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Jezebel in the Bible: 11 Lessons We Learn From Her

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Jezebel in the Bible sure knew how to stir things up! She reigned as Queen at King Ahab’s side in Israel but was far from a model leader. Disregarding the beliefs and well-being of her subjects – not to mention picking fights with key prophets Elijah & Elisha – it’s no wonder that internal turmoil plagued this kingdom for years afterward.

painting of Jezebel in the Bible with Elijah for the post Jezebel in the Bible

The Story of Jezebel in the Bible

When Jezebel married Ahab, her thirst for power had a chilling effect – she led him to worship Baal and ordered the execution of Yahweh’s prophets. Elijah rightfully foresaw God’s justice in this situation; his word sent chills down their spines as he predicted an unforgettable drought that would befall them all at once. Though it didn’t bring back those falsely accused, it undoubtedly left its mark on history!

After a daring challenge to prove the power of Yahweh over Baal, Elijah emerged victorious – though at a significant cost. Furious and vengeful, Queen Jezebel vowed his death, leading him to flee for his life. (I Kings 18:19–19:3).

Queen Jezebel quickly became known for her notoriously cruel acts -and one of the most famous was in I Kings 21. Her husband, King Ahab, coveted a nearby vineyard owned by Naboth of Jezreel. When he refused to sell it due to being inherited from his ancestors, Queen Jezebel falsely accused him of cursing God and king resulting in death via stoning! Ultimately Elijah faced King Ahab at the same spot, declaring that all his line would be slain and none other than dogs would consume this wicked queen.

Years later, after Ahab’s death in battle against the Syrians and Jezebel still ruling for nearly a decade onward, Elijah’s successor Elisha sought to bring an end to Baal worship. He appointed militant leader Jehu as king of Israel – effectively setting off a civil war since it was contrary to Jezebel’s son, who reigned at that time. Jehu then killed Jehoram and sought to overthrow Jezebel and take his place as ruler of Israel. 

She was waiting with eager anticipation when Jehu came calling. Decked out in her finest, she mockingly looked down from the window – but it would be her last look at this world. With just a command, he had her eunuchs toss her right out of that same window! When they went to bury what remained of her body, Jehu commanded that she be buried as a king’s daughter. However, .it was discovered dogs had eaten most of her body, according to Elijah’s fatal prophecy about poor wicked old Jezebel.  She has gone on throughout history as an example for others not to follow, embodying cruelty, greediness & vanity like none before or since.

Israel had never seen a foreign princess wed to its king before – this particular union was particularly ill-fated. Jezebel’s notorious name still resonates today; her story is one of Machiavellian scheming, vengefulness, and heartless cruelty.

Driven by her heathen faith, she led the charge against God’s believers with little restraint or regard for consequences. Her devotion to idolatry was unyielding as she went to great lengths to ensure it endured throughout her reign.

Queen Jezebel was the kind of ruler that any true believer in God would dread. She had an army of 850 prophets, 450 who ministered under her care to Baal, and another 400 “prophets of the groves” – her rule encouraged a whole new level of debauchery. 

“Now therefore send and gather all Israel to me at Mount Carmel, and the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.”

1 Kings 18:19 (ESV)

Why Was Jezebel in the Bible so Evil?

The Bible says that Ahab “did more to provoke the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him.”. However, his behavior stands out most because of his passive nature. Ahab’s story is one of dejected sulking and scapegoating. He didn’t shy away from blaming those around him for his own misfortunes, but it was often Jezebel who pulled the strings behind the scenes. Despite this, he still had to face up to the consequences of his actions. 1 Kings 21:25 reads, “(There was none who sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the Lord like Ahab, whom Jezebel his wife incited.”

And Ahab made an Asherah. Ahab did more to provoke the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him.

1 Kings 16:33 (ESV)

We need to consider, however, why Jezebel was so broken. Jezebel’s story is shrouded in mystery, with the Bible providing few clues about her life before she became Queen of Israel. However, digging deeper into what we do know suggests that certain motivations may have been behind her controversial actions.

Jezebel in the Bible was a princess from an ancient Canaanite nation. It’s fascinating to discover how much archeological studies have revealed about these cultures, but they weren’t exactly known for their kindness. For example, some of them even practiced child sacrifice in honor of the god Molech! And if that wasn’t bad enough, there were also beliefs around temple and shrine prostitution – which makes those passages talking about reformers driving out male prostitutes make so much more sense. We understand now that gods could be seen as representatives of individual nations, with criticism against any one being interpreted as attacking its leaders too.

And he defiled Topheth, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, that no one might burn his son or his daughter as an offering to Molech.

2 Kings 23:10 (ESV)

He put away the male cult prostitutes out of the land and removed all the idols that his fathers had made.

