for teaching under Section 107 of the United States Copyright Act of 1976 — MUSIC VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oPJGKBfvrKc