MAKING THE BIBLE SEXY: TOP 10 BIBLICAL BAD GIRLS: (6) JEZEBEL
And so we come to Jezebel, the archetypal evil queen of the Bible. After Solomon , the kingdom of Israel split into two, with the southern kingdom of Judah breaking away from the northern kingdom of Israel. Jezebel was a Phoenican princess, who married King Ahab of Israel. She brought her native religion with her, the worship of the god Baal and goddess Asherah, and as the Bible tells it, incited Ahab and the kingdom to join in the pagan fun (which again in that recurring Biblical theme, proved ridiculously easy). As usual this incurred the wrath of God’s squad, in this case the prophet Elijah and his disciple Elisha. However, their wrath was pretty useless, until Ahab died in battle and was succeeded by his sons, with Jezebel as queen mother (and probably high priestess of Astarte).
Elijah had been taken up to heaven in a chariot of fire (like that scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark except less face-melting and more chariot), but his successor Elisha effectively led a military coup by anointing the general Jehu as king. Jezebel is one of the few Biblical bad girls that the Bible actually smacks down, but when the Bible does smack someone down, it does it hard. As Jehu entered the palace, Jezebel “painted her face” (a pointed detail the Bible sneeringly includes, to mark her as a harlot or W-H-O-R-E!) and confronted him. He had her servants (eunuchs!) defenestrate her (a word you don’t often get to use, as it means throwing someone out a window) – she fell to her death and her body was literally eaten by dogs. Thereafter, her name was associated with false prophets (although she was true to her own gods) and even more so with fallen or promiscuous women (in characteristic Biblical slut-shaming) – she “did evil in the sight of the Lord”. But then – who doesn’t? That guy’s on edge…
Except…some readers beg to differ from the traditional interpretation. The actual historical and archaeological record suggests that the legendary wealth of Solomon should be more correctly attributed to the northern kingdom of Israel under Ahab and his father Omri – and Ahab’s marriage to the daughter of the Phoenician empire (effectively an association of wealthy trading cities) shows the power and prestige of his kingdom (as well as brilliant international diplomacy). The Biblical books of Kings were written much later, by a writer or writers with an axe to grind against the northern kingdom of Israel – and anything other than a monopolistic cult of God. Jezebel was more a cosmopolitan and sophisticated woman of the ancient world, promoting her own religion (as everyone else did, including the Biblical authors) and coming up against the rednecks of Israel (and a rebel military commander). As for Elisha, he was not exactly balanced – this was a man who, when taunted by boys or youths about his baldness, cursed them in God’s name to be eaten by bears. Bears!
And as for Jezebel “painting her face”, one might compare it to putting on her ‘war paint’ – deploying the only weapon at her disposal against a military coup by invoking her full appearance as queen mother and head of the royal household. Jezebel went down swinging, with a deliberate symbolic act assuming her dignity and determination to die like a queen.
TOP 10 BIBLICAL BAD GIRLS
ALSO MAKING PAGANISM SEXY WITH MY TOP 10 CLASSICAL BAD GIRLS