1 Kings 15:12 (ESV)

Jezebel had quite a twisted approach to leadership; she believed that demanding people follow her god and punishing those who disagreed were essential components of ruling. Her response when Ahab sulked displays this attitude – we can almost feel the disdain in her words as if to suggest, “this is how you rule Israel? By pouting like a child?” Unfortunately for many under Jezebel’s reign, even more, extreme methods (like false accusations and murder) proved necessary.

It’s likely that Queen Jezebel had a pretty bleak understanding of what it meant to be an empowered female ruler. She was raised in the midst of pagan cultures with terrible matriarchal figures, and ancient texts don’t provide much detail about how Canaanite rulers conducted themselves at this time – except for when their conflicts with Israel are documented. So despite her brashness being amplified by having such a weak husband like Ahab, it would have just made her behavior more noticeable, and created opportunities for her to take vindictive behavior to new extremes.

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11 Lessons from Jezebel in the Bible

The story of Jezebel in the Bible reveals a startling truth: those who serve God are prime targets for the spirit’s attacks, and there can be dire consequences. Her story serves as an important reminder to believers everywhere that they must remain vigilant against spiritual enemies like this one.

but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood.

Acts 15:20 (ESV)

that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.”

Acts 15:29 (ESV)

1. Admit your mistakes

When Jezebel heard of Elijah’s public demonstration that showed her gods had no power, she refused to accept it. Instead of repenting and reflecting on the situation, which would have been a wise course of action in light of the evidence against her beliefs, she decided upon a vengeful plan without further thought.

2.   Serve the One True God

When the wicked Queen Jezebel married King Ahab, she quickly corrupted his religious ideals by convincing him to abandon God’s teachings in favor of worshiping idols Asherah and Baal. This sinister move caused many people to turn away from Yahweh and follow a sinful path instead.

During King Ahab’s reign, he turned away from God and ushered in an era where idol worship became rampant. He desecrated places meant for prayer to our Lord by tearing down altars devoted to Him, replacing them with structures that celebrated false gods instead.

Queen Jezebel may have been a powerful ruler, but she used her influence for evil – even raiding the Royal coffers to finance prophets of Asherah and Baal during a famine. She was so determined to snuff out worship of God that only a few true prophets remained- including Elijah, who had no choice but to flee.

Jezebel’s story serves as a powerful reminder of the consequences that come with turning away from God. After living ten years beyond King Ahab’s death, her end came swiftly after she faced off against Elijah and his prophecies – King Jehu ordered her courtiers to throw her out of an upper window, where she met an awful fate. It’s a poignant example of how far one can fall when one ignores their creator.

Jezebel met her demise due to punishment for daring to challenge the will of God and cause harm to those he cared about. Her actions proved too extreme, resulting in an end befitting her transgressions.

3.   Don’t use good qualities to do evil

Maybe everyone has a little bit of evil inside them, but Jezebel took it to the extreme! Despite being notorious for her wickedness and misconduct, she did have some redeeming qualities – that is, if you look hard enough. Unfortunately, though, all these positive traits were overshadowed by her malicious deeds.

Queen Jezebel had a powerful combination of traits; smarts, courage, and leadership. However, she found nefarious uses for them – using her intelligence to devise wicked plans, her guts to bully people around, and her charm to manipulate the King’s will. All this was ultimately used to encourage pagan worship instead of obedience to God.

God has bestowed us with unique gifts, so why not use them to show love and devotion towards Him? Let’s make the most of our talents by using them for good rather than succumbing to dark temptations.

4. Avoid revenge

The Jezebel spirit is one of hostility and revenge – she was so threatened by God’s presence that she sought to eliminate all prophets. Her bitterness only increased when Naboth refused her husband, king Ahab the right to purchase his vineyard, leading her down a darker path in an attempt for retribution.

Revenge can exact a heavy spiritual toll. Rather than seek retribution, it’s better to trust God and choose His peace so you can grow closer to Christ. In 1 Peter 2:23, we remember Christ: “When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.”

When we seek revenge for wrongdoings, it’s easy to forget that God is the ultimate judge. Not only will seeking retribution go against His teachings, but in doing so, we’re trying to take on responsibility – and power – He alone holds.  

5. Avoid sexual immorality

Paul was clear that sexual immorality, impurity, and greed can devastate our spiritual life. It leads to the destruction of family relationships, and straying from God’s love becomes inevitable when we give in to idolatry. He warns us against this kind of behavior so that we can stay strong spiritually; he admonishes us all with Ephesians 5:3.

But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.

Ephesians 5:3 (ESV) 

He realized the temptations and the great dangers of sexual immorality, by providing instruction in 1 Corinthians 7:2, “But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.” 

A weak family institution leads to a weakened relationship with God. In 1 Peter 3:7, we read that husbands are to “live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”

6. Do not practice idolatry 

Idolatry isn’t an issue we should brush aside, even if it doesn’t look like the traditional worship of Baal. Anything that takes our attention away from Jesus is a dangerous form of spiritual idolatry and can disrupt our relationship with Him.

