Jezebel – Recipe for an Empire By Vered Hollander-Goldfarb
  • Jezebel

  • Daughter of Ethbaal king of Sidon
  • Wife of Ahab king of Israel
  • Killed during Jehu's coup

The Marriage (I Kings 16:31-33)

  • What do we know about Sidon (Jezebel's birthplace)? Wikipedia will give you some information.
  • Why would have married a Phoenician princess? Why would her father agree? What might it tell us about the kingdom of Israel under Omri and his son Ahab?
  • Jezebel seems to come into Israel as entitled to a powerful position. Might there have been such conditions set by her father? Can you think of a similar situation under Solomon?

At all times, marriage of people of different religions created conflict; which religion will be the controlling one? Was the physical move into the territory of a god and a nation enough to settle the issue?


  • I Kings 16:31 seems to say that marrying Jezebel was worse than Jeroboam’s calves. It then proceeds to tell us that he worship the Baal and built a temple for it. How might Jezebel be connected to this?
  • I Kings 18 is the famous scene of Elijah on mount Carmel. Let’s glean Jezebel’s involvement in the religious situation in the country that led up to this event:
    • 18:4 what had Jezebel been doing to undermine the Hashem faction in Israel?
    • 18:18 What was the status of the Baal and Ashera (his female cohort) prophets in Israel? (And, what did Elijah do with them? 18:40.)
  • What is Jezebel’s religious belief? Read her oath I Kings 19:2. What have you noticed? The narrator did a good job not editing out authentic speech.

As גבירה (Gevirah – the First Lady)

  • I Kings 21 tells the story of Navot’s vineyard. Ahab desires it, Navot refuses to give up his ancestral plot, invoking God's name, and Jezebel promises Ahab that she will get him the vineyard. Read 21:8-16.
    • How is Jezebel able to carry out her plot?
    • Do the people believe that the king stands behind this?
    • What is her understanding of the position of the monarch in relation to the [popular] law?
    • How does she interpret Ahab’s (grudging) respect for the law?
  • II Kings 10:13 hints to the title that Jezebel had. Who else had that title? What does it mean?

The End (II Kings 9:30-37)

  • Jehu staged a coup, killing off Jehoram, son of Ahab. He arrives at Jezreel (another palace, and the location of Navot’s vineyard.) and Jezebel looks out the window.
  • Jezebel has prepared for her meeting with Jehu. How did she know about the events outside the palace and how did she prepare?
  • What does she say to Jehu (9:31) and what does she mean? The list of kings of Israel until Ahab (in part 3) might help.
  • Why did she act as she did? What was she hoping to accomplish?
  • Here are Rashi's and Ralbag's responses to the question above. Which do you prefer?

רש”י מלכים ב פרק ט פסוק ל

(ל) ותיטב את ראשה – …כדי שתהא לחן בעיני יהוא וישאנה:

Rashi II Kings 9:30

She…dressed her hair – so that she will find grace in the eyes of Jehu and he will marry her.

רלב”ג מלכים ב פרק ט פסוק ל

(ל) ותשם בפוך עיניה אולי עשתה כדי שתשא חן בעיניו, ויחמול עליה ולא יהרגנה. או עשתה זה להחזיק המלוכה עדיין. והוא יותר נכון. ולזה אמרה בגאוה ליהוא “השלום זמרי הורג אדניו?!”

Ralbag II Kings 9:30

She painted her eyes with kohl – maybe she did it to find grace in his eyes, and he will take pity on her and not kill her. Or she did it to hold onto the reign. And that is more correct. And therefore she said with pride to Jehu “is all well, Zimri murderer of his master?!

For the relevance of this ivory portrait of a woman in the window see: