Relationships –Ahab and Jezebel

In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab son of Omri became king of Israel, and he reigned in Samaria over Israel twenty-two years. Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those before him. He not only considered it trivial to commit the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, but he also married Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and began to serve Baal and worship him. He set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal that he built in Samaria. Ahab also made an Asherah pole and did more to arouse the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, than did all the kings of Israel before him.

  • 1 Kings 16:29-33

After a long time, in the third year, the word of the Lord came to Elijah: “Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land.” So Elijah went to present himself to Ahab.
Now the famine was severe in Samaria, and Ahab had summoned Obadiah, his palace administrator. (Obadiah was a devout believer in the Lord. While Jezebel was killing off the Lord’s prophets, Obadiah had taken a hundred prophets and hidden them in two caves, fifty in each, and had supplied them with food and water.) Ahab had said to Obadiah, “Go through the land to all the springs and valleys. Maybe we can find some grass to keep the horses and mules alive so we will not have to kill any of our animals.” So they divided the land they were to cover, Ahab going in one direction and Obadiah in another.
As Obadiah was walking along, Elijah met him. Obadiah recognized him, bowed down to the ground, and said, “Is it really you, my lord Elijah?”
“Yes,” he replied. “Go tell your master, ‘Elijah is here.’”
“What have I done wrong,” asked Obadiah, “that you are handing your servant over to Ahab to be put to death? As surely as the Lord your God lives, there is not a nation or kingdom where my master has not sent someone to look for you. And whenever a nation or kingdom claimed you were not there, he made them swear they could not find you. But now you tell me to go to my master and say, ‘Elijah is here.’ I don’t know where the Spirit of the Lord may carry you when I leave you. If I go and tell Ahab and he doesn’t find you, he will kill me. Yet I your servant have worshiped the Lord since my youth. Haven’t you heard, my lord, what I did while Jezebel was killing the prophets of the Lord? I hid a hundred of the Lord’s prophets in two caves, fifty in each, and supplied them with food and water. And now you tell me to go to my master and say, ‘Elijah is here.’ He will kill me!”
Elijah said, “As the Lord Almighty lives, whom I serve, I will surely present myself to Ahab today.”

  • 1 Kings 18:1-15

Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.”

  • 1 Kings 19:1-2

Some time later there was an incident involving a vineyard belonging to Naboth the Jezreelite. The vineyard was in Jezreel, close to the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. Ahab said to Naboth, “Let me have your vineyard to use for a vegetable garden, since it is close to my palace. In exchange I will give you a better vineyard or, if you prefer, I will pay you whatever it is worth.”
But Naboth replied, “The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my ancestors.”
So Ahab went home, sullen and angry because Naboth the Jezreelite had said, “I will not give you the inheritance of my ancestors.” He lay on his bed sulking and refused to eat.
His wife Jezebel came in and asked him, “Why are you so sullen? Why won’t you eat?”
He answered her, “Because I said to Naboth the Jezreelite, ‘Sell me your vineyard; or if you prefer, I will give you another vineyard in its place.’ But he said, ‘I will not give you my vineyard.’”
Jezebel his wife said, “Is this how you act as king over Israel? Get up and eat! Cheer up. I’ll get you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.”
So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, placed his seal on them, and sent them to the elders and nobles who lived in Naboth’s city with him. In those letters she wrote:
“Proclaim a day of fasting and seat Naboth in a prominent place among the people. But seat two scoundrels opposite him and have them bring charges that he has cursed both God and the king. Then take him out and stone him to death.”
So the elders and nobles who lived in Naboth’s city did as Jezebel directed in the letters she had written to them. They proclaimed a fast and seated Naboth in a prominent place among the people. Then two scoundrels came and sat opposite him and brought charges against Naboth before the people, saying, “Naboth has cursed both God and the king.” So they took him outside the city and stoned him to death. Then they sent word to Jezebel: “Naboth has been stoned to death.”
As soon as Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned to death, she said to Ahab, “Get up and take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite that he refused to sell you. He is no longer alive, but dead.” When Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, he got up and went down to take possession of Naboth’s vineyard.

  • 1 Kings 21:1-16

But someone drew his bow at random and hit the king of Israel between the sections of his armor. The king told his chariot driver, “Wheel around and get me out of the fighting. I’ve been wounded.” All day long the battle raged, and the king was propped up in his chariot facing the Arameans. The blood from his wound ran onto the floor of the chariot, and that evening he died. As the sun was setting, a cry spread through the army: “Every man to his town. Every man to his land!”
So the king died and was brought to Samaria, and they buried him there. They washed the chariot at a pool in Samaria (where the prostitutes bathed), and the dogs licked up his blood, as the word of the Lord had declared.
As for the other events of Ahab’s reign, including all he did, the palace he built and adorned with ivory, and the cities he fortified, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel? Ahab rested with his ancestors. And Ahaziah his son succeeded him as king.

  • 1 Kings 22:34-40

Then Jehu went to Jezreel. When Jezebel heard about it, she put on eye makeup, arranged her hair and looked out of a window. As Jehu entered the gate, she asked, “Have you come in peace, you Zimri, you murderer of your master?”
He looked up at the window and called out, “Who is on my side? Who?” Two or three eunuchs looked down at him. “Throw her down!” Jehu said. So they threw her down, and some of her blood spattered the wall and the horses as they trampled her underfoot.