 In Colossians 3:5, we are exhorted to, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” 

In 1 Kings and 1 Samuel, we see how the evil Queen Jezebel sought to replace the worship of God with that of Baal. Not only was this considered sinful idolatry, but also a direct challenge against Yahweh in an act of stubborn rebellion – like practicing witchcraft!

The Israelites let their pride get in the way of honoring God, resulting in a schism between them. It seems to be confirmed that stubbornness can lead us away from our faith and spiritual growth.

And Samuel said to Saul, “I will not return with you. For you have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel.”

1 Samuel 15:26 (ESV)

Rejecting God’s word is to reject His power and guidance in our lives, a dangerous path that can lead away from the light of hope. 

7. Be careful who you marry 

When Ahab and Jezebel got married, her already formidable personality was given the chance to flourish. Without an assertive counterbalance from a stronger spouse, she took full advantage of that.

A strong marriage isn’t built on power struggles, immaturity, and hurtful dynamics. Instead, it runs on a foundation of mutual respect and love like that which Jesus shows for His church – with the husband lovingly leading his family as Christ does us all. The wife then supports her spouse “as to the Lord” out of loving reverence for God’s ultimate plan in their relationship together.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,

Ephesians 5:25-26 (ESV)

In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church,

Ephesians 5:28-29 (ESV)

Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.

Colossians 3:18-19 (ESV)

8. Be alert and pray 

The people of Israel experienced a shaky time in their history, facing inner turmoil as they contemplated whether to bow down before the false idol Baal under King Ahab’s rule or stay loyal to God, but we are told in 2 Timothy 2:15 to “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” 

Prayer can be a powerful way to tap into the bigger, divine picture of your life. Taking time for prayer opens us up to increase awareness and understanding about which direction God wants us to go in our lives. In James 5:16, we are taught, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”

9.   Don’t abuse power 

Queen Jezebel was a power-hungry ruler who used her influence to get away with all kinds of sinister deeds. Take the case of Naboth and his vineyard, for instance – Jezebel coveted it, but when he refused to sell his birthright, she plotted an evil plan that would ultimately cost him his life.

Jezebel also ordered all of God’s prophets to be executed without mercy.

Leaders today need to recognize that their power should be used for good, not ill. Unfortunately, we see far too many examples of individuals in positions of authority exploiting those who look up to them – from corruption and criminal activity to stealing from the people they are meant to serve. It’s an old lesson but still relevant; Jezebel is a perfect illustration – ultimately, she paid dearly for her misdeeds.

 10. Listen for God’s voice

Elijah wanted to make an impactful statement about his God’s power, so he challenged the Baal prophets to inspire repentance from idol worship and end Jezebel’s influence. He was sure that if people saw how mighty His God truly was, they would turn back toward Him.

The people were impressed by the show and the force exhibited by God but quickly returned to idol worship thereafter. Their return greatly saddened Elijah, who retreated to the wilderness.

The Lord came to Elijah and told him in 1 Kings 19:11:

And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.

1 Kings 19:11 (ESV)

After Elijah followed the Lord’s physical commands, a voice gently spoke to him – leading him on his journey back to Damascus. There he was tasked with anointing Hazael as ruler of Syria and to “and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place.” (1 Kings 19:16)

If we want to experience God’s presence, all we need is a quiet mind and an open heart. Listening attentively with stillness can lead us to hear the whispers of His voice.

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11. Be knowledgeable about God’s Word

The Lord had harsh words for the Church of Thyatira in Revelation 2:20; He took issue with them due to their acceptance of a lifestyle that didn’t honor Him.

But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols.”

Revelation 2:20 (ESV)

We are cautioned in 2 Peter 2:1, 

“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.” 

2 Peter 2:1 (ESV)

He goes on in 2 Peter 2:2 with, “And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed.”

2 Peter 2:2 (ESV)

Jezebel’s ruthless reign reigned destruction upon her husband, King Ahab, and the Israeli people. Her presence left a lasting negative impact on their personal lives and politics of the day, ultimately leading to spiritual ruin for all involved.

The influence of Jezebel is alive and well today, aiming to drag believers away from their faith by tempting them with physical pleasures. This deceptive spirit can disguise itself as innocent, yet its ways are anything but trustworthy – so we must remain dedicated to upholding God’s power over our lives, jobs, families, and social circles if we want to protect ourselves against a Jezebel influence.

You may enjoy the below video from Grace for Purpose or our recommended resources:

Jezebellion: The Warrior’s Guide to Identifying the Jezebel Spirit by Tiffany Buckner 

Jezebel’s Puppets: Exposing the Agenda of False Prophets by Jennifer LeClaire 

In the Shadow of Jezebel: A Novel by Mesu Andrews 

The story of Jezebel is a cautionary tale with many lessons to be learned. What other lessons do you see in the story of Jezebel in the Bible? How have you stood before the face of temptation? How did you resist it? Let us know in the comments.

ESV – “Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

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