Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Jezebel Effect


The name "Jezebel" is banned among Christian mothers because uttering it is synonymous to spelling out "Judas Iscariot." True to its namesake, "Jezebel" seems to ignite a wave of negativism, not just among mothers, but the whole populace as well. Why is there such an instant prejudice about this infamous name? What lies behind her history and origin?

Jezebel was in reality a Queen from Phoenicia, way back 9th century B.C. She was given in marriage to King Ahab of Northern Israel. So in a way, their marriage was one of convenience-a political alliance. Because of their unlikely union, Israel had an easy gateway to Phoenicia's maritime exploration and trade and vice versa.

The big problem set in when Jezebel brought along with her-her entourage of 850 Baal-worshiping priests to the land of Jezreel. Naturally she expected the Israelites to join her in her homage to pagan worship and sexual exploits. She could not understand the monotheistic religion of Israel-which was the worship of Yahweh alone.

Eventually, her willful husband Ahab, succumbed to her whims and welcomed the pagan deities. He himself began to worship Baal. And who was Baal? He was the revered god of fertility and agriculture.  Soon enough, the deceived Israelites began to eat of the food that was offered to Baal and partake of its female prostitutes.

The latent pagan worship angered God the most and He sent the prophet Elijah to confront the evil Queen Jezebel. Elijah challenged the Baal priests for a duel in Mt. Carmel. The deity who would be able to put fire into the sacrificed bull would be pronounced as the true God. The Baal priests danced and chanted to their hearts' content but there was no fire from the sky. When it was Elijah's turn to pray, behold, the bull was destroyed by instant fire!

Jezebel was mortified by the open duel and cursed Elijah and all of God's prophets.

Her reaction to the contest at Mt. Carmel served the first point I garnered about her character.


She wasn't intimidated by Elijah's pronouncement that he was God's prophet. Instead Jezebel screamed, "IF YOU ARE ELIJAH, THEN I AM JEZEBEL!". Elijah was so fearful of Jezebel that he ran for the hills. This scene was actually very hilarious-a man hiding and walking away from a venomous woman! 
Another stigma to the male psyche was King Ahab's sudden despair over the vineyard of Naboth. Back then, the Israelites honored the farmlands inherited from their ancestors so these lands couldn't be sold to the public. But Ahab pinned for the vineyard so he could convert it to a vegetable garden. 
Entered Jezebel and what did she do? She orchestrated a mob wherein she spread the lie that Naboth was blaspheming God! So this mob stoned Naboth to death. End result? The vineyard was given to Ahab by his wife's scheming ways. Ahab was such a cry baby. And Jezebel was so downright cunning. She seemed to echo, "Don't worry husband, I'll take care of it." 
The rest of Biblical female characters were all voiceless creatures, who followed their husbands' instructions to the core. But Jezebel refused to condone Ahab's childish tantrums over the vineyard and dealt with him in a more straightforward manner. She refused to bow down to his inanities and senseless musings. She solved his problem the best way she could.


Now Jezebel's father, Ethbaal of Tyre, whose ancestors were Canaanites, was the original Baal worshiper. His paganism was a direct influence to his daughter, who in turn, perpetuated the ancestral form of worship. From birth, to childhood down to her adult years, Jezebel was exposed to the witchcraft and harlot ways of her pagan religion. 
Come to think of it, If Jezebel had been born and raised a Christian all her life, I don't think she would resort to Baal worship.

Jezebel had a very untimely and violent death. Elijah prophecied that she would be thrown off the walls of Jezreel and eaten by dogs. A more sinister version happened after this prophecy because Jezebel was unrecognizable upon her death. When Jehu, the military commander recently appointed as King of Israel back then, commanded his soldiers to look for Jezebel's disembodied body, they were shocked to find only spare parts of her legs, arms and skull spread to the ground. She was dehumanized. 
This woman was no coward. She faced her own imminent demise. She even prepared for her own death by painting kohl to her eyes, dressing her hair with the crown and positioning herself before the open window as she awaited the arrival of Jehu. Her bravery shone when she had an upfront bickering with Jehu. 
Jezebel wanted her attacker Jehu to remember her in a great shape before she left the world. Her painted face represented her warrior-like self and that she had no intention of backing out or escaping.She faced her destiny boldly.
Jehu ordered the eunuchs to throw Jezebel off the window. And she was no more. 
What an unforgettable wicked woman indeed- but very amusing amidst her burning passion and solid beliefs.