The Books of Kings I & II are accounts of Israel’s history from the death of David, cira 970BC, to the release of the exiled King Jehoiachin from prison in Babylon, circa 560BC.
The books are history mixed with religion. They judge each king according to his religious belief. Worshipping gods other than Yahweh is evil, whatever a king’s other achievements.
The Books argue that Israel was destroyed because it tolerated gods like Baal, a fertility god promoted by Jezebel and her warrior husband Ahab.
Jezebel in the royal harem of Israel
1 Kings 16:29-34
Ivory carving of a winged sphinx from Nimrud; the palace in which Jezebel lived was called the Ivory House because of the wealth of carved ivory used in its decoration
29 In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab the son of Omri began to reign over Israel, and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Sama’ria twenty-two years. 30 And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD more than all that were before him. 31 And as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jerobo’am the son of Nebat, he took for wife Jez’ebel the daughter of Ethba’al king of the Sido’nians, and went and served Ba’al, and worshiped him. 32 He erected an altar for Ba’al in the house of Ba’al, which he built in Sama’ria. 33 And Ahab made an Ashe’rah. Ahab did more to provoke the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him. 34 In his days Hi’el of Bethel built Jericho; he laid its foundation at the cost of Abi’ram his first-born, and set up its gates at the cost of his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the LORD, which he spoke by Joshua the son of Nun
Elijah fights for Yahweh against Baal
1 Kings 18:17-40
17 When Ahab saw Eli’jah, Ahab said to him, “Is it you, you troubler of Israel?”
18 And he answered, “I have not troubled Israel; but you have, and your father’s house, because you have forsaken the commandments of the LORD and followed the Ba’als.
View of Mount Carmel, where the prophets of Baal clashed with Elijah
19 Now therefore send and gather all Israel to me at Mount Carmel, and the four hundred and fifty prophets of Ba’al and the four hundred prophets of Ashe’rah, who eat at Jez’ebel’s table.”
20 So Ahab sent to all the people of Israel, and gathered the prophets together at Mount Carmel. 21 And Eli’jah came near to all the people, and said, “How long will you go limping with two different opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Ba’al, then follow him.” And the people did not answer him a word. 22 Then Eli’jah said to the people, “I, even I only, am left a prophet of the LORD; but Ba’al’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men. 23 Let two bulls be given to us; and let them choose one bull for themselves, and cut it in pieces and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it; and I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood, and put no fire to it. 24 And you call on the name of your god and I will call on the name of the LORD; and the God who answers by fire, he is God.” And all the people answered, “It is well spoken.” 25 Then Eli’jah said to the prophets of Ba’al, “Choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first, for you are many; and call on the name of your god, but put no fire to it.” 26 And they took the bull which was given them, and they prepared it, and called on the name of Ba’al from morning until noon, saying, “O Ba’al, answer us!” But there was no voice, and no one answered. And they limped about the altar which they had made. 27 And at noon Eli’jah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god; either he is musing, or he has gone aside, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” 28 And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their custom with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out upon them. 29 And as midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice; no one answered, no one heeded. 30 Then Eli’jah said to all the people, “Come near to me”; and all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the LORD that had been thrown down; 31 Eli’jah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD came, saying, “Israel shall be your name”; 32 and with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD. And he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed. 33 And he put the wood in order, and cut the bull in pieces and laid it on the wood. And he said, “Fill four jars with water, and pour it on the burnt offering, and on the wood.” 34 And he said, “Do it a second time”; and they did it a second time. And he said, “Do it a third time”; and they did it a third time. 35 And the water ran round about the altar, and filled the trench also with water.
The modern-day Wadi Kishon, the river in which the priests of Baal were drowned
36 And at the time of the offering of the oblation, Eli’jah the prophet came near and said, “O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. 37 Answer me, O LORD, answer me, that this people may know that thou, O LORD, art God, and that thou hast turned their hearts back.” 38 Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt offering, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. 39 And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, “The LORD, he is God; the LORD, he is God.” 40 And Eli’jah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Ba’al; let not one of them escape.” And they seized them; and Eli’jah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and killed them there.
Elijah escapes the wrath of Jezebel
1 Kings 19:1-3
1 Ahab told Jez’ebel all that Eli’jah had done, and how he had slain all the prophets with the sword.
2 Then Jez’ebel sent a messenger to Eli’jah, saying, “So may the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” 3 Then he was afraid, and he arose and went for his life, and came to Beer-sheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there.
Jezebel takes Naboth’s Vineyard
1 Kings 21:1-16
1 Now Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard in Jezreel, beside the palace of Ahab king of Sama’ria.
2 And after this Ahab said to Naboth, “Give me your vineyard, that I may have it for a vegetable garden, because it is near my house; and I will give you a better vineyard for it; or, if it seems good to you, I will give you its value in money.”
3 But Naboth said to Ahab, “The LORD forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers.”
4 And Ahab went into his house vexed and sullen because of what Naboth the Jezreelite had said to him; for he had said, “I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers.” And he lay down on his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no food.
5 But Jez’ebel his wife came to him, and said to him, “Why is your spirit so vexed that you eat no food?”
6 And he said to her, “Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite, and said to him, ‘Give me your vineyard for money; or else, if it please you, I will give you another vineyard for it’; and he answered, ‘I will not give you my vineyard.'”
7 And Jez’ebel his wife said to him, “Do you now govern Israel? Arise, and eat bread, and let your heart be cheerful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.”
This may or may not be the seal of Jezebel: the inscription is damaged at a crucial spot, so there cannot be a definite answer
8 So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name and sealed them with his seal, and she sent the letters to the elders and the nobles who dwelt with Naboth in his city.
