‘In the Bible, Hurricane Jezebel sweeps inland from the coast of Lebanon to the hills of Israel. The priest’s daughter does not heed the words in the wedding psalm to “forget your people and your father’s house” nor does she view Ahab as her “lord.”
Jezebel is quick to import the practices of her culture, religious as well as artistic. Even as foreign wives persuade the tolerant Solomon to build places of pagan worship in Jerusalem, so Jezebel pressures prince Ahab to erect a sanctuary for Baal that contains an image of Asherah in the Israelite capitals.
A zealous foreign missionary, Jezebel personally supports 850 prophets of Baal and Asherah. “Baal” is a general Canaanite term signifying ownership by a god or human, but Melkart, the patron deity of Tyre, is probably the local god connoted by that term in the biblical account here.
Unlike her spouse, Jezebel opposes patronizing both Baalism and Yahwism. She seeks to eliminate competition by killing the prophets of Yahweh, and she causes many to hide in caves. Jezebel imitates the ferocious nature of the goddess she worships.’
Assertive Biblical Women, William Phipps, Greenwood Press, Connecticut, 1992, p.71.
‘In the Bible, Elijah, a prophet of Yahweh, arises to challenge the religion that Israel ’s first lady is promoting. Elijah and Jezebel agree on several basic matters:
- that religion is indispensable to a culture,
- that peaceful coexistence between Yahweh and Baal is impossible, and
- that killing spokespersons of the other ’s religion is justifiable.
By contrast, Ahab is a pragmatic pluralist who is willing to endorse a syncretistic religion, which may promote the success of his schemes and provide bounty for his people. His vacillation can be seen in his building a pagan temple and still consulting prophets of Yahweh regarding a battle against Syria.
Elijah, however, urges an either/or selection between the rival religions rather than “limping first on one leg and then on the other.” Since the Baalists recognize the broad popularity of their religion and its association with art and trade, they presume that they will win in a national preference contest. Thus they accept Elijah’s generous offer to conduct an elimination contest on turf sacred to Baal.’
Assertive Biblical Women, William Phipps, Greenwood Press, Connecticut, 1992, p.72.