Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
And Elisha the prophet called one of the children of the prophets, and said unto him, Gird up thy loins, and take this box of oil in thine hand, and go to Ramothgilead:The Character of Jezebel
2 Kings 9:30
Some there are who, having an imperfect knowledge of the true position of woman among the Hebrews, or, placing too much reliance on modern Oriental analogies, have represented her station as that of a low and degraded character. In doing this, they have committed an error, of which they could never have been guilty had they studied that beautiful description of a Hebrew woman given at the end of the book of Proverbs, where the value of a virtuous and prudent wife is said to be 'far above rubies'. Yet, while there were many truly noble women in Hebrew society, there were also, just as in our own time, women who were perfect contrasts to such. Though socially high, they were morally low. To these belonged Jezebel, the consort of Ahab. She made him what he was, and likewise fashioned her own character and destiny.
I. Jezebel's Life.—Jezebel's life was evil from the beginning. No sooner had Ahab taken her as his wife than she introduced the worship of Baal into the land of Israel. Her next act was the slaughter of the Lord's prophets, that they might not have the opportunity of condemning her idolatrous practices and those of her husband. Then she planned the murder of Naboth, and, when he was dead, put her husband into the possession of the vineyard he coveted. Nor was this all: she led her sons into idolatry and other evils, just as she had led her husband. When Jehu called her 'this cursed woman,' his language, though awful, was correct, for she had brought a curse on her husband, on her family, on the throne and land of Israel, and was the wicked genius of her age. But retribution waited her. When Jehu arrived at Jezreel Jezebel heard of it, and hastily painted her face and tired her hair, and, seating herself at a large window of the palace, she looked out for his approach; and as he entered the gateway she cried, 'Had Zimri peace, who slew his master?' Why these preparations and this interrogation? Not, as some have said, to tempt and conquer Jehu as she had tempted and conquered Ahab; but to insult Jehu, and set him at defiance. Zimri was an Israelitish captain who had conspired against his royal sire, and killed him. But he had no Divine warrant for his acts, and therefore within seven days he himself perished. Jezebel charged Jehu with a similar rebellious act, which she insinuated would surely be followed with the reverse of peace; but Jehu knew that he was God's instrument, carrying out God's commands.
II. Jezebel's End.—It should be remembered that Jezebel's end was tardy in its approach. Ahab, her husband, had been shot on the field of battle, and he left only the memory of evil behind him; but she was permitted to live on. What for? That she might have space for repentance. How wonderfully patient God is! One hundred and twenty years He waited for the repentance of the antediluvians, and forty days for the repentance of the Ninevites: the former did not repent, and therefore they were drowned; the latter did repent, and therefore they were spared. And had Jezebel repented, bad as she had been and was, she, too, would have been saved (Ezekiel 33:11; 2 Peter 3:9). A life of probation must necessarily have a termination; and at last, at the age of about fifty, death happened to this infamous woman, the dowager-queen of Israel. As Jehu stood in his chariot under the window of the palace, he cried with a loud voice to the court servants above, 'Throw her down'; and if God's commands would justify Jehu, Jehu's commands would justify the eunuchs. So they threw her down, just as common malefactors were cast headlong from some rocky height; and as she had caused the stoning of Naboth, now stones cause her death. What an indignity—a queen-mother, with her face painted to render her eyes surpassingly brilliant and her cheeks beauteous as the rose; a tiara of sparkling gems round her head, and a robe of untold costliness on her person—thus to be cast from the window of her own royal house by her very menials, and thereby dashed to death upon the hard pavement below. But even this was not all: her corpse was frightfully broken and disfigured by the prancing horses and rolling chariots, and the hungry dogs completed the work. To rest in no sepulchre was the very climax of her dishonour and shame. What a fate! Jezebel had been a sinner above all sinners; hence her last end was truly dreadful. 'The mills of God grind slowly,' but, 'they grind exceeding small'.
References.—X. 15.—T. De Witt Talmage, Sermons, p. 102. J. Beveridge, Give Me Thine Hand, p. 5. X. 16.—H. P. Liddon, Sermons on Old Testament Subjects, p. 302. W. H. Oldfield, Mohammedan Missions in the Near East, S.P.C.K. Tracts 1897-1904. Blunt, Original Family Sermons, p. 185. Simeon, Works, vol. iii. p. 517. A. Roberts, Sermons, vol. ii. p. 171. Gisborne, Sermons, vol. ii. p. 152. X. 18-31.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—2 Kings, etc., from chap. viii. p. 6.
And when thou comest thither, look out there Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat the son of Nimshi, and go in, and make him arise up from among his brethren, and carry him to an inner chamber;
Then take the box of oil, and pour it on his head, and say, Thus saith the LORD, I have anointed thee king over Israel. Then open the door, and flee, and tarry not.
