Jezebel | The Ride or Die Queen of Rebellion

in the dim recesses of religious history lies a figure shrouded in darkness, her name tarnished with the stains of infamy—Jezebel. Christians have vilified her for centuries, ascribing to her the darkest shades of malice and immorality. she has been woven into fire and brimstone sermons, painted as a byword for wickedness and seductive treachery. yet beneath the surface of this ancient narrative, beyond the reach of damning scriptures, lies a far more complex and misunderstood character. as we delve deeper, we must challenge the preconceived notions that have perpetuated her sinister reputation within Christianity, and dare to unearth the truth about her multifaceted life.

throughout my years in the Church, I’ve heard so many use the name Jezebel as a term synonymous with floosie or whore. by no means am I saying she was a righteous person but I want to offer up another viewpoint concerning double standards toward women and other groups.

The His…HerStory of Jezebel

Jezebel is a biblical character known for being the symbol of wickedness and idolatry. Her story appears in the Old Testament of the Bible, specifically in the First and Second Books of Kings.

Jezebel’s name is derived from Phoenician roots, meaning either “Where is the Prince?” or “Not Exalted.” furthermore, her name has its roots in ancient Hebrew. derived from the Hebrew name “Izevel” (אִיזֶבֶל), it is a combination of two elements: “Iz” (אִיז), meaning “not,” and “Zebul” (זְבוּל), referring to “exalted” or “honored.”

She was the daughter of Ethbaal, King of Tyre and Sidon (located in modern-day Lebanon), and a high-ranking priestess of Baal, the Canaanite god of fertility and storms. she married Ahab, who was the King of Israel, around the 9th century BCE, leading to her association with the Israelites.

Upon her marriage, Jezebel brought her own religious beliefs from her homeland and sought to incorporate them into Israelite society. She strongly influenced Ahab, her husband, to support and promote the worship of Baal and Asherah. Jezebel’s mission to spread her beliefs ignited conflicts between her followers and the worshippers of the Israelite God, Yahweh.

Jezebel, A Faithful Wife, Mother & Devotee

in the context of the story, Jezebel’s loyalty seems to have been more towards her native religion and the spread of Baal and the Goddess Ashera worship, rather than her personal relationship with Ahab. however, the Queen Jezebel was married to King Ahab for approximately 22 years. she became his wife around 874 BCE and their reign ended when Ahab died in battle around 853 BCE. Jezebel gave birth to three children with King Ahab. their children were two sons, Ahaziah and Joram, and one daughter, Athaliah. all three children later became prominent figures: Ahaziah and Joram were kings of Israel, while Athaliah became the queen of Judah by marrying King Jehoram of Judah and later ruling as a queen pregnant. It’s essential to read the story with the understanding that the biblical narrative primarily focuses on the larger picture of Israel’s spiritual and political struggles.

Jezebel’s Crimes

Jezebel’s actions resulted in the killing of several prophets and followers of Yahweh. she conspired against a landowner named Naboth, falsely accusing him of blasphemy after he refused to sell his vineyard to Ahab. Naboth was executed by order of the king, and Jezebel seized his land.

Jezebel’s defiance against God reached its climax when the prophet Elijah challenged her priests of Baal on Mount Carmel. in this contest, the deity who would respond by sending fire from the sky to consume a sacrificial bull would be proven to be the superior god. Yahweh triumphed, and the prophets of Baal were executed.

After the death of her husband Ahab, Jezebel’s son, Ahaziah, ascended the throne. However, he died in an accident, and Jehoram, Jezebel’s second son, took his place as King of Israel. Jezebel’s reign of influence eventually came to an end by the hands of military commander Jehu. He organized a revolt against the ruling family and declared himself the King of Israel. upon Jehu’s arrival to confront her, Jezebel was thrown from a window by her own servants at his command, and her body was left to be eaten by dogs.

Men Who Murdered + Stole but Aren’t Demonized

Jezebel is not blameless by no means but let’s keep in mind that she was acting on behalf of her God (religion) and family however the men listed below acted for self-seeking purposes.

In the Bible, there are a few examples of men who lied or had people killed and were not immediately punished for their actions. here are three such examples:

  1. David and Bathsheba: King David, despite being known as a man after God’s own heart, had Uriah the Hittite killed in order to take Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba, as his own (2 Samuel 11). while David was not immediately punished, God later sent the prophet Nathan to confront him about his sin.
  2. Jacob and Esau: Jacob, with his mother Rebekah’s help, deceived his father Isaac into giving him the blessing that should have gone to his older brother, Esau (Genesis 27).
  3. Samson and Delilah: Samson, a judge of Israel, engaged in a relationship with Delilah, who was persuaded by the Philistine rulers to find out the secret of Samson’s great strength. Delilah lied to Samson repeatedly and ultimately betrayed his trust (Judges 16:4-21).

