Wife of Achab, King of Israel
Jezabel (Hebrew: AYZBL; Sept., `Iezabel), wife of Achab, King of Israel. She was the daughter of Ethbaal I, King of the Sidonians, who was also grand pontiff of the goddess Astarte (the Ishtar of the Assyrians) worshipped by that people. It is probable that the marriage of this princess with Achab was brought about in order to strengthen the house of Amri (father of Achab) against the Syrians. She introduced into Samaria various forms of Phoenician luxury hitherto unknown in that capital of the Northern Kingdom, and also prevailed upon Achab to establish there the worship of the Phoenician gods and goddesses of which she was a fanatical devotee (III Kings, xvi, 31, 32). She maintained 450 priests for the worship of Baal and 400 for that of Astarte (III Kings, xviii, 19). Consistently she persecuted and slew the prophets (III Kings, xviii, 4), but to prevent their complete extermination Abdias, governor of the king's house, caused a hundred of them to hide themselves in caves where they were secretly sustained. After the slaying of the 450 priests of Baal by Elias on Mount Carmel (III Kings, xviii, 40), Jezabel sought the life of the prophet and he fled to the kingdom of Juda (III Kings, xix, 1-3). How she brought about the death of Naboth in order to confiscate a vineyard which he had refused to sell to Achab is related in III Kings, xxi. Elias again appears on the scene and declares the Divine retribution which is to fall upon the perpetrators of the crime. The blood of Achab shall be licked by the dogs in the very field where they licked the blood of Naboth, and the dogs shall eat Jezabel in the field of Jezrahel. After the death of Achab, Jezabel continued to exercise a strong and baneful influence over her two sons Ochozias and Joram who reigned successively in his place, and through her daughter Athalia who married Joram, King of Juda, the same evil influence was extended even to the Southern Kingdom. At last the Divine vengeance came upon Jezabel, and the predictions of Elias and Eliseus were literally fulfilled at the beginning of the reign of Jehu, as related in IV Kings, ix, 30-37.
JAMES F. DRISCOLL