Jezebel (Bible)

Jezebel (Bible)

Jezebel (, a prophecy is uttered against a prophetess in the church of Thyatira named Jezebel. She is accused of inducing members of the church there to commit acts of sexual immorality and to eat things sacrificed to idols. [John McKenzie, "Dictionary of the Bible"]

Jezebel in modern culture

Jezebel as a 'hussy'

The name "Jezebel" has come down through the centuries to be used as a general name for all wicked women.

In modern usage the name of Jezebel is sometimes used as a synonym for sexually promiscuous and sometimes controlling women, as in the title of the 1938 Bette Davis film "Jezebel" or the 1951 Frankie Laine hit "Jezebel". This image is epitomised by the phrase "painted Jezebel."

The "painted" part refers to [;&version=31; a line] in II Kings, just before she is killed, where she puts on her makeup. While it is often negative in connotation, some embrace the image, as is evidenced by various lingerie designs named after Jezebel.

The aspect of sexual wickedness, very evident in later Christian interpretation of the character, has little evidence in the Biblical text itself - which, whatever else it imputes to her, depicts Jezebel as a faithful and loyal wife. (The putting on of makeup is performed when she knows she is soon to die, as a kind of defiance of her soon-to-be killer Jehu).

From a Biblical and Christian point of view, a comparison to Jezebel would suggest that a person would be a pagan or an apostate masquerading as a servant of God, who by manipulation and/or seduction misleads the saints of God into sins of idolatry and sexual immorality, sending them to hell (

Non-religious modern interpretations

*In a Feminist reading of the Bible and of later Jewish and Christian traditions, Jezebel can be seen as a strong and assertive woman, who was attacked and finally murdered by the fanatic male representatives of a male-dominated religion, and whose memory was continually vilified for thousands of years for the same reason - i.e. "because she was a strong and independent woman who did not let men dominate her, and who continued to defy the agressive males to her last breath" [Ilana Fine, "Women reading the Bible backwards" (in Hebrew), P. 86.]
*Secularists and Atheists also have reasons to take Jezebel's side, as having been "the victim of aggressive religious fanatics who did not scruple to resort to mass killing in order to enforce their point of view" [John Cormak,"Old and New Fanatics".]
*Also Isaac Asimov, an outspoken atheist who had a Jewish upbringing, took Jezebel's side, presenting her in his novel "Caves of Steel" as an ideal wife, and a woman who, in full compliance with the mores of the time, promotes her own religion conscientiously.
*On the other hand, some Israeli peace activists such as Uri Avnery took up the story of Naboth as a symbol of the theft of Palestinian lands, with Jezebel thus in effect cast in the role of the present-day Israeli settlers on the West Bank.

Historical Interpretaion

For the historian, the story of Ahab and Jezebel gives a detailed account of an intense religious-political struggle - the most detailed of any period in the history of the Kingdom of Israel - but written from a highly partisan point of view, and with no documents surviving representing the other side to the controversy.

Moreover, the account is mainly interested in the religious side of the events, with the political, economic and social background - highly important to the modern historian - given only incidentally.

A modern historian must therefore try to reconstruct the historical events, taking into account the bias of the only source available.

As noted by Barzowski [V. Barzowski, "The Merchants and the Kings - impact of the Mediterranean Trade Routes from the Phoenicians to the Venetians", Chapter 1.] , Ahab's marriage to Jezebel was - at least to begin with - obviously a dynastic marriage intended to cement a Phoenician alliance going back to the times of King Solomon.

This alliance gave the inland Kingdom of Israel access to international trade. The monarchy (and possibly an urban elite connected with it) enjoyed the wealth derived from this trade, which gave it a stronger position vis-a-vis the rural landowners and made for a more centralized and powerful monarchial power.

