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Poor Queen Jezebel, the misunderstood Phoenician feminist who fought for pluralism and Middle East peace against the narrow  nationalists of her time. Or so writes Janet Howe Gaines of the University of New Mexico  in the Biblical Archaeology Review, linked to this morning by Jewish Ideas Daily.

...the Torah shows the Israelites to be an ethnocentric, xenophobic people. In biblical narratives, foreigners are sometimes unwelcome, and prejudice against intermarriage is seen since the day Abraham sought a woman from his own people to marry his son Isaac (Genesis 24:4). In contrast to the familiar gods and goddesses that Jezebel is accustomed to petitioning, Israel is home to a state religion featuring a lone, masculine deity. Perhaps Jezebel optimistically believes that she can encourage religious tolerance and give legitimacy to the worship habits of those Baalites who already reside in Israel. Perhaps Jezebel sees herself as an ambassador who could help unite the two lands and bring about cultural pluralism, regional peace and economic prosperity.

So intolerant, these Jews. If only the ancient Hebrews had shown a bit of understanding for the cult of Baal and Astarte, we might have child sacrifice and Temple prostitution today, instead of shabby substitutes like abortion-on-demand and hooking up.



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