The demonization of Women + Other Cultures Make-up

The Bible does not provide specific details about Jezebel’s makeup or appearance. However, it does mention in 2 Kings 9:30 that before Jehu’s arrival to confront her, she “painted her eyes and arranged her hair.” the act of “painting her eyes” could be interpreted as her applying makeup, such as kohl, which was common in ancient times to enhance the appearance of the eyes. arranging her hair could again signify an effort to make herself look more attractive or presentable.

It’s worth noting that applying makeup and adornment in that era often had connections to religious rituals, personal expression, or even social status. Nevertheless, the focus of Jezebel’s story in the Bible is on her actions and influence, rather than her physical appearance or use of makeup. aforementioned there was a common connection between women wearing a lot of makeup and Jezebel in the modern church.

The history of women wearing makeup in ancient Eastern cultures is strongly connected to both religious practices and the concept of protection. Various types of makeup were used, and they served different purposes, including spiritual, aesthetic, and hygienic, among others.

  1. Egypt: Ancient Egyptian women used cosmetics and makeup as part of their daily routine. Cosmetics made from natural materials, like malachite (green) and galena (black), were applied to the eyes for both religious and protective reasons. the Egyptians believed that the gods Horus and Ra would protect them against ailments and evil spirits if they wore eye makeup. it also served an aesthetic purpose by making them more attractive to their gods.
  2. Mesopotamia: women in ancient Mesopotamian societies wore makeup for religious and ceremonial purposes. they applied eye makeup like kohl, which was believed to provide protection against the evil eye by warding off evil spirits. Kohl also had medicinal properties and had a cooling effect on the eyes, protecting them from sun glare and eye infections.
  3. India: in ancient India, women used makeup for religious, cosmetic, and protective purposes. they applied kajal (a black pigment) to their eyes, which was thought to ward off evil spirits and offer protection from the sun’s glare. Tilaka, a mark or symbol applied on the forehead, was another significant cultural and religious practice. the design and color of the tilaka could represent the particular deity the person worshiped or their spiritual inclination.

In short, makeup in ancient Eastern cultures was used by women in various forms, often for spiritual or protective purposes also infused with religious and cultural significance that offered physical and spiritual protection.

Colonization Tactics Using Biblical Figures

Colonizers often employed a combination of religion and the demonization of native people’s looks and customs to justify their conquest and domination. the projected correlation between archetypes like the “Jezebel” with her painted face and aggressive demeanor coresides with other groups like indigenous people and women, making it easier for the abusers to justify their actions. here’s a brief overview of how they used these tactics:

  1. Religious superiority: Colonizers would often present their religion, typically Christianity, as morally and spiritually superior to the indigenous religions. this was used as a justification for conversion and cultural domination, with the ultimate goal of “civilizing” the native people.
  2. Dehumanization through looks: Native people were commonly portrayed as primitive or barbaric, largely due to their unfamiliar appearance and cultural practices. this dehumanization allowed colonizers to justify their actions, as they considered the indigenous people to be in need of “enlightenment” through the colonizers’ civilization.
  3. Demonization of native customs: the colonizers would often label indigenous religious practices and beliefs as “satanic” or “pagan,” further justifying their need to bring the “true” religion to the native people. the colonizers would criticize indigenous rituals, spiritual beliefs, and everyday practices, positioning them as inferior to European customs.
  4. Forced assimilation: after portraying the native people as ‘uncivilized‘ and in need of “rescue,” colonizers would often push for their assimilation into the colonizers’ culture. this included suppressing native customs, languages, and religious practices in favor of introducing European social norms, religious beliefs, and educational systems.

By using these tactics, colonizers were able to create a narrative that justified their conquest and allowed them to maintain control over native populations.

The Modern Woman & Jezebel

the character of Jezebel from the Bible has been used as a symbol of disapproval for certain aspects of modern women’s behavior or appearance. here are some ways in which people draw comparisons:

  1. Promiscuity and immorality: Jezebel is associated with promiscuity and immorality. people may use the term “Jezebel” to criticize or stereotype modern women who are perceived to engage in casual, non-committal sexual relationships, or who are seen as promiscuous. although there is NO evidence of Jezebel’s unfaithfulness
  2. Defiance of traditional gender roles: Jezebel is seen as a woman who challenged traditional gender roles and did not adhere to the expectations placed upon women in her time. some people may use the Jezebel comparison to criticize modern women who challenge or break away from traditional gender roles and expectations.
  3. Vanity and beauty obsession: the Bible notes that Jezebel applied makeup before her death (2 Kings 9:30), and she is often associated with vanity or undue focus on appearance. comparing women to Jezebel in this sense may refer to a preoccupation with physical beauty, superficiality, or excessive use of makeup and fashion. (this could’ve been related to her religion. being that Jezebel was going to die she could’ve prepared herself as best as she could according to the customs of her people.)

it is important to note that these comparisons are often rooted in harmful stereotypes and may contribute to the perpetuation of gender bias and misogyny.

