The word Jezebel has a lot of interesting historical and religious connotations. This is what it means and how to use it properly!
The name Jezebel is a fascinating word in religious history and modern language. While it may seem like any other name, it is actually one that carries a legacy and heritage that is usually looked upon as overly negative. While it’s not necessarily a word that you will need to be too wary of using, it’s still important to know what it means and where it comes from.
If you’re ever going to be in a highly religious or conservative environment, knowing what this word means can help you be aware of the culture and practices of the people around you. This is what Jezebel means, the story behind it, and what it means in the contexts of religion and faith.
What Does the Word Jezebel Mean?
The primary lexical definition of the word Jezebel (Jez-e-bel) in the English Language dictionary is an immoral woman who is generally shameless and not morally restrained. In most contexts, this is based around the consistent perpetuation of promiscuous acts that don’t conform to traditional attitudes around relationships.
The other primary definition of the word and name Jezebel is the Phoenician princess who was the wife of Ahab, king of Israel in the Bible. She is seen as a cruel, immoral queen of ancient Israel in the 9th century BC and the antagonist in the story of the prophet Elijah, one of the most important prophets in the Bible. The story of their interactions is recorded in the Septuagint, primarily in the book 1 Kings.
This traditional story is the underlying reason for the negative connotations with the word Jezebel, and it serves to explain the more modern purposes with the word. It is one of many words in the English language that has its definitions and meanings primarily founded in Biblical and Christian tradition.
What Is the Story of Jezebel?
The story of Jezebel begins with her marriage to King Ahad. She was from Phoenicia, and according to the religious traditions in Israel at the time, this was seen as heresy and contrary to the commands of God. Nevertheless, Through marriage, Jezebel became the queen of the kingdom of Israel and started to force her religion on the Jews. Her faith was based on a cult from Tyre that required the worship of Baal and Asherah, two deities from her culture.
After this, Jezebel had all the prophets of Yahweh killed and made the prophets of Baal take their place. Because of this, as well as many other things, the prophet Elijah confronted her and Ahab and decreed that there would be a drought as a way to show Yahweh’s disapproval. After three years of drought, Elijah issued a challenge against the prophets of Baal — Elijah and the other prophets would create an Altar, and whoever’s god brought down fire would be proven to be the real God.
This challenge occurred on Mount Carmel. The prophets of Baal showed extreme devotion and practiced their own sorceries and brought all their idols, but Baal never did anything. However, when Elijah called upon his God, He answered and brought down fire that entirely consumed the altar, even the parts made of stone. Following this, there was a revival in the prophets of Israel, Samaria, and Judah for Yahweh, and the temple was primarily turned back over to traditional Jewish worship.
How Did Jezebel Die?
This infuriated Jezebel and caused her to try and seek out Elijah to kill him. However, he went and hid far away so that she couldn’t find and kill him. After continued affronts to Yahweh involving the murder of a man named Naboth of Jezreel for his vineyard, Yahweh sent a prophet named Jehu to dispose of Jezebel and kill her son Jehoram.
Jehu went to Jezebel’s palace, which was right next to the vineyard that she had had the owner of murdered. When Jehu got to the palace, he ordered her servants and eunuchs to push her out of the palace window, from which she fell to her death.
After that, Jehu ordered a proper royal burial since she was the former queen of Israel. But when they found her body, it had been almost entirely eaten by wild dogs, which was something that had been predicted in Elijah’s prophecy for her future.
Following the death of Jezebel and Ahab, their throne was inherited by Ahaziah and then Joram. Elijah continued his ministry for several more years and continued to be a prophet through the land of Israel. Elijah’s successor, Elisha, then took his place as a prophet in the land of Israel.
What Does Jezebel Mean in the Modern World?
Jezebel has an important place in the religious American heritage. The name Jezebel has been attributed in a spiritual way to people that are seen as overly promiscuous and live in a way that is contrary to the typical social guidelines around relationships. The Jezebel mentality has been seen in many works of American literature, including The Scarlet Letter and the Great Gatsby.
Within more pentecostal churches, the concept of a “Jezebel spirit” is commonly used to describe people who have questionable morals and tend to negatively influence people in general. If you’re ever in a church and hear that term, it is almost always going to be in the context of overly promiscuous people.
Jezebel is a word with a lot of cultural and religious implications. Knowing what it means and how to use it properly can help you understand how words acquire meanings in a much more effective way. Knowing what a word means can help you communicate and understand people a lot better and show your own knowledge of the language at large.
If you’re looking to increase your knowledge of the English language at large, feel free to check out our blog here at The Word Counter! We have countless articles on words and terms that you may have heard before but don’t quite know what they mean. If you want to keep up to date on how you use language, take a quick look around our articles here — we’re sure you’ll learn something new that you can use in your daily conversation!