So the young man, even the young man the prophet, went to Ramothgilead.
And when he came, behold, the captains of the host were sitting; and he said, I have an errand to thee, O captain. And Jehu said, Unto which of all us? And he said, To thee, O captain.
And he arose, and went into the house; and he poured the oil on his head, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I have anointed thee king over the people of the LORD, even over Israel.
And thou shalt smite the house of Ahab thy master, that I may avenge the blood of my servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of the LORD, at the hand of Jezebel.
For the whole house of Ahab shall perish: and I will cut off from Ahab him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel:
And I will make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah:
And the dogs shall eat Jezebel in the portion of Jezreel, and there shall be none to bury her. And he opened the door, and fled.
Then Jehu came forth to the servants of his lord: and one said unto him, Is all well? wherefore came this mad fellow to thee? And he said unto them, Ye know the man, and his communication.
And they said, It is false; tell us now. And he said, Thus and thus spake he to me, saying, Thus saith the LORD, I have anointed thee king over Israel.
Then they hasted, and took every man his garment, and put it under him on the top of the stairs, and blew with trumpets, saying, Jehu is king.
So Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat the son of Nimshi conspired against Joram. (Now Joram had kept Ramothgilead, he and all Israel, because of Hazael king of Syria.
But king Joram was returned to be healed in Jezreel of the wounds which the Syrians had given him, when he fought with Hazael king of Syria.) And Jehu said, If it be your minds, then let none go forth nor escape out of the city to go to tell it in Jezreel.
So Jehu rode in a chariot, and went to Jezreel; for Joram lay there. And Ahaziah king of Judah was come down to see Joram.
And there stood a watchman on the tower in Jezreel, and he spied the company of Jehu as he came, and said, I see a company. And Joram said, Take an horseman, and send to meet them, and let him say, Is it peace?
So there went one on horseback to meet him, and said, Thus saith the king, Is it peace? And Jehu said, What hast thou to do with peace? turn thee behind me. And the watchman told, saying, The messenger came to them, but he cometh not again.
Then he sent out a second on horseback, which came to them, and said, Thus saith the king, Is it peace? And Jehu answered, What hast thou to do with peace? turn thee behind me.
And the watchman told, saying, He came even unto them, and cometh not again: and the driving is like the driving of Jehu the son of Nimshi; for he driveth furiously.
And Joram said, Make ready. And his chariot was made ready. And Joram king of Israel and Ahaziah king of Judah went out, each in his chariot, and they went out against Jehu, and met him in the portion of Naboth the Jezreelite.
And it came to pass, when Joram saw Jehu, that he said, Is it peace, Jehu? And he answered, What peace, so long as the whoredoms of thy mother Jezebel and her witchcrafts are so many?
And Joram turned his hands, and fled, and said to Ahaziah, There is treachery, O Ahaziah.
And Jehu drew a bow with his full strength, and smote Jehoram between his arms, and the arrow went out at his heart, and he sunk down in his chariot.
Then said Jehu to Bidkar his captain, Take up, and cast him in the portion of the field of Naboth the Jezreelite: for remember how that, when I and thou rode together after Ahab his father, the LORD laid this burden upon him;
Surely I have seen yesterday the blood of Naboth, and the blood of his sons, saith the LORD; and I will requite thee in this plat, saith the LORD. Now therefore take and cast him into the plat of ground, according to the word of the LORD.
But when Ahaziah the king of Judah saw this, he fled by the way of the garden house. And Jehu followed after him, and said, Smite him also in the chariot. And they did so at the going up to Gur, which is by Ibleam. And he fled to Megiddo, and died there.
And his servants carried him in a chariot to Jerusalem, and buried him in his sepulchre with his fathers in the city of David.
And in the eleventh year of Joram the son of Ahab began Ahaziah to reign over Judah.
And when Jehu was come to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it; and she painted her face, and tired her head, and looked out at a window.
And as Jehu entered in at the gate, she said, Had Zimri peace, who slew his master?
And he lifted up his face to the window, and said, Who is on my side? who? And there looked out to him two or three eunuchs.
And he said, Throw her down. So they threw her down: and some of her blood was sprinkled on the wall, and on the horses: and he trode her under foot.
And when he was come in, he did eat and drink, and said, Go, see now this cursed woman, and bury her: for she is a king's daughter.
And they went to bury her: but they found no more of her than the skull, and the feet, and the palms of her hands.
Wherefore they came again, and told him. And he said, This is the word of the LORD, which he spake by his servant Elijah the Tishbite, saying, In the portion of Jezreel shall dogs eat the flesh of Jezebel:
And the carcase of Jezebel shall be as dung upon the face of the field in the portion of Jezreel; so that they shall not say, This is Jezebel.