Glossary of Terms



Harper’s Bible Dictionary

edited by Paul J. Achtemier (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1985)

Jezebel (Heb., ‘Where is the Prince?’).

1 A Phoenician princess (daughter of Ethbaal, king of Sidon), who married King Ahab of Israel and incited him to sin (1 Kings 16:31; 21:25). A devotee of the Phoenician god Baal and a zealous missionary, she supported some 850 prophets of Baal and Asherah (1 Kings 18:19) and sought to suppress worship of Yahweh (1 Kings 18:4, 13). Thus she became the formidable adversary of the prophet Elijah, able to instill fear even in him (1 Kings 19:1-3). Her influence in Israel was strong during the reigns of her husband Ahab and her two sons Ahaziah and Jehoram and extended to the southern kingdom of Judah, where her daughter Athaliah became queen (2 Kings 8:18). The story of the appropriation of Naboth’s vineyard (1 Kings 21) illustrates Jezebel’s disregard for Israelite custom and ruthless use of royal power. Elijah’s prophecy, ‘The dogs shall eat Jezebel within the bounds of Jezreel’ (1 Kings 21:23), was fulfilled when Jehu seized power (2 Kings 9-10; cf. Hosea’s later prophecy regarding the bloodshed at Jezreel, 1:4). Jezebel met her death with characteristic audacity: she painted her eyes, adorned her head, and greeted Jehu from her window with a caustic insult (2 Kings 9:30-31). Jezebel was pushed out the window at Jehu’s command, and when they later went to bury her, only her skull, feet, and palms remained.

2 In Rev. 2:20 the name applied to a false prophet.


Topical index of terms
Edited for by Robert Nguyen Cramer
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