The story of Naboth, a landowner who was killed at the instigation of Jezebel so that the King could acquire his land, certainly points in this direction - Jezebel, with her foreign religion and cosmopolitan culture, representing a hated Phoenician alliance from which the landowners had little to gain and much to lose. Their resentment was expressed in religious terms (as in many other times and places), and eventually got a political expression in Jehu's bloody coup, instigated and supported by the prophets whose side of the story the Bible preserves.

Cultural References

*In 1953 Paulette Goddard starred in a low budget American movie "Sins of Jezebel" in which she played the biblical queen.
*In the 1957 Three Stooges film "Rusty Romeos", Joe Besser calls a gold-digging ex-fiancée (Connie Cezon) a jezebel.
*In the Season 2 episode of "Criminal Minds" "The Big Game", a woman who commits adultery is called Jezebel. She is murdered by a serial killer who feeds her to dogs.
* In a Season 2 episode of "The Tudors", Anne Boleyn is referred to as "the whore Jezebel".
*Edith Piaf recorded a song called "Jezebel," which was later covered in tribute by Ann Wilson of Heart.
*Pioneer Virginia gospel/pop quartet of the '30s and '40s, The Golden Gate Quartet recorded a song titled "Jezebel" on their "Rock My Soul" album; the song reflects the story of Jezebel, and was re-recorded and adapted for Recoil's album "Liquid" (March 2000).
*Bette Davis won an Oscar for Best Actress in William Wyler's "Jezebel" (1938).
*Anita O'Day was billed as the "Jezebel of Jazz".
*Frankie Laine had a big pop hit in 1951 with a song called "Jezebel".
*Indie musician Sam Beam (aka Iron & Wine) recorded a love song to Jezebel, presumably from the viewpoint of King Ahab, on his "Woman King" EP.
*Frank Kelly's "Christmas Countdown" parody of the Twelve Nights of Christmas, a 1983 UK and Irish chart entry.
* Australian rock band The Drones recorded "Jezebel" as the opening track of their third album, "Gala Mill". A sprawling 7 minute song, it appears to cover topics from nuclear testing in Australia to the murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl.
*Nathan Price mentions and compares his daughter to Jezebel in the novel "The Poisonwood Bible" by Barbara Kingsolver.
*British grime artist Dizzee Rascal recorded a song titled "Jezebel" on his debut album "Boy In Da Corner"; it is a tale of a young girl and the choices she makes.
*Nigerian-born singer Sade Adu (Sade) also recorded a song titled "Jezebel" on her "Promise" album in 1985 about a girl who knows how to get what she wants.
*In Margaret Atwood's 1985 novel "The Handmaid's Tale", the secret brothel used by the Commanders is called "Jezebel's."
*Controversial pastor of Water of Life Church in Plano, Texas, Doyle Davidson, uses the term in nearly all his sermons to refer to Devils.
*The American band 10,000 Maniacs also recorded a song titled "Jezebel" on their 1992 album "Our Time In Eden", concerning Jezebel's regrets about the inexorability of her mission.
*In Tom Robbins's novel "Skinny Legs and All", Jezebel is presented as a down to earth, sympathetic, and strong female character, wrongfully slandered in the Bible because of her religious beliefs.
*In Isaac Asimov's novel "Caves of Steel", Jezebel is described as an ideal wife, and a woman who, in full compliance with the mores of the time, promotes her own religion conscientiously.
*In "Memories" by Leonard Cohen, Jezebel is mentioned as being sung about by Frankie Lane in a dance club.
*Joni Mitchell's song "Magdalene Laundries" from her album "Turbulent Indigo", along with many other biblical references, alludes to Jezebel.
*Alan Wilder's song "Jezebel" from the LP "Liquid", 2000, which was also the first single from this album is all about Jezebel. Sang by Orlandus Wilson.
*Jezebel appears in Bob Dylan's "Tombstone Blues" from his 1965 album "Highway 61 Revisited". Here she "violently knits a bald wig, for Jack the Ripper".
