Jezebel: Maligned Queen Study Guide
Women and the Old Testament: Jesus’ heart for those who’ve suffered abuse
Week 1: Mon. Feb. 22nd- Sun. Feb. 28th
Important note for the group leader:
If you decide to use this guide as a jumping off point for group discussion, it may be a good idea to first ask the participants to commit to a confidentiality agreement that makes sense for your group. It may also benefit the group to set up some ground rules about listening, respect and affirmation of experiences and feelings. This content can be incredibly personal and potentially re-traumatizing for some. A warning about the potential for traumatic topics should be given and discernment and reflection should be encouraged for each group member to be certain they are ready to process this kind of information in a group setting. My prayer is that you grow greatly and feel deeply encouraged by the material in this study. And that each person who participates feels more seen, known and loved by God in the process!
Thank you for being here with us. Thank you that you have shown us your love, and mercy this week. We pray for more of your wisdom and that you would make us more sensitive and more loving of each other today and every day. This week the story of Jezebel has brought up various emotions, possibly feelings of frustration, anger, confusion, conviction and more. This week has offered us new ways to look at our enemies and we are likely all in different places about that emotionally and spiritually. Help us to hear each other with compassion and grace. Help us to be united in your love even when we wrestle with difficult things. You are our God, we trust the Holy Spirit to guide us and bring us peace. We ask for your blessing over this time. Amen
This week we learned more about Jezebel, an Israelite Queen who was married to Ahab. Her name and reputation are synonyms with evil and manipulation. Many have associated her with a woman who manipulated and led others away from God with sorcery and sexuality. However, this week we looked to the scripture in 1 and 2 Kings to see what was really said about her. We looked at Jezebel from several different angles that were likely new to many of us. Jezebel was always an “other”, a stolen bride from a foreign land with foreign customs and beliefs in an arranged marriage where she was expected to conform and surrender her identity. However, she chose to remain stubbornly committed to her own ways, her own faith, and sense of self. Her violence matched that of Israel’s prophets, especially Elijah who she went head-to-head with in the murder of prophets. She was violent and aggressive and acted in many evil ways. She was also faithful, loyal and committed to what she loved and held dear. As a foreigner she may have known no other way.
Here are seven takeaways from the study this week:
- Jezebel was in an arranged marriage. She was a stolen princess from her home land and experienced harassment in Israel for being a foreigner.
- Jezebel was a fundamentalist of her own faith. She committed violent acts such as killing off Israel’s prophets who did not help her political agenda. She lived in violent times and she killed off Israel’s prophets, Elijah likewise murdered hers.
- She has been misunderstood as a sexual vixen. Jezebel is not unfaithful to her husband, her faith or her family. She remains incredibly faithful in the face of adversity.
- Jezebel’s sins as a murderous and aggressive woman has been the root of the slur “Jezebel”, which today is often aimed at women who are assertive, outspoken or are sexually attractive.
- Jezebel’s wedding is referred to through a song of hope and praise in Psalm 45.
- Jezebel was emotionally manipulated and potentially abused through passive aggressive behavior by her husband, Ahab, documented in 1 Kings 21.
- Jezebel was a very faithful and devoted woman, but just not to the God of Israel. She provides a parallel to the faith and conviction of those of other faiths today and invites us to reflect on our own prejudices.
Questions for group discussion:
- What stood out to you most this week as you studied Jezebel? What surprised and/or challenged you?
- Does understanding Jezebel as a young bride, stolen from her homeland and ridiculed as a foreigner help you to see her differently? How could her trauma have shaped her violent actions later on?
- Can we consider Jezebel to be a devout and faithful woman? Why, or why not?
- Why do you think Jezebel put on make-up and did her hair right before her death? How has this further cast Jezebel into the “whore” category in today’s society?
- How does it make you feel that so many biblical women, including Jezebel, have had their stories altered in history to turn them into sexual seducers? What damage has this done to women today?
- What questions still remain for you about Jezebel? Do you think we need to be teaching about her differently or should she remain in the shadows as an evil queen?