Princess of Tyre who married Ahab, king of Israel (mid ninth century BCE). Jezebel was the daughter of Ethbaal, king of Tyre (“Sidonians” in 1 Kings 16.31 is a biblical term for Phoenicians in general); according to genealogies given in Josephus and other classical sources, this would make her the great‐aunt of Dido, the founder of Carthage. Jezebel was an ardent worshiper of Baal and Asherah who supported their worship from the throne in Israel (1 Kings 16.31–33; 18.4, 19; 19.1–2); her name is best understood as meaning “Where is the Prince?”, the cry of Baal's divine and human subjects when he is in the underworld. Jezebel exercised royal prerogatives to acquire Naboth's vineyard for her husband (1 Kings 21) by plotting to have Naboth executed. This incident prompted Elijah to predict that dogs would eat Jezebel's corpse in Jezreel (1 Kings 21.23; see 2 Kings 9.30–37). Jehu, the commander of King Joram's army in Israel, was anointed king in Ramoth‐gilead in order to destroy Ahab's house because of what Jezebel had done to the prophets and the faithful of Yahweh (2 Kings 9.1–10). When Jehu met King Joram, son of Ahab and Jezebel, to kill him, he remarked that there could be no peace in Israel while the “whoredoms [= apostasy] and sorceries” of Jezebel continued. After killing Joram of Israel and King Ahaziah of Judah (Ahab and Jezebel's grandson), he went to Jezreel to kill Jezebel. Adorned like a queen, she appeared to him in a window, regally defiant in the face of his violence. She was thrown out of the window by her own attendants, who sided with Jehu, and was trampled to death.

Jezebel's sons and daughter also ruled. Ahaziah was king of Israel for two years after Ahab died and Joram succeeded him (1 Kings 22.51–53; 2 Kings 1.17–18; 3.1–3; 10.12–14). Jezebel and Ahab's daughter Athaliah married Jehoram of Judah, and was the mother of Ahaziah, king of Judah (2 Kings 8.25–27). When her son was killed by Jehu (9.14–28), Athaliah set out to kill all his heirs, and she herself ruled for six years (11.1–20).

Jezebel later becomes an insulting epithet for a woman, and is used in Revelation 2.20 of a prophet in Thyatira of whose teaching and practice the author disapproves.

See also Queen and Queen Mother


Jo Ann Hackett