  • 2 Kings 9:30-33

A Quote

[1 Kings 16:31-32] ”The wretched wife of Ahab became symbolic of the evil of false religion (cf. Rev. 2:20). Ethbaal. His name meant ‘Baal is alive.’ The father of Jezebel was the king of Phoenicia (including Tyre and Sidon) who had murdered his predecessor and, according to Josephus, was a priest of the gods Melqart and Astarte.
“Baal. Meaning ‘lord, husband, owner,’ Baal was the predominant god in Canaanite religion. He was the storm god who provided the rain necessary for the fertility of the land. The worship of Baal was widespread among the Canaanites with many local manifestations under various other titles, the Tyrians calling him Baal Melqart. The worship of Baal had infiltrated Israel long before the time of Ahab (Judg. 2:11, 13; 3:7; 10:6, 10; 1 Sam. 12:10). However, Ahab gave it official sanction in Samaria through building a temple for Baal (see 2 Kin. 3:2). As David had captured Jerusalem and his son Solomon had built a temple for the Lord there, so Omri established Samaria and his son Ahab built a temple for Baal there.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary

What Do We Know about their Relationship?

Regardless of motivation, Jezebel took over the kingdom.  Jezebel is, as Rev. MacArthur wrote, symbolic of the evil of false religion, even being mentioned as such in Revelation.

Jezebel was a worshipper of Baal, as was many of the Canaanite tribes.  While Baal worship was prevalent, this is the first mention of a Baal Temple.

Ahab worshipped both Baal and Asherah.

Note that Jezebel kills the prophets of the true God, trying to add Elijah as another trophy.

What Can We Infer about their Relationship?

It does not seem that Ahab was necessarily seduced by Jezebel.  We can infer the marriage was a political alliance with a much stronger nation to his north.  We can infer that Jezebel, born as a princess, exerted her will over everything.  Was Ahab a puppet under her rule?  Whether you could infer that or not, it seems he willingly allowed her to make decisions.

We can infer that Jezebel’s systematic killing of God’s prophets is done deliberately to strengthen her hold over those that she controls.  In this type of relationship, the evil one goes about systematically destroying relationships that might weaken their hold.  Isolation from other viewpoints strengthens the control.  They have nothing to compare to what Jezebel wishes them to know or even think.  She only lets those family members leave her clutches once she knows she has full control over how they act and what they think.

Note that Ahab is killed some time before her son, the new king Ahaziah, goes into battle against Jehu and is killed.  She is still reigning in the palace.  She allowed her husband to go out to war, and even afterward, we can infer, due to the isolation she has placed over the family, that she remains in charge even with her son anointed as king, but not for long.

In What Ways Can We Fill in the Gaps about their Relationship?

We could consider that Jezebel orchestrated the marriage of Athaliah to Jehoram, a bad king of Judah.  Jehoram’s son Ahaziah is followed by his mother, Athaliah.  Athaliah then sets out to kill all others who might make a claim to the throne.  She did not kill Josiah, whom the priests hid.  Josiah was the son of Ahaziah and when the time was right the priests anointed him king and Athaliah was removed.  Yet, this dark time in the history of Judah could have been orchestrated, at least in part, by Jezebel.  It could also be that since Jezebel had taught Athaliah well, she did the same type of control maneuvers in Judah that Jezebel had done in Israel.

What Can We Learn from this Relationship?

Evil can become all consuming.  Evil with control over information can become nearly impenetrable.  Note the uprisings in countries controlled by Islam.  They began to occur after people learned how others lived elsewhere in the world through the internet and social media.  Even though what they found there might not be wholesome, it showed them that they were being shielded and controlled.

But a one family dwelling can be a haven for an evil tyrant just as easily as a nation, maybe even with better control of information and communication.

We must beware of the secular safe places.  It may not feel good to hear things that differ from our worldview, but if we only hear what we think to be true, we have no idea if it is true or mind control.  Any squelching of Biblical truths or prayer is a sign that evil is at work.  While we as Christians want an evil-free zone, the Christian community is strengthened by intelligent discussion of worldviews that differ.  If you do not, those differing worldviews, that may contain elements of evil will creep into the social group unrecognized.

We can only put a “face” on evil when we study the Bible, pray, and spend time with other believers who do the same.

What Have We Learned thus far?

We have learned to:

  • Own our own mistakes and not blame others.
  • Be faithful to God, and worship properly, in the proper spirit.
  • Go to God in prayer, especially before any major decisions.
  • Do not show favoritism among family members, but always go to God.
  • Forgiveness is extremely important for none of us are perfect except for God.
  • Beyond physical love, there are other expressions of love, and respect is very important.
  • A relationship requires maintenance, nurturing, and an acceptance of the roles.
  • Be humble and listen to wise advice, and even wait when necessary.
  • At times, we must be bold and trust God, and we must obey.
  • And to love, love, and love.
  • Be trustworthy.  Trust is required.
  • And don’t worry.  God has this situation, and He has us in the palm of His hand.
  • And remember to forgive others and confess our sins.
  • And never go against what God instructs us to do.
  • And truly believe that God can show you mercy and accept the mercy offered.  Yet remember that it is indeed mercy.
  • Not blindly trust our buddies from our youth as advisors and there may be emotional ties that make their advice sound better than it is.

A Closing Prayer

Lord,
We look to You for guidance.  Ahab seemed to be evil before Jezebel came into his life.  We need guidance from You, a better understanding of Scripture, and trusted advisors, to keep evil from our door.  And the bottom line starts with each of us keeping our eyes upon You.
In Thy Name we pray,
Amen.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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