*Sarah Jezebel Deva is the stage name of Sarah Jane Ferridge, an English singer who has collaborated with bands like Cradle of Filth and Mortiis.
*"My Life in the Bush of Ghosts", a 1981 album by Brian Eno and David Byrne, features the song "The Jezebel Spirit", which contains a sample of Jezebel being mentioned during an exorcism performed by a preacher.
*In the 1997 Jim Carrey movie "Liar Liar", Carrey and co-star Swoosie Kurtz are involved in a courtroom argument that degenerates into name-calling. The dialogue in the released version of the film begins with Kurtz objecting to one of Carrey's character's points, Carrey saying "You would," Kurtz calling him "Bastard," with Carrey finally calling Kurtz "Hag" before Jason Bernard's "Judge Stevens" harshly reprimands them both. In the gag reel on the DVD, Kurtz continues with "Overactor" before Bernard has a chance to begin his dialogue, to which Carrey responds "Jezebel" as the film crew break down in laughter.
*In the Jennifer Lopez romantic comedy, "The Wedding Planner", Lopez's character mumbles while drunk that "Jezebel is the only queen in the Bible to be eaten by dogs."
*KMFDM has a song entitled "Juke Joint Jezebel" on their 1995 album "Nihil", written by collaborator Raymond Watts, which is considered by many to be their most popular song.
*WWE commentator Jim Ross refers to the heel divas as "Jezebels" quite frequently.
*The German singer/songwriter Alexander Veljanov has recorded a song "Jezebel" on his 1998 album "Secrets of the Silver Tongue".
*The hard rock band He Is Legend refers to Jezebel in the lyrics of their song "The Seduction" which was released on the album "I Am Hollywood" in 2004.
*In 1996, Elenor Brown composed the poem "Jezebel and the Eunuchs." [Maura Dooley et al, "Making for Planet Alice: New Women Poets." 1997. pp 21.]
* The Hip-Hop group Outkast have a song off the album "ATLiens" called "Jazzy Belle", a take on the name that explores similar themes to the biblical Jezebel.
* From Lauryn Hill's 1998 rap hit "Doo Wop (That Thing)": "Now that was the sin that did Jezebel in / Who you gonna call when the repercussions spin?"
*In the 2005 movie musical "Reefer Madness", Mary Lane refers to herself as "a pubescent addition to Jezebel" in the song "Murder".
*The Smothers Brothers recorded a humorous version of Jezebel.
*Tea Leaf Green, a rock 'n' roll band from San Francisco, plays a song by the name of 'Jezebel'.
*In the movie "Jacob's Ladder", Jacob's girlfriend is named Jezebel.
*The original "Twilight Zone" episode "Jess-Belle" is about a girl who strikes a bargain with a witch to win the heart of a man engaged to another woman.
*In the comic book "V for Vendetta", the main character V calls Justice 'Jezebel' in an inner monologue for having fallen for the interests of the fictional British fascist regime.
*In a "Saturday Night Live" skit, Gus Chiggins (portrayed by Will Ferrell) mutters "Oh Jezebel, why are you so sweet? I'll take you down to the market, and put you in my shoe" as he is leaving the room.
*In the Elvis Presley song "Hardheaded woman", he sings "I've heard about a king who was doing swell until he started messing with that evil Jezebel".
*On "That 70s Show" Episode 605 "I'm Free", Fez tells Laurie (Eric's sister who is sexually promiscuous) to "Zip-it Jezebel".
*In the Broadway musical "Godspell" by Stephen Schwartz, the song "Learn Your Lessons Well" features the lyrics, "...Just as old Elijah said to Jezebel/You better start to learn your lessons well."
*Focus on the Family Radio Theatre produced a miniseries called "Father Gilbert Mysteries". In one episode, Father Louis Gilbert, a former Scotland Yard detective who became an Anglican priest, is investigating a female kidnapper who operates under the alias "Jezzy Bell".
*Ric Flair referred to Miss Elizabeth as "That Jezebel" in a promo at Wrestlemania VIII
