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Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

2 Kings 9

Verses 1-37

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.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on 2 Kings 9". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/edt/2-kings-9.html. 1910.