Jezebel Title & Black Women

Jezebel was against the religious beliefs of the Israelites, she is depicted in the Bible as a cunning, deceitful and rebellious woman who spread her pagan influence throughout the kingdom.

over time, the name Jezebel has become synonymous with a variety of negative characteristics, such as manipulation, sexual immorality, and defiance. the character has been demonized in various forms of literature, art, and popular culture as a personification of these traits.

unfortunately, the image of Jezebel has also been unfairly associated with black women in history, especially during the times of slavery and segregation. this connection has led to the perpetuation of many harmful stereotypes, which contribute to racial bias and discrimination. some of these stereotypes involve black women being labeled as overly sexual, conniving, or insubordinate.

In modern interpretations, there is an effort to push back against these negative associations and reclaim the narrative. some writers and activists argue that the Jezebel stereotype perpetuates a racist and sexist double standard, which undermines the agency, intelligence, and accomplishments of black women. As a result, they work to challenge and deconstruct these stereotypes through art, literature, and activism.

Understanding the historical context of Jezebel and its connection to black women is essential to appreciating the journey of dismantling these harmful stereotypes. by recognizing the complex and diverse experiences of black women, we can work to promote a more inclusive understanding of their lives and contributions.

Jezebel and Feminine Empowerment

In recent years, some women have begun to reclaim and embrace the title of “Jezebel” as a means of empowerment and self-expression. Jezebel, a biblical character, has traditionally been used as a derogatory term to label outspoken, independent, and sexually liberated women. however, by adopting this title, some women are challenging historical stereotypes and seeking to redefine what it means to be a “Jezebel” in a positive and empowering way. this movement aims to eliminate negative associations and redefine the term as a symbol of resilience, strength, and assertiveness, while also supporting women’s freedom to express and embrace their sexuality.

Other Mentions of Jezebel

Jezebel In the Ouran

while there isn’t a direct mention of Jezebel or “Izabel” in the Quran, the story of her conflict with the prophet Elijah can be found in Islamic traditions and literature. some Islamic scholars make connections to her story, even though the Quran does not explicitly name her.

Elijah, or “Ilyas” as known in Islam, is mentioned in both the Quran (6:85, 37:123-132, and 38:48) and Islamic traditions. according to these Islamic sources, Ilyas was sent by Allah to confront King Ahab and his wife due to their engagement in idolatry and introducing the worship of false gods – Baal (Baalism) and Asherah – among their people. similar to the biblical account, Ilyas challenges the false prophets of Ahab and his wife, and ultimately defeats them in a contest demonstrating the power of the one true God.

Jezebel in the Media & Modern Culture

while Jezebel is most notably featured in the First and Second Books of Kings in the Bible, she has also captured the imagination of various authors over the centuries, featuring in different forms of literature, arts, and cultural references. Some instances of her presence in literature include:

  1. “Moby-Dick” by Herman Melville – Jezebel is briefly mentioned in this 1851 novel as the embodiment of vice and wickedness.
  2. “Inferno” by Dante Alighieri – In this part of the 14th-century epic poem, “The Divine Comedy,” Jezebel is mentioned as being punished in Hell for her alleged sexual misconduct, although this detail isn’t found in the biblical account.
  3. “Jezebel’s Daughter” by Wilkie Collins – An 1880 novel that weaves the biblical character’s name into its story to symbolize treacherous and villainous behavior.

Jezebel has also been portrayed in art, movies, plays, and music, reflecting varying interpretations and sentiments toward her character. in popular culture, her name has become synonymous with an immoral or temptress-like woman, often due to the influence of literature and art rather than the biblical account alone.

Final Thoughts

Jezebel’s legacy has been controversial throughout history. while she is primarily remembered for her wickedness, treachery, and the destruction she caused, recent scholarship has reexamined her story from a feminist perspective. some see her as an empowered woman seeking to establish herself and her religion in a foreign land, while others argue that her violent and immoral actions must not be overlooked.

in conclusion, Jezebel’s story is one that offers us an opportunity to engage in open and critical thought, avoiding inherent biases or preconceptions. as we explore her narrative, let us actively challenge our perspectives, seeking to understand her complex character and the historical context within which she navigated. by fostering open dialogue and empathetic reflection, we can appreciate the nuances of her story and allow it to expand our understanding of human nature, culture, and history.

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