Jezebel’s appearance in 1-2 Kings is part of a continuing story of Israel’s relationship with Tyre and Sidon. During the days of David and Solomon, Hiram king of Tyre was an ally of Israel. This is the ideal relationship between Jew and Gentiles, Israel and the nations.

Jezebel represents an inversion of that. As I argue in my 1-2 Kings, Ahab is an anti-Solomon, a Solomon without a period of faithfulness. He is the son of a David-like king Omri, builds a temple in Samaria, and takes a foreign wife, as Solomon married the daughter of Pharaoh. 

It’s all backward. Ahab’s temple is a temple to Baal, and his wife is an idolater, even a sorceress (as Jehu says) and a leader of a band of Baal prophets. Ahab and Jezebel have an agenda to reunite the two kingdoms, but instead of placing Yahweh and His house at the center, they want to make Baal worship the center. This inverts the proper relation between Jew and Gentile. Instead of the Gentiles assisting in Israel’s project, Israel is enlisted to pursue a Baalist agenda. 

Under Ahab and Jezebel, Israel is in bed with the Gentiles, but they aren’t united properly. They are united in a bed of prostitution, at an altar of spiritual adultery.

This is what the Jezebel of Thyatira is doing too. She is a prophetess, as the first Jezebel was the high priestess of a band of prophets. She leads the saints astray, as Jezebel did. She leads them into Baalamite sin, eating meat sacrificed to idols and committing acts of fornication, porneia. There is a false community here, a false family, with Jezebel and her children united in idolatry and immorality. Jezebel assembles an anti-church, as the first Jezebel joined with Ahab in forming an anti-Israel.

Articles by Peter J. Leithart

Loading...