9 And she wrote in the letters, “Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people;
10 and set two base fellows opposite him, and let them bring a charge against him, saying, ‘You have cursed God and the king.’ Then take him out, and stone him to death.”
11 And the men of his city, the elders and the nobles who dwelt in his city, did as Jez’ebel had sent word to them. As it was written in the letters which she had sent to them,
12 they proclaimed a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people.
13 And the two base fellows came in and sat opposite him; and the base fellows brought a charge against Naboth, in the presence of the people, saying, “Naboth cursed God and the king.” So they took him outside the city, and stoned him to death with stones.
14 Then they sent to Jez’ebel, saying, “Naboth has been stoned; he is dead.”
15 As soon as Jez’ebel heard that Naboth had been stoned and was dead, Jez’ebel said to Ahab, “Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give you for money; for Naboth is not alive, but dead.”
16 And as soon as Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, Ahab arose to go down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it.
King Ahab is defeated and dies in battle
1 Kings 22:29-40
29 So the king of Israel and Jehosh’aphat the king of Judah went up to Ramoth-gilead.
30 And the king of Israel said to Jehosh’aphat, “I will disguise myself and go into battle, but you wear your robes.” And the king of Israel disguised himself and went into battle.
Battle scene from the northwest palace at Nimrud, showing fallen warrior pierced by arrows
31 Now the king of Syria had commanded the thirty-two captains of his chariots, “Fight with neither small nor great, but only with the king of Israel.”
32 And when the captains of the chariots saw Jehosh’aphat, they said, “It is surely the king of Israel.” So they turned to fight against him; and Jehosh’aphat cried out. 33 And when the captains of the chariots saw that it was not the king of Israel, they turned back from pursuing him. 34 But a certain man drew his bow at a venture, and struck the king of Israel between the scale armor and the breastplate; therefore he said to the driver of his chariot, “Turn about, and carry me out of the battle, for I am wounded.” 35 And the battle grew hot that day, and the king was propped up in his chariot facing the Syrians, until at evening he died; and the blood of the wound flowed into the bottom of the chariot. 36 And about sunset a cry went through the army, “Every man to his city, and every man to his country!” 37 So the king died, and was brought to Sama’ria; and they buried the king in Sama’ria. 38 And they washed the chariot by the pool of Sama’ria, and the dogs licked up his blood, and the harlots washed themselves in it, according to the word of the LORD which he had spoken. 39 Now the rest of the acts of Ahab, and all that he did, and the ivory house which he built, and all the cities that he built, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel? 40 So Ahab slept with his fathers; and Ahazi’ah his son reigned in his stead.
Jehu leads a palace coup d’etat
2 Kings 9:21-28
21 Joram said, “Make ready.” And they made ready his chariot. Then Joram king of Israel and Ahazi’ah king of Judah set out, each in his chariot, and went to meet Jehu, and met him at the property of Naboth the Jezreelite.
22 And when Joram saw Jehu, he said, “Is it peace, Jehu?” He answered, “What peace can there be, so long as the harlotries and the sorceries of your mother Jez’ebel are so many?” 23 Then Joram reined about and fled, saying to Ahazi’ah, “Treachery, O Ahazi’ah!”
Chariot with archer, Assyrian wall relief
24 And Jehu drew his bow with his full strength, and shot Joram between the shoulders, so that the arrow pierced his heart, and he sank in his chariot.
25 Jehu said to Bidkar his aide, “Take him up, and cast him on the plot of ground belonging to Naboth the Jezreelite; for remember, when you and I rode side by side behind Ahab his father, how the LORD uttered this oracle against him: 26 ‘As surely as I saw yesterday the blood of Naboth and the blood of his sons–says the LORD–I will requite you on this plot of ground.’ Now therefore take him up and cast him on the plot of ground, in accordance with the word of the LORD.” 27 When Ahazi’ah the king of Judah saw this, he fled in the direction of Beth-haggan. And Jehu pursued him, and said, “Shoot him also”; and they shot him in the chariot at the ascent of Gur, which is by Ibleam. And he fled to Megid’do, and died there. 28 His servants carried him in a chariot to Jerusalem, and buried him in his tomb with his fathers in the city of David.
Jezebel is horribly murdered
2 Kings 9:30-37
…she painted her eyes…
Heavy make-up was part of the regalia and ritual of royal women and priestesses
30 When Jehu came to Jezreel, Jez’ebel heard of it; and she painted her eyes, and adorned her head, and looked out of the window.
31 And as Jehu entered the gate, she said, “Is it peace, you Zimri, murderer of your master?”
32 And he lifted up his face to the window, and said, “Who is on my side? Who?” Two or three eunuchs looked out at him.
33 He said, “Throw her down.” So they threw her down; and some of her blood spattered on the wall and on the horses, and they trampled on her.
34 Then he went in and ate and drank; and he said, “See now to this cursed woman, and bury her; for she is a king’s daughter.”
35 But when they went to bury her, they found no more of her than the skull and the feet and the palms of her hands.
Dogs eating a corpse
36 When they came back and told him, he said, “This is the word of the LORD, which he spoke by his servant Eli’jah the Tishbite, ‘In the territory of Jezreel the dogs shall eat the flesh of Jez’ebel;
37 and the corpse of Jez’ebel shall be as dung upon the face of the field in the territory of Jezreel, so that no one can say, This is Jez’ebel.'”
Jezebel – Bible Woman – Women of the Old Testament; Bible Study Resource Jezebel, queen of Israel and priestess of Baal;
her husband Ahab and the prophet Elijah