|Jezebel - |
("chaste, free from carnal connection".) One whose name belied her nature: licentious, fanatical, and stern. Daughter of Ethbaal, or Ithobal, king of Sidon and priest of Astarte, who had murdered Phelles his predecessor (Josephus contra Apion, 1:18) and restored order in Tyre after a period of anarchy. Wife of Ahab who became a puppet in her hands for working all wickedness in the sight of Jehovah (1 Kings 21:25).(See AHAB .) She established the Phoenician idolatry on a grand scale at her husband's court, maintaining at her table 450 prophets of Baal and 400 of Astarte (so "the groves" ought to be translated): 1 Kings 16:31-32; 1 Kings 18:19; 1 Kings 18:13. She even slew the prophets of Jehovah (2 Kings 9:7). When Elijah under God wrought the miracle at Carmel, and killed her favorite prophets, Jezebel still unsubdued swore by her gods to do to Elijah as he had done to them (1 Kings 19:1-3).
Even he was constrained to flee for his life to Beersheba of Judah and the desert beyond. Like Clytemnestra or Lady Macbeth, she taunted Ahab with lack of kingly spirit in not taking what he wished, Naboth's vineyard (1 Kings 21:7; 1 Kings 21:14; 1 Kings 21:23): "dost thou govern Israel? I (the real monarch) will give thee the vineyard of Naboth." So she wrote in Ahab's name to the Jezreelite elders, and sealed the letters with his seal; and to her it was that they wrote the announcement that they had stoned Naboth for blasphemy. Upon her therefore fell a special share of the divinely-foretold doom. She survived Ahab 14 years, and still as queen mother exercised an evil influence in the courts of her sons Ahaziah and Joram of Israel, and in that of her daughter Athaliah's husband Jehoram (2 Chronicles 21:6; 2 Chronicles 22:2). But judgment was executed upon her by Jehu for all her whoredoms and witchcrafts, which had become proverbial (2 Kings 9:22-30-37).(See JEHU .)
In Revelation 2:20 Jezebel typically expresses some self-styled prophetess, or a set of false prophets (for the Hebrew feminine expresses collectively a multitude), as closely attached to the Thyatira church as a wife is to a husband, and as powerfully influencing that church for evil as Jezebel did her husband. The Sinaiticus manuscript and the Paris manuscript and Vulgate Latin read as the KJV; but the Alexandrinus and Vaticanus manuscripts "thy wife," i.e. the wife of the presiding bishop or "angel." Like her father, the ancient Jezebel had been swift to shed blood. A priestess and devotee of Baal and Astarte herself, she seduced Israel beyond the calf worship (the worship of the true God under the cherub ox form, a violation of the second commandment) to Baal worship, of which whoredoms and witchcrafts were a leading part (a violation of the first). The spiritual Jezebel of Thyatira similarly, by pretended inspiration, lured God's servants to libertinism, fornication and idol meats (Revelation 2:6; Revelation 2:14-15), as though things done in the flesh were outside the man, and therefore indifferent. The deeper the church penetrated into paganism, the more pagan she became.