*"This is Jezebel in hell" is a lyric from the song 'Angry Johnny' by Singer/songerwriter Anne Danielewski, more commonly known as 'Poe'.
* Canadian band Two Hours Traffic has a song titled Jezebel on their second album "Little Jabs".
* Jezebel was the name of an unreflected critical assembly of plutonium used in neutronics experiments at Los Alamos National Laboratory. One writer speculates that the name references the aforementioned Bette Davis film--a plausible suggestion, given the respective dates of the film's release and the beginning of research at Los Alamos. ["Ad: Work at Los Alamos
*Chely Wright sings a song called "Jezebel" which is about a woman who steals Chely Wright's man. (Jan, 1956)." Modern Mechanix, June 21, 2007.
* In Kaori Yuki's Manga series Godchild, one of the main antagonists (and the main character's half brother) is called Jezebel Disraeli.
* "Don't need no modern-day Jezebel" is a lyric from the song "Wish I Had A Girl" by singer/songwriter Henry Lee Summer.
* In season 6 of "The Simpsons", episode "Bart's Girlfriend," the church marquee reads: "Evil women in history: from Jezebel to Janet Reno."
* One of the quests that the player can undertake in the computer game is to kill a character named Jezebel Locke. Jezebel Locke is revealed to be a seductive vampiress that deliberately spreads a dangerous disease through the local human population in downtown Los Angeles, endangering the masquerade.
* The song "Carnivale" by English Drum & Bass producer Lynx and German rapper Kemo features a mention of Jezebel along with many other religious mentions.
*In an episode of The Bernie Mac Show, Vanessa puts on lipgloss and Bryanna "Baby Girl" calls her Jezebel.
* Jezebel is mentioned in the ska song "Carry Go Bring Come" by Justin Hinds.
* Louisiana sludge metal band Acid Bath has a song entitled simply "Jezebel" in which a woman, presumed to be a whore, is killed and mutilated.
* There is a song lyric by EmmyLou Harris that refers to Jezebel--"You've been burned by Jezebel."
* The Red Hot Chili Peppers' song Save This Lady features lines "Jezebel spirit's gonna steal my health..."
* The 1985 Thompson Twins song "Roll Over" features the lines "Jezebel paid her way, sliding around on dirty sheets all day"
* In Ken Kesey's classic novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. At the end of the novel when Nurse Ratched discovers a patient, Billy Bibbit with a prostitute, she is at a loss for words as how to describe the women, when another patient, Harding, offers that she is a Jezebel.
* The rock band, Atomic Wasteland Mutants, has a song entitled "Jezebel". The song cautions people to guard their soul from being taken by Jezebel, a physically beautiful but clearly evil demon.
* Wyclef Jean's song "Linda" from his 2003 album "The Preacher's Son" references the story of Ahab and Jezebel.
* Danity Kane’s song "Bad Girl" featuring Missy Elliot from their 2008 album "Welcome To The Dollhouse" references a Jezebel as a wicked woman or a woman corrupted from the social norm.
* Jezebel, spelled Dyesebel locally is a mermaid made popular in comic strips, television and movies in the Philippines.
* In the book The Kingdom Keepers: Disney After Dark, Jezebel is a young girl under Maleficent's spell.
* In the book A Tale of Two Cities the character Madame Defarge could easily be compared to Jezebel in that she was portrayed as an evil, murderous woman who controlled her husband.
* The jam band Gov't Mule wrote a song titled "Slackjaw Jezebel."
*In the book, The Kissing Gate by Pamela Haines, Aunt Eliza refers to the victim Mabel Emily Nugent as Jezebel for being a wicked woman.
* In the novel "Light in August", by William Faulkner, Simon McEachern calls Bobbie Allen "Jezebel", upon discovering her dancing with his adopted son, Joe Christmas.


External links

* [ Jezebel, Article by Ronald L. Ecker]
* [ Scholars Debate Jezebel Seal] "Biblical Archaeology Review"

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